My technologically-illiterate parents went from zero to road geeks with their iOS devices in a matter of days. Had they been given the Surface, I imagine my legs would be in constant spasm from all the frustrated and confused phone calls I'd be receiving.
I'm a little uncertain how future proof such a claim is. I used computers before mice became common. Back in those days mice actually came with tutorial programs showing you how to use a mouse! Nowadays we would consider it somewhat absurd and no mice are shipped with such programs. Even typing tutors used to be a very popular category of software.
When I got my first smartphone it was not intuitive that such a thing as a long press existed. If you do not know about it, it can be extremely frustrating doing some actions since you will never find them. Some other cues are almost invisible - for example scroll bars tend to be very narrow. Multi-touch, pinch zoom etc are also all unintuitive before you know about them just as double clicks and drags were earlier.
There are no real cues for mouse interaction (eg double clicking), nor touch interaction (eg long press). But we don't call apps unintuitive - those interactions just became the new normal. You only need to see them a few times to pick up on them.
Perhaps Microsoft needs to have TV ads etc (dare I say a tutorial program) so their interactions become the new normal?
Double clicking is even worse (I have a relative who has been using computers for 20 years and still double-clicks on links on web pages). Thank goodness that's slowly being flushed out of modern interfaces.
Nowadays: don't learn how to use metro -> use something else.
I don't think anyone would be worried about windows 8 lack of ease if it was a monopoly on very important devices that you must learn to be productive. It's not.
The average user should never need to long press on iOS. This is why you see so many videos of 90 year olds and babies using iPads, because almost nothing is hidden.
I fear that over time more and more will become that way in order to add functionality, but the level of basic stuff that is hidden on windows 8 is unforgivable.
Just because iOS is soothing and friendly and easy to use for the last generation not to be educated in problem-solving complex systems from their earliest walking moments doesn't mean in any way shape or form that it is a superior interface. In fact in many ways iOS is very inefficient, and its popularity stifles real progress in computer interfaces. So we should be happy that a new interface model, that challenges people's expectations a little, is emerging.
 Videogames section in: http://www.amazon.com/Everything-Bad-Good-You-Actually/dp/15...
This suspicion has been confirmed repeatedly from my own experience using Windows 8 and watching others use it as well.
Not to mention that the press has an interest in having another horse in the race. If it weren't for Win 8, what else would these websites be writing about after their umpteenth "iPad Mini vs Nexus 7" article? Camera reviews?
Especially since several categories of devices are being subsumed by convergence devices (netbooks, music players, flip cams, etc.), I think they're eager for a story.
Usability studies of this sort almost always find tons of problems in anything that is new. For example, remember the iPad study by the same group?
For the last 15 years of Web usability research, the main problems have been that users don't know where to go or which option to choose — not that they don't even know which options exist. With iPad UIs, we're back to this square one.
But it's even worse, because look at the study participants: We tested 7 users — all with at least 3 months' iPhone experience — but only one was an "experienced" iPad user.
These were people who were well versed with the iOS UI already! And they still found the iPad hard to use! Did they really really find it hard to use? I doubt it. But that's how usability studies work. You have a short amount of time with new technology and are primed to find flaws in it. And your're primed to be unforgiving (just the nature of being in a study).
I recall being in school when cut & paste first started to go mainstream. The number of people who didn't find it or understand it would be considered bewildering now. Now its a common pattern. But it is pattern. No one complained they couldn't find it, but were happy when they did. And taught others.
All these things are patterns. Bring any non-trivial product into a lab: Chrome, iOS, AppleTV, Android, Windows 8, Boxee TV -- you'll find that people will struggle more than you think. But one thing you learn when you do usability work is that there's a distinction between discoverability and usability.
In my experience Win8 has some discoverability holes, but once you learn a few patterns its usability is quite good.
BTW, here's a review of the Surface for real people:
His summary? Surface is fantastic. Why the difference? If you are willing to spend an hour using it, rather than trying to note usability flaws, you'll find it a rather nice experience.
Jeff Atwood says, "I'm a little embarrassed to admit how much I like the Surface RT. I wasn't expecting a lot when I ordered it, but after a day of use, I realized this was more than Yet Another Gadget. It might represent a brave new world of laptop design." Jeff is someone not looking to score points by pointing out obscure design issues ala Marcos. He wants a device he can use. I think we'll see for this class of users (which is much larger than the Marcoses of the world) that they'll resonate with Atwood's take (http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2012/11/touch-laptops.html).
One of the worst aspects of Windows 8 for power users is that the product's very name has become a misnomer. "Windows" no longer supports multiple windows on the screen. Win8 does have an option to temporarily show a second area in a small part of the screen, but none of our test users were able to make this work. Also, the main UI restricts users to a single window, so the product ought to be renamed "Microsoft Window."
I wasn't aware of this "feature"...what a disaster.
That said, I find it somewhat annoying that the new-style apps are clearly targeted at tablets, and yet are the only way to get apps sold via the Windows app store.
I don't understand how they can make such a bold claim and get away with it. That is NOT TRUE. A power user who needs multiple windows will quickly understand that using the Desktop is in order, so he can work exactly the way he was on Windows 7.
And AFAICT myself WinRT has always been presented as a new API designed for new kind of Windows applications (i.e. Windows Store apps). It doesn't make the other APIs obsolete in any way for the other kinds of application, just like the CLR didn't force anyone to write managed code. See this chart from Build 2011 for example : http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-uUSc-JjjBDs/TnWkasRU74I/AAAAAAAAAV...
I don't recall where, but I've seen a good blog post explaining the errors and variations on that diagram. DrPizza maybe?
The other big typical Microsoft error was rushing out buggy/slow software and betting they would have plenty of time to fix it later. This worked fine for decades but user expectation’s have increased as often happens. If someone re-released a 1950s era automobile consumers would be horrified at how unreliable it was. Totally acceptable in the 1950s. Totally unacceptable in 2012. For its size and complexity I don’t think Winodws 8/RT is unexpectidly buggy/slow it’s more that the competition had the luxury of a 5-6 year head start slowly evolving their operating systems. Microsoft had to do it in 2 years. So you get all the pain of bugs upfront instead of spread out over a more tolerable time table.
Ironically the biggest mistake is very atypically the type of error Microsoft makes. They rushed people into this new platform quickly without doing much to soften the ground or ease users over. Retaining the classic desktop UI was a big hedge on the Metro bet but only offers an escape not a bridge. Generally Microsoft has to be dragged into the future kicking and screaming. This is a rare case where they actually moved too fast for user comfort. If they had made Windows 8 more of a bridge with the new UI features and other major changes taking a less in your face presence they could have moved forward quickly with Windows 9 as a bigger change.
All that being said I don’t think it’s a total diaster. They just need to quickly walk back a few bad choices especailly for desktop users. They need to make a few concessions to usability in the Modern UI style. Mostly they just need to accept that business practices that worked when you were a giant monopoly don’t work when you are the new comeptitor challenging the big established players.
I recall my Dad asking me if I was looking forward to getting Vista (back before it was revealed to be the train-wreck it was) and I replied that I wasn't. It simply had nothing I cared about. Windows 7 was the same way. Its improvements over XP are, IMO, few and of little impact. I do not find its performance to be consistently better than XP and its interface most definitely is inferior (but "Classic Shell" fixes that).
The only thing I've seen from Microsoft that was even remotely interesting in the last 10 years was Kinect, and I don't play the kind of games it's good for. Call me a hater, but MS simply doesn't have anything to offer me.
And like many people, if it weren't for games and a small handful of apps that I could live without if I really had to, I would run Linux on all my machines. However... Steam is coming to Linux and a good number of GOG games run in Wine, so soon there may literally be no reason for me to use Windows (at least when not at work).
Maybe it's the economic reality that Microsoft simply doesn't care about experts who have been using computers for 30 years because there are so few of us. We power users, experts, software developers and others may smugly abandon Microsoft because we think they aren't worth using any more, but Microsoft may simply think, "Good riddance, we don't need you any more."
