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Former Xerox PARC Researcher: Windows 8 Is a Cognitive Burden 404

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-everybody-else-seems-to-like-it-so-much dept.
New submitter LiroXIV writes "You know you've messed up big time when someone related to the development of one of the first graphical interfaces for computers thinks you've messed up. Usability expert Raluca Budiu has shared the common conclusion for many about Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8; it's definitely not as user-friendly as past versions. Quoting: 'The advantage of the overlaid menu is that it preserves context. Cognitively, there’s more of a burden when you have to switch context twice (desktop->start screen; start screen -> desktop). There are reasons to force users to switch contexts, especially in the tablet or phone environment, where screen real-estate is a lot more expensive and a menu is forced to use only part of the (already-small) screen. In that situation, a separate page makes better use of the small screen space. There are fewer reasons for a separate page on a desktop – the start menu is a cheaper interaction than the start page.'"
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Former Xerox PARC Researcher: Windows 8 Is a Cognitive Burden

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  • To paraphrase... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @03:18PM (#41084999) Journal

    ...Putting a phone interface on a desktop was a bad idea. We already knew that, but it's nice to get confirmation.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @03:21PM (#41085053)

      "You're holding it wrong!"

      You're suppose to hold the desktop up to your face.

      • by idontgno (624372)

        I suppose a workable alternative is to beat your face repeatedly on the desktop. And you may accidentally trigger the application you really wanted while facerolling the display.

        • Re:To paraphrase... (Score:5, Informative)

          by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@RABBI ... minus herbivore> on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @07:07PM (#41088197) Journal

          I suppose a workable alternative is to beat your face repeatedly on the desktop.

          Or do what everyone sensible does:

          Why I’m uninstalling Windows 8

          As a cruel trick on myself, about a month ago I installed Windows 8 on my main PC to see what it was like.

          The answer is: abysmal.

          I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that Windows 8 is the worst computing experience I’ve ever had. As a desktop operating system, it’s annoying, frustrating, irritating, and baffling to use. I’ve tried on many occasions to explain exactly why it’s so awful to use day-to-day, and most of the time, smoke starts pouring out of my ears. I thought it would be better to get down exactly what the issues are and why you should avoid it.

          http://www.pcgamesn.com/article/why-i-m-uninstalling-windows-8 [pcgamesn.com]

          It's astonishing how badly Microsoft has implimented this. For a long time I thought they were playing one of their "Queen's Duck" marketing tricks, and with a fanfare and a "We listen to our customers" comment, would switch to a sensible, if bland, UI at the last moment.

          They didn't.

    • Re:To paraphrase... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Brandano (1192819) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @03:48PM (#41085539)
      What is odd is that it seems Microsoft is following after Canonical in this case. First it was Aero vs Compiz, now this silly "PC OS as tablet OS" thing. Looks like all it takes to give Microsoft the final death blow is to create a popular distribution and then do something incredibly stupid with it, waiting for them to spend enormous resources in copying it.
    • by Cute Fuzzy Bunny (2234232) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @03:58PM (#41085707)

      ...Putting a phone interface on a desktop was a bad idea. We already knew that, but it's nice to get confirmation.

      Come on man, its the worst of both worlds! The limitations of a small screen and limited touch interface are wonderful replacements for a full rich gui and a keyboard.

      Or, as my android phone came up with when I spoke that response into it because it was too much to type:

      "Carnal mom, tis thrash bob wills. The lamentation of the women..."

      I think I had it set to 'conan' mode.

    • by fm6 (162816) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @04:16PM (#41085977) Homepage Journal

      It's a mobile device interface. Still, definitely a mistake.

      Here's what I think happened: MS decided (along with half the industry) that tablets will gradually replace desktop computer and decided they had to invent a new GUI paradigm that made Windows tablet-friendly. Whereupon they made the same mistake they've made many times before — they forgot that many of their users still need the old paradigm. We're still using laptops and desktops; we're even plugging keyboards and mice into our tablets and using them as desktops.

      I actually own a 10-year-old Windows tablet (running Windows 7) and except for handwriting and button support, Windows is not that different from that on regular systems. Pity they didn't consult the people who designed their existing tablet support. But they've probably all left the company by now, having been marginalized by the rest of the company for many years.

