The Date/Time control panel is not a calendar


Although many people use the Date/Time control panel to flip through a calendar, that's not what it is for. In fact, if you use it that way, you can create all sorts of havoc!

In its original incarnation in Windows 95, the Date/Time control panel changed your date and time. If you clicked through the calendar to see next month, you actually changed your system clock to next month. If you changed your mind and clicked "Cancel", the Date/Time control panel undid its changes and restored the date to the original date.

In other words, here's what happened, step by step:

  • On April 1, you open the Date/Time control panel.
  • You change the month to May. The Date/Time control panel changes your system date to May 1. If you are running an appointment calendar program, all appointments from the month of April will fire. (For example, your April 15th alarm to remind you to file your income taxes.) You are annoyed by all these alerts and you cancel them.
  • You decide you didn't want to change the month to May after all and click Cancel.
  • The Date/Time control panel changes the date back to April 1.
  • On April 15th, your income tax alarm fails to fire because you cancelled it, remember?

In other words, the Date/Time control panel was not designed for letting you flip through a calendar. It was designed for changing the system date and time.

Unaware of its design, people have been using the Date/Time control panel as if it were a calendar, not realizing that it was doing all sorts of scary things behind the scenes. It's like using a cash register as an adding machine. Sure, it does a great job of adding numbers together, but you're also messing up the accounting back at the main office!

For Windows 2000, in reluctant recognition of the way people had been mis-using the Date/Time control panel, it was rewritten so that it doesn't change the system time until you hit the Apply button.

Aaron Margosis shows you how to grant a user permission to change the system date and time without having to make them a full administrator.

Comments (85)
  1. It was poor design to start with in my opinion. Changes should not be applied until you hit apply or ok.

    This must have been caught in usability testing but I get the feeling that some programmer somewhere decided that they knew better than the end users.

  2. Matt says:

    Well, hmmfph! Why doesn’t Windows come with a little calender? Even my Mac 512K from 1984 had a little calender in the little Apple menu…and a sliding puzzle! Windows is so far behind the times.

  3. michkap says:

    To add insult to injury, people often assume that the NLS folks (which is to say, the GIFT group – my team) owns it, and they complain to us about problems they are having with it! :-)

  4. mschaef says:

    "Unaware of its design, people have been using the Date/Time control panel as if it were a calendar, not realizing that it was doing all sorts of scary things behind the scenes. "

    I’d rephrase this: "Unaware of it’s users habit’s, Microsoft have designed the Date/Time control panel ignoring that people typically use it as a calendar, not realizing that it caused users all sorts of scary problems behind the scenes."

  5. Randy H. says:

    Raymond- I know you’re right, (it is fairly intuitive) but I’ve been doing this forever. It is just a bad habit on my part, but I also think that it says something about the utility of the Outlook calendar for quick browsing.

  6. Hope that Microsoft takes that as a feature request. Even Windows 3.1 had a basic calendar utility…

    "Just" create a small basic application, similar to Notepad, with one(and maybe an "advanced view" with two?) "date and time picker" common control. If it displayed week numbers too I’d be more then happy.

    Wonder why Microsoft didn’t do something like this for Windows 2000.

    People who need something more fancy/advanced can do as they do if Wordpad ain’t good enough: get Office (or similar).

  7. Travis Owens says:

    Raymond,

    This post has lead me to believe that you have fallen down the path of the common unispiried, unenlightened programmer.

    You are putting the machine before the user. A good system does the work for the user, a bad system makes the user work in the way that’s dictated to them. Good software is smart, flexible and attempts to figure out what the user is doing.

    When virtually every end user is doing something a certain way, and Windows wasn’t taylored that way, obviously the fault lies on the developer, NOT the user!

    If you continue to think it’s "reluctant", "ignorant" or "unimformed" that the majority uses something one way and the vendor refuses to rethink their design, then you’re slate to be moved over by a new vendor that will give the people what they want.

    I usually find your blog posts very interesting but this is a big let down from you, I really expected more.

  8. quanta says:

    Why on earth did the Date/Time dialog secretly applied changes before the user pressed APPLY anyway???

    No other dialog works like this – except Mouse Properties/Pointer Options. At least changing mouse settings on the fly is mostly harmless, if a bit pointless and confusing yet again.

    But the system clock is hallowed ground.

  9. And what’s even neater is that it’s a security hole waiting to happen – the reason the dialog pops up when you’re a LUA user is that they’re enabling the set date&time privilege on startup (rather than when they set the date&time).

