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Last post Author Topic: Is XP really that good?  (Read 19600 times)

Rover

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Is XP really that good?
« on: November 28, 2008, 12:51:19 AM »
Some good folks around DC may recall that I have opinions...  :tellme:

I am a huge fan on Linux, Unix and most things other than M$ OSes.  That being said, I have been running Win XP for several years.  I have a fairly tweaked system that I don't screw with much and I have been stable for a long time.  I recently upgrade to 4 GB RAM because 1) I could and 2) I thought it might improve my performance.  I have been running 2 GB for most of my XP career.

I'm currently running all of my normal stuff plus Google Chrome and have used only 1 GB RAM.  I'm using Process Explorer and I have been sitting at 1GB.  I've got  8 freaking tabs open plus I'm watching a movie* with VLC on top of all the other RAM sucking things I run normally.  WTF?  Is XP really that good at RAM management?

I'm spoiled enough to have a whole P4 system dedicated to PCLinuxOS.  It's cools and snappy; i'm not sure it's worth switching from XP.  Have we finally reached the point where local resources are a 2nd priority?  My Dell D600 laptop sucks (explainative) with 1024 RAM, why is my desktop so much more usable with the same free RAM?

I always want to believe Linux is better with RAM than XP; but I'm having a hard time making a case for desktop use.   What am I missing?

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Paul Keith

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Re: Is XP really that good?
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2008, 01:52:11 AM »
Umm... I don't have 4gb ram but the most often thing I hear mentioned is that XP can't fully use all 4gb of ram.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Is XP really that good?
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2008, 03:20:10 AM »
All 32-bit versions of Windows have a 4Gb limit- but you have to deduct from that any memory mapped devices (such as graphics card memory). For example if you have graphics card with 1Gb of memory onboard you will not be able to use more than 3Gb of your memory (and there may be other memory mapped devices that force memory to be unused).

64-bit Windows doesn't have this restriction.

f0dder

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Re: Is XP really that good?
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2008, 03:25:59 AM »
XP is pretty OK at managing memory, it's a bit too conservative wrt. using free memory for caching, imho.

32bit XP can't utilize 4gig (or above) memory (technically it can, but MS has disabled the capability), 64bit XP or 32bit server OSes can handle "quite a bit more than 4gig".

Also, it's really a question of how much memory the applications you run use.
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40hz

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Re: Is XP really that good?
« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2008, 10:08:54 AM »
I don't think you're missing anything.  :)

 It's not so much an issue of XP being "so good" as it is an issue of it being "good enough."

WinXP is good enough for what most people want to do with it.

PCLinuxOS is a very good distro. Very stable and polished. But unless you want to take on the role of evangelist, why bother making a case for Linux at all?

I alternate between Linux and Windows on a daily basis. Since I (like you) have the luxury of running both, I never saw the need to pick one over the other. I just use whichever (depending on what I'm trying to accomplish) although I must admit I've gone from a 50-50 to an 80-20 time split in favor of Linux over the past year.

But I'll also dump any OS like a bad habit should the day ever come when I need to do something that it won't let me do. The best advice I ever got regarding systems was the following:

          Don't ever marry your tools. Better yet, don't even fall in love.

That seemed like wisdom to me. Consequently, I only date my technology. We just hang out with each other for fun. No promises, no commitments.

I'm the exact opposite of that with people. But that's just me. ;D

gorinw13

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Re: Is XP really that good?
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2008, 01:43:08 PM »


well -- I always used alternative software --- in example 10 years ago I was using opera when most of the people were using IE, Netscape, AOL or other popular browsers.... Or I was using Eudora -- not outlook or similar software... later these became popular along with Mozilla programs and other open source software....

I can tell that popular is not always the best.... you can find the best software that you want to use most fits to your habits or usage.....

However when it comes to the operating systems I never think anything alternative to windows --- the main reason being that you can find any software for windows platform that suits your needs... But when you use linux etc. you do not have much possibilities when you want to find a software for a spesific purpose.... There are some software that allows windows software run on linux platform  --- but it does not replicate or run these software as on windows...

so I guess the main obstacle why other OS platforms does not become more popular is that you do not have lots of choices in respect of software.....

Thats what I think...

Darwin

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Re: Is XP really that good?
« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2008, 02:57:37 PM »
I'm currently running all of my normal stuff plus Google Chrome and have used only 1 GB RAM.  I'm using Process Explorer and I have been sitting at 1GB.  I've got  8 freaking tabs open plus I'm watching a movie* with VLC on top of all the other RAM sucking things I run normally.  WTF?  Is XP really that good at RAM management?