      • by roc97007 (608802) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @04:22PM (#41086071) Journal

        > Here's what I think happened: MS decided (along with half the industry) that tablets will gradually replace desktop computer and decided they had to invent a new GUI paradigm that made Windows tablet-friendly.

        Which, I would argue, is true! If you've ever tried to use Windows 7 "tablet edition" on a tablet (we own one, it sucks) you can see immediately that the desktop environment is not appropriate for touch devices. Not even a little bit.

        > Whereupon they made the same mistake they've made many times before — they forgot that many of their users still need the old paradigm.

        ...which could be paraphrased as "windows everywhere", which has demonstrably not worked in the past ("Start" on mobile devices) and still doesn't work (tiles on desktop).

        • by tlhIngan (30335) <(ten.frow) (ta) (todhsals)> on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @06:16PM (#41087533)

          Here's what I think happened: MS decided (along with half the industry) that tablets will gradually replace desktop computer and decided they had to invent a new GUI paradigm that made Windows tablet-friendly.

          Which, I would argue, is true! If you've ever tried to use Windows 7 "tablet edition" on a tablet (we own one, it sucks) you can see immediately that the desktop environment is not appropriate for touch devices. Not even a little bit.

          It's also why the iPad was more successful than previous tablet PCs. Apple realized UI paradigms are different and designed a different UI for iOS, knowing you can't stack OS X on a touch-primary device and have it work well.

          Of course, I think what happened is Steve Jobs got immensely successful with iOS and ended up punking the rest of industry into thinking that tablets and smartphones were the future, that Windows and such were dinosaurs, and that Apple was getting rid of OS X in favor of iOS.

          End result, everyone was trying to "follow Apple" and falling over themselves to tout their tablet OS (Android, usually, but also Windows Phone) as the desktop OS of the future.

          So Microsoft blindly goes forward, while all Apple does was add a few iOS touches to OS X, but otherwise keeping things the same (save the scroll bars). For the most part, the iOS bits in OS X are ignorable - other than scroll bars (and the ability to disable "natural" scrolling... though to be honest, I never actually saw what the fuss was about - it worked fine for me. Though if I plugged in a mouse and the scroll wheel went opposite, I'd be pissed, which I think happened).

          Apple punk'd the whole industry.

          • Further example: (Score:5, Insightful)

            by DrYak (748999) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @07:16PM (#41088305) Homepage

            Apple realized UI paradigms are different and designed a different UI for iOS, knowing you can't stack OS X on a touch-primary device and have it work well.

            Linux is another example:
            instead of trying to cram a full desktop environment (KDE, Gnome, etc) onto a tablet or smartphone, all the companies which decided to use the Linux kernel for their smartphones/tablet/internet-enable-pocketdevice/featurephone/whatever took the Linux kernel (with either the regular GNU userland, or some embed userland like busybox) but developed/reused mobile specific interfaces: Android (with its own userspace), Maemo, webOS, etc.

            In case of Apple, it is due to the way Steve Jobs used to work: he didn't think in term of business opportunity, but in term of product desirability.
            He didn't want a way to cram Apple products onto a new type of device.
            He wanted a device which simply did what *he* needed for his day-to-day usage, as simple as possible.
            He focus on his own usage pattern, and neglects everything else. That avoid feature creep, "bullet point" approches, etc.

            End result: A tablet which doesn't contain OS X, but is rather simple for the browsing needs of Steve Jobs, and by extension, of lots of consumer who don't really need that much.

            Although Geeks, /.ers, and other "power users" will still complain that the device is completely under-powered and rather limited, the device is "good enough for Steve's day-to-day usage", which overlaps not too badly with the needs of a big part of the population. Beside their incredible marketing that's how Apple manage to sell "inferior" products like hot cakes.

      • by rabtech (223758) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @04:55PM (#41086489) Homepage

        Here's what I think happened: MS decided (along with half the industry) that tablets will gradually replace desktop computer and decided they had to invent a new GUI paradigm that made Windows tablet-friendly. Whereupon they made the same mistake they've made many times before â" they forgot that many of their users still need the old paradigm. We're still using laptops and desktops; we're even plugging keyboards and mice into our tablets and using them as desktops.