    That means that the applet runs with a privilege enabled, which violates the principle of least privilege (don’t enable a privilege until you absolutely need it).

    Now since most users are admins, this isn’t a problem (they already have the set date&time privilege) but when users are LUA…

  10. Guilty as charged! I use it so often for this purpose in fact that I get annoyed that this window is NOT a top-level window so it doesn’t show in Task Manager nor the Start Bar.

  11. sriram says:

    I have to concur with everyone saying that it was bad design. Settings should never change/be applied unless as result of the user either clicking the "OK" button or the "APPLY" button, and to do otherwise goes against what users expect.

    I too have used the date/time applet as a calendar, because its quite convenient to get to. There is really no need to make it so easy to change the time/date, IMHO, and changing the date/time should involve a trip to the control panel.

  12. Charles P. says:

    Of course this is a problem with the users, not the UI.

  13. This is the same little applet that tells you off if you arent system admin arent you? I hate it. it is in the wrong place.

    Why should clicking on the time in the task bar let me change the system clock? That is what NTP is for. The only change that a user should be doing there is flip the system TZ, and yet the experience for that is so awful, I dont ever do it for short (1 week or less trips).

    1. Other desktops (mac, KDE) have a calendar popping up from their clock. Windows should support something like this, with the ability for any calendar app to plug in behind to be a quick stopoff point for appointment making.

    2. laptops move around; the OS should recognise this. What is the easiest way to change TZ? Have outlook show two zones and hit the ‘swap TZ’ item on its menu. But be careful about all appts you make it that other TZ, cos they will get set in the zone you made the appointment, not the zone you are. That includes "all day" events like birthdays.

  14. Skywing says:

    Out of curiousity, what is the reasoning behind the assertion that leaving a privilege (that you hold) disabled until you need to use it increase security? Any malicious code could just call AdjustTokenPrivileges to turn on the privilege anyway (remember, we’re talking about privileges that are PRESENT but not ENABLED in the token), so I don’t really understand how it gets you much of anything.

  15. Jack Mathews says:

    Poor design. Every other box with OK/Cancel/Apply does not make its changes take effect immediately, then "undo" them when cancelled.

    People were not being idiots. Whoever wrote this did it completely wrong. It’s not like using a cash register as an adding machine. What it IS is someone designing a dialog box completely different from every other convention of boxes, and people trying to use it appropriately. Your argument (and your analogy) is dead wrong here.

  16. Gregor Brandt says:

    It looks like a calendar, it acts like a calendar, there for it is a calendar. The mistake is that it applies dates changes without the user hitting apply or ok.

    I don’t believe that the user is mis-using the panel, nothing should ever happen until a user presses OK or APPLY.

    Gregor

  17. spork says:

    chiming in with a me-too comment– I sure am glad that there are OK and Apply buttons on that dialog….

  18. Wesha says:

    No change may be applied until Apply or OK is clicked. Period.

    If somebody implemented it another way in Date & Time CPL, fire them.

  19. David says:

    I assume that at the time of Win95 there was a UI guidline by Microsoft already? I would also assume that it said that dialog boxes should only change any state once OK or Apply have been clicked… Or maybe I am wrong?

  20. binaryc says:

    "this is a big let down from you, I really expected more."

    I always giggle when I read comments like that.

  21. russ says:

    I agree; Microsoft got this one wrong, both from a dialog design standpoint and a user feature standpoint.

    Dialogs with Apply/OK/Cancel buttons do not make their changes take effect until the Apply or OK button is pressed. Doing it any other way is wrong, plain and simple.

    From a feature standpoint it is obvious that MANY people just need quick access to a simple calendar. Clicking on the time in the taskbar should have popped up such a utility (which could itself have a link to the date/time control panel applet.)

    Then again I think the explorer UI shouldn’t kill a 100,000 file/10GB copy job right in the middle because ONE file failed to copy…. but I guess that’s too much to expect also.

  22. John Topley says:

    Double-clicking the clock in the notification area opens the said dialogue. Yet in Windows XP, the Adjust Date/Time menu item in the clock context menu is no longer bold to indicate that it’s the default action. Is this an oversight?

  23. Adam Young says:

    <<For Windows 2000, in reluctant recognition of the way people had been mis-using the Date/Time control panel, it was rewritten so that it doesn’t change the system time until you hit the Apply button.>>

    I’m flabergasted that it was designed in any other way in the first place! This is standard stuff – no changes should be made until the user commits them with an OK / Apply click. Imagine the chaos if all dialogs were designed in this way, i.e. applying settings as the user edits fields!

