What if you don’t ever intend to use 3D imagery? What if you don’t want a Timeline that records everything you do on your PC? Too bad: Windows 10 now includes this and many other capabilities a large number of users will never need or want.
I propose that Microsoft’s operating system become like the Firefox browser, in which you can add or remove extensions to get only the features you want. Maybe you don’t want a timeline and would rather just have multiple virtual desktops (as I do). Just remove it and replace it with the appropriate module.
I know Microsoft does provide a lot of leeway in turning features on and off, but a modular approach would actually let you remove the feature from your system, as opposed to simply disabling it.
There are of course problems with this. You’d have different capabilities on different Windows systems, so users and app developers could run into situations where expected capabilities aren’t present. Somehow, though, web browsers still manage to run multifarious websites and apps, so the idea doesn’t seem that preposterous.
There are rumors about a “lean edition” of Windows 10, but that isn’t quite what I’m getting at. That flavor of Windows is intended for low-power, low-storage PCs, and removes advanced and legacy features such as the registry editor and Internet Explorer. I’m talking about making all the latest bells and whistles optional.
The macOS situation is no better, and possibly even less flexible. There, Cupertino decides what’s best for you. Want a touch screen or a USB-A port on your new laptop? Too bad. Messaging and video calling? You can only use its products.
Linux and Ubuntu lie at the other end of the spectrum: too much choice and not enough usability.
Microsoft actually already has a mechanism that could make this modular system work: the Microsoft Store. The company has struggled to get people and developers to embrace the store, even though it plays a big role in its future aspirations; Windows 10S Mode only runs store apps. Making parts of the OS available in the store would boost its profile.
A modular approach doesn’t work for everything. It’s been tried for smartphones and laptops with very little success. But for a piece of software that many would like to run unobtrusively in the background, it could make a lot of sense. Those who like to tinker with all the newest features are free to do so, but let those who just want bare-bones serviceability have that, too.