Windows 8 usability report finds its seven deadly sins: Microsoft swapped features for color

Windows 8 usability report finds its seven deadly sins: Microsoft swapped features for color
Windows 8 is a completely reimagined Windows. It aims to bring the new Modern-style user interface with its Live Tiles and simplistic ideas and mix it together with the good old Windows look. But does this combination of the two result in a better product, or is it too confusing for the average user?

Usability expert Jakob Nielsen of took on the task to find out and had 12 experienced users test out the new Windows 8 on both tablets and PC. The end result? Nothing flattering for Microsoft’s UI team.

Turns out, the new Modern UI (previously called Metro) is actually very hard to understand for even experienced users. And while previously Microsoft took pride in having the operating system people most used for doing serious work, killing the multiple windows feature in Windows 8 actually cripples seriously that very core functionality. Interestingly, in Windows 8 you no longer have windows in the plural - all happens only in a single window.

In trying to make a “One Windows, everywhere” platform, Microsoft has hidden a lot of the features to cater to lower screen sizes, but that does not make much sense on traditional larger computers; it has also introduced gestures, but those are context based and work in some apps, do not work and others, and this hard-to-predict behavior mars the user experience.

There are a lot of other interesting findings in the report, so we definitely recommend you check it out at the source link below, and below we have the essential takeout summarized in a slideshow. What do you think, do you agree that Windows 8 has become more confusing to use in comparison to Windows 7, or not? Why?




1. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

I personally don't like W8 for the reasons stated in the article. I know about computers, and see the jump from W7 a very small one.

3. someones4

Posts: 628; Member since: Sep 16, 2012

Well, 9gag already predicted this to be somewhat of a flop. perhaps w9 will be better.

35. nak1017

Posts: 328; Member since: Jan 08, 2010

It'll get fixed, I have no doubt about that... I just wished they'd learn to listen to power-users and developers (including their own) more than follow trends...

22. alterecho

Posts: 1106; Member since: Feb 23, 2012

more like step dow

26. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

Sounds like a repeat of Vista is in the making.... Nothing like hubris. MS seems to reliably follow a hit (Win7) with a dud. Remember Win XP > Vista? It seems to be repeating with Win 7 > 8.

29. Cynipap999

Posts: 138; Member since: Nov 15, 2012

It's really sad and pathetic, Windows 8 is Microsoft's Vista 2. All you have to tell me is no multiple windows on Windows 8 and I'm OUT (SEE YA')!!! There are times when I can have ten windows or more open at once between 4-5 programs; not having multiple windows is NOT an option. Unfortunately, I could have predicted this with Microsoft - sad, really.

47. divertito

Posts: 3; Member since: Nov 09, 2012

The article fails to distinuish between RT and Pro. In Pro, from the desktop "app" you have the classic windows experience with some minor tweaks; you even get multiple windows as the screengrab clearly demonstrates. Casual users will be using the new interface, while biz users and power users will likely be in the desktop UI for the majority of their usage. Also, comparing this to Vista is just wrong unless there are stability issues. What made Windows ME and/or Vista suck so bad was the BSOD, not the UI. Sad how easily change scares folks.

52. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Mist ppl dont remember when XP first launched it had issues. It didnt really get better until SP2.

55. OccupyAJob

Posts: 7; Member since: Nov 19, 2012

It's a long running theme with Windows. Like Star Trek odd numbered movies, every even numbered Windows release sucks.

39. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

My primary computer I still have 7 Ultimate 64-bit, and will stay that way until I feel comfortable that all the programs I use for work will be useable flawlessly and with no lost time between what I am used to. However I already have 8 installed on two of my other computers and while it took a bit getting used to, it is faster for everyday tasks, and also better on the smaller screened devices. I can tell that it was definitely designed for touchscreen devices. Yes, not everyone has one but by the time W8 has wider deployment more will, even as such that some will buy a touchscreen just because they know 8 is designed with a touch interface in mind. Yes, power-users and tech types may not be happiest about the change, but they're not the biggest audience Microsoft has, much like how Google doesn't cater Android directly to the modding community, but anyone who will buy it, hence ICS and JB introducing a more streamlined and less-complicated interface. Vista wasn't bad, either, btw, it is just that there were a number of factors against it, namely whiney tech folks who wanted a faster, less-crash-prone OS (which it was) and users not knowing how to set up UAC (which was stupidly easy, and done to keep less-savvy users from messing up their systems - PEBKAC), and, like 7, people buying the cheapest version of the OS and expecting it to work like the most expensive version. I only ever had/have 64-bit Ultimate versions of Vista and 7, and never had a problem. The hit/miss thing isn't really true, either: 95, 98, and 98 SE were all excellent for their time. ME blew chunks. 2000, XP, and Server 2003 were all.good for their time, though XP had significant severe issues for those who didn't/don't protect themselves (the same issue mac is has now and has had for a while). Vista attempted to remedy those security issues by taking it out if the hands if the user with UAC. A bit too much, too soon, but it worked. People are already purchasing more touchscreen computers, and for them 8 will be great. Yes, it could use the ability to have multiple windows open beyond the "snapped" ones, but that creates lag and usability issues for less powerful systems (sort of like the Windows 7 pagefile debate), and there is always desktop mode for some of that functionality. Once more people adopt it and stop complaining it'll be fine. TL;DRers: Stop complaining and give it a try, especially on a touchscreen. It isn't bad, and good for most general users, which is most of Microsoft's user base.

2. someones4

Posts: 628; Member since: Sep 16, 2012

Microsoft really shot themselves in the foot here. This has potential and all these annoyances killed the experience for me. Even if they attempt to fix this, it may be even more confusing for users who got used to it.

4. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

All aside... Number 2 is just shocking to know.

