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Whose File Is It Anyway?

Week of February 7, 2001

The day is rapidly approaching when the 'user file' is a thing of the past.

The idea that 'My Documents' can be a repository for all user files or at least a starting point for all 'Save As' navigation is about as dumb as what we have come to expect from the IQ challenged mob in Redmond - very reminiscent of the old DOS business of shipping an entire operating system in the root directory. Even monkeys knew this was not practical, and created a sub-directory such as C:\DOS or C:\SYS and moved everything there (save for IO.SYS, MSDOS.SYS, COMMAND.COM, AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS of course). It took several years for the Redmond giant to get up to speed with their own users: They finally shipped DOS in a sub-directory as well, but it took a very very long time...

These continual reminders from Washington, about just how dumb they think we are, always judging us by their own measure and standards and not our own, are painful. So, to save ourselves further pain (and save Microsoft further mental challenges), herewith a comprehensive programme:

  • In the future, put all files in the WINDOWS directory. All files. SYSTEM, system32, Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared and all those other inaccessible spots cease to exist.
  • As a SYSTEM directory can easily contain over 1,000 files, and as the COMMAND directory can contain a goodly number as well, as can the other far fetched places, this will make for a lot of files - a real lot. And this is good! 'A place for everything, and everything in its place: C:\WINDOWS.'
  • Let all applications install to the WINDOWS directory. All files must be located there. Dispense with Program Files entirely. (Has it dawned on no one that the folder name 'Programs' would have been OSI 8.3 compliant, and that Microsoft chose 'Program Files' precisely because it showed how they could finally handle long file names? 'Programs' is what this directory is called in most other countries. Stop showing off, Microsoft - and start getting practical!)
  • Have My Documents, Cookies, History, and Temporary Internet Files revert to WINDOWS as well - and allow none of these locations to change. Place rock hard mutexes on all so it's 'access denied' as soon as anyone gets near. These measures will make it all the more difficult for people to find files, and the less work they can do on their computers the better: Less risk of system crashes if they just don't use the damn things.
  • Use My Documents (in WINDOWS) not merely as a starting point for file saves: Forcefully prevent people from saving files anywhere else. Also, do not let people delete files from this directory, even if they are only temporary files. If they try, tell them this is a proprietary system area and such file operations are not allowed. If they persist, threaten to dismantle the entire operating system and force them to reinstall everything. Finally, all files are called 'My File' pure plain and simple.

    The new Save As dialog: No folders (or renaming) allowed. Simple, to the point, elegant.
  • Discontinue use of file extensions and use only the generic string 'My File Type' (see illustration above) to describe all file types. Obfuscation == more operating system stability.
  • Redefine TEMP and TMP as My Documents/WINDOWS so WINDOWS starts accumulating lots of temporary file junk (that can never be deleted).
  • Dispense with all the install options people are used to seeing. Simply display 'Product Installed' or 'Product Uninstalled' as the case may be (claim products have been uninstalled, but remember: No files can be removed or modified once they've entered the WINDOWS directory - and this directory is the only directory that may be used).
  • Make sure both explorers (Internet, Windows) refuse categorically to enter the WINDOWS directory. Change the colour of the warning (stop) page from sky blue to fire engine red.
  • Introduce a new file attribute, 'B' for 'Booby Trapped', indicating that any attempt outside the Windows shell to enter WINDOWS or modify its contents will result in a blocking system modal dialog with a single OK button, no 'Cancel' opportunities, which says, 'Your operating system will now be reinstalled. You will lose all files. Click OK to continue.'

    The blocking system modal dialog.
  • No more 'Desktop'. Users are discouraged from looking at file icons.
  • Rename the 'Start' button the 'Stop' button (simultaneously shutting Mac fanatics up too). Offer no Start menu; clicking the button invokes the 'Shut Down Windows' dialog ('Restart in MS-DOS mode' option removed).

The day is rapidly approaching when the 'user file' is a thing of the past. After all, whose file is it anyway?

Note: If you wish to disable 'My Documents' as your default 'Save As' directory, copy the following lines into a text file, name the file with the 'REG' extension, and double click it with your file browser.


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