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Former Xerox PARC Researcher: Windows 8 Is a Cognitive Burden

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the but-everybody-else-seems-to-like-it-so-much dept.

GUI 404

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

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To paraphrase... (5, Insightful)

roc97007 (608802) | about 2 years ago | (#41084999)

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

Re:To paraphrase... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41085053)

"You're holding it wrong!"

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

Re:To paraphrase... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41085107)

And shove deli meat in floppy drives, and use the CD drive as a mug holder.

Re:To paraphrase... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41085075)

Windows 8? Pshaw, the boys at Xerox PARC were doing phone interfaces on desktops back in the '80s... until 5 minutes later when they realized it sucked!

Re:To paraphrase... (-1, Offtopic)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 2 years ago | (#41085143)

The interface he's describing is moronic. He obviously hasn't used Android 4.1. My menu isn't on a separate screen; I tap a vertical elipsis (three dots going up and down, : with an extra dot, whatever) and the menu pops up.

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

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41085445)

The interface he's describing is moronic.

That's his point.

He obviously hasn't used Android 4.1.

I'm not sure why that's obvious. He has used Windows 8, enough to have said how awful it is. What does Android have to do with it?

Re:To paraphrase... (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 2 years ago | (#41085517)

Well, yes, that's what he's saying. Metro is moronic from a usability standpoint on a desktop.

Re:To paraphrase... (4, Interesting)

Brandano (1192819) | about 2 years ago | (#41085539)

What is odd is that it seems Microsoft is following after Canonical in this case. First it was Aero vs Compiz, now this silly "PC OS as tablet OS" thing. Looks like all it takes to give Microsoft the final death blow is to create a popular distribution and then do something incredibly stupid with it, waiting for them to spend enormous resources in copying it.

Re:To paraphrase... (0)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41085615)

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

The funny part is in the context of an original Xerox PARC researcher, putting a phone interface on a desktop means a classic model 500 rotary phone on a computer screen, maybe with a touch interface.

Every week I have an interesting way to make money and I post it to /. because I'm lazy and lately I've been thinking of using a 3d printer to make new model 500 rotary phones. With bluetooth to talk to your smart phone. Sound quality, "user interface", and durability should be vastly superior to anything available in the smartphone market at this time. Just pick up and dial. Hi fi audio quality should be available. M500s were indestructible.

Guess he will change his mind (-1, Troll)

PmanAce (1679902) | about 2 years ago | (#41085035)

When we start using our desktop screens like we do with our tablets and phones, with our fingers.

Re:Guess he will change his mind (4, Informative)

gmuslera (3436) | about 2 years ago | (#41085091)

Try to use it long enough in your desktop and you will use it with your fist.

Re:Guess he will change his mind (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about 2 years ago | (#41085487)

It's an exercise in frustation without a doubt. It takes about 8 times as long to do anything you'd normally do to get to the guts of anything. But if you want to do anything normal, it's about twice as fast. They got some stuff right, they got a lot of stuff wrong. I figure windows 9 will probably get it right. Much like Win7 fixed Vista.

Re:Guess he will change his mind (4, Insightful)

Githaron (2462596) | about 2 years ago | (#41085099)

Power users are not going to forgo the mouse and keyboard for non-mobile use until brain-to-computer interfaces are created.

Re:Guess he will change his mind (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41085359)

Tell that to mac users with the magic pad.

Re:Guess he will change his mind (2)

sexconker (1179573) | about 2 years ago | (#41085395)

Power users are not going to forgo the mouse and keyboard for non-mobile use until brain-to-computer interfaces are created.

Tell that to mac users with the magic pad.

Mac users already have the product to ego interface hardwired.

Re:Guess he will change his mind (1)

StefanWiesendanger (687733) | about 2 years ago | (#41085651)

I actually use a mouse with the right hand and a magic trackpad on the left hand (with different gestures). Very efficient, at least for me.

Re:Guess he will change his mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41085109)

I don't want fingerprints on my monitor.

Re:Guess he will change his mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41085259)

Have fun with the arm and wrist strain, retard.

