Recently ElementaryOS 5.0 Juno got released. I immediately upgraded. Looked at it for two seconds and decided to go with Ubuntu.
The ‘killer’ feature that was missing was a small one – the minimize button is still not enabled by default.
Why was the minimize button removed?
Digging into this topic I found a statement about removing the default button.
Elementary Blog – Shaking up Window Controls (http://blog.elementary.io/post/107662532976/the-road-to-luna)
a plan had already been laid out for the new standard of elementary apps: They would open and close instantly and even better, they would save their state before closing.
Basically they decided that elementary apps should act as mobile apps. Thus combining the minimize function with the close button.
Elementary OS is a desktop OS and if it wants to be successful it allows you to use all programs and not only apps designed for elementary OS.
Is it a good design decision?
Removing the minimize button is a bold move. It radically changes how the user deals with window management.
Instead of minimize you need to use tools like multiple desktops Users could start working more with multiple desktops.
- The concept of a minimize has been around since even before 1988 – It has become one of the core components of Desktop OS and Window management. Every user will have to relearn their interaction.
- The communication of the user with the computer is awkward and creates misunderstandings. The apps will guess what you want to do: Did you want to listen to music and keep the program open in the background or did you want to stop listening for music? The user has only one button to express both of these commands.
Probably the button is actually not used that often anymore, since most things are done with a browser and that window is always open. – I do not know I do not have any data to back that claim.
However I know that that line of thinking lead to the removal of the start button in Windows 8 and that was definitely not a good idea.
Goodbye Elementary OS
While Elementary OS has a wonderful UI and they try to focus a lot more on usability. The missing of this button makes the OS unusable for me.
In Elementary OS 0.4 Freya – I enabled the button with the command:
gsettings set org.pantheon.desktop.gala.appearance button-layout 'close,minimize,maximize'
However that made the UI look a little weird and sometimes it just did not work. I just assumed that when a lot of people are googling for the problem and mentioning it – that eventually they will reconsider their choice. However currently it does not seem to be the case.
So back to Ubuntu – that UI also has flaws, but it got it right to have a minimize button.