  24. Da C Man says:

    Quoted for truth:

    "Raymond,

    "This post has lead me to believe that you have fallen down the path of the common unispiried, unenlightened programmer.

    "You are putting the machine before the user. A good system does the work for the user, a bad system makes the user work in the way that’s dictated to them. Good software is smart, flexible and attempts to figure out what the user is doing.

    "When virtually every end user is doing something a certain way, and Windows wasn’t taylored that way, obviously the fault lies on the developer, NOT the user!

    "If you continue to think it’s "reluctant", "ignorant" or "unimformed" that the majority uses something one way and the vendor refuses to rethink their design, then you’re slate to be moved over by a new vendor that will give the people what they want.

    "I usually find your blog posts very interesting but this is a big let down from you, I really expected more."

  25. James Schend says:

    I dunno, Adam… MacOS X applies (almost) all changes immediately when they are selected and it doesn’t cause any problems… of course, 1) all the dialogs are designed with that in mind and 2) it has a lot fewer options than Windows. (And of course, it has a calendar widget easily available.) I think it’s a better method because it gives you like feedback immediately… if you change the font size on a webpage, you can instantly see how that affects the layout of the open page.

    (The exception is network settings, since setting a IP before setting the netmask could cause problems… you have to hit ‘apply’ for those.)

  26. Ryan Cavanaugh says:

    Who are you, and what have you done with the real Raymond Chen?

  27. Yes, you’re all right. The original Win95 developers got it wrong. But that’s not Raymond’s fault.

    And for the person who suggested NTP, NTP didn’t exist back in 1995.

  28. Mike H says:

    NTP has been around since 1985. A whole decade before Windows 95.

    RFC 958 – September 1985 – Network Time Protocol (NTP)

    Mike

  29. I’m going to call you on that history tidbit Larry. NTP was first developed way back in 1979, first appeared in an RFC in 1981, and the first modern (recognizable) version of the specification was RFCd in 1985. By the time 1995 came around they were already well into development of NTP version 4.

  30. let’s assume the control panel is not for playing with it. ok. but.

    what if i realize, that my system is incorrectly set up to 21 of april, and i wanted to set it to 21 of june, but i accidentally press the button three times. i end up in july, and destroyed my alarms. one keyword for every programmer who designes GUI: forgiveness. MS failed this here.

  31. Should such a vital global setting like system time be so easily accessible and changeable by joe schmoe user?

    I double-click on the clock seeking a calendar browser. You can register an official web browser and mail client, why not an official calendar browser? Why can’t Outlook appear in calendar view when I double-click the clock? Isn’t that just common sense? Why rearrange every other UI on the system time and again but then raise a stink when attempting to make this one more user-friendly?

  32. Threetwosevensixseven says:

    Even OS X’s Date and Time preference window has Revert and Save buttons :)

  33. Maurits says:

    Perhaps the problem is that user’s didn’t "get" that double-clicking on the clock was a shortcut for opening a control panel. Double-clicking the clock should probably not have done anything… if a user has to go to the control panel to get the calendar view, they’ll be more aware of the possibility for destructive change (even if only subconsciously)

  34. Edge says:

    I’ll chime in with everyone else– the flaw wan’t in the way people were using it, the flaw was in the way the dialog behaved. NOTHING should change until OK or Apply are pressed. Isn’t that one of the UI design rules Microsoft has?

  35. Syz says:

    Larry Osterman: Yes, the Win95 developers got it wrong, and no, it’s not Raymond’s fault.

    I think the problem here is that the tone of Raymond’s post makes it sound like he’s defending the original bad design, and blaming the poor stupid users for expecting Windows to behave the right way.

    That may not be his intention, but that’s how it comes across.

  36. lol says:

    I don’t get why some of you are saying that this entry isn’t like Raymond. I think you’re all missing the point, and over-reacting by thinking that Raymond is being anti-user.

    To sum up from the way I interpreted the entry:

    1. The Windows 95 designers designed the clock so that it changed the system time.

    2. The users were unaware of the design decision and intended usage. (duh, of course that means it wasn’t designed correctly from a user-centric view, you friggin’ geniuses)

    3. Feedback from the field indicates that the users weren’t using it as it was designed. For some unspecified reason, the developers weren’t very accepting to changing the feature. THERE’S A LESSON TO BE LEARNED HERE.