Re:Guess he will change his mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41085669)

Hey, that's not necessary. If you have the screen flat on the desk, you can have neck strain instead!

Re:Guess he will change his mind (0)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#41085629)

Tired of my customary (Score:1)

It appears that you got your wish.

Re:Guess he will change his mind (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | about 2 years ago | (#41085645)

When we start using our desktop screens like we do with our tablets and phones, with our fingers.

I would actually love to have a desk with an inset monitor, like so:

----/----

Which would keep it in easy touch reach, allowing me to touch when it made sense, and use the keyboard (and *maybe* mouse) when not.

On the other hand, I still wouldn't want it to be using the interface formerly known as Metro.

I intend to use it for a month with a mouse. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41085049)

and then sue Microsoft for the tissue damage to my wrist.

You know what else is a cognitive burden? (1, Insightful)

MrEricSir (398214) | about 2 years ago | (#41085057)

Manual window management. It's 2012, if computers can drive cars, why do I still have to manually move windows around, resize them, alt-tab between overlapping windows, accidentally screw things up due to keyboard focus, etc. etc?

Yes, I know nerds hate change. But it's time for GUIs to move on, precisely because manual window management is counterproductive for almost every task. Maybe Metro isn't perfect, but you can't blame MS for trying.

Re:You know what else is a cognitive burden? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41085129)

Windows has had automatic window management for years. It's just not obvious how to use it.

Re:You know what else is a cognitive burden? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41085145)

If we can put a man on the moon, why do I still have to recharge my laptop every day?

Re:You know what else is a cognitive burden? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41085261)

We could build you a computer with a kerosene generator and a thousand tonnes of rocket fuel in it. It wouldn't fit on your lap, so might not qualify as a laptop anymore.

Re:You know what else is a cognitive burden? (2, Insightful)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 2 years ago | (#41085161)

Yes of course, we should move on to Windows 1.0 with single-window interface.

Re:You know what else is a cognitive burden? (4, Insightful)

p0p0 (1841106) | about 2 years ago | (#41085167)

What are you getting at? Moving windows is such a minimal task. It allows you to conform the desktop to your liking. Why you think removing that is a good idea is beyond me. What is you solution to windows? Driving cars in completely different to intuitively knowing what a user is going to do next. All your post amounts to is "Why can't my computer tell the future for me?"

Re:You know what else is a cognitive burden? (3, Insightful)

sageres (561626) | about 2 years ago | (#41085213)

Sorry, but I am missing your entire point.
Because computers can drive cars (which does not require any GUI at all, btw.) you are complaining the fact that you operate with keyboard and mouse?
What else do you expect? Operate a computer with a gas pedal and a wheel?
Metro is made for embedded systems. Think your car navigator, where you use a touch-screen on a relatively small panel stuck to your dashboard. You click "Directions" and say your directions out loud, the speech recognition will (or should) translate the speech into text of a the street address and there you go -- you got yourself a destination.
However a precise computer operations, that functionality is extremely limited. Try typing a word document or fill out a spreadsheet on a touchscreen of your car navigator (or a smartphone). You ain't going anywhere fast.

Re:You know what else is a cognitive burden? (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 2 years ago | (#41085223)

And how, pray tell, would you like the software to know what you want to do with your windows? How is it supposed to know if you want a window in the top left of your screen while another window is minimized?

How is it supposed to know you want your screen one way while I want mine another? How is it supposed to determine size?

It's one thing to criticize the crapload of bad software out there, including W8, but at least use some semblance of common sense when trying to make a point.

Re:You know what else is a cognitive burden? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41085661)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Machine_learning

Re:You know what else is a cognitive burden? (4, Insightful)

Georules (655379) | about 2 years ago | (#41085225)

Have you used Windows 8 metro? I think you'll find that this does not solve the window management problem at all. It leaves me wondering half the time how I am going to get back to a window I just had open a moment ago. At least manual window management, as you call it, I always had the confidence that I wasn't going to lose windows want. Certainly, things could be much better, but this is a step backwards.

Re:You know what else is a cognitive burden? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41085233)

Nerds don't hate change. They've been using automatic window management WMs for years. Like XMonad and a plethora of others. Marketdroids hate change, except when they decide to drive a freight train off a bridge and call it Windows 8.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politician's_syllogism

Come join us in the future.