Well... on my aging Centrino notebook (first generatrion, single core, 1.4Ghz) I've upgrade my RAM from 512MB to 1Gb and finally to 2GB and with the current setup, I have rarely seen my total free RAM as reported by Task Manager fall below 1GB free - that's with every Office 2007 app installed (Word, Excel, Access, Outlook and Powerpoint) open with a couple of files open in each AND with Maxthon 2 running with numerous tabs open AND with Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 open... In my experience, XP is pretty good. Vista is better, mind you!
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Dormouse

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Re: Is XP really that good?
« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2008, 03:59:41 PM »
with the current setup, I have rarely seen my total free RAM as reported by Task Manager fall below 1GB free

I very rarely have that much memory free.
You just don't have enough applications Darwin   ;D

nontroppo

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Re: Is XP really that good?
« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2008, 04:04:10 PM »
I like 40hz's phrase: "Good enough" -- XP's memory management works for most scenarios (it was manna from heaven coming from Win9x for those unlucky enough to remember *that* memory train-wreck). Linux is supposedly much better at proactive cache management; XP is, as f0dder mentions, quite conservative. My girlfriend's iBook runs Leopard for weeks on 640MB RAM, watching films etc. without problems. It will of course swap as several apps are open (Microsoft Office is a chief culprit), but stays useable. I notice that OS X is more similar to Linux in that it keeps stuffed cached (inactive rather than free ram is shown), rather than the more conservative flushing of XP. I think I'd rather my meory was stored with stuff I may need than just flushed to make it look good.

Vista follows the cache more stuff path as I understand it, though it certainly doesn't handle low memory system well from my experience.

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Darwin

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Re: Is XP really that good?
« Reply #9 on: November 28, 2008, 05:19:31 PM »
with the current setup, I have rarely seen my total free RAM as reported by Task Manager fall below 1GB free

I very rarely have that much memory free.
You just don't have enough applications Darwin   ;D

I have 335 applications installed  :P
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40hz

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Re: Is XP really that good?
« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2008, 01:37:32 AM »
I keep thinking about one possible reason why XP remains so popular and Linux is still lagging behind:

     a) XP is 'good enough' technology that is effectively documented.

     b) Linux is 'good enough' (or possibly better) technology that isn't.

XP has been around long enough that there's now a lot of accurate, well-written technical information available both in print, and online. In a nutshell, it's better understood because it's more accurately documented than any other desktop OS.

I'm wondering if "good enough" technology, combined with superior documentation, is XP's real formula for success.

Thoughts anyone?



MrCrispy

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Re: Is XP really that good?
« Reply #11 on: November 29, 2008, 02:32:43 AM »
Linux is not well designed. Its a hodge podge of competing design philosophies with no coherent vision, no standardized API's on which other developers can build apps, and a new project starting every week which tries to fix the failed efforts of the previous ones. Note I am not talking of the kernel, which IS decent, but all the user level subsystems such as video, sound, the filesystem etc.

Documentation is the least of their problems. Linux coders don't need docs anyway, they just read the source :) Hell they even want users to use the source!

For your normal user, there is little reason not to run Windows. More apps, easier to use, faster or just as fast (KDE and Gnome are just as fat and bloated as Windows counterparts) and for most people, Windows will come for free. Even the open source apps like Firefox have much better support and run better on Windows than Linux. For developers, there's even less reason - Windows dev tools, docs and support are leagues apart.

nontroppo

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Re: Is XP really that good?
« Reply #12 on: November 29, 2008, 08:48:50 AM »
Quote
For your normal user, there is little reason not to run Windows. More apps, easier to use, faster or just as fast

Well, that is all very open to debate :P Having to fix endless XP machines of friends (registry errors, infections aplenty, horrible performance), having to recommend from the tidal wave of poor alternative software (more in number yes, not always in quality), I can't say it is better for users at all. XP is easier to use only if you've gone through the Windows mill for years and got used to its quirks, otherwise it is a horrid hodge-podge mess of a UI. Having switched one person over to Ubuntu a year ago, I've had significantly less embarrassed phone calls and less of my time wasted. I'm no Linux user myself, but once configured (which can still be endlessly frustrating), it runs better and with less problems than XP did for him (at least for my limited sample of normal users).

