back to article Microsoft's Cloud UI brings Windows full circle

Microsoft is said to be developing a cross-platform shell to bring the desktop Windows antiques to non-PC devices of different shapes and sizes. According to rumours whispered into the ear of Windows Central, the project is called the "Composable Shell", or CSHELL. Or if this is a mishearing – quite plausible – a Compostable …

  1. Vimes

    I recall my old HP 320LX. Problems with the design seemed in some instances to be entirely avoidable too.

    I don't recall offhand which version of Windows CE it ran but the start menu structure was rather odd: it seemed some of the entries were recursive and you could end up going round endlessly from one menu to another if you really wanted to.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Dwarf Silver badge

    For some reason this old Unix one-liner springs to mind

    she sh csh on the cshore.

    1. Mikel

      History. They don't respect it.

      C Shell is already a thing. They can't have it.

      No wonder the clueful despise them. They are ignorant, they have no respect, and they don't care.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: History. They don't respect it.

        "C Shell is already a thing."

        All hail the % prompt.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I couldn't give a fly remote execution vector

    at whatever irrelevance MS is up to.

  4. Lee D

    When designing a UI, it should be compulsory to: Get an evil IT guy to draw up a humongous list of tasks that need to be done (find all files created on a certain date, copy all the pictures from the last picture session but not those before that, delete every file beginning with A, run X programs and switch between them) and then - when your UI designer submits a design, make him sit through two months of 9-5 work doing those tasks.

    And every time the UI designer admits that something is wrong, he has to go back, redesign, and do another two months. And every time that the UI designer is not significantly faster or at least on a par with said evil IT guy doing it ANY OTHER WAY THEY WANT, it's back to the drawing board again. And next to the UI designer, there's a little old granny. And she has a set target of doing the same tasks but at some portion of the speed a pro can do it in. Every time the experiment resets, the granny is replaced with a new one. And the UI designer has to sit in the room and answer all their questions, help whenever they ask, repeat how it all works all over again, and generally tolerate them trying to do the same things that everyone else has to do.

    And this shall be re-done every time a new device type, input method, display technology or whatever else is required occurs. Touch. Multi-touch. Gestures. Desktop. Portable. Large-screen. HD. 4K. Whatever. Start all over again.

    The UI designers would quit if they had to talk an old lady through a mail merge from the point of turning on a new computer for the first time. It'd take them hours just to get to a desktop past all the tutorial shite, let alone into office, into the right menus (that fold up when you're not looking) and through the "wizard" which appears on the right and is apparently invisible if you're over 50.

    Eat your own dog-food.

    1. jglathe

      Cruel, but necessary.

      You will end up with one structured menu per window, or with a finder-like concept. These things work. Oh, and a global, system-wide hotkey editor.

      1. nijam Silver badge

        Re: Cruel, but necessary.

        > a global, system-wide hotkey editor

        WIndows already has a system-wide hokey editor. And plenty of other hokey stuff to go with it.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "And the UI designer has to sit in the room and answer all their questions, help whenever they ask, repeat how it all works all over again, and generally tolerate them trying to do the same things that everyone else has to do."

      No. There's a far more evil effective version. The only questions the UI designer are allowed to answer are those of the "Where does it tell me how to...?" variety. It requires the presence of an invigilator. The nominal reason for the invigilator is to keep this Q/A on the specified lines. The real reason is to prevent violence.

      A similar version should be used with town planning officials who are responsible for navigational road signs. The test driver is allowed to pose the questions as loudly and offensively as seems appropriate and to receive answers in real time. The invigilator may have the additional task of preventing the designer jumping/being pushed out of the car.

      1. VinceH

        @Lee D I like your thinking. Ditto @Doctor Syntax - but why stop at just those responsible for signage? And rather than have them in the car, can we strap them to the front, please?

        1. Lee D

          Don't get me started on road design.

          Traffic lights on roundabouts? I don't care WHAT mathematical model you've run (and I'm a mathematician), it's a load of junk if it thinks that putting traffic lights into a traffic flow does anything positive for traffic flow.

          You can argue them for safety for pedestrian crossings.

