Jakob Nielsen is not your Windows 8 Guru heres why.

I can't believe i'm about to defend Microsoft Design outloud like this. It's not something I would normally do, however when it comes to the Jakob Nielsen Windows 8 review I just can't stand to let it slide. Personally I think that entire company is still stuck in the past and has consistently failed to navigate change with a degree of accurate prediction since they declared Flash a fail (Oct 2000) (which translates to in principle to JavaScript based websites a fail). Furthermore I think they rely on the idea that the end users are all collective virgin users who have never had to navigate or use bad UI in todays software environments. The fact that we as a human race can navigate even dumb solutions such as Sharepoint, Lotus Notes, SAP and a whole host of other really badly design UI indicates that we aren't as dumb as useit.com would have us believe. Furthermore there is a huge generational change underway whereby the concept of "experienced windows users" would be fair to say my 8yr old son fits that category. The clue is in the audience sampled as if you get that wrong the rest of the responses are just opinions based around a skewed bias (bad baseline to draw from on their part).  Here is my notes from an internal email I sent around when I was asked "what do you think of the article" from my co-workers. NOTE: This is a raw / unedited email-centric dump. There is no grammar/ spelling so if you piss and moan about in the comments you really should step away from the computer more. In case you suffer from TLDR - here's the short extranous cognitive load friendly version What the hell was that   My remarks:
  •  Novice and Power Users.  “Invited 12 experienced Windows users” is a weak / broad sweeping remark to make that XYZ demographic doesn’t like N-Product. Keep in mind I’m a tough critic of Windows 8’s design, but even I can concede it’s still usable whether the incentive is to use though is entirely different matter (Cognitive Dissonance measures Behavior vs. Incentive).  I would have taken him more serious if he had of used a variety of audience(s) for this (OSX users, Seniors, GenY, IT Professionals, Sales force etc) .. everyone’s experienced In Windows is my point.
Cognitive Overhead.
  • Prospective Memory – I think he’s building up to “learn where to go” and associating it as a bad thing. The concept of a desktop works in favor of prospective memory, meaning “I’ll put x here so I can come back to it later” works in the same fashion as the start overlay. Its not ideal, but to declare this a cognitive overload is an over-reach given over time (behavior) users will settle on a rhythm that suites them. If I press START and start typing my context will adjust to the text I’m typing and so on.
  •  Dual Environments -  The two environments in which he speaks of are WinRT and WinRT Pro, now the clue is in the word “Pro” firstly and it has to do with legacy support than actual user experience (context is annoying when you leave it out huh?). Tablet users won’t interact with the said duality he’s nominated so it kind of is a weak point to rest on and those that opt for the Surface Pro edition are doing so more as a finger in both pies approach to the problem at hand. If I pitched the problem that needed to be solved in that I need the user(s) to have both Windows Now and Windows vNext it shifts the results differently as if I said I need the users to solely focus on vNext only … Again, It feels more about airbrushing the facts without context (Ironic given the guy’s a usability “guru” and how context is important in ux as content).
  • Added Memory.  I see this a lot and I wonder if UX Practitioners suffer from this concept that we all suffer from sudden memory loss at any given point. I understand interruption etc plays into this but in reality we don’t multi task and phones today for example don’t have this issue – if anything given the complexity between switching from apps via navigation routines (ie iPhone double hitting the rectangle and using a slider style switch). I am baffled as to what moment of brilliance the author assumes he/she is uncovering here – I’m kind of lost between whether I dislike his point or the actual website itself’s design.
Multi Window
  •  Responsive & Adaptive Design– I think the author again (they really should sit down and study some basic design principles to articulate the points) probably wanted to say that the design of the solution isn’t responsive and/or adaptive depending on screen real estate. The said applications again don’t make full use of the screen(s) they are being deployed or used upon. I concede that this could be an issue for usage of LOB solutions but at the same time I also reject it. Having window support in today’s UI world is an absolute engineering challenge at the best of times and furthermore buy having to adhere and cater to this we in turn limit our future potential by sticking to the ye olde side by side window usage. As it now begs the question, why are two applications side by side if they are related?  If we have a forcing function which puts emphasis on a single screen visualization would this not cut down on fragmented software delivery? What if the snap screen concept could be more broader in its execution where you allow users to have more than one window at a time but the designs themselves can be responsive to the state in which they are housed? This works better imho than just given floating cascade windows with dynamic border resize + maximize + minimize. It fixes and creates an interesting solution to much bigger problem.Again, the author is kind of saying “it’s changed, I don’t like it”. I didn’t like the day I gave up a tactical keyboard for a touch screen, but I got over it and can type just as fast now. Humans evolve.