    4. Finally they reluctantly changed it. From a designer point of view, the users were using it outside of how it was designed, and clearly the developers fell into a usability trap. Their design failed because it didn’t encompass how the users were REALLY going to use it. I don’t think Raymond is advocating anything here. He’s just relating a story.

    This post follows the Raymond Chen formula perfectly. He demonstrates from a programmer’s perspective that Windows 95 provided a feature that failed because the designers didn’t anticipate the user interaction that occurred. The moral of the story is to broaden your point of view when designing components–particularly think about how users may use your program outside of the way you are designing it. It’s easy in retrospect to say how bad the design of this feature was. That’s not the point of this blog entry, if I may be so bold. The point is for YOU to think about such issues in your own designs.

  37. Eyal says:

    No offense, but the windows 95 way was plain stupid. Never mind if the calendar should or shouldn’t be used that way – if you have a cancel button then the assumption is that any changes you make are not effective until you press the ok button.

    And why the hell did it work that way in the first place?

  38. Eugene Gershnik says:

    People weren’t misusing the date/time applet. The applet was misdesigned and misimplemented ;-) First, there is a simple UI maxim that nothing is supposed to change untill I click Ok or Apply. At least nothing not immediately visible to user. Second, what should a resonable person be expected to assume when he sees a nice clock/calendar in the right side of the thing on the bottom of the screen? Should it be "oh cool Windows comes with a calendar application" or "this must be a tool to change system time"?

    BTW why doesn’t Windows come with some simple built-in calendar "accessory"?

  39. Travis Owens says:

    If Raymond is relaying a story here then I apologize in advance for my more aggressive comments. I have read his post a second time and see how it can easily be confused that he is simply telling a story although it was probably in his best interest to have worded this post in a different way to imply that fact.

    I guess the only hint is in the wording of "in reluctant recognition of the way people had been mis-using".

    I just felt like I had to stand on my soap box when it comes to seperately the difference between how a developer thinks people use their apps and how users actually do. I more often run into big ego developers that dictate the users are wrong, not their design ideas.

  40. Nektar says:

    All other operating systems provide great number of useful accessories in the box. Complete free.

    Every other operating system provide a calendar accessory. On Mac OSX the new calendar provided in the latest version can do a lot of what Office Outlook does but unlike Office Outlook with no extra cost.

    When will Microsoft take up the challenge and add more staff in Windows?

    Linux distributions come packaged with like 5cds full of aps. I am sure that Windows can do better. And before you say that all these aps are not needed, many of them are actually useful and in any case Windows has had almost the same accessories from Win95. Time for a change. Time for many more.

  41. Joe says:

    Nektar,

    And the moment they start doing it the same people who clamor about how linux provides 5cd’s full of stuff out of the box and windows doesn’t will start complaining that windows is bloated with unnecessary apps and/or that Microsoft is abusing their monopoly power.

  42. AndyC says:

    The final nail in the coffin for this is that when you "Disable changing the system time" by Group Policy, every user complains that they can’t get access to the calendar…

    I hope this finally gets put right in Longhorn.

  43. Skrud says:

    <i>For Windows 2000, in reluctant recognition of the way people had been mis-using the Date/Time control panel, it was rewritten so that it doesn’t change the system time until you hit the Apply button.</i>

    Once it was realized that people were using the Date/Time control as a calendar *anyway*, why not just simply throw in a popup calendar when you double-click on the taskbar, instead of launching the Date/Time Settings panel itself?

    IMO accessing/changing system-wide settings should be limited to places like the control panel where the user would be looking/thinking of changing something, as oppose to on the <strikethrough>system tray</strikethrough> notification area.

  44. Eric K. says:

    Wouldn’t it be neat if there was a convenient little calendar that you could get to just by, oh, double-clicking on the clock in the lower right corner of the screen? Wouldn’t that be convenient?

    In my opinion, the design flaw was in designing it such that doubleclicking on the clock brings up the control panel for changing date/time and timezone.

    I look at the time all the time, sure, but I’m fairly certain I don’t need a super-quick shortcut for *changing* the date and time. Just like all those video card and network card apps: Exactly how often am I expected to want to twiddle my screen resolution?

    Double-clicking the clock should bring up a calendar. If I need a shortcut for bypassing Start/Settings/Control Panel/Date and Time then gimme a little "Settings" button on the calendar screen, but the DEFAULT behavior os such a convenient little control should be USEFUL and INTUITIVE behavior.

