I could not have said it better myself @dinsdale.
Truth be told we all have different preferences. There are no guarentees that a person will like Windows, macOS, Linux, or a BSD variant. There is no one size fits all. No OS can be all things to all people. All you can do is try it out see if you like it or not, and go from there.
That does not mean your parents will like it. My dad hated KDE but liked Gnome 3. Sadly he didnt live long enough to see me merge Gnome 3 into PC-BSD. So I could never fix his problems with PC-BSD! But I can say he was very happy transitioning away from a PC to an iPad before he passed away.
At this point and time, in the human history, when someone considers, wishes or wants to utilize any digital device or gadget that connects (or not) to Internet (a.k.a TCP/IP network), it doesn’t matter which hardware platform (PC, dedicated appliance, smart-phone, camera, DTV, gaming console …etc) , OS or software application, one has no choice but must learn how to at least operate those devices and dedicated software application such as: web browsers, communication apps for txt’ing, FB app, YT app, etc, at the basic level. And, age has nothing to do with one’s ability to comprehend or handle those tasks. The only exception are people with extreme disabilities related to some functions of their brain and those who just don’t not want to learn new things or develop new skills, at any given time or age
Using tool such as construction hammer involves learning process to know, at least, how to hold the hammer to drive nails straight down or to pull those that were bend. And then, there are different nails and variety of hammers for different type of applications. I could go on&troll about hammers, nails and who should, can or want to learn how to use them.
Human life in general is a never ending learning process that leads to discovery and progress It began around stone age. Since then, most of the human-like-kind moved forward. But, there are some who want to stay behind, because they like the olden days or a simple lifestyle. I am not here to judge if the progress and human inventions are good or bad for anyone or who should benefit from them.
Personally, I like to learn and progress, even if the subject involves hammers and nails.
My experience is that when getting people onto computers, it comes down to what the person thinks they can use. There is an intrinsic learning curve with software that we as computer “scientists” have overcome and most non-tech users have not. It causes a barrier (real or perceived) that makes unfamiliar computers unusable for most.
The best you can hope for is that the “supportee” has a friend that uses <name-here> OS. That way the person thinks “Oh, well if Mary can use her <device-here>, then I could probably use that too.”
Windows for a long time was the best for most people because of it’s ubiquity in business software and schools. The advent of i-Things has made that less of a certainty, with Android and Chromebooks being a third option for the more daring.
I think it has very little to do with the capability of any computer/software and well over 80% to do with perception. The death of Woindows Phone and BB10 has made that abundantly clear to me. Likewise, OSX isn’t really any easier that Windows 10, but that’s the line we are sold through advertising, so it must be true. Why would Tim lie?
I had one of the original beige Macs, that had the 9 inch B&W screen, 3.5 floppy, I think 128MB of RAM. One of the things that Apple did “right” at the beginning was the User Interface guidelines that mandated how your application would look and feel. It may not have been “easier” than Windows, but everything was consistent. Those guidelines were adhered to for a very long time, but it’s gotten to the point where they are now guidelines instead of hard and fast rules.
My experience has shown that new/novice users consistency in the interface is the same thing as “ease of use”.
Original Macs were awesome. You knew exactly where to go to find applications and exactly where to go to find system tools. I remember moving to Windows 3.1 (I was around 14) and thinking (what the hell is this mess? How do you find anything?).
But I can’t help feel that the Windows 8 UI debacle shows consistency is secondary if the user isn’t familiar enough to find things. Windows “Metro” was incredibly consistent once you learned where things were (all other shortcomings aside). But, nobody wanted to learn where to find the dials and knobs so they complained that it was too different. I wanted to throw my computer out the Window at one point I was so frustrated, but perseverance led to success. Once the barrier was overcome, the Windows 8 UI and the new apps are very consistent and easy to use (the many many shortcomings aside!). Even a half-assed attempt by MS at a local user manual may have saved the Windows 8 UI model (for better or worse).
The Metro interface on WindowsPhone was the first truly unique UI since Windows 95 and the UI update in Mac. It was so consistent, they didn’t need to have buttons and chrome around things because you intrinsically knew what you could click on because EVERY app was the same. It didn’t help because “Mary’s friend” had an iPhone so the perception of barrier was more than most wished to grapple with.
On the Metro note, I think the reason so many “flat UI’s” fail is because they have taken that one design paradigm from the Metro interface and applied it to incompatible interfaces.
My mother had no problem finding the Firefox link and opening it and doing the things she needed. There was a problem with the Wi-Fi once and that was it. There was just too much mental barrier so she never wanted to use it. She just avoided doing anything on the computer and made excuses. I put a Windows laptop in front of her and she’s emailing and surfing all the time. This is a woman that bought a Commadore Pet in 1982 to do the book keeping for my dads business. A Luddite she is not. Familiar with Windows she is.