  •  Flat styles. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been driving along the highway and seen the turn arrow being flat and thought to myself “I wish that had a sense of depth, as that would give me contrast to make an informative decision”. The whole idea that we need depth in order to associate action is a kind of “drawing from a long bow”. If you’re a virgin user and never seen something for the first time, yes, you have that moment of initial “wtf” but you explore, because now it’s a puzzle and you have an incentive to figure it out.  Take into account marketing and real-world surroundings it’s fair to assume that the learnability of a solid icon is considered both touchable and untouchable.  You will discover this fairly easily but the learnability is probably shallow but discoverability isn’t - Key differentiation there.  I don’t agree with Metro’s content over chrome metaphor and in the visual he provided it’s an easy fight to pick (grouping is all wrong) but the failures here are easily misleading given he left out the constancy of the design (in that it’s not isolated to one area, it’s throughout and again, surprisingly we all seem to navigate over time without issue – behavior vs incentive again).
  •  Symbology. Probably the only thing I would agree here is that there is way too much of a strong reliance on symbology to convey the context of what the said solution does. There’s no personality attached to apps and functions, meaning I think there still needs to be a balance between core operating and in-app functions and said Applications (one thing iPhone does well as the apps entry icons are able to retain a differentiation whereas Win8 it doesn’t). I don’t think the author articulated this very well but I sense that’s the direction they were heading
Information Density I won’t bother remarking too much on these areas, suffice to say it’s like I grabbed Angry Birds app, declared iPhone a fail due to lack of 3D support. Probably helps to separate third party applications from the actual said operating system. You can grade an OS based on its actual abilities or inbuilt functions, not by what the ecosystem does with them as that’s a slippery slope. Desktop computers and horizontal control hasn’t been a failure. I don’t subscribe to the “well on websites it failed” it actually hasn’t, its more to do with screen size, frequency of use and does the UI tease the user to carry out the action. It’s not a complete failure it’s more to do with context and case by case. Now the current win8 mode relies on the horizontal scroll bar or mouse wheel to navigate between the screen and yes I think the missing element here is for the mouse to do the flicking between left/right (kinetic scrolling etc). Live Tiles. Agreed. Probably the one area of this article he nailed well. Yeah, the live Tiles for me is like a room full of screaming kids all asking for ice cream and one asking to go to the toilet. Pray you get the later right early. Charms.
  • Progressive Disclosure has always been a double edged sword. On one hand you free up user from distraction by giving them a chunk of information to process act upon whilst on the other hand you’re easily forgotten and totally rely on muscle memory / learnability to be your UX crutch. I don’t think the author framed this correctly in this case by asserting that the users will “forget” the charm icons etc. I think it’s got poor amount of UX friction associated to it but the idea that Novice/Power users will be absent minded users here is really again an over reach. I find the whole persona attachment in this authors writing to be disconnected and fluctuates between a virgin user and a veteran of 15 years+ user? (settle on them and grouping here clearly needs to indicate the level of friction associated to each point).Had the user stated “I sampled a user with only 6month usage of a computer” then yes, Charms would be hazardous to one’s health. The reality is that’s a generational issue firstly (ie they are deprecating) and secondly there is such a wash of bad UI in software today that the users in general are what I’d call “defensive” in that they have been trained over and over that UI today isn’t always a case of “everything is in front of you where you need it”.  Furthermore if you take a step back in time and look at the green-screen terminals and how data entry operators would fly through the various fields etc one can see that a human and pattern recognition have remarkable abilities.
Gestures. I’ve not used Win8 Gestures to comment. I want to take the author at his/her word but so far I’m inclined to favor Microsoft here. That being said, Microsoft and Touch have never really been that good together (even Surface Table had issues here). Suffice to say they really need to tidy up NUI in general here and its still the wild west, so in reality anything that all brands put on the table is open to this set of arguments. Windows 8 Weak on Tablets, Terrible on PC’s. Yeah this is where the true bias shows through and why my UX spidey senses tingled. It’s in this part you see the opinion shine through which can distill down to that they wanted Win8 to be tablet only UI and desktop to continue the Win7 as-is approach.  It shows lack of foresight for how the mobility and desktop market’s are starting to eat away into the tablet focused approach. How well we handle the ergonomics of going between a laptop to a tablet is still undecided but that’s the direction ones heading. Microsoft are trying to get out ahead of this early and if that means along the way they will fumble some of the UX by giving a duality in both old and new then so be it. In my view if you are given the problem of retaining the old while moving the user base over to the new in an aggressive manner then Microsoft may actually have a winning idea (yes I just praised Microsoft). I would however say that there Metro design style is going to come back and bite them the most and from what I can tell the Author has been cherry picking the negatives in order to build up to a point of how unusable it is. No balanced proposition here other than I don’t like Windows 8 and here’s why (hence the whole paragraph of “I don’t hate Microsoft but..” which translates to “I’m not racist, but..” …there is no “but” ..as everything you just said before it gets lost in cognitive overload (grin). How the author then goes onto praise Ribbon Menu after spending a paragraph or two downsizing the charm bar “out of sight out of mind” makes me confused Lastly by asserting that Win7 needs to be replaced with Windows 8 is probably the final conclusion that Microsoft marketing still sucks at its job (ie it’s not an upgrade, its an additive product) and lastly the user should stick more to the UI principles and less to OS Market analysis.  