  45. Centaur says:

    @Skrud

    > Once it was realized that people were using the

    > Date/Time control as a calendar *anyway*, why not

    > just simply throw in a popup calendar when you

    > double-click on the taskbar, instead of launching the

    > Date/Time Settings panel itself?

    Oh, that’s easy. Because then you get all those people crying, “What do you mean, I can’t change date/time by double-clicking the clock?” That’s Backward Compatibility.

    In fact, a calendar like this should have been designed from the very beginning. Anyway, how often does one want to change date/time?

  46. rburhum says:

    In my opinion, double clicking the time and getting a calendar that you can browse through without changing the system time is more important than being able to change the system time through the same procedure. How often do you change the system time? How often do you want to just look at a calendar?

    In fact, changing the system time should be left as *only* a control panel option and the semantics of the double clicking on the system time should be what everybody expects… a nifty little shortcut to a calendar that won’t mess up the system time.

  47. TheMuuj says:

    Ugh, I can’t believe the dialog ever behaved like this.

    What if MS-DOS would have attempted to set your date/time at every key press when running the "DATE" or "TIME" command? This would be the *exact* same thing as what Windows 9X was doing.

    And don’t say we were misusing the control panel applet. Don’t even pretend that everybody would realize it *was* a control panel applet, since it’s not even in the control panel.

    I used to do this all the time, and I don’t consider myself to be a common user (most developers aren’t).

    I only recently stopped this practice, because I no longer run my machine as an Administrator.

    And no, I don’t want to grant myself permissions to set the date/time, either. I wouldn’t mind permissions to VIEW the calendar, but I do not (nor does any software I’m running) need to be able to set the time. My time stays synched with a server’s without any help from anybody.

    So, big feature request for Longhorn, and it’s really simple. Don’t make double-clicking the clock bring up the Date/Time Control Panel applet.

    In the mean time, is there any way to hook into the Task bar, intercept a double click, and do something useful rather than gnaw my head off because I don’t have permissions to do something that I didn’t WANT to do in the first place?

  48. David Candy says:

    I’m glad it’s been changed. I always use my calandar applet for the minimun time so dates wouldn’t screw up.

    Win 3.1 had Schedule. With Win 95/Office 95 schedule moved from Windows to Office. I always assumed it was an Office marketing decision to remove a calandar from Windows.

    Cardfile (and clipbook) was removed from 95 but was put back into 98. I was surprised that calandar wasn’t as well.

    Windows 98 but not 95 includes two programs from Windows 3.1 & 3.11 / Windows for Workgroups (WFW) 3.1 & 3.11 (Windows 3.1, 3.11. and WFW 3.1 are basically the same program – 3.11 included bug fixes amd WFW 3.1 included networking, WFW 3.11 was a substantial upgrade and included toolbars and VCache) despite official Microsoft statements to the contrary (see Q159852).

    These are Cardfile and Clipbook. Cardfile is a simple database that can have pictures in it and dial numbers, it is supplied without a help file in Windows 98. Clipbook is similar to Clipboard Viewer but allows multiple items to be saved and allows the sharing of the clipboard over the network. There is no way to get Windows to install these programs, they must be manually installed.

    The easiest way to install is to type SFC in the Start – Run… dialog box and choose Extract a file. Enter the following filenames one at a time;

    cardfile.exe clipbook.exe clipsrv.exe clipbook.hlp

  49. Steve says:

    It’s disappointing to hear that the W2K team would be "reluctant" to make such an obvious change to the functionality.

    a) I can’t think of any app that makes system-wide changes without requiring an Apply, OK or Save button

    b) You check a calendar all the time, whereas you set your computer’s time/date perhaps a handful of times in its lifetime. Who needs taskbar access to a "set the date" function?

    What they *should* have done was to redesign it to make it a real calendar, in recognition that everyone uses it that way anyway…. Right now it’s too hard to navigate in common ways (for instance, going from Jan of one year to Dec of the previous)

  50. Edge says:

    @ Eyal:

    Agreed, now that I think about it, it’d have made more sense to have only *one* button in a real-time clock applet (as it was designed in Win95): a "Done" button. No "OK", no "Cancel" and certainly no "Apply", just a "Done" button. That would imply to me that the changes are being made as I make them, not that the changes are being made only when I hit "OK" or "Apply".

  51. Norman Diamond says:

    It ought to be possible to right-click on the clock, get a menu, and be able to select either "display time & date" or "adjust time & date". Of course for users without sufficient privileges the "adjust" entry would either be grayed out or would prompt for a password.

