March 2, 2023

Listary and Winstep Nexus

Recently I installed 2 new programs on my PC:  Listary and Winstep Nexus. The former after having uninstalled Everything, that is a search tool for use with the agonizingly slow Windows 11. The tool worked fine, but after learning that the program was used by the Mimic ransomware program I immediately uninstalled it. Looking for alternatives I bumped into Listary, which actually is even faster than Everywhere and can be used in any type of program that lists files - in my case Windows Explorer and FastStone Image Viewer. Listary's pace outruns Windows search with about by a lightyear or two and also is capable of launching applications. So I was very pleased with that, because productivity just hit the ceiling, where search actions are concerned, there by resolving the huge sluggishness problem crippling Windows 11.

The second program I installed was Winstep Nexus, that is a program launcher that gives Windows a Mac OS style taskbar, while including many more options. Some programs did not show their proper icon (the Affinity suit programs from the Windows store, that have a non-traditional Windows installation). The Windows 11 taskbar is a slight improvement over the one of Windows 10, but its customization options are very scarce and besides offering a much better visual appearance, the Nexus launch bar presents a lot more functionality. I had a second minor problem with this program, that also is not caused by its code: While having checked the Do not launch multiple sessions of the same application option in the Nexus configuration dialog box, the Opera web browser did that anyway, while Chrome and Edge did not, so I suspect it to be an Opera problem. Having gotten rid of the restrictive and boring Windows 11 taskbar, is a good thing.

The shipload of utilities that can significantly improve the Windows platform, hint at the fact that many possibilities are left unattended in Redmond, while Apple and some Linux distributions at least make some type of an effort to offer a more or less decent system to their users. Productivity and eye-candy matters to a lot of users. If users could choose between a Windows 3 UI and that of a modern Apple OS, the choice of most users would be obvious, so UI matters and productivity increase is directly linked to the UI. Apple developers have understood that, their Windows peers to a lot less elevated extent. Not favoring Apple over Windows, because their complete denial of right to repair and upgradability is disdain for their clients, which they can get away with because of their UI's eye-candy and higher level productivity. Plus the fact that fanboys reason Apple's user unfriendly hardware part away in order to justify their choice.

Windows' productivity has almost become on par with Apple's one, so when the former's eye-candy and productivity are taken to a higher level, the preference between the two platforms becomes a matter of personal taste, probably shifting towards a preference for Windows when the standard UI and productivity are upgraded. The two programs discussed in this blog entry contribute to deciding the shift. This makes me wonder why Windows' developer team has not given these aspects more attention than they did. Particularly since Winstep Nexus and Listary do not add a lot more CPU and Memory demands to the platform, which could easily have been compensated by discarding the ton of useless bloatware that currently is included in the Windows versions. In fact, Windows' developers could have spent less time on creating superfluous apps, while offering their clients a nicer looking and more efficient system.

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Window's market share is almost double that of Apple's OS, but it is blown out of the water by Android. Apple's OS and iOS combined bring them closer to Windows market share and what we see, is that Apple is already diversifying its platforms, while Windows is not. Windows could probably beef up its position in the market share ranking by including the functionality like that Winstep Nexus and Listary offer with little effort as long as the PC will be the still preferred, but waning, user choice, for which it has to seriously consider becoming a main player in the soaring mobile market in order to continue its dominance. An important aspect of this is porting Windows to ARM CPUs, which is a less successful undertaking by Microsoft, because it does not seem to be a priority in Redmond.

Catching up with current developments will not be easy since the Android train has already left the station at great pace and most likely this will not change in the near future, because mobile devices are more affordable than PCs and laptops. It does not require a genius mind to see in which direction platform preference is going. The Asian market already has a strong preference for mobile platforms and this will not change any time soon, because users have become familiar with the Android platform and apps, while ARM chips are becoming more powerful very fast. Is this the result of poor strategical judgement from Microsoft? Time will tell, although the sign on the wall seems to become more obvious as time passes.

PCs will remain the first choice for a number of applications that require large displays and a good measure of computing power, while needing keyboards and mice for accuracy and ease of operation. But many things can satisfyingly be done on mobile devices, including the all important web browsing and various types of messaging. So, different types of markets take away the need for a PCs and laptops, mainly when used for basic communication. While users spend more time on mobile devices and consequently less time on PCs, the industry that focuses on the latter must make working on PCs more effective and exploit the benefits of larger screens and more effective input devices (while it still makes sense). This is exactly the necessary potential that Microsoft has not attended to a level that would have been possible.

Traditionally a PCs were used in one or two specific locations most of the time - the office and / or at home. Making use of its potential in this market segment therefore is increasingly becoming imperative for PC manufacturers to survive as long as users can avoid the possibility to work anywhere. It is the reason why laptops became more popular and messaging communication became more important. However, a new development makes it possible to use (some) smartphones as a desktop PC replacement, which is an other potential nail in the PC market share coffin. And this device of course just marks the start of that type of innovation, that has the potential to even make laptops a thing of the past.

Many utilities that improve the default capabilities of platforms have a small footprint and could easily be integrated in those platforms, enhancing their usability and efficiency right out of the box. Today - March 2023 - Microsoft does not seem to feel a lot of urgency to incorporate useful utilities in their Windows system, but the landscape of computing is changing fast these days. Winstep Nexus and Listary are just two of the utilities that enhance the use of PCs significantly. Therefore, the direction in which the market is developing, should make PC platform manufacturers rethink their modus operandi if they plan to extend their market share while it still is possible to earn a decent sum of money in it. The deciding heart of the matter is the visionary talent of the company management. Spending too much time on keeping personnel on a short leash where salary fees and ignoring creative employee input are concerned, while partying on yachts is an unfailing recipe to ruin market share. Hubris and ignorance are dangerous mindsets when staying ahead of the competition is necessary to survive. Particularly in a world that shifts from bull market to bear market.

History has shown often enough that reluctance to adapt to market demand is preparation to the downfall of companies that failed to respond to it adequately. It is a feat that remains the same in a world of cyclical processes that supersedes companies' reluctance to adopt, laziness and / or inability to change their policy. However, in today's industrial world of competing monopolists, such a situation has almost always lead to unpleasant or even dystopian living conditions for those that don't have the power of decision. So perhaps diversity is a good thing after all, in view of the fact that power corrupts and lulls leadership into a false sense of still being on top and secure.....

Update September 29 2023

After the penultimate Windows 11 Update Listary refused to start and relatively long before that I uninstalled Nexus, because I found it less useful than I initially thought it would be and a little bit more buggy than I had anticipated. Nevertheless these programs could potentially fill some of the functional voids that were left unattended by Microsoft's developers. Software resembles a living thing; it either evolves or ceases to exist. Undoubtedly improved alternatives may emerge that make Windows users happy. Especially now that AI systems are able to write code for algorithms or programs, which efficiency and syntax puzzle developers, while they work better and faster than they could have thought of. Anyway, it was nice to have had a chance to at least get some idea of the, as of yet unfulfilled, potential of Listary and Nexus.