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  • BengtQ

    This was extremely incoherent.

  • Note: “(Cognitive Dissonance measures Behavior vs. Incentive)” is wrong. Please read up on such terms before mis-using them…

  • You say “I would have taken him more serious if he had of used a variety of audience(s) for this (OSX users, Seniors, GenY, IT Professionals, Sales force etc) .. everyone’s experienced In Windows is my point.”
    That’s exactly why we should focus on experienced Windows users: they’re basically “everyone”. Microsoft HAS to win over those already using Windows – they cannot afford to lose that audience as it is the basis for MSFT’s success. And there aren’t many other users to “convert” to Windows.

  • GG002

    Yup, anyone who complains about the design of someone else, but has a totally ridiculous, 90’s webdesign himself should be hung. I’ll leave you with some wise words:

    “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”

  • Simon Munro

    When I clicked on the link a couple of days ago I remembered who he was from the 1996 ‘Top Ten Mistakes in Web Design’ http://www.useit.com/alertbox/9605a.html. I remembered this because his web design is still stuck in 1996. Technically his yellow and blue breadcrumb may be usabale, but it isn’t what I would call a beautiful web page. Have you seen his profile photo http://www.useit.com/jakob/? Does that picture shout “hip and trendy” or “80’s middle manager”? I am no usability expert, but I suspect that his influence and credibility is waning. I don’t see how anyone would, after looking at his website and bio, commission him to do any (modern) UI work. Perhaps the issue is that usability is orthogonal to appealing user interfaces and general design. I, for one, am glad that architects don’t built perfectly usable soviet-era apartment blocks.

  • Brandon

    The font on your blog is terrible! All your C’s look like O’s. It looks like you’ve said Windows has “oonsistently failed to navigate ohange with a degree of aoourate prediotion sinoe they deolared Flash a fail (Oot 2000)”.

  • nabberuk

    Care to offer the real meaning instead of just debunking it without a reason?

  • Brandon

    Hmm, never mind. It looks like it might be a font issue on my end. I can’t figure out how to uninstall this font!