Re:You know what else is a cognitive burden? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41085237)

On Windows, frequently I found focus to be taken away from the app I am currently working on. I really don't know how its users put up with it.

Re:You know what else is a cognitive burden? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41085355)

This is absolutely a huge issue. Almost all my systems are Windows because I have to use it for proprietary work applications. I'm not a Windows fan, but I'd say I'm more than competent with it. This is one issue that I can't believe MS hasn't fixed because at least a couple times a week I have focus stolen by an application that's opening, displaying a dialog box, etc and I end up doing something I didn't intend. The only "workaround" is to figure out applications that do this on a regular basis and anticipate the behavior. But is slowing down really the right answer to work around an issue of applications grabbing focus when I'm typing in another window?

Re:You know what else is a cognitive burden? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41085247)

But nerds are already using tiling window managers, which address all those problems.

Re:You know what else is a cognitive burden? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41085267)

Manual window management.

This is my first comment here but somehow I thought I should let you know about tiling window managers. They tend to be pretty cool.

Re:You know what else is a cognitive burden? (5, Insightful)

Tom (822) | about 2 years ago | (#41085311)

why do I still have to manually move windows around, resize them

Because any complex workflow will use more than one application and the computer can't know which information from windows A and B I want to have visible while writing/coding/whatever in window C.

Re:You know what else is a cognitive burden? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41085399)

Which is why tiling window managers exist.

Re:You know what else is a cognitive burden? (2)

Desler (1608317) | about 2 years ago | (#41085543)

Yes, but not everyone wants their windows organized in that way.

Re:You know what else is a cognitive burden? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41085331)

Many people work with multiple applications at once and like to be able to resize and layout windows to their preference. For example, a stock trader wants to see as much information as possible and will want his windows laid out to his preferences. A trader most definitely would not want his windows moved around for him and would not want to only be able to view one application at a time

For people who only use their computer for very basic tasks full screen applications might be accetable, but more sophisticated users want the extra control that being able to position and resize windows offers.

Re:You know what else is a cognitive burden? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41085409)

why do I still have to manually move windows around, resize them, alt-tab between overlapping windows, accidentally screw things up due to keyboard focus, etc. etc?

Answer: Because that's the best we have so far

Look at Windows in the Real world.
Windows are held in place by frames, which prevent them from collapsing in. Windows may be opened, to allow ventilation, or closed, to exclude inclement weather. Many windows have movable window coverings such as blinds or curtains to keep out light, provide additional insulation, or ensure privacy.

You may ask yourself why do I manually have to resize the Real World window opening by grabbing the blinds/curtains because you believe this window management is counterproductive. Well, it isn't. Real world window design hasn't changed since much since the first real window was invented. Why? Because it's the best design we have. Same with the current desktop GUIs.

 

Re:You know what else is a cognitive burden? (2)

Desler (1608317) | about 2 years ago | (#41085427)

Because not everyone is a point-and-grunt user? Many people have complex workflows (programmers, graphic artists, video editors, etc.) that require... manually managing their workspace.

Re:You know what else is a cognitive burden? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41085521)

What, exactly, about a complex workflow requires manually managing your workspace? It probably has to be right for the flow to be efficient, but what exactly about that requires *manually managing [the] workspace*? Give you a hint, flying an instrument approach has a very complex workflow. My workspace is bolted to the airplane.

Re:You know what else is a cognitive burden? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41085491)

How does the computer know which windows you want to move around, where you want to move them, and when?
How does the computer know you want to resize a window?
What are you talking about?
Manual window management is good - what part of it are you having a problem with? Your description isn't very clear.

Windows button + cursor left = make window take up left half of screen
Windows button + cursor right = make window take up right half of screen.

What other possibilities can you possibly be using, that you think the operating system can do FOR you?

Re:You know what else is a cognitive burden? (3, Interesting)

narcc (412956) | about 2 years ago | (#41085561)

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

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

Re:You know what else is a cognitive burden? (3, Insightful)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 2 years ago | (#41085593)

Maybe because we all have different needs and the best way to cater to all of them is to give something very flexible. That and you're comparing a handful of cars driven with extra car and professionals watching over it vs billions of people using computers for thousands of different tasks.