    Compare to opening a bitmap, which used to open it for editing, but now defaults to open for displaying until the user chooses a menu to edit it.

    Meanwhile, Tuesday, June 21, 2005 10:41 AM by Skywing

    > what is the reasoning behind the assertion

    > that leaving a privilege (that you hold)

    > disabled until you need to use it increase

    > security?

    Mostly it increases safety not security. You enable your privilege just before you intend to use it, take an extra dose of caffeine, and disable your privilege when you’re done. Outside of that, during ordinary operations, if your finger bounces on the mouse at an unwanted time you’ll give yourself an error message instead of successfully performing an unwanted task.

    This was even useful in VMS. A user with SETPRIV would enable all privileges instead of just the ones they needed (because it was too cumbersome to figure out exactly which ones they needed each time) but they did it for just a short time and then reverted to unprivileged. A programmer would take the time to figure out exactly what privileges a program needed, and then even though there was no additional security (a malicious program with that privilege could gain other privileges) there was safety (bugs would not result in other kinds of unwanted dangerous effects, they would only result in specified kinds of unwanted dangerous effects).

  52. Depressed says:

    Another me too:

    Anyone who does the "it’s a problem with the user not the UI" is missing the whole point: programmers who fail to consider the needs of the users ahead of their own personal prefernces don’t deserve to have those users contributing to their salary.

    People have been using the date/time setter as a quick calendar for years – rather than whining that they shouldn’t, the UI must adapt to the users and never the other way around.

    Oh, and some obligatory microsoft bashing: what’s with the "reluctant recognition" of the way people had been using the control panel? Are microsoft developers really so upset at the idea of recognosing their user’s actual needs? I really hope that was just badly phrased.

  53. Miki Watts says:

    > For Windows 2000, in reluctant recognition of the way people had been mis-using the Date/Time control panel, it was rewritten so that it doesn’t change the system time until you hit the Apply button.

    Shouldn’t that behaviour have been there from the start? Applying a change before pressing Ok or Apply breaks the standard.

  54. Nicholas, it doesn’t matter if NTP was around then or not (although I’m surprised it was around in 1979, since DNS only rolled out in 1984).

    But Win95 wasn’t designed for the internet. It was designed for stand alone computers. Putting NTP into Win9x as the default mechanism for managing time would have been rediculous.

  55. A couple things caught my eye over on Raymond Chen’s blog. First, apparently every time I was using what I thought was the &quot;calendar app&quot; on pre-Win2K systems, I was actually modifying my system’s date and time. Who knew? The…

  56. Da C Man says:

    I’m not sure which is worse: A) that the Windows dev team wrote an application that changed settings without waiting for the OK or Apply button; or B) that they continued to believe this was the true and proper way for such a thing to behave (otherwise they wouldn’t have been so reluctant about it, would they?).

    I knew that double-clicking the time in the sys–er, notification area launced the control panel applet, but I figured that as long as I clicked Cancel, no harm done. It was simply the fastest way to look up a date. Faster than waiting for Outlook to load, clicking on the Calendar, and changing the view to Month, anyway. But I started to get suspicious when I would cancel it in Win95, and my time would be screwed up — ie, would be reset to the time I opened the applet. That taught me that the applet was unreliable to work with. Know that I know how it was programmed to behave, I guess I was right.

    Can you imagine if the Recycle Bin worked this way? If it went ahead and deleted everything, but if you then hit Cancel it would restore the files to the Recycle Bin? Egad!

  57. RichB says:

    Oh I see – the USER is at fault…

  58. Matt Breckon says:

    "If you continue to think it’s "reluctant", "ignorant" or "unimformed" that the majority uses something one way and the vendor refuses to rethink their design, then you’re slate to be moved over by a new vendor that will give the people what they want."

    Wow, this got pretty heated! I read Raymond’s original post as purely informational – presenting the changes that happened behind the scenes. I certainly don’t see it as suggesting either that the design was a good idea or that we were stupid in using it the way we did/do. In fact I think the post is pretty agnostic as to whether it is a good idea or not. How come people have got so worked up about it?

  59. Manu says:

    Hi ,

    I think what you are putting up as a feature was actually a bug.

    If the UI of a program has an APPLY button, no changes should be made until the user clicks on that. This is one of the most basic thing to take care of. If the program changes things on the fly, what is the use of having an apply button. Its just adding confusion.