  • brian

    Umm, I think Neilsen was talking about the dual environments of Metro and Desktop, not RT and Pro.

  • guest

    Good insight. I’m lol that Thurrott thinks you rushed this out to help MS. Um, Paul, have you ever read Scott’s stuff? And the typo and grammatical errors are part of his charm.

  • Vaibhav Gadodia

    Thank you for this article. I had a hard time digesting Nielsen’s article. I find it frustrating that when Windows 8 is talked about in the context of a PC, it is still the Start Screen and MUI style apps that are talked about. A PC user can easily continue to use Windows 8 as they were using their Windows 7 machine (with the one difference that they now have a funkier Start “Menu”).

    From here though, if said PC user wanted to do more, they can start looking into Windows 8 MUI style apps (which unfortunately, you can only run 2 at a time). But, this doesn’t prevent them from having any number of Windows open in Desktop mode.

    If on a tablet, they really didn’t need the desktop mode, and I am certain that the main reason for that is because of Office. On my Surface, the only reason I ever go to desktop mode is to use Office applications – everything else is run on MUI mode. It’s a tablet, how many apps do I want to run simultaneously to being with anyway (the fact that I can run two is already ahead of competition).

    I just don’t get what the big with all the negative comments about the OS is about (the live tiles works for me, but when I am using the Surface – no value is added when using it on the PC) – on the other hand, that may be an unfair statement, because whenever I switch to my Start Screen on the PC (to launch another program), I see updates from Twitter and Facebook, a moving slideshow from my Flickr account on the photo app, and the latest cricket news on the CricInfo app – all in the same glance within a second – and for most part, that is helpful.

  • I’m stating that using “12 experience windows users” is like saying “12 humans who can breathe air”.. To be taken seriously in UX study like the one they assert i’d prefer they break it down into more finite personas that show a mixed bias around the acceptance of Windows or better yet those who dont have a bias towards windows. Establish a mixed audience to assess New vs Old. etc.

  • Sorry. It was a quick email I sent to some co-workers in the middle of deadlines and figured i’d sneak it onto a cheap blog post. Little did I know that wouldn’t work out in my favor. .. To be open, I rarely give a shit about crafting blog posts on here, I just kind of dump and run (dump being a keyword). The one posts I do sit down and carefully craft, nothing happens. The ones I dont, link bait.. i just can’t win at times 🙂

  • Right, but on a Tablet (ARM) you wouldn’t get dual environments. In the PRO you do, so my point is that before one takes a massive dump over an OS one should probably figure out the deployment of the said OS. Context is a bitch at times.

  • He wants probably the clinical definition as the way he probably read it in UX Book. @twitter-414238901:disqus probably needs to fast forward to the meat of the term whereby if you plot a users behaviour it tends to always trend upwards where as the incentive for usage tends to taper off either quite fast or slow if the said UX is good. That is to say the user continues to use the said UI but feels discomfort or lack of incentive in using the said UI.. hence cognitive dissonance.

    Wikipedia: Cognitive dissonance is the term used in modern psychology to describe the feeling of discomfort when holding two or more conflicting cognitions (e.g., ideas, beliefs, values,emotional reactions) simultaneously. In a state of dissonance, people may sometimes feel surprise, dread, guilt, anger, or embarrassment.

  • He was right, It was rushed. To help Microsoft?… I dont know… I kind of kicked Microsoft in the balls few times in this post so its kind of a “I think Microsoft is fat, but it has a nice face” remark 🙂 hehehe.

  • O.o … but if the font sux let me know, this is like a vanilla word press theme which I’ve not spent a lot of time fixing up. I have a whole blog redesign queued but I lack the time / energy as of late to do the actual work required. Kind of like a painter never paints his own house thing.

  • I do wood working in my down time. Having a plank in ones eye would be really distracting. 😀

  • GG002

    Apparently not distracting enough for Jakob Nielsen! That design is like having a school bus sticking out of your eye!