I don't read what most people read, or listen to what most people listen to or watch what most people watch, so I'm used to it and that works for me.
But it's a little different with Microsoft, because they are still a very effective monopoly in some ways (e.g., Office) and even if you have no personal use for them, you can't completely escape Microsoft yet.
You've also got a good point, jsz0. Microsoft has completely forgotten how to compete. They are so used to forcing whatever they want on people and having them accept it because they have no choice. If they want to enter a new market, they used to just overwhelm the competition with their massive resources, and there wasn't much competitors could do. But it's not like that any more. They are behind the curve and falling further behind with every month. And as long as Mr. Too-Many-Y-Chromosomes is in charge, it seems unlikely to me that will change any time soon.
for example, the only being able to run one fullscreen app at a time thing. the proliferation of iPads has shown us that users love this, in the right context. The desktop PC just isn't the right context.
Windows Trains 8.0
It's funny to read all the comments from over a year ago and how nothing has changed since then -
It isn't a compelling purchase at all, nobody will go out and actively seek a Windows 8 device, and desktop / notebook computers have had decreased sales since everyone has one now and they are "good enough" for media consumption and text / spreadsheet editing. The only reason anyone needs more horsepower now is for graphical horsepower for animation or gaming or computational horsepower for compiling or running a server.
So nobody wants Windows 8. It is a product without a target market, and the Surface has fallen flat on its face as a one trick pony to try to corner a "market" on a tablet with a desktop.
And hopefully in a year we have a mature Ubuntu running on Android tablets just fine, and that IMO will be a much nicer desktop experience on mobile than Microsoft Window and the Windows 7 desktop at 7". Except for a tiny, tiny market of businesses that will buy surfaces for their employees to use the mobile versions of word and excel I don't see this train leaving the station.
Tell that to non-technical users who have trouble remembering to use the start button when it's staring them in the face, they need that visual cue at the very least.
What I meant was that the problem isn't that there's no `start` menu - it's that there's no consistent, intuitive, and quick way to access any program (along with having to switch UI's between desktop and metro, and a lot of other things) which are problems that the start menu originally solved.
Which is exactly why the damn thing was useless to begin with.
The start menu was always kind off useless so I didn't take long to get used to not having it there, I launch everything via search now (hit the Windows key and start typing).
I've used Macs forever - but without animosity I use Windows a lot at work. I needed to paste some raw text from my program into a text file. Um. How? I don't remember the name of that windows app thing that can do that. I do remember it was a 'utility'. But where is that folder? Start menu? - nope. Metro menu? Nope. Search? What for? go through C:Program Files - nope. Crap, how do I paste this copied block of text into a new text file? Oh - I found it! Metro Apps - right click (on nothing) to bring up a menu. Click on the single item in the menu - 'Show all Applications'. And somewhere in that unordered list is that app (textpad) into which I can paste my text...
No, it was not. It was nerfed in Windows 7, presumably as a way to deprecate it before Windows 8 got rid of it entirely, but it was very useful for a great many people before that.
Installing ClassicShell to put the XP Start Menu back is the very first thing any power user should be doing on a new Windows 7/8 machine.
If I want to type the names of programs to run them, I'll launch a DOS box. I thought we had collectively agreed as an industry that this was not the best paradigm for the majority of users.
It became a mess very, very quickly, unless you reordered it every Saturday. Searching in that weird 'I put my application below a name that represents my company', 'I use a cute name for the folder that contains my app' and 'Ah, I just drop the shortcut right into the main start menu' mess was annoying.
Your 'DOS box' example is wrong and you know it - or should as a power user. The name is already chosen in a weird way (DOS? Really?) and you should know that the thing you're talking about doesn't
- search for partial matches in the name
- searches only the %PATH% and current directory
- isn't usable to search for documents, really
- quick: Tell me what you'd type to open the network & sharing window? The printer device list?
No idea what industry you're talking about, but your sample ruined most of your case for me. And as stated before I couldn't even understand the issue before that, since I'm quite happy with my shortcuts here. Win+x, Win+i, Win+., Win+cursorKey, Win+Pause is really all I need or care for.
Anyone clinging to the start menu as some sort of epitome of usability is having a "get off my lawn" moment.
If you enter a category it doesn't add a layer, it shows the applications in the same view as if you were opening a folder; and at the bottom you always have a Search bar which works great and power users can comfortably use.
So, say, you want an application to play video. You go to Applications, select the Multimedia category, and click on the icon that says "Video player".
Both Unity and Gnome3 also have solutions in which you don't have to compromise or use quirky macros to get the behaviour you want. You can have the best of both worlds. But then, as usual, many will continue bashing Linux GUIs as if they were a usability nightmare and totally inferior. C'est la vie.
Opening the Start Menu only to type something in seems like a useless hybrid of two disparate ways of interfacing with the computer. Once I get it set up, it takes very little effort to keep it organized in a way that's useful for me, as opposed to just being advertisements for the companies who made the software I use. I can find any app I need usually in 4 clicks (Start, Programs, Category, the app I want). That's incredibly fast, at least when Explorer doesn't have to swap in 3 gigabytes or whatever it's always doing that makes it pause for ridiculous amounts of time for the most trivial of operations.
The Start Menu was only ever "useless" because it was never implemented intelligently. Just like that useless shovelware pre-installed on new computers, it was just another place where every company that got access to your computer dumped a whole bunch of crap, most of which was only useful for _them_, not you, the user. Kind of like the \Windows directory back in the bad old days.
Windows-W opens the settings search directly
Windows- F opens the file search directly
If you have to touch the keyboard and simply know a comamand and there is no easier way to invoke it, it's bad, non-discoverable UI design.
I had my kid install it in a small netbook we were not using just to see what it felt like. Neither one of us is interested in using it very far past boot. It's one of those "Right. Brilliant!" moments and then the notebook is closed shut and turned off.
Professionally my concern has to do with wasting time and not being able what we absolutely-positively need to do on a daily basis. As I type this I have about twenty programs up and running on this machine. It has three large monitors attached. It was specifically built to make programming, electronics design or mechanical design far more productive. If doing a web project it is not uncommon to have multiple browsers, virtual machines and IDE's going as well as PDF's and reference material. Similar scenarios exist when doing electro-mechanical design.
My current first-touch experience with W8 is just that: a first impression. And this impression has not been positive at all. I, frankly, don't have time to deal with bullshit. Metro (or whatever they care to call it) might be great for a tablet or for grandma on a single screen laptop. It absolutely suck ass for us. I wouldn't even want it present on any of my machines. What I need is an evolutionary improvement over where we are as opposed to a pole-shifting paradigm shift. I would suspect that if I decided to switch my development machines to W8 (not likely) the process might easily bring productivity down to zero or less for at least a month. This on the assumption that all applications play ball.
What's disappointing here is that, to me at least, it sure feels like MS has more than lost its way. They seem to simply not understand who uses their machines and what they need to do with them.
I get it. I get it. Grandma, uncle Fester or cousin Itt might need a dumbed-down single-finger point-and-something-happens interface so they can waste five hours a day on Facebook. However, the massive population of users who needs these machines for business, engineering, design, industrial and other applications don't need this at all. They need the ball to keep rolling in the same direction. Less bugs. More speed. Cheaper. That's it.
I was hoping that the day might come when MS might fully embrace Unix/Linux as the core underneath Windows and move us all into what could be a really neat platform in a manageable way. Of course, it is lunacy to even think that this could be possible. Then again, I present you with Windows 8.
The stuff they put on top, not so much. I will probably wait years until I install anything past Win7, and if MS hasn't cleaned up its act for power users by then, the only thing holding me back from switching to Linux are the apps I use, and games.
(I do wish MS had some up with a better text shell. PowerShell doesn't cut it).
