Why Windows™ is a Turd That Can't Be Polished

If you take a look at any installation of Microsoft Windows, which ever version it happens to be, you'll notice one thing.  Programs are not sorted.  This is due to having no standard for installation methods for applications.  Sure, there is the Program Files folder, where just about everything installs to, but that's the problem, 'just about everything' is not everything.

 Secondly, there is the Programs menu when you click start (from Windows 95 onwards) that not only is not organized in any particular way, it also will not keep the sorting setting.  Sometimes it works to sort by name, but mostly you have to select that every time you install a new program.

The problem lies in the fact that Microsoft does not enforce any guidelines for installation.  A good example is Neverwinter Nights.  This is a role-playing game created by the company Bio-ware.  If you install this to the default directory, it will create a directory in C:\ called Neverwinter Nights.  That's simple enough, but does not install into Program Files, which would be considered standard.  Then it creates a Neverwinter Nights in the Start Menu.  Nice and simple there.  

Now let's look at another program.  I'll choose another game here, Fable: The Lost Chapters.  Published by Microsoft Games, you'd think they would follow some sort of guideline.  Well, maybe if that guideline is to install into C:\Program Files\<publisher's name>\<game name> because that's exactly where it installs.  C:\Program Files\Microsoft Games\Fable - The Lost Chapters.  Now where does that put it in the Programs menu?  Under Microsoft Games, of course.  Now if you happen to hate a billion icons on your desktop like I do, then you'll probably be wondering after newly installing a program where it is, I certainly would not automatically assume that a game I just installed would go under the publisher's name, the average user doesn't care who published or developed their software, they just want to use it.  

 Anyone who has Windows installed for any length of time knows that it gets cluttered.  Unless you can somehow find the functionality with just Windows and perhaps Microsoft Office that you need, then you'll be installing 3rd party software.  The more you install, the more cluttered the Programs menu and your desktop will be.  

 There is a feature in Windows XP that will hide your desktop icons (and system tray icons as well) if they have not been used in a while.  This is a good/bad thing.  Some people are just too lazy to remove the icons after installation, or don't notice the 'put an icon on the desktop' option that some installers have.  I have seen desktops that literally were covered in icons.  The desktop icon was meant for a quick shortcut, but some programs (like image viewers and the like) rarely need to be executed directly, rather they'll be opened when a picture is double-clicked.  So there really is no need for the desktop icon to be there.  Automatically hiding icons can very much be a bad thing.  If your desktop just happens to be covered by all sorts of icons, and you accidentally click the Yes when it asks if you want to hide the icons that aren't frequently used, then you will end up having a ton of empty spaces on the screen, and quite possibly won't be able to find that program you only use occasionally.

The system tray auto-hider is extremely annoying.  They did not implement it well at all.  I do believe it is a good feature, but anyone who has ever clicked that little arrow to show all the system tray icons will know, it will shoot out, and then back in, making it so you have to click it several times for it to finally give you access to any tray icons that are there.

The other really irritating thing about the system tray.  It is extremely overused.  Programs like quicktime, and acrobat reader have no place in the system tray.  It should be for notification purposes only.  Something like the windows update notification is what it is intended for.  Something similar to Valve's Steam Engine would be appropriate to put there, to notify the user that there is an update.  

The other type of software that belongs in the system tray would be programs that generally just run in the background.  For example, instant messengers, peer to peer file sharing, anti-virus and firewalls.  This is so that to clean up your workspace, you can just minimize these to the system tray.  

There are far too many developers that put things in the system tray that just don't belong.  How many times have you needed to change your quicktime preferences?  I'd probably guess once, maybe twice.  When do you use quicktime?  When you're viewing video streams, that's it.  Why do they think this warrants the use of taking up space and confusing users by putting an extra icon in the system tray?

 Many will say that this is not Microsoft's fault, because it's all the third party publisher/developers that choose where and how to install their software.  This is incorrect, because Microsoft should have had guidelines in place, not to mention their very own installer for maintaining where and how software is installed.  They do have their own installer, the msi packages, but it still has no guidelines for it.  

Let's take a look at the add/remove programs list from the control panel.  Sadly, only about two thirds of the time is the program you want to remove even in there.  There really is no reason to call it add/remove either, since very rarely is there a way to add a program to Windows through this.  The one exception is that you can add Windows components, like solitaire.  Generally there is just a "Remove Only" button, and occasionally a "Change" button.  The real problem lies in the fact that some software will not properly remove from add/remove programs.  You have to use uninstall program that came with the software, found somewhere under the start menu.  It's really annoying when no matter what you try to do with removing a program, that it just won't go away because either the installer or the uninstaller won't work properly.  I've personally had that happen a few times.  

Also very rarely will you ever see a piece of software that removes itself completely from your system.  There are almost always pieces of it laying around, either in the registry or as files on your hard drive.

 What can be done about all of this?  Nothing.  Even if Microsoft tries to enforce a new specification, that does not mean developers will listen.  For some it may even be due to personal ego, why shouldn't their program be in the system tray, it's important enough, right?