  • Davide

    Guessing Microsoft is going to be getting plenty of support
    calls from first time users of Windows 8, specially on desktops.

    Watching someone start 8 for the first time is pretty funny.
    Shock and awe. You get a bunch of tiles blinking away at you while trying to figure
    out how to join the PC to the domain, without a start button. Way too many crap
    tiles, Visual Studio adds 20 or so by itself

    When you totally change fundamental operations (like
    starting an application) it is going to confuse your users.

    After using 8 for a few weeks, I still try to click the
    start button when I am working away and always end up opening the Browser.

    I didn’t realize the Tile screen had a scroll bar on it because
    its hidden most of the time and the scroll bar itself doesn’t really look Metroish
    or stand out.

    Eventually figured out how to turn off the PC, eventually
    figured out that Change PC Settings was clickable. Have a hard time remembering
    the shortcut keys, I tend to just mash Windows-X, Windows-Q, Windows-W, Windows-E
    until I find what I want.

    Wish you could overlay a help menu with the quick keys
    listed, attached to F1 would be cool, you know, like a help button. HowTo tile
    would be nice.

    Turned off all of the Live tiles so my brain would stop
    screaming. Pinned my 5 programs to the Taskbar so I could ignore the Tile
    screen, and I am surviving it.

    No clock on the Tile screen, playing with ugly add in’s.
    Basically works but sometimes it doesn’t update and decides just to show some
    generic Bitmap.

    Everyone in my Office has been watching and playing with it
    a bit, but the consensus here is to wait for the next Version.

    I teach in a College and we are too scared to deploy it to
    the classrooms. Maybe next year.

  • stormhit

    That’s not what he said, he said “to counter the press Nielsen has gotten.” That has nothing to do with MS.

  • BengtQ

    Well, I guess my comment was not of the constructive kind, either.

    Regarding Windows 8, I think it works fairly well, as long as you install a third party start menu, and turn off all the “charms” and “hot corners” on the desktop.

    Regarding the design choices… I think I agree mostly with Nielsen… A lot of the new twists that are introduced in the new WinRT based portion of the OS, are more clever than they are smart.

    For instance, the right click functionality. On the desktop, you right click, and the available choices pop up next to where the mouse pointer currently is. Which is how it should be. In “Metro” however, you right click, and the choices pop up at the bottom of the screen, were you have to move the mouse down to select them.

    I guess it works, sort of, on a tablet… But for a desktop user, it’s a step back.

    There are numerous other examples too… of changes that the designers might have thought of as smart, but which are in reality counter productive for ordinary desktop users.

    But, as I said, as long as it’s possible to push the “Metro”-portion of the OS out on the sideline, by installing a third party start menu, it does not really matter. It’s all fine with me, and I do not regret having upgraded my PCs to Windows 8.

  • To be clear, I’m not saying Win8 is UX friendly per say, there’s a shit load of things that are either broken, rushed or aren’t even clear as to why they exist which is why I felt Jakob’s alert rant was basically a load of crap. Had they actually done their job and articulated the principles of design in a clear even fashion this post wouldn’t have existed.

    The rant they put forward was kind of the FoxNews of UX talk, in that feed people what they want to hear vs actually taking a step back and giving a healthy perspective on the discussion. My issue is with the Nielsen group and how they just peddle crap out the door as if it were actual science.

    Is Windows 8 usable, yes, do people *WANT* to use it, probably not. Now let’s discover why they don’t want to use in a academic sound way.

  • WP7Mango

    Scott Barnes c[×┬õ]כ

    Interesting article! However, I have to disagree with you about the Live Tiles, for several reasons –

    1. Each Live Tile can be turned OFF individually. That’s quite a fundamental point, because if a user doesn’t like a particular feature in an operating system, and can turn that feature off, then the problem is solved for that user.

    …which leads me on to the next point nicely…

    2. The Live Tiles functionality is decided by the user. They can be resized depending on their importance to the user. Many apps also have configurable options as to what is displayed on the Live Tile. How they are grouped also depends on the user. Again, it’s the user that ultimately decides. How can this possibly be seen as a negative?