Steam on Linux may take care of the games part of my needs. The apps? Visual Studio is hard to beat, and there are some others that I can't live without that don't have competent Linux equivalents. Time may erode my dependency on these.
[I left MS about a month ago. It's interesting to experience the perspective shift]
I guess we agree on the greater point which is that the MS Windows product looks like it has been savagely distorted into something that people like us want to stay as far away from as possible. The fact that these discussions are not about exalting the qualities of W8 is evidence enough.
The main problem of W8-haters with new Start Screen instead of old Start menu is that it distract from work by showing in app list in fullscreen, but in your case it only takes on display from 3.
>It was specifically built to make programming, electronics design or mechanical design far more productive. If doing a web project it is not uncommon to have multiple browsers, virtual machines and IDE's going as well as PDF's and reference material. Similar scenarios exist when doing electro-mechanical design.
You will not see changes in your workflow if you install W8 because you work with applications, not OS, and all desktop functionality is preserved except start menu and Flip3D.
So probably you have no reasons to install W8, but you don't need to worry that you could not to work on it if you will be forced to.
Imagine if tomorrow morning you had a choice to drive two cars:
The first, is a newer version of the car you already own. Everything is cleaner, better, faster, more convenient. They even fixed a few little issues here and there.
The second is this new version of the car you own except that they've moved things all over the place. The steering wheel is in the opposite side. The switches are not labeled. The ignition switch is hidden behind a door and you have to figure out --on your own-- that you need to jump up and down on your seat for that door to open.
Which car will you choose to go to work?
No offense but that is a really lame excuse. You wouldn't have time to learn to use a nail gun instead of a framing hammer if you were a carpenter? You risk being out of work soon with an attitude like that.
Since I love woodworking and enjoy doing remodeling projects around the house I know exactly what you are talking about. My son and I just finished turning a loft into a bedroom and had the pleasure of dusting off our nail gun, which made quick work of framing-up a new wall.
Pay attention to what you said though. Nail gun vs. framing hammer. The transition delivers a huge improvement in productivity and probably quality as well. Every nail goes in faster, easier and maybe even more accurately.
So, yes, if I had a crew of framers instead of programmers I would go out and buy a bunch of framing hammers. I would then stop all work and make sure everyone learned how to use them. Then we'd be able to fabricate structures much faster and with better quality.
That is not the case with a transition from Windows-anything to Windows 8. In fact, it seems that the experience might just be exactly opposite. Almost every report I read (and my own experience) seems to show that the first-touch experience is one of baffled confusion.
What would happen if you had an office with 100 workers and surprised them with a transition from, say, Windows 7 to Windows 8 on Monday? Right, your office would grind to an absolute halt. It might take hours for different people to figure out how to do what they were doing just fine the prior Friday. Compare that to the transition from Win XP to Vista or Vista to W7. No real issues whatsoever. People would show-up on Monday and, for the most part, go straight to work. That is the difference.
W8 isn't the equivalent of a transition from hammer to nail gun.
It is not mode or app; if you use multiple monitors then desktop is always shown, because Start Screen or WinRT app can use only one.
I don't use "Metro" mode. But I do appreciate many of the tweaks, and I'm still grinning over my cold boot times with Win8, UEFI, and SSD. I swear it boots faster than it resumes from sleep. (Resume from sleep is fast, but it seems the NIC takes a few extra seconds to re-establish a link)
In fact, I just realized that I never use a single "Modern UI" app for the simple reason that they force my entire screen (2560x1440, 27") to be filled by one app. Such a waste of space. In desktop mode I often have four 1280x720 windows on my screen.
Windows 8 might just be the push I needed to switch to Linux.
I agree that opening two browsers in desktop mode and in tablet mode can be a hassle towards users' memories but hey my workflow makes me using two different browsers in two virtual desktops so I was happy to have this feature without loading a virtual desktop app for windows.
"Lack of multiple windows" um... what? I am running a netbeans, firefox and several consoles running tweaker script programs in ruby at the moment. Of course if he meant the Metro interface, I can't see why do you expect multiple windows on a tablet interface.
And from there I felt like the article goes irrelevant and subjective. I had no problems with flat icons, and to be frank I found the news app the best of the bunch. It does not oversaturate you with the content and is blazing fast. As for live tiles, how can third party developers' choice can be accounted as a failure on Windows 8's usability? I mean if his criticisms were about the Microsoft Apps I would have accepted it but it's saying like "oh iPhone apps icons are too colorful. Shame on you Apple!"
All in all there is a weird tendency of bashing windows 8 in the press. And it doesn't deserve it. It's good, and is trying to change the desktop paradigm whether you like it or not - It is admirable, they are trying to create an original thing but this very originality is hindering them on reviews.
This is my cuppa anyway.
I do not want to have to wait for Windows 9 for Microsoft to get their act together.
First of all, you have problems finding your apps since they tool away your start menu? Get a simple, free app launcher like launchy or executor. Problem solved.
I'm running an older Intel 1.8 processor with 4GB RAM on a 32 bit system. I've had several Adobe apps open at the same time without any issues I experienced with XP, Vista or 7 such as hanging or crashing under the system usage. We all know most Adobe apps are Vamperic on system resources so I was surprised at how well 8 handled the load.
This is probably the first time I've seen an article cry about the lack of information on a news app. When I look at most news sites, it's information overload on the homepage. Try finding a specific article on that LA Times homepage? Good luck.
Again, that's not how usability works. You shouldn't expect regular human beings to hunt out and install third party software to help them launch applications!
On Windows 8, there are a ton of Keyboard settings - including promising-sounding ones like "Change how the keyboard works" and "Keyboard properties" - yet you still have to use a stupid registry hack to actually change the behavior of keys (ie, to make your capslock key an additional control key).
I'll check out Autohotkey, thanks for the tip.
SharpKeys (if you're lazy) or registry hack (if you "smart"): https://sites.google.com/site/steveyegge2/effective-emacs are enough.
I don't remember the last time we had this many articles on HN discussing an OS.
All this "discussion" and criticism of Microsoft and Windows is 90% conjecture or very personal (read biased) opinions.
I too have been using a Surface since launch and have been running Win8 Pro on my laptop since RTM, and guess what? I disagree with the OP.
I highly recommend you go to a store and give it a try yourself, if you can will yourself to cut through the hater-noise.
All this "discussion" and criticism of Microsoft and Windows is
90% conjecture or very personal (read biased) opinions.
They were doing real usability testing with real people, not just spewing another uneducated opinion. And there's no particular anti-Microsoft agenda at work here either, if you look further on the site you'll find similar usability studies conducted on iPad apps with similar criticisms.
Perhaps it's because this is a change that people find worthy of discussion. The changes are significant and the desktop product Windows 8 replaces is well-entrenched. It's also a mobile operating system, so the total amount of devices potentially impacted by the change are huge. It's an interesting topic-- you may claim it's yawn inducing, but you were interested enough to click.
I do wonder if you actually read the article in between yawns, however, as the article made very specific arguments based on observation of third parties using the software. Yes, there's still plenty of room for bias, but I see no justification for labeling it "hater-noise."
You disagree with the article; that's great, but why? Can you refute what's been said or provide a counterargument?
Let's be honest here... if I have to do development work, then I'm not going to use Windows 8. I'll be using Windows 7.
Plus the new Windows runtime APIs looks very nice, and most are usable in desktop or metro apps.
As for Windows runtime APIs, it depends on whether I want to make he bet that Windows 8 is going to be successful enough to learn them. Jury is still our on that. Besides, I'm more of a Spring man...
In case you need alternative ways to exit an app, try:
Alt + F4. This old-school method still works!
Hit the Windows Key on your keyboard. Treat it like the Home key on an iDevice or Android tablet. This backgrounds the app, but does not terminate it. Then, you can type the name of another app and your menu will filter down rapidly. Hit enter to launch the new app.