          But traffic lights are just a way of stopping 50% of the traffic dead still. If that's necessary for traffic to flow, you've designed your roads wrong. And if they are necessary on a three-lane roundabout, you have SERIOUS design problems that need fixing.

          It's like having an Internet connection that, when your ISP is busy, they turn off 50% of their customer's packets for 60 seconds.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            "you've designed your roads wrong."

            Now tell me something I didn't know!

            And now you've got me started on traffic lights. A few weeks ago we had road works on a side road almost adjacent to a junction. They needed to put TTLs because for the side-road traffic but because the obstruction was so close to the junction they had to put them on the main road itself, a light either side of the junction. They positioned the generators & what not on the main road opposite the junction occupying the whole of that lane. No real problem, just a normal three-way light set up - except it wasn't. They installed 2-way lights, the side road being one way and the lights on both directions on the main road being the other. So anyone driving along the main road, expecting three-way lights, found themselves, on a green light, driving straight into oncoming traffic, also on a green light, on the same side of the road. Fun!

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Poisson distribution much? Applicable to both.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Traffic lights on roundabouts?

            Ah - you've been to Swindon then. My personal pet peeve - one of the busiest roundabouts have a pedestrian crossing about 20m from the exit on the busiest flow. The result? That locks up the whole roundabout.

            when your ISP is busy, they turn off 50% of their customer's packets for 60 seconds.

            Ah - the old Virgin Media[1] strategy. They recently cabled our road. Then the poor sales driod allocated to our area knocked on the door and asked if I'd like cable from VM. 5 minutes later he interrupted my (fairly polite) rant to say: "so - that's a no then?".

            [1] We used[2] to use them at work. I've never known quite such a shyster company - when asked why they were still billing us for lines we had cancelled and had ceased two years ago, their excuse was "well, you didn't tell us to cancel the billing..".

            [2] Unfortunately, we then replaced them with TalkTalk Business (an oxymoron - they don't talk and they are barely a business..). Since then, we've migrated away from them too.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "And rather than have them in the car, can we strap them to the front, please?"

          No, you can't shout at them so easily.

      2. Captain DaFt

        "The invigilator may have the additional task of preventing the designer jumping/being pushed out of the car."

        Use a locking seatbelt. The invigilator has the key.

        (And if the driver or the invigilator isn't happy at the end of the session, leave the official locked in the car overnight. ☺

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "leave the official locked in the car overnight."

          You might need to run another test next day. Best use a hire car, let someone else clean it up.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      The evil IT guy gets to punch the UI designer instead of the screen...

    4. Anonymous Coward

      certainly worked for me as everything belonged to me and I'd develop the UI working with the people that were going to use it each and every day. Usually took 5 to 10 days and worth every minute. Line people owned that software and I'd get nary a help desk call on that UI.

    5. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Shit. This could be painful. I'm an evil IT guy and a UI designer.

      I'd get my own coat but I'd be suspicous of what I'd put in the pockets... :)

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    For the love of God, get your bearings straight

    You insist on shoveling the Start button into a phone UI, then you turn around and insist on taking it away from a full-fledged PC ?

    Is the MS design department based in Colorado, by any chance ? Or was it the MS design department that managed to lobby hard enough to have their weed decriminalized ?

    Which schizophrenic idiot approved all this ?

    Of course, silly me, there must have been hundreds of idiots on the managerial merry-go-round. No way you can so totally lose the plot with a single, coherent corporate vision. This just proves that MS never, ever had any vision whatsoever. It started by stealing someone else's code, and continued blindly flailing about the two sole products that ever brought in the money.

    Success is overrated.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: For the love of God, get your bearings straight

      "Success is overrated."

      Is it? I so seldom see it in new UI designs so ai wouldn't know.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: For the love of God, get your bearings straight

        There are a handful of things that people have become used to - and not just on windows: menus, overlapping windows, the task bar, start menus, scroll bars and the like.

        It doesn't *matter* if there are better, newer, more innovative ways of doing the things that people do with computers; they want to do things the way they have learned to do them. Apple and Ubuntu demonstrate that there are ways to do things that are different, and that can work, but the vast majority of people (on desktop computers) prefer the 'old' ways.