Someone should tell the gnome folks this (3, Insightful)

GeekBoy (10877) | about 2 years ago | (#41085059)

Then perhaps they'd quit their jihad on users.

Re:Someone should tell the gnome folks this (2)

KiloByte (825081) | about 2 years ago | (#41085627)

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

It's politically uncomfortable to admit defeat, but I hope those folks will come to their senses, slap an epoch on Gnome2 and upgrade to 2.32 with Mate's improvements. Because Gnome2 was a good deal ahead of what XFCE or KDE has to offer.

Raluca Budiu? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41085069)

Well if Raluca Budiu says so, then it must be true.

They got it backwards (1)

Unknown1337 (2697703) | about 2 years ago | (#41085073)

Moving mobile and desktop devices closer together is a wonderful plan, but the mobiles should be coming towards larger computers, not the other way around. Microsoft can keep Windows 8.

Re:They got it backwards (1)

lilfields (961485) | about 2 years ago | (#41085367)

Microsoft already tried that and got stomped by iPhone, MOST average consumers want it to be the other way around. I don't particularly care for the new start menu, but Microsoft can easily solve this issue if they just allow you to push the Metro apps to the regular desktop on the non-rt versions, and act as traditional windows. Not complicated.

Summary left out the best quote from the article (5, Insightful)

MetalliQaZ (539913) | about 2 years ago | (#41085079)

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

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

-d

Re:production and multitasking (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41085319)

Anecdote:

At a recent family gathering, my father (who really is pretty sharp) raved about how the iPad changed his life. He talked about loading docs into the cloud so he wouldn't have to carry briefcases of papers. (And he's no PHP, he was talking about Dropbox and similar.)

I remarked, that style of usage doesn't work for me because I am heavily involved in splitting and re-splicing files, saving them, and more. At which point Father confessed to having a second Mac computer. But by then I had almost won the discussion, if you want to do hard file processing, iPads start to get seriously in the way.

Re:Summary left out the best quote from the articl (1)

miknix (1047580) | about 2 years ago | (#41085453)

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

Change is a burden (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41085089)

Isnt it?

Re:Change is a burden (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41085327)

When it needlessly confuses and burdens users, yes.

Same Problem as Unity (5, Insightful)

Michael_gr (1066324) | about 2 years ago | (#41085103)

Tablets and other small devices are hot now? let's tailor our new OS to fit them, make every icon and control oversized, every window maximized, and throw customization out the window. Professionals and other people with PCs and large screens? screw them!

Re:Same Problem as Unity (5, Interesting)

codepigeon (1202896) | about 2 years ago | (#41085555)

Agreed. I was a previous linux/bsd desktop user up to a few years ago. Recently I thought it would be cool to run this new "Ubuntu" I keep hearing about.

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

Maybe it was too obvious for me and i'm too old.

You can't really blame them (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41085105)

Poor guys are really just trying to keep up with the Mac.

Nope (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41085131)

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

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

Speaking of those precious pixels on a handset (1, Interesting)

phonewebcam (446772) | about 2 years ago | (#41085135)

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

Re:Speaking of those precious pixels on a handset (3, Informative)

LiroXIV (2362610) | about 2 years ago | (#41085337)

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

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

Re:Speaking of those precious pixels on a handset (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 2 years ago | (#41085523)

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

Either way the point is moot I guess, since WP8/7.8 revamps the home screen.

Can't the OS sense what kind of device it's on? (5, Insightful)

jenningsthecat (1525947) | about 2 years ago | (#41085163)

There are fewer reasons for a separate page on a desktop

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

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

The reason for the start page (5, Insightful)

HalAtWork (926717) | about 2 years ago | (#41085173)

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

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

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

Re:The reason for the start page (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41085345)

This should be modded insightful not funny. It speaks the TRUTH!

Re:The reason for the start page (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 2 years ago | (#41085357)

Since when do average users have to go to the CLI on Windows versions that use the start menu? Oh right, never.

