The Mozilla Foundation’s mission is to preserve choice and innovation on the Internet. And that’s a great thing.
But there are some contexts where choice is harmful. Security is one. For example, I believe that if a Link Fingerprint download fails, the file should be deleted without giving the user the option to retain it. That’s because when you ask the user about security decisions (like “This certificate is bogus; do you want to continue?”), they normally do the insecure/convenient thing. So the trick is to avoid having to ask. But my view has been attacked in discussion as not “giving the user choice” and “just deciding for them, like Microsoft”, as if taking decisions for users is somehow always a bad thing.
Another example is shown by this O’Reilly Radar post, which notes with derision that Windows Vista preserves a distinction between “Sleep” and “Hibernate”. Commenter “Rick” exemplifies the “what’s wrong with choice? Choice is good” view when he says:
OMG, they give users a choice instead of assuming they are all morons…
Sure, there is a lot to be said for simplicity, but leaving the choice up to the user is equally valid.
But commenter RichB points out:
For example, OSX combines these two features into a single sleep feature which also hibernates in case your power dies (battery exhausted) during sleep.
This is clearly, plainly, obviously, the right way to implement the feature. And it amazes me that we’ve taken so long to see it. (Perhaps it’s harder for Vista because it has to work on a much wider range of hardware.) But it also goes to show that you can improve things for a user by reducing choice. With apparently no irony, a Microsoft representative is quoted here as saying:
[R]edundancies and choice are the second most important reason to use Windows (the first being backwards compatibility), and without it, Windows would just be a Mac.
Looks like I’m echoing Joel here.