The Down Side of Windows

 

    Every UNIX/Linux based POS software company believes that their product has advantages over Windows programs. They’ve been telling you that for years. But now it seems that all of them have either migrated to Windows, are in the process of doing so, or are trying to blur the line between what they have and a true Windows application. Why?

First of all, there is one fact in the software world that has proven itself over and over again. If you are not with Microsoft, you are going to be left behind.  Product improvement is not the driving motivation for this rush to Windows. Survival is.

There have been several projects in which millions of dollars were spent developing Windows tire store applications, only to have them scrapped before they ever hit the market or to fail after a few years. Yet, with these examples in front of them, vendors press on to produce pretty much the same products that have already failed.

So, why is Window having such a hard time in the tire world while everybody is trying so hard to make it work?  The answer; most Windows programs are just too slow and aggravating to use.


Poor Usability

Believe it or not, when most tire companies switch from their old text based application to the new Windows replacement, they find they don’t like it.  What about all the new features? What about the improved network, printer, and other hardware compatibility?  What about the “point and click”?  What about the pretty graphics?  None of it matters if you don’t like using it.  It is quite common for a company to switch to a Windows program only to go back to what they had to begin with.

Why is this?  Visually cluttered and confusing screens, aggravating login/logout process, and a host of other design problems certainly contribute to the problem. But the biggest problem is the way Windows is designed to interact with the user.

Think about it.

Standard Windows Behavior (SWB) is great for most computer tasks such as word processing or internet browsing but terrible for high speed order entry on a sales counter. SWB requires the user to use the mouse for everything they need to do. This requires you to....

  1. Remove your hand from the keyboard
  2. Visually locate the mouse
  3. Properly position your hand on the mouse
  4. Visually locate the mouse cursor on the screen
  5. Visually locate the target area on the screen
  6. Move the mouse to center the cursor over the target area.
  7. Click the right mouse button
  8. Look back at the keyboard in order to properly reposition your hand
  9. Start typing.

To enter a typical work order, the user repeats the above sequence over and over again.

Why do all this when you can accomplish the same thing with a single key press without your hand leaving the keyboard or your eyes leaving the screen?

The primary reason most tire dealers do not like typical Widows POS programs are they are just too slow and difficult to use for high activity sales counters.  In fact, many tire dealers need to hand-write their tickets and enter them into the system later.   It’s the only way they can keep up with the work flow.


Outdated and Underpowered

Some Windows programs were originally old DOS programs that have been recompiled with tools to give them a graphical “point and click” interface.  The underlying code and data structures are mostly unchanged.  This recompile generally does little to fix the many compatibility problems common with DOS applications.  As a result, the software company may offer these for data hosting only and try to market it as “cloud computing”. 

Other Windows programs were originally developed with outdated development tools that were never meant to deal with large amounts of data or activity.  These programs tend to grind to a crawl as data starts to accumulate.  They also suffer from compatibility and data corruption problems. 

 

TireShop’s answer to the Windows problem

Many Windows programs are produced with code generation tools that are designed for non-programmers.  As a result, the designer has very little control as to how the resulting program looks or behaves.   TireShop, on the other hand, is all hand coded.  This is more time consuming and requires a much higher skill set.  The payoff is being able to produce a product that looks and behaves exactly as you want.   TireShop is the only Windows based program designed for high efficiency use without a mouse.    

In 2005, TireShop was a featured application at an international software developer’s conference held in Manchester, NH.  It was shown to software developers from around the world to demonstrate how Windows could be made “Point of Sale” friendly.   

 

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