As an OS X user, I'd also say the same about Windows XP APIs as you say about Linux. The horrible mess of user interface styles, the lack of unified inter-service communication, no consistent metadata handling or search, really poor graphics[1] (GDI sucks, terrible colour management) and sound libraries (poor latency), shoddy typography support etc. :P

----
[1] I know I'm ignoring DirectX, but i see it as an accessory library. Apple's Quartz pulls OpenGL much more directly into the core graphics APIs. Apple was doing full hardware compositing using OpenGL transparently  in OS X 10.2, shortly after XP was released.
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« Last Edit: November 29, 2008, 09:14:11 AM by nontroppo »

Dormouse

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Re: Is XP really that good?
« Reply #13 on: November 29, 2008, 09:38:38 AM »
For your normal user, there is little reason not to run Windows.
No activation. Linux runs effectively on less powerful computers.

More apps
True. But how much difference do the extra apps make to most users?

faster or just as fast (KDE and Gnome are just as fat and bloated as Windows counterparts)
Well, Windows has never run as fast on any system I've put them on. And Vista is infinitely slower than XP. If KDE and Gnome are just as bloated, then Windows must be inherently much slower.

for most people, Windows will come for free
No again. Microsoft take their cut from every legitimate version of Windows installed. If people aren't paying directly, it comes in higher prices for the computer. And watch for the bill when the mobo needs changing.

easier to use
My non-techie kids find Linux easier. Refuse to go back to Windows. When there's a prog only available on Windows, they want dual boot or Windows in a VM - anything but disturbing their Linux.
They find the whole repository system easier than anything for Windows - and it is only really possible for free software.
It's only familiarity that makes most people think it's easier.

40hz

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Re: Is XP really that good?
« Reply #14 on: November 29, 2008, 12:05:51 PM »
A few thoughts:

Documentation is the least of their problems.

Not really. The biggest complaint leveled against FOSS revolves around the lack of decent, or (in many cases) any documentation. Go to any LUG, FOSS fest, or NIX bull session, and the one thing you'll hear over and over again is:
"Man! somebody's got to do something about these POS docs!" ;D

Linux is not well designed. Its a hodge podge of competing design philosophies with no coherent vision, no standardized API's on which other developers can build apps, and a new project starting every week which tries to fix the failed efforts of the previous ones. Note I am not talking of the kernel, which IS decent, but all the user level subsystems such as video, sound, the filesystem etc.

You're absolutely correct. It's what's referred to as incremental improvement; otherwise known as "Business as Usual."

Unfortunately, that's how virtually all complex technical development gets done. It's not the most efficient or safe way to work. The US Space Program spent it's first 25 years working that way, and got us to the moon. (It also brought us the Challenger disaster.) But once again, it was good enough.

And take a look the Internet. That is one of the biggest kludges the world has ever seen. But it's good enough for most people, so it gets used, and fixed (or otherwise improved) on a  daily basis. Just business as usual folks!

Quote
For your normal user, there is little reason not to run Windows. More apps, easier to use, faster or just as fast (KDE and Gnome are just as fat and bloated as Windows counterparts)

Once again, you are correct. For most people, 'good enough' is all they want or need. Windows is good enough. But so's Linux.

BTW: what exactly constitutes being a "normal" user?

Quote
and for most people, Windows will come for free.

As Dormouse has previously pointed out: It doesn't. It just comes included.

Somebody, somewhere, has paid something for every legal copy of Windows. Microsoft has not gotten to where they are today by giving away their products.

Quote
For developers, there's even less reason - Windows dev tools, docs and support are leagues apart.

There may be even less of a reason. But if that is true, how do you explain the number of people (including many world class programmers) that are actively involved in Linux development? Conservative studies put the number of people that have contributed to Linux and FOSS development at somewhere around 1.1 million. Rather interesting, don't you think?

So, maybe there's something more going on here?  8)




mrainey

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Re: Is XP really that good?
« Reply #15 on: November 29, 2008, 12:06:08 PM »
Quote
Is XP really that good?

For me, it is.  No major problems, great overall performance.
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f0dder

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Re: Is XP really that good?
« Reply #16 on: November 29, 2008, 06:16:42 PM »
Linux is not well designed. Its a hodge podge of competing design philosophies with no coherent vision, no standardized API's on which other developers can build apps, and a new project starting every week which tries to fix the failed efforts of the previous ones. Note I am not talking of the kernel, which IS decent, but all the user level subsystems such as video, sound, the filesystem etc.
Hear ye, hear ye!

It's a darn messy hodge-podge, and documentation sucks. When it works, all is good, but as soon as something breaks... *b00m*. Unless you're a hardcore developer or have some serious google-fu elitism, you're S-O-L.