        No, Microsoft continues to suffer from their "Windows-itis" disease, where to protect their existing Windows cash cow they insist on forcing it to be everywhere. See Windows Mobile/Windows CE, Kin, et al. That's one of the hallmarks of a company so blinded by their previous success they stop changing or innovating and work to extend and protect the cash cow (often until it is too late).

        This is just a symptom of that... they desperately want to get in on the tablet game but since Windows has to be everywhere (and the same as much as possible) that means pushing the tablet interface onto the desktop. They also saw how easily people can switch to the Mac because of all the "iOS-isms" Apple has brought to the Mac, so they figured it would be a huge boost to their tablet efforts to have a consistent "Windows" brand.

        What they forget is most people hate or are at best ambivalent about Windows as a brand and as much as Apple can just make a change and get everyone to fall in line, not even they replaced the Desktop for some iOS-like fullscreen-only interface.

        If you look at it objectively, it is obvious that Apple isn't getting into the enterprise server market anytime soon and your server products division is doing quite well. But people are buying iPads and the lack of MS Office is teaching a whole new generation that they don't need Office anymore. That's a dangerous precedent to set. If Windows is a cash cow, Office is a whole herd. The choice is obvious - instead of risking millions on competing with the iPad (and pissing off your OEMs in the process), just start releasing everything for iOS. If you assume even just the corporate business iPad users bought it, that's already over a billion dollar a year business *after* Apple's cut. For zero risk and a few developer salaries.

        We know Google makes a ton of their mobile revenue from iOS - that makes Android a puzzle as well. Why are you working so hard to piss off one of your largest markets? Of course Google needs to decide whether they are going to crap or get off the toilet... they own Motorola. If Motorola starts selling #1 devices in numbers, how long will Samsung, HTC, etc keep pushing Android? At some point they'll have to go their own way. If Google hamstrings Motorola so as not to compete with their OEMs, then what are they going to do about Amazon, Baidu, et al taking Google's R&D and ripping out all the Google services then replacing them with their own? How long will they continue to be Amazon's free R&D department? And how can they justify a 12 billion purchase of Motorola just to let them spin their wheels? What will Google do when Samsung gets jealous of Google's revenue and forks Android and replaces all the Google services with Samsung-branded services? How long until the other OEMs follow Samsung's lead?

        In a sense, Microsoft has now decided to adopt this same problem as their own. If Surface sells like crazy, all the OEMs will jump ship. Why compete against Microsoft when you have to pay an additional $20-50 license tax on top? If it doesn't, then why did you waste your energy and money when you could be making billions off iPad apps *and* getting license revenue from the OEMs?

    • by MrNiceguy_KS (800771) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @04:38PM (#41086247)

      With early versions of Windows Phone, Microsoft learned - the hard way - that cramming a desktop interface on to a phone makes for an awkward phone. With Windows 8, they'll learn - the hard way - that the reverse is also true.

    • depends on hardware. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Deathlizard (115856) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @09:36PM (#41089631) Homepage Journal

      Awhile back at my old job we started playing with windows 8 previews on various laptops. as expected using the keyboard and mouse, it sucked, but then we started playing around with it on an old touchscreen monitor, and it was actually good.

      So we started experimenting with it using some students around campus. some students got the keyboard/mouse and some got the screen only. in those cases, the screen won hands down. In fact they seemed to pick it up almost instantly, where the mouse users tended to dart around the screen looking for apps.

      The other interesting thing is that it seemed to be better the bigger the screen is. we put the same machine on one of our 6 foot smart boards on campus and did the same test that we used on the touchscreen. Students pretty much loved it across the board. a few even asked for win8 on all of the smartboards on campus. (which wasn't planned at the time)

      Now of course none of this is scientific, and it was a small sample, (roughly 5-10 students per test) but the results are definitely trending towards touchscreen good mouse bad when it comes to Win8. Another thing that I wish we tested more was desktop interface on touchscreen. most of the people were told "this is windows 8 let us know what you think" and they could do whatever they wanted to it. They primarily stayed in the Metro interface almost exclusively. The other thing that might have skewed this result is that all of the students were about 20-25 ish years old, and almost all of them used some sort of smartphone, which might have helped win8 on the touchscreen side.

