Critics Take Aim at the Windows 8 Interface

Usability expert says traditional Windows users are "being thrown under the bus."

Later this week, Microsoft will officially debut its Windows 8 operating system, and the success or failure of the new OS could have huge implications for the tech industry. However, many people are criticizing the Windows 8 interface, particularly its lack of the familiar "start" button.

The New York Times' Nick Wingfield reported, "Jakob Nielsen, a user interface expert at the Nielsen Norman Group, conducted tests with four people who used a traditional computer running Windows 8 and found that they had 'a lot of struggles' with the new design. Mr. Nielsen said they appeared to become especially confused when shifting back and forth between the modern Windows 8 mode and the desktop mode." Wingfield quoted Nielsen, who said, “I just think when it comes to the traditional customer base, the office computer user, they’re essentially being thrown under the bus.”

Peter Svensson with the AP wrote, "Microsoft is making a radical break with the past to stay relevant in a world where smartphones and tablets have eroded the three-decade dominance of the personal computer. Windows 8 is supposed to tie together Microsoft’s PC, tablet and phone software with one look. But judging by the reactions of some people who have tried the PC version, it’s a move that risks confusing and alienating customers." Svensson quoted one Windows user who said, "It was very difficult to get used to. I have an 8-year-old and a 10-year-old, and they never got used to it. They were like, ‘We’re just going to use Mom’s computer.’  ”

Mercury News columnist Troy Wolverton announced, "As a PC user, I hate -- a word I use sparingly -- the new interface that is the centerpiece of Windows 8." He added, "While I think this interface has a lot of promise for tablets, on a traditional desktop or laptop computer, or even on a newer notebook sporting a touch screen, it's clunky and unintuitive. Metro often feels like a work in progress, because seemingly obvious features are unavailable. And worst of all, Metro makes it much harder than before to do everyday tasks and real work on your computer."

Unsurprisingly, one high-profile Windows user loved the new interface. According to CNET's Shara Tibken, Microsoft co-founder and former CEO Bill Gates called Windows 8 an "'absolutely critical product' that combines 'the best' of tablets and traditional PCs. Gates noted that people will be 'amazed at the energy' Microsoft is putting behind its new products, and he said Windows 8 'is key to where personal computing is going.'"




Tags: operating system, Microsoft, Windows 8, interface


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