Well, that is all very open to debate :P Having to fix endless XP machines of friends (registry errors, infections aplenty, horrible performance), having to recommend from the tidal wave of poor alternative software (more in number yes, not always in quality), I can't say it is better for users at all.
That'd be the norm for any OS (of the currently available) if it was the dominating product. As soon as you get a zillion shit-for-brains people using something, it'll go horribly wrong :). Users mess around alot, and linux is more fragile than windows. Users will figure out how to run everything as root, and then they'll go wreck their system.

Yeah, the Windows API is pretty messy, and it's very clearly visible that it has legacy all the way back to win3x... but at least it is properly documented, covers more or less everything you need for core OS services (without requiring third-party libraries), etc. I wouldn't mind playing around with OS X, but why oh why did Apple choose Objective-C for Cocoa? :-s

faster or just as fast (KDE and Gnome are just as fat and bloated as Windows counterparts)
Well, Windows has never run as fast on any system I've put them on. And Vista is infinitely slower than XP. If KDE and Gnome are just as bloated, then Windows must be inherently much slower.
In my experience, linux has always felt slower than windows. Applications start slower, including second-time launches when everything is cached - and even if you do horrible hacks like statically binding libraries. The UI also feels less responsive than Windows, even if using the native nvidia drivers (probably has to do with the X11 protocol) - the OpenGL desktop acceleration stuff doesn't help much, but it sure does make your system unstable.

They find the whole repository system easier than anything for Windows - and it is only really possible for free software.
It's only familiarity that makes most people think it's easier.
Oh really?

*mumbles something about having to manually edit configuration files as soon as you want to do anything out of the ordinary... like getting a multiple monitor setup working*
- carpe noctem

Dormouse

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Re: Is XP really that good?
« Reply #17 on: November 29, 2008, 06:43:40 PM »
Users mess around alot, and linux is more fragile than windows. Users will figure out how to run everything as root, and then they'll go wreck their system.
...
*mumbles something about having to manually edit configuration files as soon as you want to do anything out of the ordinary... like getting a multiple monitor setup working*

Actually most users don't do anything of the sort. They keep the system as it is (because they don't have enough interest to do anything different) and occasionally update (more often if automatic updates are switched on) and install new programs. They run everything on default settings and scream 'help' if something stops working. And they can't comprehend why anyone would want two monitors.

In this context, Linux is certainly good enough - and so is XP.
But the ones I know find it far easier to use the repository system than to search the net for Windows software.
« Last Edit: November 29, 2008, 06:47:30 PM by Dormouse »

zridling

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Re: Is XP really that good?
« Reply #18 on: November 30, 2008, 03:23:22 AM »
This sounds like one of those discussions where someone hasn't used Linux for more than ten minutes in the past year, but knows in detail how bad it is. In other words, it's not true to my experience.

As for XP, it works. Enough said. Praising documentation presumes people read it. "Normal" users tend not to go there.
______________
As for Linux,
— Renegade root users run amok?
Nah.

— Slow?
Not for me, but then I'm running it with lots of memory on a Quad-core.

— Normal users have little reason not to run Windows? Hmmm.... when compared directly with Windows, I can think of a few:
..........
- Viruses and Spyware (no need to buy any of that; and viruses are nil)
- Security and Stability (ahhh, it does what I want it to, when I want to do it. What a difference!)
- Package Management (software installation that doesn't hork your system or leave its trash behind)
- Features (Linux is often at the forefront of computer technology and innovation, and is scalable to any device of any size.)
- Compatibility (Linux runs on anything, old, really old, or new.)
- Free as in freedom (Linux is free open source software. This might not mean much to you if you are not a programmer but even if you are just an end user it means you can trust the software. Governments want to see -- and control -- the source code they use. You should have the same opportunity.)
- Free as in price, (and a treat in this tragic economy)
- Easy and Intuitive (a 15-min. installation sets everything up for you, including OpenOffice, codecs, PDF reader, multimedia, and utilities. Want more? Want to customize? Then it gets fun.)
- Choice and Control (Run what you want, how you want to, and customize until your eyes bleed. If I want to move to another distro, I'm free to without cost. I can legally set it up on as many machines as I want, no charge, no license, no activation, no validation schemes, no forced updates.)
- Community (Everyone using Linux does so because they choose to, not because it came on the machine. People develop Linux because they have a passion for it, not because they do it for money or market share.)
- Fun! (I haven't had this much fun on a computer since Win95.)