All the new gestures make sense on a tablet (except the swipe in from the left, but back out again to show your active apps). But the gestures are terrible when you're on mouse + keyboard. I wish Windows 8 laptops had nice big multitouch trackpads, so that you can do things like 3 & 4-finger swipes, and pinches, like with OS X.
When WinPhone first came out with the Metro UI I was a fan - there's a visual simplicity to it that's very appealing. After you use it for a while though the weaknesses become pretty glaring and hard to accept. It is often very hard to tell what UI elements are interactive and what are purely informational because they are so plain. There's no way to visually discern a non-interactive icon vs. an icon that is also a button.
The lack of shading and UI chrome also means that UIs frequently become jumbled. Sections of UI blur together where on any other platform they would've been separated by a visual line, shading, or something else.
The simplicity in this case has gone too far.
It's also very true that many of the first-party apps have ludicrously low information density, almost as if they expect these devices to be toys. This is in stark contrast to MS's stated goal of shipping something that is more serious, more productive than iPads and Android tablets, which up until now have been seen as leisure devices.
People often accuse Apple of taking style over substance, but Win8 IMO is a far, far more egregious violator.
There's another big issue: the first party apps suffer from some pretty serious performance problems. It doesn't bode well for your platform when your own internal teams can't ship best of breed apps. The People app, for example, takes literally 6 seconds to load your recent notifications on a Surface RT - all the while without displaying any loading indicator. You literally tap the button, wait, figure it's broken, and just as you're about to move on it pops into existence - and of course the performance is so poor that it just magically appears on screen without transition.
The entire OS is littered with sloppiness of this variety - as well as apps where touchability has clearly never been comprehensively addressed. You will move from places with gloriously comfortable touch targets (like the home screen) to apps that have 9pt text links you're expected to hit.
The "search" charm is also poorly thought out. Just take a look at Amazon, eBay, iTunes, and what have yous that have substantial search functionality - Windows expects everyone to cram their search needs into a single freeform text input. In fact, the eBay app on Win8 builds its own search page. Surprise, search is complex, context dependent, and not all apps can pigeon-hole it into your paradigm. Oops.
 Extra rant: I was able to get the Windows Store app completely stuck today on the Surface. I visited an app's detail page, and tapped the Back button to get back to the search results. Nope. Back button would visually indicate interaction but do nothing. Waited, nope. Sloppy bug.
So here's where it gets good. On any other platform (and in old Windows land) I could just go kill it. Except I have no idea how to go about quitting an app on Windows 8. Apple at least has the courtesy of allowing you to kill an app very quickly - if someone knows how to do it in Win8 I'd love to know, because clearly their own first-party apps are not good enough to be trusted to take care of themselves.
Each app could register as a search provider - responding with content relevant to the app itself. The search system would aggregate the content from search providers. If there were multiples then it would even track the historic popularity of each provider in order to prioritise the results. (For example there are providers for your music, contacts, text messages, google search, mint etc)
There is a settings page where you can turn individual providers on and off. I added this functionality to the apps I developed. Here is the API/usage documentation: http://developer.android.com/guide/topics/search/index.html
Note how it starts out saying it is a core feature. So core that the search button no longer exists with software buttons, although to be fair search can be shown in the action bar. And I never met a single Android user who actually used the search functionality! Many people did have a dedicated search widget on their device, but that was a Google search, rather than the phone search. The current Android 4.2 homescreen search puts google search results at the top of the screen and device search below which is mostly covered by the keyboard and requires additional clicks to see it all anyway.
This is a long winded way of saying that it seems to me that search turned out to be a dud on the platform by the king of search. I just tried search on my iOS device and it turned out to be very laggy, poorly performing and useless (eg clicking on an email search result opened the email app but not the relevant message!) This leads me to believe search isn't used much on iOS either!
As you say, in-app search does seem to work well across all platforms and apps. It looks like a system based generic search just fails to work on current generations of hardware, operating systems and user interfaces.
So no, not a misconception. Many Android devices don't have it because of apple.
What is bad is the fact that Gmail doesn't support it. But it pulls up tweets, apps, chrome history, music, etc. Rather neat, in my opinion.
Btw.: On phones that have hardware buttons (but no dedicated search button, like the European version of SGS2) you can open search by long pressing the menu button on the home screen.
I am using Galaxy sII which still has a dedicated search button. just checked sIII and it is indeed gone! to me this is a major feature loss
I'll repeat that even though I think we all know this already: if you don't want to use Metro apps, you don't have to use Metro apps. It is really that simple.
So, if you're a power user and want to stay away from all of that nonsense, then click on the "Desktop" tile and you're done. Sure, you have to return to metro when you search or for a few other minor scenarios but overall it should not be a big deal.
And then for a lot of the other complaints (e.g. hidden interface, icons that you don't think you can click) it is just a matter of time before people learn it. Then it will become a non-issue.
If OP claims he is a fan of Win7, then he should also like Win8 as the desktop and core OS is very much improved.
That's not how usability works.
I'm no UEX expert but all of the above seem to be things that many people know how to do, yet would not seem immediately obvious at first.
I am quite confident that "swiping in from the right to reveal charms/commands/options" will join the ranks of the above. It'll just take a few months of mass use. It's a pretty convenient gesture IMO.
Then let me enlighten you. Your ctrl-alt-delete example is poor due to the fact and this is backed up by a Bill Gates interview that that command was meant for debugging and was not supposed to ship in the final product. People started using it and they had to leave it in.
Some music players do not use space for pause/resume.
As for clicking and zooming, these things are so intuitive that children can learn on their own how to do these simple tasks. OLPC and other organizations air drop laptops into Africa and people who have never a seen a computer get them and teach themselves how to use it and how to read.
The argument here was "well, if Apple can assume that users are going to learn a list of shortcuts, why can't Microsoft."
The answer is because the keyboard shortcuts on OS X are actually shortcuts, not required for using the operating system. The gestures Microsoft has incorporated in to Win8 are the only way of doing things, whereas I can do things a few different ways on OS X.
Let's stick with closing an app. Apparently the gesture is swiping from top to bottom on Win8. On OS X, I can do that by clicking the red button (arguably the most intuitive method), by going to the File menu, or the keyboard shortcut, Command-W.
How about Command-Tab? There's only one way to access that functionality. How do you capture a screen in OS X without the secret "shortcut" keys or the command-line? How about ejecting a secondary optical drive? Zooming in and out?
There are a bunch of ways to eject a drive: 1. little eject button in Finder, 2. Right click on drive on desktop -> Eject, 3. Drag drive from desktop to Recycle Bin (this one is weird, but intuitive for long-time Mac users I guess). I admit I may be misinterpreting what you mean by "secondary" optical drive.
System-wide zoom is mega-situational. I'm sure it's useful for those with visual impairment, but I've never seen anyone use it nor have I had use for it myself. This is like complaining that high-contrast mode in Windows does not have an easy-to-access menu.
If I had two disk drives, I'm not sure which it would eject. I suspect that this is what WayneDB was referring to.
Capture a screen? Grab.app
Eject secondary drive? Drag it to the trash can.
You got me on the zoom in/out. I don't know that one. But I could make an argument that this one is not a shortcut, but the only command, as it falls under accessibility.
Whenever someone refers to something being "obvious" it can always boil down to a philosophical question of what obvious actually means. Nothing is truly obvious, and we've obviously conditioned from our surroundings. While we've obviously adopted conventions to interact with computers, they've offered affordances (or forced us) that hint at a function.
Gestures in general offer a challenge from a human factors perspective. Gestures can be very convenient and compelling sources of interaction that can enhance UX. Unfortunately, users are working in flatland, with very little affordances. The biggest problem here and with gestural interfaces in general is the lack of hints they give to an interaction. A physical button has a clear affordance (you can argue this is conditioned/learned) baked into the interface. There are also many issues related to the lack of universal gestures within and across applications and operating systems.
In a lot of cases, Gestures are like keyboard shortcuts. Many people discover them because they are told about them (ie. CTRL+C in the copy interface), but physically trying many different keyboard combinations just isn't something people do.
