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I believe a part of this has to do with some software products wanting to control the look-and-feel of their applications as part of brand recognition, which runs counter to the idea that GUI applications should conform to the UI guidelines set in place by the operating system or desktop environment. Some people blame this on modern Web trends, but this phenomenon is not new. A lot of video games for Windows or the Mac never conformed to their platforms' UI guidelines. I also remember when Apple ported iTunes and Safari to Windows during the Windows XP era and the controversy caused by these programs refusal to conform to Windows' UI guidelines (interestingly enough, the Windows port of ClarisWorks conformed to Windows' UI guidelines). Even Microsoft doesn't always adhere to Windows' guidelines; Microsoft Office 97 introduced the Tahoma font, flat toolbars, and other elements, which did not adhere to Windows 95's look-and-feel guidelines, and although Office 97 could run on Windows NT 3.51, it didn't even bother conforming to the look-and-feel of that operating system, which still followed Windows 3.1-style semantics. (To be fair, though, the styling of Microsoft Office 97 was a foretaste of the styling of Windows 2000, which used Tahoma as the system font. Office 97 blends in perfectly with Windows 2000.)

This "look-and-feel-as-branding" philosophy has now entered parts of the Linux community, as evidenced in this public letter to the GNOME community titled "Please don't theme our apps" asking Linux distributions to not apply custom themes to GNOME applications (https://stopthemingmy.app).

Personally I'm a major proponent of native GUI applications conforming to their platform's UI standards, and I'm also a proponent of users being able to theme their environments. In my opinion the purpose of personal computing is to empower the user. Users should be able to control their work environments and their workflows as they see fit. Unfortunately I feel that this philosophy of user empowerment has been slowly challenged, where the user experience is being controlled.




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