    3. Live Tiles also serve as deep-link shortcuts to specific subsections of apps. Take the People app for example – you can pin a frequent contact to your start screen and their pinned Live Tile updates with information only relevant to them. When you click on that Live Tile, it launches the People app specifically at that contact’s Details page. This capability of Live Tiles allows users to configure the start screen so that it works as efficiently as possible FOR THEM. Again, how can this possibly be seen as a bad thing?

    I believe that both you and Nielsen have failed to understand Live Tiles fully, which is why you don’t like them. But that doesn’t make them a bad idea.

  • WP7Mango

    I think that in order to discover WHY they don’t want to use it, you would need to test using different devices. For example, we know that Windows 8 has been optimised for touch-screens, therefore you would need to test the groups on both touch and non-touch devices. Based on my own experience, I think they would find a huge difference between the two types.

    There are concepts new to Windows 8 which don’t exist in other operating systems. Whilst these may be unintuitive, they are not unlearnable. Perhaps such an experiment should guide users accordingly, such as explaining new UI gestures such as Semantic Zoom, or Nudge an item to select it, etc.

  • *sigh* there’s always one in the crowd.

    This is me reading your response:

    Ok, champ since you made such a bold assumption allow me to retort.

    What you are attempting to describe is what they call “needs-based” customization whereby you take a live tile in question and you group them in a meaningful manner to same approach you would say a desktop on your computer. Now, hit START + D look at your desktop and tell me how that’s working out for you now? – majority will come back and say it resembles the same as my desk at work – freaking mess.

    Needs-based customization is very mother & apple pie feature inclusion in most software out there. It starts out
    with the righteous idea of letting the user retain a sense of control meanwhile ignoring the fact that over time our prospective memory often gets chaotic if we don’t have forcing functions such as “expiration” in place that help us
    retain control (that is “you put this here, its expiring do you still want it? – intelligence.

    Ignore the fact Live tiles animate with information, that alone is the first red flag as to why Live tiles aren’t a
    great idea. Now combine this with movement, where you’ve got what marketing calls “pestering power” in place which in turn works the same way (items are now competing for your attention). This can be both a negative and positive as it can lead to addiction to seeing a tile state management (ie have an email icon with unread email account above it, see how users react.. most will often want to make that go away by performing a task that gets them to mark the emails read.. sounds good right? Except its distracting, it’s an interruption to whatever it was you were doing etc – negative not so much a positive).

    My point is this. It’s like a room full of kids screaming for ice cream, yes you can switch them off or remove them but in reality people horde information at a rate that’s amazing to witness often they’ll let it fester before they muster the incentive to remove/adjust. It’s at this point you’re taking a positive experience and turning it into a negative as this point they aren’t thinking “Oh how awesome was Live tiles” its more “Fking live tiles, grr they annoy me..why can’t I just opt in not out opt out as default”.

    So champ, your assertion we failed to understand Live tiles from my end is probably a weakness in your entire
    argument. I like to spend time studying things I say out loud I dislike it helps to ensure that I’m not making irrational assertions like the one you’ve made.

  • WP7Mango

    I said I “believed” you didn’t understand Live Tiles “fully”. Specifically, you focused only on the negavtive aspects of them (something you accuse Nielsen of). I was pointing out the positive aspects of Live Tiles which you appeared not to mention anywhere in your article, hence why I “believed” you did not understand Live Tiles fully. It’s not a weakness in my argument – more of a lack of depth in your article on this specific topic which led me to that conclusion. I also give much more credit to the secondary live tiles (deep linking capability) than you do, as a way of filtering data, but perhaps it’s because my usage scenarios are different to yours, or perhaps you didn’t know about it.

    BTW, making adjustments is not a bad thing. When there is a new feature available, there is a tendency to go overboard with it. Over time, you soon realise what is important to you and what isn’t, and you then make the appropriate changes and turn off the unnecessary live tiles. My own Live Tiles on my Windows 8 tablet reflect this behaviour – and I see it as a positive thing. But I found that having them default to being live allows me to evaluate the quality of the live information before deciding whether or not to keep it. For example, my choice of News apps are determined by how good their live tiles are.