My wife used Windows Phone and BB10 but when I tried to get her on Android it was too different so she balked. I bought her an iPhone and she’s happy. Yes, the Android UI is crap, but…
My most successful supports are where a new PC was purchased with a valid license of Windows. The Microsoft support is excellent and if you buy a support plan they do back flips to get you working. Install GoToMyPC and you have all your bases covered.
Windows 10 has integrated Skype, a decent mail app, and Edge is mostly usable now (some sites still have issues). One drive is integrated and very very good. The Apple stuff is very good too, but the premium hardware prices makes it rather difficult to recommend. Both vendors are trying to lock everyone into walled garden app stores, but there isn’t much we can do about that. The masses have spoken and they wish to give up choice and privacy for ease of use.
Yes, I stopped getting calls from “friends.” about fixing their computer. Every time I see them, I tell them that I use TrueOS because of privacy and security that it offers, and that they must enjoy their viruses if they keep getting them and keep complaining about it.
Every time I hear, my hard drive was encrypted by WannaCry and they are asking me for N bitcoins to give me the encryption key. I tell them, well pay them… The next question is, “is there anything you can do to help me?” (usually because if I do it it’s free). And the answer is No.
Most people realize that they don’t need their files that bad, but I’ve had a few that really did need their files and just paid the hackers the ransom, and (to my surprise) the hackers honored their part of the deal and gave them the encryption key.
The question after that is, “What can I do to prevent this?” The answer is… Stop using Windows. So when they tell me the next time that they got a Virus. I just keep telling them, yeah you must really enjoy those.
Now they have just quit bothering me altogether.
In the age of networked computers, there is only one cure for preventing “viruses”:
Until we can verify the contents of a link prior to allowing it, no operating system is safe. It seems to me you are relying on your abundant computer skills and the lack of targets using BSD, rather than the strength of an operating system. Yes, ZFS and other tools can help lessen the pain, but as soon as everyone is using TrueOS (hey, I can dream), we now have all the social engineering and other tricks to deal with. Not to mention:
No silver bullets. That, and advertisers would NEVER allow Xanadu to exist anymore. In fact, HTTP2 seeks to prevent this entirely.
I know security trough obscurity is not really security. But obscurity added as a layer of security is.
I found this video really cool.
The 1. question has to be: Do you love your parents?
And do you like they love you too?
The 2. question: Do you like to visit your parents very often because of trouble with any OS?
My suggestion: Keep it simple and use ubuntu with Mate or LinuxMint.
I have installed ubuntu for my wife, daughters-in-law and different friends. I showed them how to download applications and to update there OS. Ubuntu LTS 16.4 has long term support for 5 years.
For me: I’m a technician. I know to help me now and then or to ask.
So I can try TrueOS, GhostBSD and different Linux OS.
But I also like my peace.
Somehow I don’t think Linux is simple either. I don’t like Microsoft, but we have to admit if you want ease of use, and “peace of mind.” You have to go to windows (No way around it right now).
If I wanted the Headache of giving someone a Linux system, I’d skip it all together, and get them something like GhostBSD or TrueOS since the headache would be about similar.
I don’t like Microsoft either.
Excuse me if I contradict you to Linux. You get Linux in a variety of flavors, some difficult some easy to use.
But I know I’m here in a BSD/TrueOS community. And I get a weapon on my head if I say something wrong.
I gave TrueOS a try over a year now. I know the devs work very hard and this community is very helpful. For me I have to say: To use TrueOS as a workstation and to suggest for parents I would wait a little longer. As playground for trying out: OK.
For GhostBSD 11.1 I can say: I’m vary impressed. Sound works out of the box, no crash after update/upgrade …and so on. This OS I can suggest for good friends, parents and for my peace.
I think (responding to the original topic and perhaps sidestepping the subsequent parts of the discussion) that it really depends on the particular people and the particular situation.
Some people prefer to do things the way they always have, even if the way they’ve always done things is complicated and difficult and brings demonstrably inferior results. People don’t all (and/or don’t always) change their minds, even when presented with objectively-convincing evidence. (Indeed, it sometimes seems that certain individuals become even more change-resistant when the evidence in favour of change is strongest.)
Everyone should do what works for them in their situation. My own very limited experience suggests that, for most people in most situations, changing computer systems is only good if - to the user, not the technician - the change brings an overwhelmingly large benefit and also requires minimal change in their computer usage habits.
I think a system that performs a brand new never-before-seen function is different, and kind of gets a “pass” in this respect. Learning how to do something you’ve never done before, you expect unfamiliarity. But comments like “Why have they changed my email? It worked fine before!” seem very common among those with nerdy relatives - even if all that happened was a different-coloured icon, or the same button being in a different location.