      Regardless, its a hell of a gamble on MS's part. their biggest customers are enterprise hands down. Enterprise users will stay away like the plague. (unless they have a large POS or interactive rollout, it's pretty much a no brainer to put win8 there) Home users will most likely adopt it more with touchscreen hardware but the hardware is just not there desktop wise. with prices dropping on touchscreen systems daily, it might be coming soon, but I would say windows 9 will be out before it's mainstream enough to see enterprise adoption.

  • Then perhaps they'd quit their jihad on users.

    • by KiloByte (825081)

      So it's the users that quit Gnome. It's telling when not only Debian switches to XFCE by default, the most popular newbie user distribution (Mint) has a thorough fork of Gnome3 (Cinnamon) and an outright rejection of it (Mate), but even the very home of Gnome (Red Hat) relents and includes Mate as an option.

      It's politically uncomfortable to admit defeat, but I hope those folks will come to their senses, slap an epoch on Gnome2 and upgrade to 2.32 with Mate's improvements. Because Gnome2 was a good deal ah

  • by MetalliQaZ (539913) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @03:23PM (#41085079)

    Windows 8 is optimized for content consumption rather than content production and multitasking. Whereas content consumption can easily be done on other media (tablets and phones), production and multitasking are still best suited for PCs. Windows 8 appears to ignore that.

    This is a very good insight, and probably the most concise explanation for why I don't like the Windows 8 UI. As a creator, I don't want all that extra crap getting in my way.

    -d

    • by miknix (1047580)

      It is like Microsoft is purposely leaving a piece of their market share open for other operating systems, which decades ago were the first choice for video and audio production; I'm of course talking about Apple's OSX and BeOS ..

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      Unfortunately this is where the money is. Ie, iPhones and iPads are big money makers and they are designed around consuming information and not the creation of things. They're passive devices in many way, portable entertainment, newspaper replacements, web browsers that move with you. That's nice in some sense. However what they are not are work stations. You do not do work on those devices.

      Windows 8 seems to copy that model. Most of the default applications on the start screen are presentation based;

      • The majority of computer users are not creators and never will be.

        To the extent that's true -- and I'm not saying it isn't -- those users will end up on tablets.

        Trying to turn the desktop PC into a giant tablet isn't going to work.

  • by Michael_gr (1066324) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @03:24PM (#41085103)
    Tablets and other small devices are hot now? let's tailor our new OS to fit them, make every icon and control oversized, every window maximized, and throw customization out the window. Professionals and other people with PCs and large screens? screw them!
    • by codepigeon (1202896) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @03:49PM (#41085555)
      Agreed. I was a previous linux/bsd desktop user up to a few years ago. Recently I thought it would be cool to run this new "Ubuntu" I keep hearing about.

      The interface was so dumbed down (and blown up) that I nearly lost my mind. I had to boot into my windows partition to google how to open a damn terminal window in Ubuntu.

      Maybe it was too obvious for me and i'm too old.
      • There's some extra steps they don't tell you about in setting up Ubuntu 12.04:

        After logging in to Unity press ctrl-alt-F1
        Log in to the command prompt
        Run: sudo apt-get install gnome-session-fallback gnome-panel gnome-shell
        Run: sudo /usr/lib/lightdm/lightdm-set-defaults -s gnome-classic
        Reboot your computer
    • While I find Unity to be meh. I think you are being unreasonable. Power users and professionals that use linux, surely can't be your average grandma who doesn't know how to install another DE or window manager.
      I install KDE the first thing after I install. Nothing, absolutely nothing, will try to stop you on that task, be it KDE or Gnome3(or forks of Gnome2/etc), XFCE, LXDE, XFCE, IceWM, whatever floats your boat, and there are tutorials and step-by-step guides for everyone else!. Your problem will only be

  • Nope (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @03:26PM (#41085131)

    You know you've messed up big time when someone related to the development of one of the first graphical interfaces for computers thinks you've messed up.

    Nah, that hardly bothers me at all. I only really know I've messed up when the screams of terror start. And then suddenly stop.

