UX expert says Windows 8 UI is confusing on a PC

Microsoft may just have released the Windows 8 RTM to TechNet and MSDN subscribers who must be going ga-ga over the final build but not everyone shares the same opinion, notably Raluca Budiu, a User Experience specialist of the Nielsen Norman Group.

In an interview with with Laptop Magazine, she felt that Windows 8 is a bit less user-friendly for PCs than previous versions of Windows. While it excels in sharing content over the world-wide web through the desktop, it takes a few more clicks than Windows 7, to complete a basic task. Content consumption is optimized for Windows 8 but it isn’t apt for content production and multi-tasking, she feels (we beg to differ).

Raluca feels users may tend to get confused while switching between two different environments, the Modern (Metro) environment, and the Desktop environment and it would take a while for new consumers to learn all about the new Modern UI and get accustomed.

According to her, “(On the Modern UI) Many apps waste a lot of space for huge images and give little space to text. The idea of hiding the controls to give priority to content doesn’t make that much sense on a large screen, especially if users have to work harder to access hidden features”.

It is confusing that the Windows 8 Switcher displays each Modern style app as its own thumbnail but folds all the desktop apps into a single thumbnail because it considers the desktop itself to be an app.

She feels that the hidden menu items all over the Modern interface slow down the user and affect the productivity. Not everyone is aware of the shortcuts and what’s out of sight is out of mind and this results the user in not using the menu item though it existed ever since. According to her, though the user may get to know about the hidden menu items some day later but till then, he/she would’ve already spent a large amount of time working the hard way.

So it’s not only the hovering that slows users down – it’s the lack of visibility that makes these menus less available, she adds.

Though some may agree with Raluca’s views on Windows 8, and some may not … maybe, somewhere she is right about Windows 8 being more productive when used on a tablet device than on a PC.

What do you think!?

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Microsoft Student Partner | Computer Science graduate | Loves flirting with technology | Author at The Geeks Club | Lives on the web at @asrartheone

9 Comments

  1. Peeed Off

    Windows 8 —> The new Windows ME for desktops/laptops…This will cost MS in the long run…!!!

  2. Rose Murphy-8igup77

    Windows 8 will eventually have the same destiny with Vista, useless!
    The new UI may at least be well developed in Windows 9 or later.

  3. MsRose

    Will be the first version of Windows i don’t upgrade to. Utterly confusing, forced into using an option a lot of us don’t want, and quite frankly, Fisher-Price ugly.

  4. jabtano

    Been using win 8 now stand alone I like it but gosh the start screen is not very good on a pc/laptop the way you have to pin your favorites you can not sub folder them everything is one big clustered mess not sure I will buy this. going back to win7 where I can have my favorites in the folders THAT I WANT MS.

  5. Micro$oft

    LOL the interface looks like AOL back in the late 1990s.

  6. Joleca

    No way will I ever upgrade to this one… May be fine for a tablet, but for a desktop its absolutley useless… Will stay with Windows 7 untill Microsoft comes to its senses or they no longer support in any form.. If that happens, will go to something other than Microsoft!!

  7. TickleOnTheTum

    I would be very surprised if Modern UI doesn’t disappear from the Desktop with Windows 9 in a couple of years! It really is that awful on the desktop.

    Compared to Windows 3.1, Windows 95 was amazing a the time. However Windows 98SE was the best iteration of that product line, to me Win95 and Win98 were betas on the road to Win98SE.

    Then along came WinMe… oh dear… there were some great ideas in there but no… just no… again, in a way WinMe was like an early Alpha version of XP (Windows 2000 was more like a beta to Windows XP). Finally XP came out and hit the ground running!

    So MS true to form launched Windows 7 Beta… sorry… Vista…, along with the other two betas (Windows Server), until finally Windows 7 came along…Now Windows 7 is a hard act to follow…

    Again MS is sticking to the ‘release a beta’ tradition with the release of Windows 8! So the question now is will Windows 9 be another beta step or a final product? If I was forced to guess I would say it may be another beta… then I would predict Microsoft will release the final, which I predict may be called just “Windows” no version numbers at all.