5. Edmund

Posts: 656; Member since: Jul 13, 2012

I'm glad you guys think a sample size of 12 experienced users is considered a valid experiment with conclusive findings /s

6. uchihakurtz

Posts: 428; Member since: Nov 12, 2012

Windows 8 feels awkward on non-touch devices...

16. megabok

Posts: 58; Member since: Apr 03, 2012

True that.

7. jove39

Posts: 2147; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

Oh my...what is "Lack of multiple windows"...Win8 doesn't have feature to open windows side by side or stacked? Hope it works in Desktop mode!!!

9. gwhyte01

Posts: 44; Member since: Jul 09, 2008

Yes it can. If you can't do it then you don't meet the vga requirements.

8. Peter98

Posts: 119; Member since: Aug 01, 2012

I installed it. I get to it. But yea. From desktop and modern UI, it's weird and dunno which should I use. Confusing there. I wanna use Modern UI for the majority time but sometimes like Google Chrome doesn't support and need to jump over to Desktop again.

10. TrainFromUkraine

Posts: 95; Member since: Mar 26, 2012

Are people really THAT stupid? Seriously?

11. plgladio

Posts: 314; Member since: Dec 05, 2011

Nothing is big than Ballmer mouth..

12. Ahsan

Posts: 40; Member since: Jun 09, 2011

I am using windows 8. Its is great, fast and smooth. It takes only 7 seconds to start my PC on. Live tiles are great also just one click and you will get cricket, football live update, news etc. Only disadvantage is lack of application on windows store but this might be for a while. Hopefully popular application will be available for Windows 8 metro tiles soon. In my opinion windows 8 need some update and I am sure windows 8 service pack 1 will rocking.

31. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

my windows 7 also take 7 seconds so no surprise there plus i work in the tech environment ask my colleague to rate windows 8, they give 3 out of 10, reason is an upgrade must feel like an upgrade but windows 8 sadly feel like windows 7 starter edition which also limit multitasking. Hardly to be productivity in windows 8 compare to windows 7, user interface limiting. M$ trying to make windows into iOS.

13. Mobile-X-Pert

Posts: 565; Member since: Dec 20, 2010

I´ve been using Windows 8 for 2 weeks already and I already got used to it. Here´s my rig: -Asus M5A99x Evo MotherBoard -Amd Phenom 2 X4 975 BlackEdition Deneb 3.6 GHz processor -8 GB Corsair DDR3 Ram 1600 MHz -AMD Radeon HD 6850 1GB GPU -Windows 8 64 bit I have to admit that at first it was a little bit complicated to find things, but I became an expert in 15 minutes. I love how you can have everything pinned to the start screen so no matter where you are you can just press the Win key to bring up the start screen and launch the app you´re looking for.. Also, you have an universal search option in which you can search for anything!!! in the computer, you just have to pan your mouse over to the right and click on the magnifying glass icon or just start typing in what your looking for (control panel, for example) and that will automatically start the search. People, this is a new OS with new features and gestures, so therefore you will have to get used to it just like when you used Windows for the first time, and it´s really fun to do it. Don´t believe the negativity. The only real problem with Windows 8 is compability issues with certain programs but that can be solved if the propietary of the software updates the program. I won´t go back to Win7.

15. Mobile-X-Pert

Posts: 565; Member since: Dec 20, 2010

Oh I forgot to say that I can open as many Windows as I want on the same screen. I can send you a screen shot. Note: CTRL+TAP and Win+TAP are still there available!!!!!!

14. thelegend6657 unregistered

But wait , OSX have all the confusing gestures but no one complained ?

24. Contreramanjaro

Posts: 153; Member since: Dec 04, 2011

Oh, lot's of people complain. Every time someone uses my MacBook and slams their gorilla hands into my track pad and get's mad at me when they open expose view or the app launcher. The differences are that Microsoft give you a choice. Apple just does it and shows you in a neat little intro video. Can we talk about "natural scrolling" second? What's natural about inverting something I'd been using since the 90s?

17. tigermcm

Posts: 861; Member since: Sep 02, 2009

honestly am I the only person that didnt have difficulty using Win8? I just got right in it, the only thing i had trouble with was finding the list of installed programs

33. Tones

Posts: 77; Member since: Aug 23, 2012

I dont have difficulty using it. Im just struggling to see the benefit of changing it. Change for the sake of change is no good. And there is no way we will be rolling this out across our network in work. Theres no way we can retrain 1000s of staff to use it. Some of our users are still unsure about using xp and the start button. They wont ever get used to this interface.

40. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

For that environment it may not be as serviceable, and 7 may still be the best choice. However there are a number of BIG businesses that have stated they'll be replacing existing systems with touchscreens and Win8, especially for fieldwork. For those that are uncertain about XP, 8 will be an improvement (on a touchscreen) as it's just pressing buttons.

18. bossmt_2

Posts: 459; Member since: Oct 13, 2009

I've been a Win8 Beta tester since the program was brought public. I think there are lots of oddities to win 8 (the desktop screen and then the metro UI) but honestly, I'll gladly trade it for the insane boot times I get with win 8. I have a Dell XPS 15 l502x, and you're talking about serious time saved in full boot and boot from sleep mode. Only thing faster in my experience is Chrome OS. To touch the points 1. If I click firefox it takes me to Desktop, pretty straight forward. 2. Lost me there, maybe it's poor wording but you can work out of split screens. And on the desktop you can open as many windows as you like. 3.Flat sytle, guess that's preference, they don't bother me at all 4-6 seem to be heavy tablet complaints, not so much on the user side, but then again, I don't really care about live tiles or apps, I care about Boottimes and SmartGlass 7. Valid point I guess, again seems tablet driven.

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