Apple has recognized the problem with gestures while pushing hard to make them standard. They still keep the home button on the iPad, even with system wide gestures that can accomplish the same thing. Overall, I agree with your sentiment that particular interactions join the ranks of some ubiquitious interactions you noted, but it will take more than a few months of use from one particular operating system and there are many challenges, no matter how convenient it is.
you are so right. I did this exactly once, when I discovered that <Win>+<some other key> did special things in Windows, so at some point I decided to just try them all. I learned the <Win>+<Tab>, doing the silly 3D task switcher, that way (I already knew the useful ones like <Win>+<E>, <D> and <R>).
There's considerable risk in this approach, you don't know what the commands are going to do. I just did it because I was 1) very curious and 2) didn't have important things open and 3) kind of assumed they would not put a "really mess up your computer" command behind a single shortcut key.
Now that I think of it, I learned the <Win>+<number> commands from a blog somewhere, so I didn't even discover that tremendously useful shortcut :)
And even if you do reduce that to a minimum (which is possible), it's still stupid - here you are working with 4 windows open on something, completely forgetting that you're on 8, you want to do some random simple operation and BAM - METRO IN YOUR FACE! :-)
This is said over and over again, and everyone has to keep reminding them that it's not about what is currently happening, but the fact that Microsoft is GOING IN THIS DIRECTION. The "Desktop" is slated for execution - just because they have it now doesn't mean it's going to exist forever. It's obvious that MS (and other companies) believe that this "power user" feature is unnecessary going forward.
I don't think Microsoft thinks that Metro apps or the metro environment do or ever will offer the same level of extremely high productivity that desktop apps and the desktop environment provide.
I think we will have a much better idea of Microsoft's POV on Metro if/when they release Office apps on it. Quite simply put, if Metro Office does not have 1:1 feature parity with the desktop apps then that backs my point. If I were to bet, I would say that Metro Office will be more aligned with the web apps. I would be quite surprised if they aligned more to the full desktop clients.
Why? Because the desktop is an environment suited for mouse and keyboard where you can have super high levels of productivity. Metro will not replace that as it excels in other use cases. Can you be productive with Metro? I'd argue you can. Just as productive as in the desktop? With some apps, perhaps. With others, absolutely not.
- Easy payment processing/distribution
- Automatic updates
- Being able to easily re-download it later
- Consistent purchase, install, update experience
- Some confidence on the part of the end user that what they are downloading works on their system and isn't going to harm their computer
The simple listings for non-metro apps really only benefit from the first item, and they don't really change my argument.
It's very important for them to have the metro environment flourish and for that they're going to need lots of metro apps and blah blah blah. Metro IS important. It just isn't replacing the desktop any time soon.
I just think that app stores are going to be more and more important to the ecosystems they exist in. For the reasons I mentioned above, I think more and more software is going to be procured via app stores (although, in big businesses it will probably be fairly small), and that is going to influence what developers build.
I probably wouldn't have built and sold a Mac app if there weren't an app store, and as I look at porting it to Windows, trying to replicate the infrastructure that I get for free with an app store isn't very appealing for the amount of money I'd likely make, so my choices are: make a metro-style app so I can use the Windows app store or not make the app at all.
> Perhaps that is simply something we'll agree to disagree on?
Fair enough :)
I understand that time and budget constraints make it hard to offer both in either mode, but that's definitely an area to improve.
But the people in the usability study were no power users. They were the intended audience. Besides, I don't think the performance issues OP describes would be appreciated by non-power users either.
Of course this isn't strictly true as the article mentions how people got confused with "double desktops" but given the rest of the article, it just seemed like people were forced to use apps that they otherwise wouldn't have used and thus gave plenty of complaints.
For example, his section on multiple windows seemed bizarre to me. Yes it is true that Metro does not support multiple windows but to say that Windows no longer supports them is simply incorrect. If a user wants to "collect, compare and choose" among multiple web pages then they can easily do that as they always have through the desktop. I think the important question here is "were they unable to find the desktop" or "were they told to only use Metro browsers"?
I think we should have faith in users to choose the correct tools for the task. Forcing them to do something the arguably "incorrect" way simply to have them struggle seems to simply be a self fulfilling prophesy.
And hey - I think a study proving that Metro on the desktop is less than ideal is perfectly okay. In fact I'd say I probably agree most of the time. But to label this study as Windows 8 as a whole as opposed to simply metro on a desktop I think is a little unfair.
Many of the arguments I find come from people forcing new users to only use the Metro style UI, which would obviously be confusing (much as my mother would have problems switch from a PC to a Mac).
I'm sure people will praise windows 9 for being so much better than windows 8, even though windows 8 took all the risk and windows 9 simply applied some polish.
Whether you like it or not, you will likely be using Metro apps on a regular basis in a year or two.
>>already: if you don't want to use Metro apps, you don't
>>have to use Metro apps. It is really that simple.
>>...then click on the "Desktop" tile...
I'm sorry, clearly you don't see it this way but the irony of the above is just... Well... My ghast is flabbered.
Is it really that hard for a company like Microsoft to find 100 software companies / developers and entice them to port 100 quality apps on their App Store, such that those apps are available when Win8 launches? Answering no to this question ignores the reality. Microsoft can do this and the fact that they didn't shows that they are losing their core competency.
And let's be honest here - Microsoft is late from all perspectives. Microsoft is late in the mobile game, being a distant fourth, behind Android, iOS and even Symbian. Microsoft is also late in delivering an App Store for the desktop. Their only "innovation" is this hybrid Windows that can run on both tablets and the desktop, except for their sad reality that consumers expectations have already been set by iOS and Android to the point that consumers don't expect their mobile devices to run the same desktop apps they've been using ... and if those apps won't be optimized for Windows 8, then it's going to be a shitty experience anyway, hence why your apologetic argument is not acceptable for Microsoft.
On a desktop drag from top to bottom or bring up the appbar on the left and right click on the app that you want to close.
EDIT: This describes a metro app's life cycle: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/apps/hh46492...
The basic idea is that if you aren't using an app it receives a "suspend" event allowing it to save its state so that it can resume where it was. If the system is low on resources it will start terminating suspended apps that you have not used -- though as far as I gather they should still have the ability to re-launch and read in whatever they saved at the time they were suspended.
So the general idea is that closing apps isn't something you should be concerned about as a user.
To reiterate though: the only thing the user would have to learn is to forget about having to close apps themselves because it will be done for them as needed. This would not prevent you from working on something over a period of multiple days, on and off, so long as the developer implemented their app correctly. The app simply gets a clear request to save it's data to disk so that when it gets resumed or re-launched it can load it back and pretend it was running the whole time. This whole thing is pretty much transparent to the user with the exception that you might see the "splash" screen when going back to an app you haven't used in a while. I have not used metro extensively, but I have not experienced any problems with this approach when playing around with win8. If anything I actually kind of liked not having the care about having too many apps open and doing "cleaning" sessions like I do with regular running applications I stopped using.
Anyway, said behavior only applies to metro apps, desktop apps still operate as you'd expect.
The BIG difference is the lack of visual indication. You get a red X over the icons in iOS, and holding down app icons is a means of interaction throughout the OS (and you're given an introduction to this on first login).
The way to close apps in Win8 is not visually indicated and relies on an action that the average user most likely won't discover on their own, or will only by sheer accident.
I cannot speak for Android, not being a regular user, but I have never, ever seen a first-party on iOS get its own UI stuck. It may crash rarely, but it will never get itself into a state where the user is powerless to do anything with it (short of killing it).
Most iOS users I've met aren't aware of the kill-app functionality, and they don't need to, because first-party apps don't have egregious enough bugs like "button to return to main menu reacts but does nothing".
- About every day (sometimes much more frequently) a tab will just die. You'll click a link or enter a url, and the indicator in the top left corner will start spinning, but nothing ever happens. The only way to fix it is to close the tab and open a new one.