Re:The reason for the start page (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41085613)

Pretty much since there was a version of Windows with a start menu. Sure, it got to be less and less over time, but at first, usage of the command line was prominent as Windows lacked many tools and apps when it first was poised to succeed DOS. And yes, users were scared of it. Just like when Linux was first starting to get popular on the desktop, it was mainly suited to developers and power users. The average user would balk at having to use the command line. The need for using it got to be less and less over time and it became more and more accepted for desktop use. Now MS is poising Windows users to have to go through this process in order to bring an even simpler (in good and bad ways depending on who you are) interface to the desktop.

Re:The reason for the start page (1)

TheLink (130905) | about 2 years ago | (#41085655)

Maybe not the average user, but unless they change things in the "real release" I think this is ridiculous:
http://www.windows7hacker.com/index.php/2012/08/how-to-change-windows-8-product-key-to-complete-activation/ [windows7hacker.com]

I installed the Windows 8 Enterprise Edition, and apparently the install wizard never asked me for the activation key.

I couldn't find a UI that allows me to change or even enter my activation key. Time for a "hack" to activate Windows 8.

First, you need to go to the Start screen type "cmd" and right click. Make sure you choose run as "Administrator" from the bottom options.

Re:The reason for the start page (0)

jdastrup (1075795) | about 2 years ago | (#41085481)

So why shouldn't they do this?

Because it takes away choices. If I wanted to start up to Metro, or if a business wanted to start with Metro, they should have that option. But, if I wanted to start with a desktop and start menu, then I should have that option, too. Using your own example, prior to Windows 8 you can change the shell to a command prompt if you wanted to, or you could use the new and improved desktop and start menu. But now, Microsoft doesn't give you that choice.

Re:The reason for the start page (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 2 years ago | (#41085619)

The option to start to desktop is still there in RTM in the form of third party utilities. Just because Microsoft doesn't include the particular setting you prefer, doesn't mean you can't customize the desktop in a way you find suitable. It's been this way since the dawn of Windows. I don't like many settings about Windows 7, particularly clicking on a taskbar item doesn't cycle through the windows. I installed a hack that fixes it, and now I'm happier. I've been using every release of Windows 8 and now am on RTM, and there are several things I don't like about it but there are simple utilities that tweak it to how I prefer, and more will be on the way when it's finally released.

Re:The reason for the start page (3, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#41085509)

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

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

So the research is wrong... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41085197)

...and people AREN'T not using the Start menu any more.

There must have been a bug in the Microsoft metrics tool that was reporting back to base. And the focus groups must have lied. And the people in the labs being watched through two-way mirrors must have deliberately not used the Start button any more.

The users have moved beyond the crusty old paradigms of last millenia. When I stopped to think about it, I couldn't remember the last time I used the Start menu. And yes, I'm a power user.

Re:So the research is wrong... (1)

Diss Champ (934796) | about 2 years ago | (#41085285)

There's a reason that I don't use the Start menu to get things done, and it's not that I'm using some other part of Windows.

Re:So the research is wrong... (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 2 years ago | (#41085389)

Because studies never have sampling bias, right? Focus groups are always 100% indicative of all people, right? Everyone loves Pepsi over Coke, right? I mean that's what the Pepsi Challenge said.

Re:So the research is wrong... (1)

lilfields (961485) | about 2 years ago | (#41085467)

Microsoft didn't use focus groups, they use pingbacks they get from data they gather from millions of Windows users...you know when you click "would you like this information to be shared with Microsoft to better our product, all information is anonymous, yadda, yadda, yadda." That is where Microsoft got this data, not a room full of people.

Re:So the research is wrong... (2)

Desler (1608317) | about 2 years ago | (#41085585)

Hence why I mentioned sampling bias. Studies that rely entirely on voluntary reporting are always skewed.

Misleading name (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41085263)

They should call it Tiles, not Windows.

bad premise (4, Insightful)

LodCrappo (705968) | about 2 years ago | (#41085289)

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

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

Re:bad premise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41085379)

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

This is an "Appeal to Authority," and it's a logical fallacy.