    The sentence should have read

    "in reluctant recognition of their own bug, it was rewritten to remove the bug."

    regards

    Manu

  60. Andreas Haeber says:

    David Candy: With Schedule, do you really mean calendar.exe? See http://www.sptv.demon.co.uk/calendar/ :) Actually lot’s of relevant information on that site.

  61. mjb says:

    As nearly everyone has said, this was bad design. The users were correct, the devs were wrong. Period.

    The tone of this piece is NOT neutral, and hence criticism’s of Raymond’s position are 100% reasonable. Why

    Because of these two paragraphs

    "Although many people use the Date/Time control panel to flip through a calendar, that’s not what it is for. In fact, if you use it that way, you can create all sorts of havoc"

    This is the less egregious of the two. However it basically says "The users were wrong and they messed things up." It could have said "Although lots of people do this, this is not what was originally intended. Therefore, bad things can happen". That would be a neutral statement

    Next,

    "

    For Windows 2000, in reluctant recognition of the way people had been mis-using the Date/Time control panel, it was rewritten so that it doesn’t change the system time until you hit the Apply button"

    Mis-using is again an opionated word. It could have been "the way people had been REALLY using the date/time control panel"

    This would not have been prejudicial in tone, merely informative.

  62. Matt Breckon says:

    "For Windows 2000, in reluctant recognition of the way people had been mis-using the Date/Time control panel, it was rewritten so that it doesn’t change the system time until you hit the Apply button"

    I see nothing wrong with this – the users WERE mis-using it. They didn’t KNOW they were mis-using it (and cannot be blamed for mis-using it) because it was badly designed and they misunderstood it’s purpose.

    All of Raymond’s comments in the original post can be read in a neutral way. Now perhaps if Raymond was the person who originally designed the system this would be different. As far as I am aware though he didn’t.

    Raymond makes no comment on the decision to make the date/time setting applet available in such a trivial way. This seems to be the key to the whole discussion. Without this piece of information the original post is agnostic.

    To me the paragraph quoted above reads as: "The Windows team were reluctant to recognise that they had made mistakes in the design which had forced people into mis-using the date/time applet. This meant they didn’t fix it until the release of Windows 2000."

  63. Matt Breckon says:

    Anyway, I’m not too worried about this really. I just thought there had been a little overreaction.

  64. Mike says:

    << Then again I think the explorer UI shouldn’t kill a 100,000 file/10GB copy job right in the middle because ONE file failed to copy…. but I guess that’s too much to expect also. >>

    Amen to that! Nothing is more frustrating than cleaning out temp files (some of which may be locked) and having the system balk at you, ending the entire operation.

    To keep this on topic: As for the calender thing. I have to agree it was bad design, I’m also guilty of this, and glad to see they finally (reluctantly) made the change in the way the applet works. I’d like to see a real calender control pop up instead of the Date/Time Settings cpl.

  65. Toma Bussarov says:

    Yes, I agree to all the posts before. Since Windows does not have a calendar app, and users want a calendar, they just what is available.

    Something different. Windows 2000 and XP code is still not fixed as it should be: The date/time control applet requires rights to change system time when you OPEN it. Why not just disable OK and Apply buttons and give users a way to page trough the calendar. They are used to it, they only want to look there, not change the time.

  66. Maurits says:

    According to the NTP FAQ

    http://www.eecis.udel.edu/~ntp/ntpfaq/NTP-s-def.htm#AEN1437

    NTP was first implemented in 1980

  67. Dan McCarty says:

    I resisted the knee-jerk urge to post yesterday. (I think everything I wanted to say was already said anyway.) Instead, I’d like to say something that no one has said:

    Raymond, keep up the great work!

    How many blogs do you read where the content is highly relevant to what you work on and the poster posts about sometimes highly-visible, embarassing mistakes and isn’t afraid to take one on the chin?

    Okay, so Raymond posted a "we were right, you were wrong, but in reluctant recognition of your mistakes we changed to humor you" post. And everyone hammered him for it.

    I think that’s great. Hopefully, we’ve all learned a lesson about software design and now we can move on. What I would hate to see is if there weren’t any of these posts at all…

    Great post, Raymond. Please keep them coming; we can’t get enough.

  68. In response to a comment I’d made on Raymond’s post about the Date/Time CPL:

    And what’s even neater…

  69. Andy Babiec says:

    I’ve been using it for that purpose for years now. Thank goodness you guys did change the behavior in win2k, b/c I never noticed the problem you described.

