Windows sucks even when you don’t use it.

I haven’t been a Windows users since about 1998 or so when I was forced to do some WebObjects development on a Windows box. The thorough lack of design, consistency and style is torturous even in the minutes-at-a-time that I’m forced to sit in front of a windows box.

Yet, even as a Mac user (or Linux user for a bit in the mid-90s), Windows still sucks. Windows sucks so bad that it is tainting everything else that must co-exist with it in the marketplace.

My current bit of torture is related to DVI/USB capable KVM switch. It seems that Windows ’98 (and, possibly, later versions) can’t deal with a DVI based video connection dropping away. So the various KVM hardware manufactures decided that their little boxes would advertise an 800×600@60hz monitor on any port that is not connected through to the monitor.

Mac OS X sees this really lo-res display as you switch away from your machine and promptly resizes and moves all windows to at least be accessible from the piddly 480,000 pixel desktop.

Of course, upon switching back to the system, the windows are all moved about and sizes have changed.

Boo. That sucks. Worse, some video cards are playing the same games. End result; we all — even Linux and more “modern” Windows users — suffer because a very popular version of Windows was broken.

The only true “workaround” is to buy a really, really, stupid KVM switch. One that does not try to emulate any kind of a video display for the “switched away” computers.

The real solution, of course, is for the KVM switch manufacturers (and video card manufacturers) to fix their hardware. If I disconnect a monitor running at 1680×1050, why the hell do they think that pretending to be an 800×600 monitor is useful?

Update: Getting some good recommendations in the comments. I specifically have an IOGear 4 port DVI switch. It appears to be a repackaged ATEN 4 port product. Model number 1764 or 1762, depending on # of ports. Otherwise awesome product. For those with recommendations, two questions:

(1) Can you switch from the keyboard with some kind of hot key sequence?

(2) You are absolutely sure that the box does not advertise some stupid resolution to machines that are not connected through to a monitor?

6 Responses to “Windows sucks even when you don’t use it.”

  1. ncodding says:

    I’ve been running into this too when using my MBP both connected to an ACD at work, and on its own at home. I whipped up my own app to remember where I want the windows in each situation, and restore their positions(/sizes) when it detects display configuration changes. Also, one of my co-workers is having good luck with Desktility.

  2. Ed Silva says:

    I have a Dr. Bott’s MoniSwitch Pro DVI that works great for the three Macs that are connected to it, but the windows box doesn’t see the USB devices for about 15 seconds or so, which makes switching back and forth a pain.

  3. Reimer says:

    I am using the 4Port Avocent Swtichview/DVI (DVI, USB) with no problems between various macs and PC’s.
    I am using win2k and its a known bug that you get the ‘unsafe removal of device’ panel when you detach unmounted (!) USB drives. That personally drives me crazy…. windows is such a byzantine hack…


  4. Ben Stanfield says:

    I’ve got the same IOGear DVI switch and the same problem. Mac PowerMac resizes everytime I switch back to it from Windows or from my intel mini. Oddly enough, the mini seems to keep it’s screen resolution with no problems. That means not only does it not rearrange everything on my screen, but switching to it is instaneous instead of the 5-10 second delay I get when I switch to my PowerMac.

    Also, you can indeed use the keyboard to switch quickly. I have set mine up to use ctrl-ctrl number 1-4 to switch. Works like a charm, except for that damn G5 tower. I’m following this thread with much interest.

  5. Reimer says:

    As to your questions:
    The avocent kvm switches keybd, mouse, video, sound and a USB2.0 hub. It lets you switch via user definable kbd combinations:

    – Keybd, Mouse, Video, sound, usb2.0 hub
    – keybd, Mouse, Video only, sound is sticky to old selected
    – Keybd, Mouse, Video, usb hub is sticky to old selected
    – Key, Mouse, Video, usb hub and sound are sticky

    One major reason i went with it, was that it supports 1920×1200 DVI resolutions.

    As to your 2nd question: No, I have no resolution switch problems at all. I can run various resolutions (games) on the PC and switch back to the Mac (1920×1200) etc pp with no issues.


  6. Histrionic says:

    I would also like to know if the working KVM switches work with the Mac startup keys, such as C and Option. The Belkin SOHO unit I use (PS/2 terminal but allows either PS/2 or USB computers, via the correct cables) does not. Mine also often loses the extra mouse button functions, like the scroll action on the scroll wheel, when I switch between my Mac and PC.

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