  • Why waste a quarter of them with a stupid huge black bar running down the full length of the homescreen [pcmag.com], making it look all lop-sided and amateur?
    Are we supposed, like, dig this as the trendy new way forward?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by LiroXIV (2362610)

      Why waste a quarter of them with a stupid huge black bar running down the full length of the homescreen [pcmag.com], making it look all lop-sided and amateur? Are we supposed, like, dig this as the trendy new way forward?

      Actually, Windows Phone 7.8 and 8 is supposed to get rid of that.

    • I've actually done the calculation for iOS and WP7 in terms of unused space on the homescreen. It turns out that for iOS, if you discount icons, text, and indicators, 43% of the screen accounts for "unused" space. By comparison, the unused space in WP7, even including the black bar on the side, accounts for about 35-40%, depending on where the icons and which type are used. Don't really see how this is a concern however, since the space is used very efficiently by combining widgets and launchers into one.
  • by jenningsthecat (1525947) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @03:27PM (#41085163)

    There are fewer reasons for a separate page on a desktop

    How about the OS being context-sensitive, and changing its behaviour as required on different hardware platforms? People would rapidly adapt to the inconsistency between hand-held and desktop devices - they already do it every day.

    Microsoft, (along with the folks who created Gnome 3 and Unity), would be far better off adopting an inclusive strategy for their designs, rather than trying to shoehorn everyone's disparate needs into a 'one size fits all' GUI paradigm. And we'd all be better off if these head-up-their-own-asses devs would put aside their arrogance and deliver what people want and can use productively.

  • by HalAtWork (926717) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @03:28PM (#41085173)
    The reason for the start page is to make the desktop look scary. Average users don't want to drop to the command line for any reason, the black box with cryptic commands looks scary and isn't intuitive to them. MS is introducing another layer on top of the desktop that really simplifies things. When an average user launches a traditional app, they will be dropped to the desktop, which will seem scary to them, the apps that run in that "mode" aren't as simple as they're used to, there's menus on top and tons of toolbar buttons instead of a dumbed down phone interface. This will force developers to adapt, because users will no longer want to run traditional desktop apps anymore, it'll seem too complicated.

    Previously, users were forced to learn this stuff, but now that they know there's a simpler alternative, they won't want to, just like the command line. This benefits MS in that there will be a ton of new apps that work perfectly on their tablet. This gives an incentive to app developers; They will now have a reason to sell you the latest version. It benefits the Windows platform in general because the new users that are attracted won't be able to cope with a traditional desktop interface, and other OSes will look scary. More experienced users will know how to get around this stuff and run traditional apps, and won't be bothered too much.

    Yeah, it seems really stupid to most of us, but we won't use it, but there are many business reasons for MS to force this start page and tablet interface onto users, it feeds into their new tablet strategy and throws developers a bone, and gives them a reason to focus on MS's tablet platform the way they do on iOS even without a large pre-existing userbase, simply because now average desktop users will be demanding apps in this format. So why shouldn't they do this?
    • by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @03:46PM (#41085509) Homepage Journal

      "Business reasons" seems to be a euphemism for "forcing the user into habits that benefit us."

      You know they could just make an *easier to use* OS that people want to use instead of forcing their philosophy on people for profit.

  • bad premise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LodCrappo (705968) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @03:34PM (#41085289) Homepage

    "You know you've messed up big time when someone related to the development of one of the first graphical interfaces for computers thinks you've messed up"

    Regardless of whether MS has screwed the pooch with Windows 8, I don't think this claim is worth a shit. being related to the development of the first instance of something makes you a defacto authority on modern incarnations? especially in the technology sector this smells like BS. would the wright brothers be expected to provide valuable input on the latest stealth bomber?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by GungaDan (195739)

      "would the wright brothers be expected to provide valuable input on the latest stealth bomber?"

      Yeah, and what sort of insights would Plato have about modern systems of governance, anyway? Come to think of it, why do we care what those damned obsolete "founding father" jackasses had to say about our Constitution, either?

      • by LodCrappo (705968)

        "Come to think of it, why do we care what those damned obsolete "founding father" jackasses had to say about our Constitution, either?"

