Friday, February 5, 2010

User-friendliness is a myth?

"So is it user-friendly?", asked she.
"What?", I tried to confirm the word.
"I asked whether Abiword is user-friendly"
"Well, What do you mean?", I was just impressed to see a non-CS undergraduate using the term 'user-friendliness'.
"I mean, will it work like Ms.Word?"

Yeah. I got her!
"Of course, it does work like Ms.Word, and it is similar to the earlier versions of Ms.Word, and Abiword is free, and portable...".
I guess, I did my marketing part very well. After a few questions, with a cute smile she agreed to switch to Abiword.

There I realized how 'user-friendliness' is misused. We often use the term 'user-friendliness' to define how comfort are we with that software given the fact that we have already had some experience with a similar software.

You will definitely feel Open Office not so friendly, if you are a Microsoft Office user, and considering the similarities of Abiword and Ms.Word, Abiword will overtake OOorg Word Processor in its 'user-friendliness' among Ms.Word users.

What I doubt is the serious complain - Open Source stuff are not very user friendly. I had to listen to a comment of a junior student, claiming that Linux is annoyingly not-so-user-friendly. Typical anti-FOSS shout! Of course, it may miss some whistles that are provided by the commercial software. But in most of the cases, Ubuntu and similar Linux variants are pretty much up to the mark. It's our bad to scare the kids showing Linux terminal in practical lessons. What do we do? We show them how to use control panel in Windows and at the same time teaching them how to operate Ubuntu using terminal commands. We do so to emphasize how Linux lovers love the terminal. But I guess, it will not give a good impression on Linux. So the outcome was "Windows is sexy; Linux spanks its users hard".

"Linux? I have to compile all the stuff before I run."
"Who said?"
In my opinion, building from the source code is easier on Linux variants than on Windows, and that is misunderstood as Linux needs manual compilation, which is no more true. In any case, user-friendliness is the mostly misused term against FOSS, at least among the undergraduates.

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