partiallydisassembled.net

Device removal on Windows

2009-05-04 08:19:04

In response to: http://blogs.msdn.com/oldnewthing/archive/2009/05/01/9581563.aspx which Sofie shared from a Digg post. I'd reply with a Reader comment, but they really suck. Raymond Chen (MS genius) writes that users inadvertently get presented with the "advanced" device removal menu when right-clicking on the device removal notification icon, when all they should've done is left-click, which brings up the simpler menu. The simple menu presents one menu item for each device, alongside the drive letter, making it relatively easy to find the usb stick you're trying to remove. The advanced menu shows a device/bus tree that makes it near-impossible to find the device you're after. What's amazing is that first Raymond, then all the commentators, blame the user for choosing the wrong menu ("oh, silly me, I didn't realise there was a left-click menu"). No-one points out that nowhere else in Windows does a left-click activate a menu. (There is also a half-second delay in bringing up the simple menu, compared to the advanced menu, causing many to try both and end up with just the advanced one after the simple one doesn't appear to do anything). Secondly, no-one points out that the "advanced" menu is pointless. It has no more functionality than the simple menu, because you are still removing the same devices, they're just listed in a different format (one that is opaque). Finally, the whole interface is completely insane. Internal hard drives are listed alongside USB sticks, it asks for confirmation before ejecting the disk (something which is easily undoable and has no consequence), and everything in the menu is a "Mass Storage Device". But the real kicker -- why doesn't Windows flush data to USB devices as soon as there's an idle IO period (say, after 1 second); and show a warning icon only when the device is in use? That way, it's always safe to remove the device, except for the few seconds (at most) after writing to it, which would be indicated by a red warning symbol or some such, telling you to hold off for a second. Hell, they could've put that light on the stick itself. "Don't pull the stick out while the light is on". Sounds like floppy disk technology. Genius!
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