    One thing I will say – I always wondered why no one added a BACK / NEXT MONTH button/link as it would be so much more convenient then the current drop-down :)

  70. As the first person to mention NTP, yes, win95 probably was too early to intro this. After all, win95 didnt even ship with a web browser. However, it was designed to be domained, and there is that sync-clock-off-the-domain server stuff. Once a box is domained, it could get its clock set that way.

    But win95 is ten years old. We have moved on since then. My mobile phone gets its clock (and TZ) info off the cell, it knows when and where it is. My Windows XP vmware images get their clock from their linux host. I have microsoft update running to give me new security pathces to powerpoint on a regular basis. Who would have thought in 1995 that in ten years time, you couldnt bring up a system onto a busy network without applying the latest set of security patches to a slide viewing application?

    Time has passed, it is time to move on, replace the little clock applet on the task bar with something that actually meets modern needs. And setting the clock is not one of those needs. its organising your life (calendar) or its adapting your laptop to a world of mobility.

  71. Doug says:

    I’ve chased site problems due to this that were amazing to track down. "How did that phone call last 30 days? System bug!" Then you figure out that someone was checking the calendar….

  72. David Candy says:

    Andreas Haeber

    I was referring to the disappearance of Schedule and Calandar and hypothsising that it was to drive sales of MS Office. I don’t know how much of Schedule that Outlook is based on (interesting unrelated fact is the internet features of Outlook are based on OE). Calandar wasn’t in WFW 3.11 only schedule.

    To everyone else who think raymond is approving of the story.

    Read this (geekgirl web site wan’t on the first page of google but someone paraphrased here – but this article is an even better, and real life, example)

    Someone comes up to him [a yank in England] on a rainy day and says "great weather huh?" He then spends twenty minutes explaining the concept of Irony. The yank thinks that this is the coolest thing he’s ever heard, and next day at a BBQ, he burns his sausages and says "WOW, GREAT WEATHER, ISN’T IT?!?" Kinda reminded me of that.

    Anyway, all of the would-disciples posting looking for instructions on how to be "down" without offending the homies were hysterical. What ever happened to just treating people like human beings?

    http://66.102.7.104/search?q=cache:H_A01Jtjth4J:www.active.org.au/sydney/webcast/front.php3%3Farticle_id%3D1994+irony+americans+geekgirl&hl=en

    and we can conclude one of the following

    + raymond isn’t an americian

    + raymond bizarre love for whale killers (scandanavia) has taught him how to communicate with non americians.

    PS Saw my first whale of the year on Monday about 100 mtr off Clovelly. It saw my camera and hid till I grew bored and left. When I was 500 mtrs away it reappeared.

  73. ulric says:

    I caused a disaster one day with that calendar behaviour.

    During a check-in of files, I was browsing in the calendar for my vacation. The result was that the file I checked in had a date in the future. In the days that follow, the entier application was re-compiling entierly for every build because a few .h files had dates that were always newer than the current time.

  74. Rick Damiani says:

    When Win95/NT4 were still current I was supporting a set of applications that were licensed for limited time periods – some using software activation, some using dongles. Guess what happened to my customer’s time-limited locked software when they checked to see which day the second tuesday of next month was?

    I frickin hated that ‘feature’.

  75. Rob Meyer says:

    I don’t think anyone would have ever used it as a calendar if it wasn’t the most readily available calendar on the system (double-clicking time on the taskbar). It’s obviously within user expectations that double-clicking the time or date should bring up a usable calendar.

    Plus, doesn’t the dialog have an apply button that unhighlights when you change things? So it’s totally nonobvious that the user just changed the date on their system even if they didn’t hit okay and apply. If there was no apply button, it might work as a clue that changing the date/time would be instantaneous.

    At any rate, thanks for fixing it, because I’m going to go right on using it as a quick reference calendar for dates. :-)

  76. Good Point says:

    So, the "reluctant recognition" led to a change in the control panel. "You" knew what the user was doing, and expecting, yet "you" couldn’t compromise.

    Well I guess they were trying to cram 256 MB of OS into a 64 MB box and something had to give.

  77. Andrew Diederich says:

    The only possible one I can think of is the network applet, in the systray. (Yes, I know it’s not really the systray, but that’s what all users call it.) This seems to be the bug, and it’s a design bug.

  78. In response to a comment I’d made on Raymond’s post about the Date/Time CPL:

    And what’s even neater…

  79. Satisfy Me says:

    I received a question from a customer who had applied the Windows OS update for daylight saving time

Comments are closed.