Holy cow, I wrote a book!
Some time ago,
I mentioned the dangers of disabling the desktop window.
But why is it even possible to disable the desktop anyway?
This is simply an artifact of the history of philosophy of Windows operating
Back in the old days, memory was tight, hard drives were luxuries,
the most popular CPU for the IBM PC didn't have memory protection,
and software development was reserved for the rarefied elite
who could afford to drop a few thousand dollars on an SDK.
This had several consequences:
Certainly there could have been a check in all the places where
windows can be disabled to reject attempts to
disable the desktop window,
but that would have made one window "more special" than others,
undermining the "simplicity" of the window manager.
Anything optional had to be left behind.
Software developers were trusted not to make
the sort of stupid mistakes that led to the desktop being disabled,
the heap being corrupted, or any of the other "don't do that"
types of mistakes lurking in the shadows Windows programming.
If such a serious mistake were to creep in, certainly their testing
department would have caught it before the program was released.
Software development was hard because nobody said this
was going to be easy.
Software developers were trusted to treat their customers with respect.
Because, after all, software developers who abuse their customers
won't have customers for very long.
If a program put itself in the Startup group, then it was doing so
not for selfish reasons but rather because the customer actually wanted it.
The window manager was left fairly exposed,
granting software developers the power to do things like
subclass windows that were owned by other processes,
and manipulate the contents of the Startup group,
with the assumption that software developers would use the power
for good, not for evil.
Don't bother stopping a program from disabling the desktop window,
because maybe that program is doing it for a good reason that
we hadn't thought of.
The world of software has changed much since those simpler days.
I had a nice chat with
my colleague Zeke
where we discussed how philosophy has changed over the years.
Maybe he'll write a few words on the subject...