    1.0 + 2.0 + 3.0 = 3.1

    95 + 95SR + 98 = 98SE

    WinMe + 2000 = XP

    Vista + Sever + Home Server = 7

    8 + 9 = Windows™

    Have I got it right? Only time will tell…

  8. Pierre Loubert

    The iso they sell doesn’t even have the capacity to boot in UEFI mode, for a system that’s supposed to be modern it’s a total fail. I’ve been using computers since the early eighties and I’ve never seen anything so user unfriendly in all my life. They hid everything! How are we supposed to work if we spend all our time Googling to figure out how to do the basic everyday tasks that should be obvious but aren’t? I have spent the last three weeks pouring through blog entries and tech support forums just to figure out how to install the OS in UEFI mode in order to use the technologies in my computer to their fullest capacities. The iso file isn’t even recognized by my bios. You have to restructure the folder hierarchy, install WAIK (a very big download and technically challenging set of apps to learn) to get the installation to work, not a task for the faint of heart.

    Don’t waste your money!

  9. WhateverIHaveToWriteHereToPost

    I actually agree with the Useability expert. One should ask oneself, if Windows 8 new erm ‘Modern’ (misnomer that one!!) is SOOO great, how come even most of those whom claim to like WIndows 8 and it’s new user inyerface say all you need to do is download a program to put your Start Button back to make it useable?

    This to me says that Windows 8 ‘out-of-the-box’ is NOT useable (in any functional manner to improve workflow anyway).

    I used to just start my PC and 2 mins later I’m faced with all the shortcuts and files that I have on my desktop and more importantly in the PLACE I WANT them. Humans use locations of things as a key to many types of memories (amongst other things). If you don’t believe me, then move everything in your house to another room and then see if you can go directly to the location of each thing, without first accidentally going to it’s previous location. This version of Windows goes completely against that principle with it’s top-down, (constantly rearranging tiles until you find that stupid feature and switch it off – if you can find it in an hour without reverting to a forum, give yourself a good pat on the back, you are one of a small percentage of people whom would be able to) approach that won’t even let you choose which part of the screen to pin it to (except for locations dictated by the Start screens rules)

    I also personally have issues with many of the ‘claims’ about Windows 8’s boot-up speed etc as well. My system takes 13% (+/- 2%) longer for it to be useable than my Windows 7 installation. Also, on average it takes 1 extra click/step to achieve the same thing as I would have on Windows 7.
    Now, if I actually did produce more work in the same time, for the loss of basic control over the look of MY PC, then I would probably shuck off the feeling of being in front of an OS designed for children and their ‘MyFirstLaptop’ bought for them by their parents at age 6, BUT I DON’T!! I get LESS done and in MORE time.
    I also have issues with Windows Update suggesting drivers for my graphics card (pretty well known Nvidia card) that when installed, force me to do a system ‘refresh’ (perhaps the people at Microsoft should also take some basic English courses (p.s. that’s not a racist statement – I’m talking about English speakers) just to make my PC useable again. So, now I can’t trust Windows Update??!

    Also, what’s with this forcing everything into full-screen with ‘cr-apps’. I have a very expensive large screen that may as well just be a phone’s screen! Microrosft should be done for fraud, calling this (barely) operating system ‘Windows’. So now I have to flick back and forth between full-screens when I want to grab info from one and put in the other OR even just compare info held in the two?!! WTF?

    I also want just MY content on my ‘home’ screen, not links to second-rate Microsoft services (I know they also do first-rate services, but obviously decided that WIn Hate didn’t need any of them).

    What would be interesting would be to see if PC sales dropped as a result of Windows Hate. After almost 20yrs of telling people they should buy a ‘Windows machine’, I’m now telling people that if the laptop they’re getting comes pre-installed with Windows 8, then they should buy an Apple product instead. If you’re gonna run a piece of software that makes your machine lose much of it’s functionality, you might as well buy it from a company that knows how to do that well.

    I had high hopes for Windows 8, but I now regret the day I ever set eyes on the ‘future’. Personally I’m going to tear this operating system and all it’s files apart until I can create one that actually is designed for MY use, not some Microsoft coder mentally masturbating over how shiney and colourful their new toy is and how much the world will love them for it. I WILL kick the first coder I meet who claims to have worked on Windows Hate, in the head… you have my promise on that.

    p.s. if you’ve downgraded to Windows 8 from something designed to not treat you as a moron, but now regret having done so as you can’t get back to your previous environment, may I suggest that you download a copy of VMWare’s free virtualisation software and then install a copy of Windows 7 on it (could even use the product key from the Windows 7 you’ve just destroyed to putting on Win Hate)…set it at full-screen and set about enjoying useful computing time again (without headache inducing colour-schemes or anti-human layouts!

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