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Backwards Compatibility

What’s so great about Microsoft?

The Windows team invests a mind-boggling amount of time, hardware, and people into maintaining compatibility. There are bugs in Windows that could have been fixed years ago, but can’t be, because that would break applications that (deliberately or accidentally) depend on those bugs. Bug-for-bug compatibility is a problem, but breaking backward compatibility would be a much bigger problem, so even as the lowest layers of the operating system are revised and rewritten, the layers that applications talk to (the application programming interface, or API) are carefully tested to ensure that no changes are visible to the application.

At Microsoft, bugs aren’t to be stamped out; they’re carefully preserved. It sounds like a joke, but they really see that as a positive feature.

Modern Expressionism

So, an artist goes into an Apple store. . . .

No, it’s not a joke, and I don’t really care about the minor legal trouble this guy got into. What interests me about this article is that he seems to think he’s discovered something significant in the way people interact with computers. We’re all staring zombie-like at these screens and it’s turning us into zombies. Oh-noes!

Of course we have a blank expression most of the time we’re staring at a computer screen. What expression should you have? You also stare blankly at the TV, out the windshield of your car when driving, at the tile wall when showering. . . . Just about any time you’re not looking at another person, your expression is pretty blank. That’s because facial expressions are for other people, not for inanimate objects.

Don’t believe me? Open up a video chat with another person. You’ll smile, laugh, and frown, because you’re interacting with a person, not a screen, and that’s what facial expressions are wired for.