- Less frequently - maybe every few weeks or less - large blocks of web pages will just not render, instead of text or graphics or whatever should be there, there are just giant square white chunks. The only way to fix this is completely reboot the iPad.
I've also had a number of weird problems with the iTunes app that have required finding a way to force the app to quit or reboot the device to fix.
I like my iPad, but Apple's stock apps have quite a bit of room for improvement.
Have they ever used the Facebook client before the ObjC rewrite? My girlfriend had to learn both force-killing and pull-to-refresh because of all the bugs (on an iPad if that makes a difference).
In windows XP, Vista and 7, if you click the magical red X on a misbehaving program, Windows will offer to kill if after something between 5-50 seconds. Non-tech-savvy users _do_ use that functionality.
This would've been very useful as part of the animated tutorial on your first boot that you can't skip (and that I've seen 3 times this week thanks to setting up new machines).
The idea was supposed to be that you wouldn't have to do this yourself as the OS would terminate metro app processes itself if you did not use them for some period of time.
EDIT: Apparently this is the long/manual way of doing it.
But if you have a keyboard, you can do ᴀʟᴛ + F4, or kill it in the task manager…
It might be too late, though. I never thought I'd use a Mac, if only because Windows was good enough, and I like Windows 7. But knowing the Upgrade Train is approaching, eventually to make it difficult not to upgrade to Windows 8+, and using Linux more often, and having got real tired of facing a significantly different OS UX every few years for mostly no benefit to me, I find myself reluctantly researching a switch to the Apple world. If I'm considering such a move, there must be tons of other people in the same boat since I don't make big moves easily, especially not at higher cost.
As far as the start menu is concerned I'd be surprised that any 'power user' would miss it all that much. I always used a launcher (executor) as keyboard trumps mouse for speed and the new UI makes the 3rd party launcher app obsolete. Pressing the windows key and typing the name of the app is something most users could learn and come to appreciate the boost in productivity.
So, none of the Metro apps work at all, and I don't think I'll be using them anyway on a non-touch device. The next thing I do is install some 'Start menu' alternatives like ClassicShell, IObit StartMenu8 or Start8 (Start8 works best for me, not free though). These apps will skip the Start screen (when booting up) and hook the 'Windows' shortcut to open its own menu.
There are few little annoyances like when you open images, it launches in the Metro Photos (or Images?) app which takes up the whole screen. That'll need to be changed by setting the default app for images to 'Windows Photo Viewer' (or any apps you like).
As an iPad owner myself, I am nothing but intrigued and excited by 8's tablet interface. It seems like it would be a massive, massive jump in usability from iOS (dependent, of course, on how the App Store fills out). Furthermore, while he may not be wrong re: 8's desktop usability, I think this review is unnecessarily harsh towards what must be seen as a significant and complicated transition product. Just as web design is changing to a responsive model where content dynamically adapts to different devices and display areas, so are OSes changing to be dynamic and adaptive. In the future the idea of a user experience where your files and program's were locked onto the hard drive of a single computer, accessed through a static, unchanging desktop will be absurd. Computer interfaces are going to become incredibly smart, fluid and responsive, and W8 is the first step in that direction. I think it is silly to just focus on what Microsoft didn't get perfect first time around - I think they should be congratulated on their audacity. What they've done is certainly leagues more impressive than Apple's plodding, torturous attempts to wedge iOS concepts into its 20-year old WIMP model (seriously, go use Mountain Lion - its a complete mess - but no one attacks Apple as harshly as they do Microsoft... funny that.) Anyway in the end I share his sentiment, can't wait to see how Microsoft builds on its great work with W9! One thing is for sure: the old one desktop to rule them all model is finished.
NB: just to clarify, I haven't used W8 myself. I am sure a lot of the complaints about it being too minimalist and apps being too limited are perfectly fair. But I think Microsoft was right to strip away the clutter of the WIMP legacy and start again from scratch. Adding progressively more complexity in carefully measured increments is the best way to build a mature, balanced product befitting a new generation of computing. Again, go take a look at the average Mountain Lion set-up if you want to see a ridiculously cluttered, complicated mash of UI concepts, windows, spaces, slide-away trays, menu-bars, etc etc (and try find a normal user instead of a HN-style power user for added effect.) The only argument is for me is not whether Microsoft is doing the right thing (I completely believe they are) but whether they are managing this transition well. As someone with no experience in developing major new OS versions I can only imagine the complexity, so I am inclined to go easy and try and praise what was done well and what is a good idea rather than what didn't quite pan out in the first attempt : )
Really? Utility, maybe - but usability? I've used an Asus tablet with Windows 8 on it and usability is far worse than iOS, at least where discoverability is concerned. It's too easy to get trapped in the faux desktop mode, and none of the gestures are as intuitive as they are on iOS. The gestures aren't difficult to use or clumsy - it's just that they're counter-intuitive for a new user (in my own anecdotal experience).
What they've done is certainly leagues more impressive than Apple's plodding, torturous attempts to wedge iOS concepts into its 20-year old WIMP model (seriously, go use Mountain Lion - its a complete mess - but no one attacks Apple as harshly as they do Microsoft... funny that.)
My impression of 10.8 is that OSX is being maintained by a skeleton crew who decide what new iOS features can be ported over to the desktop to warrant a new version. But I wouldn't call it a mess - not at all. Notifications and inline progress indicators are both welcome improvements. Reverse-scrolling is just wrong, but that's easy to turn off. Apple plods because OS X works - both OS X and Windows 7 are good at what they do.
Windows 8 isn't just a bit experimental - it's a groping attempt to stitch wings onto a monkey or a beak onto a cow. As a technical decision, there's no good reason to replace the start menu with Metro or to bring metro to an OS that's typically run on computers with multiple high-resolution displays. And there's no good reason to bring a pseudo-desktop UI, complete with tiny little touch targets, to a tablet other than to accomodate a hacky non-metro build of Office. But this isn't a technical solution - it's marketing strategy. This is the bridge that carries Windows over to the tablet, whether it belongs there or not.
Re: iOS vs W8 on tablets - here are the features I am interested in:
1) Multi-tasking: there are a lot of times on my iPad when I am say, watching a movie in Safari, and would like to chat to someone at the same time, but I can't, unless I change app, which would kill the running video. W8 promises to solve this.
2) App switching - on iOS you switch apps with a clunky four finger swipe, which means you have to stop holding the tablet with one hand and move your fingers and swipe across the screen. W8 uses a swipe in from the edge with your thumb, which is a very easy and natural gesture to use with the way you naturally hold a tablet.
3) Charms bar - iOS has two ways to access core functions or return to the home screen - the home button and a four finger swipe up. The four finger swipe up has the same problems as the app switching gesture. The home button is slow to press (one thing I love about my Lumia is how fast it is to tap the soft touch home button - the big clicky home button may be iconic but in my opinion it is slow and inefficient.) Anyway the idea of a quick
4) Microsoft's autocorrection and keyboard layouts: another thing I love about my Lumia is the word suggestion bar. Compared to iOS's autocorrection features it is incredibly superior. On iOS you get single pop-up suggestions above where your words are actually being typed, which you can only cancel by clicking on the target itself (so every time you need to cancel it you have to tap a different place = inefficient.) Furthermore, the suggestions are often wrong, no alternatives are offered, and there is no easy way to revert them. On WP7, if you tap on a word, it selects it instantly, and displays all the autocorrect options, and the original word if it changed it. On iOS, you have to tap a word, then wait... then tap again... then the stupid pop-over text control thing appears, then you have to tap "Suggest" (which sometimes doesn't appear!), then another little delay, then you have to find your original word... blech. Not sure how similar W8's tablet text input is to WP7, or whether the autocorrect bar and text selection features carry over, but if there's even half of these features, it'll be an incredible improvement from iOS. I can't overstate how much text entry sucks on an iPad. One more thing: W8 has multiple different thumb keyboard size options. iOS only has one. It's way too big for my thumbs on the wide iPad bezel. AND W8 has a skewed layout thumb keyboard, which maybe doesn't look as pristine as the iPad's version, but seems to me like it would work better with actual human thumbs.