I could think of at least 20 more off the top of my head, but you get the point.

tomos

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Re: Is XP really that good?
« Reply #19 on: November 30, 2008, 04:20:20 AM »
I'm neutral here - esp as I've never run Linux!

As for XP, it works. Enough said. Praising documentation presumes people read it. "Normal" users tend not to go there.
Zaine,
I just wanted to point out that the documentation is never read until you need it - that's the way I, and prob many others work too ..
if it's not there when you really need it you're in trouble unless you have an expert on hand ...
Tom

Josh

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Re: Is XP really that good?
« Reply #20 on: November 30, 2008, 04:23:02 AM »
And in the case of linux, most of the times you are told "RTFM" which means reading the MAN Pages and sorting through pages upon pages of text which doesn't relate to what you need or relying on a support group/forum where users treat those who are less knowledgable as "morons". I speak from this as a FIRST-HAND experience so it is not something I am just pulling out of my rear. I have been treated like an idiot several times when requesting support for linux because I didn't know the answer already.

nontroppo

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Re: Is XP really that good?
« Reply #21 on: November 30, 2008, 10:34:02 AM »
Quote
That'd be the norm for any OS (of the currently available) if it was the dominating product. As soon as you get a zillion shit-for-brains people using something, it'll go horribly wrong . Yeah, the Windows API is pretty messy, and it's very clearly visible that it has legacy all the way back to win3x... but at least it is properly documented, covers more or less everything you need for core OS services (without requiring third-party libraries), etc.

<hypothesis-alert>Well, I think I'd argue that the messy APIs of windows, and the do-it-yourself ethos of user interfaces (everyone reinvents their own interface, little coherence anywhere, even between MS products) makes Windows software on average (independent of number of users) messier than OS X or KDE.<hypothesis-alert>[1]

Honestly, I can't think of one piece of XP-originating software where I could say the user interface has been really beautifully and consistently designed (functionally and/or aesthetically)[2].

Quote
I wouldn't mind playing around with OS X, but why oh why did Apple choose Objective-C for Cocoa? :-s

;D   Though there are some nice bridges to a whole other plethora of languages. My favorite is Ruby, where one can have a full cocoa experience while still using a nice and cuddly language (for me anyway not being a "real" programmer).

----
[1] hypothesis is really just a fancy way of me saying i have no solid evidence (if it was ever possible to collect) this is the case  :P
[2] I exclude cross-platform marvels like Lightroom which ignore the platform UI guidelines completely.
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Lashiec

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Re: Is XP really that good?
« Reply #22 on: November 30, 2008, 11:24:17 AM »
Honestly, I can't think of one piece of XP-originating software where I could say the user interface has been really beautifully and consistently designed (functionally and/or aesthetically)[2].

FeedDemon or Paint.NET look damn fine to me :)

nontroppo

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Re: Is XP really that good?
« Reply #23 on: November 30, 2008, 05:46:36 PM »
 8)

I used to love Ray Bradbury's Topstyle and FeedDemon, but I find this XP style has too much emphasis on rows of buttons. I haven't used FeedDemon since a while, so it may have gotten better. It used to be a brilliant app nevertheless. I have to admit also I'm no fan of the horrible baby-blue feeddemon (and huge swathes of other windows apps) is smothered in according to its current screenies. The UI should be chromatically mute and not compete with buttons and/or content.

Paint.NET is also a great app (especially for free, why hasn't Microsoft picked it back up yet?), but not what I would think of as optimally designed (a kind of hybrid between paint and photoshop), a bit of a clutter of buttons+panels; it is no Pixelmator  :P

----
Screenines from Feeddemon and NetNewsWire for OS X: http://www.newsgator...fd26-screenshot1.png vs. http://www.newsgator...3.1_readingNews3.png -- unnecessary clutter (why does each XP toolbar have some little arrow widget taking space) and bitmappy unclear icons.
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Lashiec

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Re: Is XP really that good?
« Reply #24 on: November 30, 2008, 06:35:44 PM »
I don't know about you, but I prefer Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 ;D

Oh well, it got much better since then, I'm sure. Probably you used some of the first versions, which even by Nick's own admittance were terrible in the toolbar department. And with the new changes coming in 2.8, things are like these UI-wise. Personally, I prefer this kind of interface to the lean one used by NetNewsWire (not to mention this one seems to lack the newspaper-style to show the feeds).

HA! I knew you were going to mention Pixelmator ;D. There's a lot of software for the Mac that looks great, but it always baffled me that most of it it's payware, and not exactly cheap. When considering the initial price of a Mac, and the extra you have to pay for most software, the design-advantage starts to feel smaller :-)