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I remember when I was in college I had to take a “Programming Languages” class. One of the things that my professor kept pointing out as a hallmark of bad language design was the use of arbitrary limits. He usually pointed to the arbitrary length of strings and numbers in many languages as a very popular example. Most of us are still using languages that have arbitrary limits on types such as integers, but there are languages like Ruby which don’t even have limits in integers. Ruby transparently expands the numbers as they grow. The limits on numeric types in languages such as C# are there for performance reasons because the Ruby solution, from a performance standpoint, is not an acceptable trade-off in many peoples minds. (In C# 4.0 we are getting a bigint type finally)
The point here is that while some limits may be there for technical reasons, it is generally considered to be very bad form to put artificial limits for the sake of artificial limits. This is why today when I was upgrading my personal laptop to Windows 7 I came across this and had a WTF moment…
Not only does the “Windows Experience Index” start at 1 and not 0, but it ends at 7.9. Seriously? Honestly the choice to start at 1 isn’t terribly bad, I guess they didn’t want to have to tell people that their computer was a zero! But who was sitting around and decided that 7.9 was the optimal point to stop at? So, when you run the tool on your computer and you get a 7.2 you have a screaming computer. My laptop scored a 5 due to my video card, but considering the scale ends at 7.9 that isn’t too bad of a score.
A little while later during more exploration I came across the form for providing feedback:
1 to 7? Again, what is with 7? Maybe they just got 7 stuck in their head because it is Windows 7. And suddenly 7 became the answer for everything! I don’t really know, I have yet to figure it out. What I want to know is what was wrong with a 1 to 5 scale? Or better yet, a three level “don’t like”, “indifferent”, “like” sort of scale? Overall these oddities don’t detract at all from my Windows 7 experience, but they are just so delightfully random!
As a side note, let me also say that my Windows 7 experience so far has been great. I was one of those idiots that just accepted that Vista was slower because it was “doing more”. And I genuinely did like Vista over XP. I understand that UAC was a nightmare and that early on there was major driver issues, but I never really experienced any of that. I just thought that Vista took up more memory because it was a more complicated operating system that was performing more work behind the scenes. Well, Microsoft is in trouble now because they proved with Windows 7 that you can do more and be faster.
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