5) People hub and sharing - one thing I do a lot of is sharing - especially links to friends. iOS sucks for this. There's a stupid share button in the Safari browser that lets you email a link or post it to your Facebook wall (with no option to post to friends' walls!) but in no way is sharing built in to the core of the system. On my Lumia, again, I love how it integrates with my entire Facebook friends list, and it makes sharing very easy. The Share charm integrated with the People hub on W8 sounds like, if it works as it should, an absolute killer feature to me, making it ridiculously easy to share anything from across the entire OS. I like how Microsoft seems to be really trying to integrate this sort of stuff into the core of the OS.
6) Livetiles - again another feature that is great on my phone. There's a lot more you can do with a homescreen than just rows of dead icons.
Windows 8 isn't just a bit experimental - it's a groping attempt to stitch wings onto a monkey or a beak onto a cow.
Well, that's your opinion.
this isn't a technical solution - it's marketing strategy.
First: yes, it is a technical solution. The scenario is like this: used to be that computers were big things that sat on desks. Used to be you kept all your files on one PC and moving them from PC to PC was difficult. Used to be that not everybody used computers. Used to be that the internet was a niche part of computer use. Used to be that no one had persistent online social networks integrated into their lives. Used to be that tablets weren't prevalent. Etc etc. Then all of these things changed - and now the world's most popular OS is changing in response to these changes. These are all technical problems (or whatever you want to call them) and W8 is an attempt to begin solving these problems.
Second: at the end of the day, the best marketing move Microsoft can make is to build great products that take advantage of all the possibilities of modern technology. I still argue that, after a period of relative stagnation, computer interfaces are starting to respond to the massive changes in computing technology and culture. Windows 8, whether it is particularly well-executed or not, whether it fits well with the legacy desktop or not, whether it breaks some parts of the desktop work environment PC model or not, is a step in that direction - the right direction.
I think a lot of this comes down to your preferences, and if Windows 8 on a tablet works well for you, then that's great. I think the article, which exposes 12 users to a Surface tablet in a controlled test carries a bit more weight, though.
Also, I don't know how much time you've spent with this generation of winrt devices, but if you think your iPad is 'clunky' and 'slow', you're going to be disappointed. The Asus tablet I work with here at work is slower, in response to user actions at least, than any iOS device I've ever used.
4) Microsoft's autocorrection and keyboard layouts
Yes, the winrt touch keyboard is very nice. The best typing score I've ever achieved was on an old LG phone running windows phone 7. The suggestions ribbon that winrt copied from Android is fantastic - Apple needs to license this from Google.
The scenario is like this: used to be that computers were big things that sat on desks. Used to be you kept all your files on one PC and moving them from PC to PC was difficult. Used to be that not everybody used computers. Used to be that the internet was a niche part of computer use. Used to be that no one had persistent online social networks integrated into their lives. Used to be that tablets weren't prevalent. Etc etc. Then all of these things changed - and now the world's most popular OS is changing in response to these changes. These are all technical problems (or whatever you want to call them) and W8 is an attempt to begin solving these problems.
No, it really isn't. W8 is an attempt to deal with what Microsoft believes is the existential threat of iOS and Android. I'm not going to argue the merits of Metro itself the way the article seems to because I like the Swiss design principles that seem to have guided the development of Metro and because I think Metro has generally been a technical success with windows phone 7 and would do at least as well on a tablet.
Metro on the desktop makes sense if you believe in the fairy-tale of tablet-PC convergence. I don't think that even Microsoft is foolish enough to believe this, which is why I think this is a cynical move to metastasize Windows and devour tablets the way Microsoft tried to devour PDAs with PocketPC. The Start Menu didn't belong in a PDA interface 15 years ago, and Metro doesn't belong on the desktop today. Tablet-PC device convergence would make sense if tablet-PC device use convergence made sense. Just the contradictory technical constraints on these two classes of devices - CPU/GPU power and precise UI control vs mobility and long battery life - tell us we shouldn't expect tablets and PCs to converge.
This isn't innovation - its the crude simulacrum of innovation. It doesn't make desktop PCs any better - if MS was interested in that, they'd bring proven fixes like pervasive desktop search (or at least a promoted UI element for the existing desktop search) or tiled window management to W8 - not Metro. Both of those features actually make desktop users on other platforms (and on Windows with 3rd party add-ons) more productive, right now.
It's not the right direction. At all. This is what kept tablets out of most users hands for so long - the notion that Tablet UIs should be similar to PC UIs. Remember Windows tablet PCs? Both of these classes of devices should be allowed to evolve in their own directions rather than being crudely stitched together to satisfy a wrong-headed convergence fetish. Apple probably knows this better than any other company at this point, given the backlash over tablet-esque features that were added to Lion. One would hope that Microsoft could learn from Apple's experience. Maybe like small children, this is something Microsoft has to learn for themselves through their own mistakes.
In my experience, the Win32 side of Windows 8 is still there with all the same power and functionality of Windows 7 (with plenty of improvements!). Right now, WinRT and Win32 are actually quite separated, and that lets me enjoy both without stepping on either sides toes.
Given that Microsoft wanted to introduce a radically new set of features/functionality, I feel like they did the best job that they possibly could have, and I'm having a great time!
That's not what I expected to listen from an iPad owner. Wasn't the iPad a huge step in that direction? From reviews, 'fluid and responsive' don't apply to W8 yet.
On OSX: the imported iOS features are out of sight, except for Mission Control, which didn't change that much. The default desktop has no clutter at all (menu-bars?). And since you asked, my mother (which was completely computer illiterate before) uses a MB without any trouble. It's naive to compare that to the radical changes that come with Windows 8, which even some long-time power users have difficulty adapting to.
Having spent a lot of time with the iPad, I'm not convinced it's the future. Sure, some apps are great, but the sandboxed app model is too limited. Okay, web browsing is pretty good. Okay, maybe you can do some interesting stuff with one of those music suite apps. Beyond that, it's really just a toy. In my opinion.
The time is right for a better take on tablets - all it needs is a competitor to actually become competent (apparently this is challenging...) and the market to get over it's silly Apple infatuation. Look at safari on the iPad for instance. Really, it just looks like normal desktop safari? I have to tap on little tabs, and thin text-label bookmarks in a little row? And I have to manage my bookmarks in a janky drop-down menu of nested folders (hilariously not even bloody wide enough to read the bookmarks!) Seriously, I understand Apple doesn't want to challenge anyone with anything unexpected, but come on... Surely they can do better than that. It's just a shame none of the third party browsers can compete with safari's internals - or that Apple doesn't allow 3rd party apps to integrate with or replace core functionality. Yeesh.
My takeaway: Apple isn't really all that great. They've just been the least retarded of the major tech companies - so far. We can do better.
LaunchPad is a joke, but other than that I find Mountain Lion to be very intuitive and easy on the eyes.
It integrates so well with Apple's lovely touchpad. Map it to your favourite hot corner, and suddenly all your apps are much easier to access.
2) Not to mention that gross effect when you change desktop spaces, and the whole desktop slides over - including the menu bar (that apparently static, foundational part of the UI) - to be replace by a new menu bar! The dock doesn't change, so why does the menu bar?
3) And of course that other gross effect when you click full screen on an app (that little full-screen button nestled oddly in the top right corner of the window chrome above all the other little static buttons) - and the whole thing morphs and bulges and slides into a new space. Yeesh.
4) And yeah, Launchpad. So now apps are scattered between the dock, the application folder, and the Launchpad. Great.
5) Also, the Finder seems to get worse with every generation.
