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

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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  • by phonewebcam ( 446772 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @03:26PM (#41085135) Homepage

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

  • 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.

  • Re:bad premise (Score:2, Interesting)

    by GungaDan ( 195739 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @03:43PM (#41085441) Homepage

    "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?

  • 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 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 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.
  • by narcc ( 412956 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @03:50PM (#41085561) Journal

    Well, as far back as windows 3.1 there were options to arrange open windows. It's common to see a toolbar button or two in software that uses an MDI to arrange sub-windows in stacks or to tile them.

    Why isn't it common? Well, it turns out that no one works that way. Most people work with apps in full-screen, switching between them when needed. For those rare weirdo's who do want more than one window open on the display at once, they don't want the OS deciding how to arrange their windows.

  • 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.

Machines that have broken down will work perfectly when the repairman arrives.