  • Yeah I didn’t give a review of Win8 in my notes above. It was my response to JN about how much of an asshat review it was so you’re picking the wrong fight imho.

    Even after all this the Live Tiles are still the “room full of children screaming for icecream” .. some may enjoy the sound of children wanting ice cream some may not.. point is it holds true none the less.

    I’d also rate you to be in the minority of Live Tiles as a value proposition but thats my personal assertion and lacks data to support it (like wise to counter it). Opinion was cast, you disagree, I disagree.. nothing was solved other than re-education of the obvious?

  • WP7Mango

    Obvious to you and I, perhaps, but not necessarily to everyone else. That’s why I felt that it was worth adding more detail on the topic, because understanding those features in more detail can make those “screaming children” more like calm adults.

  • Via comments on a blog? I admire your determination to right a wrong just sadly it’s buried in a comments. In all honesty I’d rather we had topics like this as the front runners to “Win8 usability” instead of the above post and JN getting all the traction.

    That’s the part that annoys me the most.. as we both are shooting points across each others forts of knowledge but in reality nothing we both say can be verified as it distills down to “I like red, you like blue, I guess we can never really know which is the most popular color” 😀

    Again, Microsoft needs to get its shit together on subjects like this… but as per usual the clowns in Redmond are to busy high fiving one another about being Digitally Authentic and less about “is it being accepted as digitally authentic”

  • WP7Mango

    Agreed, on all counts! 🙂

  • Albee

    The fact that their is a “mixed response” to the windows 8 UI is the real problem. This is like coca cola changing the recipe of coke and half their existing customers complaining why change it? And coke screaming back at them saying its for your won good!

    You don’t radically change flagship products used by 90% of the world. You gradually introduce change if you need to. Any user friction is a fail at this level. You shouldn’t see this level of friction with any established product and brand. Mercedes wouldn’t do it, BMW wouldn’t do it, why are MS doing it?

    UI is subjective and learnt, based on history I.e. people get used to things if they have to and that becomes the natural order of things in their eyes. For that reason no UI change is technically good or bad, just different. So to hard to read Neilsen’s studies in a scientific manner.

    But Neilsen’s isn’t pretending to come from a blank objective point of view. He is attacking w8 UI based on the history that Windows has and what users know of the product. That’s the no.1 problem when designing an update to anything. How do you build on the existing UI history and make something family but better. You want your users to just turn the key and drive the new car not spend 20 minutes looking for where you out the gear stick!

    Ultimately MS have taken liberties because they think they have a captive audience. Just like they did with Office and the Ribbon UI. If your audience can’t move from your product you start giving them not what “they” want or what they “ask” for. You start giving them what “you” want instead. MS haven’t listened to users the whole year since the preview came out. And yet they expect people to love what they have made?

    Sadly, Unlike with Office MS do not have a fully “captive” audience. Many are escaping to the other computing products like iPads, macs and android devices. I think Ms has overplayed it’s hand this time.

  • Change is an evil mistress who is rarely kind. That being said it’s not so much about change in his post its more mindless UX drivel that actually was short of a valid principles / points. He just fed you all large word sets that sounded “UX`y” and then dragged random points of view to underpin what he perceived as being a negative towards power users.

    The crux of his points were that it would become a usability nightmare, which is different from being an incentive to use situation. I can subscribe to some users disliking the start screen so their incentive to not BUY it will not be has high – anyone with a brain will see that in the first adoption cycle.

    To state it’s not usable however? pull your head in JN, you’re pandering UX bullshit to the masses is really where it boils down to.

    Apple gave you iPod Touch for the first time.. nobody showed anyone the unlock screen or other patents which came from a place of “new” and “untested”.. Don’t write off a human being’s ability to learn and adapt to change we are actually much smarter than asshats like JN would have us all believe.

  • Wack

    Microsoft just show us how to not need do interface.