Really though, it's the sum of all the parts that offends me. When I see people with their sleek Macbook Airs on their laps, then I look at their screens, and I see stacks and stacks of scattered windows of all shapes and sizing clustered over the desktop, and everywhere, fiddly little tiny click targets (in the menu bar, in the windows themselves, in the window chrome - don't get me started on those ghastly mini traffic light buttons for mini windows...) And they're moving their fingers around in that little touchpad controlling that little mouse pointer on the screen, tapping on the little targets or slowly dragging things around...
All of this stuff was fine when computers were big slow things that sat on desks, running a handful of low-res apps at a time, driven by a mouse and keyboard. Back then, it wasn't possible to implement the fast, fluid, colourful graphical design and interface features of Metro. Windows had to be static heavy things that you carefully dragged around, resizing individual edges one mouse drag at a time. Nothing had any momentum, the whole window stack just sort of sat there like a pile of lead sheets. But now that computers are in our laps, or in our hands, and our computer use is spread between multiple device, and more often than not the average person is using a touchpad or a touchscreen to browse the internet (which has expanded into something so huge it no longer makes any sense to bottle it up in a single browser window) - and especially now that touchscreens are about to become ubiquitous on every single laptop sold in the world - the old static clunky WIMP model needs to be shuffled off to the side in place of something that makes more sense.
I will note that Mountain Lion isn't qualitatively worse for this new stage of computing than, say, Windows 7. But I have no respect for the small attempts to modernise the OS with ported iOS features. It's putting lipstick on a pig (admittedly a pig that was very good and useful for a long time and still has a lot of value in many different contexts.) Microsoft's hard reset will ultimately produce the right OS for the times, Apple's slow tweaks won't. In my opinion at least.
> When I see people with their sleek Macbook Airs on their laps, then I look at their screens, and I see stacks and stacks of scattered windows of all shapes and sizing clustered over the desktop
> All of this stuff was fine when computers were big slow things that sat on desks, running a handful of low-res apps at a time, driven by a mouse and keyboard
I think this is exactly the wrong way around. This behaviour was never fine on a desktop with a mouse — but it is the best we have to cut through multi-app tasks on an 11"/13" laptop. With Exposé and an Apple trackpad, I have never felt overwhelmed even on my 1024x768 iBook, no matter how many windows I had open (and boy was Exposé fluid in 2005!).
Every attempt at using a "cleaner" screen layout on a laptop screen has failed spectacularly for me. How is Windows 8 any different from any other tiled window manager here? I see all my windows at once, but in exchange they are smaller (too small).
Maybe I'm getting old, but I like the slower pace that Apple has taken. Unity Shell and Windows 8 both strike me as highly ambitious but poorly executed attempts to dramatically re-imagine the desktop. Apple's approach has been more measured, and I hope it stays that way.
Maybe I'm just pessimistic about the future of touch-enabled desktop computers. I owned a tablet PC back in the day, and it was truly terrible. I have a 22 inch Cintiq which is great for art, but makes me feel like my arm is going to fall off after 20 minutes of web browsing. Touch makes perfect sense on tablets and phones, but I think that's where it ends. Only time will tell who's right.
As for clunkiness, I recommend a combination of Alfred and Moom for OS X. With a few keystrokes I can launch a half dozen applications and have them perfectly tiled across multiple desktops. Far from being slow and clunky, I've never felt more efficient!
It's a usability study, nothing more.
Only in Metro-Mode, right?
Its hard to imagine to have a Desktop OS that does not support multiple windows.
Did Microsoft say anything about the future of the Metro/Desktop duality?
And Metro Apps do not work on the Desktop and visa versa? So you would have to decide if you buy a "windowed" version of Photoshop or a fullscreen version?
You're correct that desktop apps and the new kind of apps are separate (with the exception of web browsers which have a bizarre way they can run in both environments).
Lots of people (me included) will tell you that Windows 8 is great and a solid upgrade from Windows 7. That there are improvements across the line, and that if you don't care about or don't like Metro, just don't use it.
People are assumed not to like Metro. People are told how to avoid it. If Windows 8 in any form succeeds based on that feedback, it would still be a failure for Microsoft, because the whole point of Windows 8 and the one thing they are actually trying to sell is Metro.
I'm not driven crazy by it, but I don't use it much. I don't use Metro-apps. When I was given a chance to sample a Microsoft Surface tablet, Metro made a whole lot more sense. But I'm not going to be using it on my laptop.
Neilsen had 12 participants in his study and discovered quite major usability issues. I wonder if their internal testing came up with similar issues and now they are having an Emperor's clothes moment.
But it doesn't. It comes with Metro, and although I "figured it out", I shouldn't have to.
Specifically as I'm comfortable with every OS available, using iOS, android, windows (since 2.0) and OSX. Each one of them requires a bit of learning and tweaking, but I remember opening win8 RC and wondering "how do I shut this off?"
Initially I got pissed off because I felt like a child, I had no idea how to find the control panel etc (without using "advanced methods, winkey-r, "control" enter). While every OS has it's weakness, if you can't do basic shit then there is a serious problem.
So, did they conduct usability testing? I also wonder. I'm gonna vote "no" on this one.
With that said, I'm still gonna get it, purely out of curiosity.
2) Whoever claims that Metro, the star feature of Windows 8, should simply be disabled as a response to near unanimous criticism is in no way qualified to discuss UI/UX.
That being the case, I have to assume that this is opinion. So, the author and the people he spoke to didn't like Windows 8 for what seem to be logical reasons. Okay, but not as illuminating as actual evidence that there are usability problems.
Tablet-mode: default to Windows 8 metro style (I'm using my fingers)
Any kind of trackpad or plugged-in mouse: Shift UI to traditional Windows GUI (Obviously I want more fine-point control)
If Windows is truly trying to cover both types of usage, they should recognize that both of these paradigms are useful in specific settings.
Who says they're trying to cover both types of usage? It seems pretty clear to me that they want devs to forget about the desktop and start building metro-only apps.
Also, even for Apple the app store doesn't seem to be a big profit center. I really think that consumer preference is driving the move to app stores, not greedy platform owners.
Microsoft's greatest competitor to Windows version X has been version x - 1 ever since XP came out (except for Windows 7 whose greatest competitor was version x - 2). With Windows 8, there is very, very little incentive to upgrade unless you want to use a touch-screen device. I would bet very few people even upgrade Window any more. 99% of the time they only get a new version of Windows when they get a new computer. I know that's been true for me for 10+ years, and I'm cool with that.
Consumer preference may be driving the move to app stores, but only because no other delivery mechanism provides that kind of end-user experience of being able to pick out an app, install it by pushing a button and knowing you're almost certainly not getting malware.
Oh, except for most Linux distros for the better part of 10 years.
Setting firefox as my default browser helped here. (Not going to work on RT of course). Clicking a link in the Metro mail app takes you to the desktop instance of the browser, unlike chrome and ie, which also seem to ignore any sessions you have open in the desktop version.
I can't go back from Windows 8, as a power user with 3 monitors too, and am also eagerly awaiting the Surface Pro.
I just don't see nor feel many of the "hacker news" sort of geek hate with how certain things have been done in 8. I just went at it openly and while some parts need some work for Desktop, I actually quite like it.
I think everyone also should be aware that this is basically their first iteration, of which they've said they're going for a shorter cycle akin to Mac OS, and that the Metro apps are going to be low density at least for now because of the pitiful resolution the regular Surface is at. Many of these apps are also first generation or quick ports of apps on other ecosystems. Of course they're going to target the Surface tablet first then think about how they'd do it, if they wanted to, for the desktop or laptop.
No multiple windows on your screen? You're kidding, right?
There is a new "style" of program. It's called the app. It does not belong on your desktop. If you're using an "app", you're doing it wrong. Use desktop programs, ignore the start menu except for program look-ups and carry on as normal. There is no UI difference in Win8 for a desktop user other than the start menu which can be primarily ignored.
Underlying performance improvements make up for the tiny bit of hassle anyway.
What in particular did you find was slowing you down?
Tested it myself.
Great work guys!