Re:bad premise (2, Interesting)

GungaDan (195739) | about 2 years ago | (#41085441)

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

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

Re:bad premise (1)

LodCrappo (705968) | about 2 years ago | (#41085671)

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

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

Re:bad premise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41085447)

Yup! It's like taking advice from RIM/Blackberry designers on future smart phones.

Re:bad premise (1)

Attila the Bun (952109) | about 2 years ago | (#41085595)

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

If they'd been working with aeroplane technology and keeping up with progress for the 109 years since Kitty Hawk then yes, I think they probably would have a few useful ideas.

Us old folks are prejudiced (2, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 2 years ago | (#41085293)

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

So I actually agree with Microsoft on the Metro UI.

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

Re:Us old folks are prejudiced (1)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | about 2 years ago | (#41085431)

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

I think windows 8 is going to be a damn good OS technically. But the ui and flow of things is the only real concern because it is a major changge like you said.

Re:Us old folks are prejudiced (1)

lilfields (961485) | about 2 years ago | (#41085603)

Expect the workflow to be fixed as Microsoft gathers more data from Windows 8 users, currently most of their usage data is coming from in-house.

Re:Us old folks are prejudiced (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 2 years ago | (#41085501)

So you agree with some monstrosity that needlessly swaps you between contexts that serves to only confuse people? You would have a point if they had gone Metro only but the bolted on desktop app only makes it a terrible Frankenstein-like experience.

Re:Us old folks are prejudiced (1)

ThorGod (456163) | about 2 years ago | (#41085535)

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

Re:Us old folks are prejudiced (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41085571)

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

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

I find it amazing how many people try to claim this is not true. Desktop computers and tablets/phone are not the same thing and do not serve the same purpose. I would much much much rather have two different and GOOD interfaces. With this, you will always have at least one shitty interface.

I would not complain about a metro-style UI on a tablet, but I would not use it on a desktop.

Metro != Usability (5, Interesting)

onyxruby (118189) | about 2 years ago | (#41085347)

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

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

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

Re: they are forcing you to use the new interface (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about 2 years ago | (#41085519)

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

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

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

Re: they are forcing you to use the new interface (1)

lilfields (961485) | about 2 years ago | (#41085653)

If you've ever used Windows 8, you'd know that you can still do everything you've ever done on the desktop. The only change is the start menu and the full screen metro apps (which I am betting will be allowed to be scaled like normal windows in future updates. I'd still rather use 7, but to say you can't operate Windows 8 just like you can a Windows 7 machine is nonsense.

Re:Metro != Usability (4, Interesting)

lilfields (961485) | about 2 years ago | (#41085545)

I disagree, I think Microsoft is pushing "Metro" on the desktop for numerous reasons, and one of them is the shared core between all their major platforms (something no one else has.) They put Windows 8 running Metro on laptops and desktops and they instantly have just as many eyeballs as iPhone and iPad. This gives their touch products a HUGE boost in the app world. Microsoft has demoed where you can literally change one line of code and put your app on Windows 8 from a Windows Phone app, and vice versa. I think Metro will be scaled back over time on the desktop. This Windows 8 is ALL about capturing developers on their touch devices. I am quite excited for Windows 9, but I wouldn't expect it to be rushed out the door like you are suggesting.

The Beast has woken (4, Insightful)

RichMan (8097) | about 2 years ago | (#41085493)

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

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

Note to Canonical, Gnome, etc (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41085569)

Anybody listening? No? Didn't think so...

Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41085573)

Former Xerox PARC Researcher: This "mouse" thing is stupid, no one will ever use it.

Don't let him near KDE (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 2 years ago | (#41085649)

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

Oh, and they stole the non-toolbar screen edges for 'window resize' in the latest release, even in maximized window mode (using the scrollbars now requires precision mousing instead of flick 'n click). The edges are the second most valuable bits of screen real estate (current the toolbar edge does nothing).

I think I've only ever read three UI design books ever, and a few blogs. I'm left to conclude that there are people out there who do understand, but they are actively hostile towards usability (in favor of eye-candy or whatever).

Oh, and hide my cursor when I start typing, for Pete's sake.

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