        UI designers seem to have a generic policy - maybe it's something you pick up at UI school? - of forcing unwanted changes on users and in many cases not providing a route back to something with which the user is familiar. MS is not alone in this - consider Ubuntu's sidebar, or window control buttons on the 'wrong' corner, or Mint's current disappearing scroll bars - but they have the largest audience and so they have the most complaints...

        It's not that we *we* can't work with new UI paradigms, it's that we can't work efficiently, or do things in the way we are used to - it's that we don't want to unless and until we see a major advantage to it.

        (Personal grump: MS's inability to understand the concept of independent mouse and keyboard focus: as late as W8 (dunno about later) moving the mouse out of the window which has focus and to another window and then scrolling it causes the window it just left to respond. Every Linux desktop with which I am familiar understands this: the UI thingie under the mouse responds to scrolls; keyboard focus does not pass until the mouse is clicked.)

    2. CrazyOldCatMan

      Re: For the love of God, get your bearings straight

      Success is overrated.

      Especially when bought with marketing rather than with capability.

  6. Roland6 Silver badge

    "a cross-platform shell"

    Suspect it will require a resurrected Silverlight and .NET to be installed...

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: "a cross-platform shell"

      "Suspect it will require a resurrected Silverlight and .NET to be installed..."

      No no, this will require something new and Different!, with a C# like syntax, but totally incompatible without the new IDE. (Which is still in development, but will be rolled out by late September 2020, at the latest!)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "a cross-platform shell"

        Yep, that's been the pattern for over three decades now. Now it won't matter at all here as the first thing I do is rip out the GUI and replace it with NeXT/OPENStep, especially on Windows, I just pity the victims.

        Shell replacement has been csh since when I was using BSD on a highly modified Amiga A2000. Nice thing is no one ever wants to 'borrow' my machines. Well, nobody except other engineers.

  7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Or if this is a mishearing – quite plausible – a Compostable Shell."

    Combustible? Be careful of those Lion batteries.

  8. Chemical Bob

    Notably absent from the Pegasus OS

    Pegasus mail

    Although the URL does give one the impression that this is the message system used by dogs.

  9. Tim99 Silver badge

    "Users are so familiar with overlapping windows"

    Not around here. Many older newbies and youngsters run a single "Window 10". If you take a sized window and move it, it usually goes into full screen mode (where it stays). Two windows to drag-and-drop files between them is magic, even copy-and-paste is unusual. Right-click is an arcane procedure.

    If we gave these users a single modal screen, they probably would not complain...

  10. ecofeco Silver badge

    It's the current fashion

    Shit UI is the current fashion. In everything.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why change?

    Much of the conversation seems to be based around the relative value of changes to the device UI. My question is "why does the UI have to change at all?".

    Now in my 60s, I have been using PCs since before the windows (small w, I don't limit it to MS products) became the norm. Windowing was a huge advance on the many platforms that adopted it.

    I know and like the classic layout. It may seem silly that you need to click the Start button to turn the PC off but I know where it is (up to Win 8 that is) and I know what it does. Likewise, I will only use a browser with a classic menu bar, then tools, and then tabs which are only there when more than one tab is open. Any UI designer who decides to "improve" the design can foxtrot oscar. If I want to use the whole screen I can toggle F11. I didn't ask for change and I will not accept it. I am the customer, they are the suppliers and they should know their place which is to meet my needs and desires.

    Imagine what would be your response if you checked your car in for a 10,000 mile major service and it came back a different colour, and the garage had moved the steering wheels and pedals all in the name of improving the driving experience. The PC is a tool. I have spent a lot of time learning how to use that tool and I don't want any other tool making unrequested changes.

    Rant over. Needless to say that I won't touch any MS stuff post Win7, and I stick to Mate or LXDE on my Linux machines except the Raspberry Pi 3. Raspbian is classic enough for me.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft Chopin' and changin' for 10 years now

    They really have no idea what users want. Take a look at windows 10 and Xbox one for classic examples of many many about turns.

  13. GrapeBunch


    Surely it's not C-SHELL, but CS-HELL.

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