        I wasn't aware the modern government did care what those old guys had to say. Regardless, you miss the point. Would you really assume one of our founding fathers to have useful input on a modern scenario *simply because he was around during the creation of the government* ? So much so that a statement like "You know your proposed patent reform bill is in trouble when Jame

  • The desktop is our native environment. But the coming generation is exposed to computing via smartphone first. For them, the desktop-as-smartphone will be no big deal, it will feel natural.

    So I actually agree with Microsoft on the Metro UI.

    To me the complaints seem like a bunch of "get off my desktop lawn" old folk fist shaking. The complaints are not about usability, but familiarity.

    • Its too easy to say that because there are legitimate concerns with regard to workflow and ui. Your point is valid but I think its wrong to think people are on the side of "its a total failure" I think its a good move, but I too am concerned with how it will function fluidly. There are a lot of great ui ideas that arent in windows like mouse gestures for example. Autodesk's marking menu is arguably far better than just a right click alone.

      I think windows 8 is going to be a damn good OS technically. But the

      • by lilfields (961485)
        Expect the workflow to be fixed as Microsoft gathers more data from Windows 8 users, currently most of their usage data is coming from in-house.
    • by ThorGod (456163)

      I suspect you're not far from the truth. He's got a good point about context switching. It is mentally jarring to switch contexts, but I imagine I can get used to Metro's "annoyance" . Contrast this with the very critical flaw(s) that Vista rolled out with: driver problems leading to system failure. There's *no* chance of getting used to that kind of problem.

      • It is mentally jarring to switch contexts, but I imagine I can get used to Metro's "annoyance"

        I see words like "jarring" thrown around with respect to opening the start screen, and after using Windows 8 for months I think that kind of language is vastly overstating the issue. I used to see the same kind of complaints about window animations and aero glass transparency. After a while, you largely don't notice it anymore.

        For most people on this forum, accessing the start screen would be a rare event. There are only two reasons to do so: to quickly read live tiles or to launch a metro app. Members o

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      No. I completely disagree. The notion that the same interface is optimal for two extremely different types of input devices and screens is absurd.

      The best interface for a big screen with keyboard and mouse absolutely cannot also be the most well-suited to a handheld touchscreen device.

      I find it amazing how many people try to claim this is not true. Desktop computers and tablets/phone are not the same thing and do not serve the same purpose. I would much much much rather have two different and GOOD inter

    • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @04:38PM (#41086251) Homepage

      But the coming generation is exposed to computing via smartphone first.

      Correction: they've been exposed to electronic consumption via the smartphone, first.

      Saying they've been 'exposed to computing' due to their smartphone is kind of like saying i've been exposed to the banking industry because I know how to operate an ATM.

      What happened to "computing" equating with "able to operate more than a word processor, basic PIM, and email client"? We used to have a word for people who traditionally did that kind of 'computing' task: secretary. The people who did the 'real work' need a slightly broader toolset. Things like:

      * media production tools
      * software production tools
      * engineering tools
      * system administrator tools
      * medical tools

      Sure, there can be a great deal of 'dumbing down' in a lot of fields for specific things, and that's fine. But the people who do more than one or two tasks at a time (concurrently)? Yeah, we're going to need something better than what W8 has to offer.

      For them, the desktop-as-smartphone will be no big deal, it will feel natural.

      And, like the GUI people before them who were unable to replicate the more complex, advanced tasks of the CLI people, the DUI (Dumb User Interface) people will be unable to perform the same tasks as people performing GUI tasks.

      (Meanwhile, CLI people will end up looking increasingly like gods.)

  • Metro != Usability (Score:5, Interesting)

    by onyxruby (118189) <onyxruby@@@comcast...net> on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @03:37PM (#41085347)

    Using Metro aka Modern instead of the traditional desktop was never about usability. It was entirely about transitioning users to tablet interfaces and away from the traditional interface that people have used for years. Microsoft knows damn well that people will never voluntarily never make the change which is why they removed the ability to boot directly into the desktop.

    By forcing you into "Modern" they are forcing you to use the new interface which /is/ usable - but only if your on a tablet. Obviously Microsoft thinks the future of computing is tablets and smartphones and not desktops. Witness the upcoming "Surface" computers and Windows Phone 8 platforms. Microsoft is afraid that the market is going to abandon the traditional desktop and is trying to position Windows as being an Operating System of choice for the tablets and smart phones. People simply don't think of Microsoft when they think of smart phones or tablets and that is what Microsoft is trying to change, public perception.