  • albee

    I agree with the “Don’t write off human beings ability to learn…” Etc..
    But I think we only do this if there is no other alternative to get to what we want. We are naturally predisposed to doing the “easiest” thing. In fact man has spent the whole of its time on earth trying to make things easier, that’s probably what distinguishes us most from animals.

    However, to change for change sake is in my view a usability fail. You can get away with it if you are the only choice in town but if there are others it’s usability suicide.

    Micorsoft have yet to explain WHY these changes are better for traditional desktop users. That’s part of the Sinofsky “silence” issues. It feels dictatorial and doesn’t give the impression that MS are in partnership with its users (or even their OEM’s for that matter!). It’s just very one sided affair driven by Microsofts need to get into the mobile game at all costs. Very cynical, and obvious.

    It’s easy to explain to users why a touch keyboard is better than a real keyboard in lots of ways. It frees up screen estate, it allows for configurable controls, it make the device lighter etc… But why can’t MS explain to me why I can only run 1 app on a 27 inch monitor in Metro? Or why is it better to move me from my desktop layout into Metro when all I want to do is search for an App? they don’t want to do that. they don’t want to explain anything really.

    Which is why they are getting all the flack now. They are the defacto standard in desktop computing so everything they do has to be held up to a higher standard than even Apple or Google. Multi billion dollar businesses are run off this windows thing, it’s a big deal! Things that seem small to us techies are BIG things in the real world because of how much impact hey have being that windows IS desktop software, period.

    So you have to look at Nielsens damnation in that context. It seems like lots of unnecessary pain and very little gain for desktop users. I think a lot is expected from MS and rightly so. They are the top dog (and the only dog for many).

  • e6ffdyr0

    Do users care about the principles of a design? No! They just want to use it. IMHO Nielson did not pretend to be more scientific than he actually was (in fact he wrote about his personal opinion and backed that with UX guidelines of his prior findings). I did enjoy his little review on Windows 8 and probably I will stay with Windows 7 for some time. After all, with all due respect, if Nielson’s essay was FoxNews talk, your post here was it, too. *g*

  • Simon

    Having two desktop systems at the same time (not installed on the same machine, but simultaneously) is a total heresy. I’m pretty sure half of the company wanted Metro while the other half wanted Windows. They ended up with a bad compromise. A company such as Apple would have never do this, it’s simply too crazy. PS: Scott, thanks for your blog, please continue!

  • Brian Miller

    Jakob’s article reminded me of the rant that my mother had when dad brought home a Mac to replace the Commodore 64 when I was a kid.

    “It’s all different! What’s with this clunky mouse thing? It’s not color! Where is the command line?”

    Typically, paradigm shifts in UI are not easily embraced by either “novices” or “power users,” particularly those with no grounding in the basic “language” of the UI.

  • tvf77

    Definition (Merriam-Webster): “psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously”
    You can also read up on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance

    Short overview:
    When someone has one opinion or does something which conflicts with another of his opinions, experiences, or actions, this person will feel bad. “Most people seek to preserve their current understanding of the world by rejecting, explaining away, or avoiding the new information or by convincing themselves that no conflict really exists.” (Merriam-Webster)

    * Getting something would require too much effort – so it’s probably not worth it, anyway (I’m lazy. But I don’t think of myself as lazy. – But I’m not still sitting around because I’m lazy but because that stupid thing is useless! Dissonance resolved!).
    * Democrats/Republicans won the election even though I believed they wouldn’t – so they must have cheated. (My view that they couldn’t have won is preserved. I don’t have to really accept that they didn’t win for objective reasons)

  • tvf77

    That would be nice and would also be a requirement for many studies – but here? My point is, that Windows 8 needs to appeal to experienced Windows users, not to “the general population”.
    But that’s more of a conflict in how we view the study, I suppose: I read it as saying that Microsoft will fail with its (implied) goal to convert ALL Windows users to Windows 8 because of the UX problems. You read (and criticize) it as saying that “Windows 8 has a bad UX, period”.