    Windows 8 is a sacrificial operating system that is being produced entirely for this reason and we will see Windows 9 come in a very short time frame behind this.

    • You might have captured the mood of the management meetings, but oh, this is at such a cost.

      Power Users have really been MS's bread and butter in the Enterprise space.

      This is SO risky. However MS is probably Too Big To Fail, so if they screw it up we'll hear about SP2 that gives back "abilities to go to the old way of doing things". At which point the entire exercise becomes useless.

      • by lilfields (961485)
        If you've ever used Windows 8, you'd know that you can still do everything you've ever done on the desktop. The only change is the start menu and the full screen metro apps (which I am betting will be allowed to be scaled like normal windows in future updates. I'd still rather use 7, but to say you can't operate Windows 8 just like you can a Windows 7 machine is nonsense.
    • by lilfields (961485) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @03:48PM (#41085545) Homepage
      I disagree, I think Microsoft is pushing "Metro" on the desktop for numerous reasons, and one of them is the shared core between all their major platforms (something no one else has.) They put Windows 8 running Metro on laptops and desktops and they instantly have just as many eyeballs as iPhone and iPad. This gives their touch products a HUGE boost in the app world. Microsoft has demoed where you can literally change one line of code and put your app on Windows 8 from a Windows Phone app, and vice versa. I think Metro will be scaled back over time on the desktop. This Windows 8 is ALL about capturing developers on their touch devices. I am quite excited for Windows 9, but I wouldn't expect it to be rushed out the door like you are suggesting.
      • by onyxruby (118189)

        I think the shared core is a major reason and have to agree with you on that. After submitting that I thought of one additional reason as well. They want to transition to the Apple style marketplace where Metro Apps have to purchased through them and they get a cut of of that. It's going to make enterprise management a pain in the ass. That would has also got to be a huge incentive to push this.

        I still maintain that the number one driving reason for the metro push is the one that I cited. This is coming fro

  • by RichMan (8097) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @03:46PM (#41085493)

    This is not about a functional Desktop OS.
    That is not the mouse Microsoft is currently chasing.

    Microsoft is chasing the mobile-platform space and a tied application store.

    • by lilfields (961485)
      Exactly, what doesn't the tech community get about this? The shared core is the jewel of Windows 8.
    • But they are selling it and promoting it as a functional Desktop OS.

      If Microsoft said that Win8 was only for tablets, phones, and game consoles then I don't think anyone would have a problem with it. But they're promoting it as the next evolution of their Desktop OS, even though it is terrible for most desktop PC tasks. (Nevermind what PARC researchers have to say; the gaming-oriented review of Windows 8 at Kotaku is blistering. [kotaku.com])

      For tablets, phones, and game consoles Windows 8 might be a big step forward.

  • The two most valuable pieces of screen real estate (upper left and right corners, per Fitt's Law) are mandatorily taken by the Activities widget, which nobody supports, and the Cashew, which is the button you have to push to customize your toolbar.

    Oh, and they stole the non-toolbar screen edges for 'window resize' in the latest release, even in maximized window mode (using the scrollbars now requires precision mousing instead of flick 'n click). The edges are the second most valuable bits of screen real e

  • by wiedzmin (1269816) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @07:00PM (#41088109)

    I don't have anything against Microsoft. In fact, I think that if the user is not an idiot - most of their recent products are fantastic. However, Windows 8 interface, to the extent to which I was introduced with Zune client for Windows is the most confusing, unintuitive thing I had ever had a misfortune of having to use.
     
    But don't fear - we all know that by Microsoft's OS release pattern (...-98-Me-XP-Vista-7), every second OS has to suck in order to make the next one look better. Windows 8 is going to suck, because it's supposed to. Let it go and just wait for the next one, it will be great.

  • by Mike Buddha (10734) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @07:35PM (#41088513)

    You know what else is a cognitive burden? Picking up a new magazine and reading the table of contents. Yes, Windows 8 is a cognitive burden, but it ain't quantum physics. It is different though.

Testing can show the presense of bugs, but not their absence. -- Dijkstra

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