Usability expert says Windows 8 UI is Misguided and Disappointing

Windows 8 is a major change from Windows 7 for quite a few reasons, but the most jarring change is the new Start UI. This is why there have been quite a few very different responses from users of the OS. Some say they love it, others are less thrilled.

Now one of the leading experts in web usability, Jakob Nielsen, has decided to conduct a study on Windows 8 usability. What were his findings? Nielson concludes the UI experience is somewhat disappointing. The study took twelve owners that were at least moderately experienced with prior versions of Windows. He had them try out bot the Surface and a regular PC using the new Windows 8 UI.

He concluded that the biggest problems in usability had to do with the duality of Windows 8. In a way you have two very different operating systems running inside the same core. Windows 8 desktop has a very different style and ecosystem from the Windows Store-based Start UI. Having to go back and forth was also considering somewhat detracting to the overall experience.

It seems that most of the negative aspects pointed out by the usability expert is pointed at desktop usage, and he concluded his usability reporting with the following statement:

I have nothing against Microsoft. I happen to think that Windows 7 is a good product and that Windows 8 is a misguided one. I derived these conclusions from first principles of human–computer interaction theory and from watching users in our new research.

One doesn’t have to hate or love a company in order to analyze its UI designs. I’ll stay with Win7 the next few years and hope for better times with Windows 9. One great thing about Microsoft is that they do have a history of correcting their mistakes.

I honestly use Windows 8 daily and I find mixed results with the new UI myself. I like the idea on tablets, and it some ways I like it on desktop, but I understand it won’t appeal to everyone. For a full list of what he complained as the biggest usability problems, check out the source.

The bottom-line is that Microsoft is running forward with this vision, regardless of what some users might think. Years from now when we are accustomed to the changes we might look back and wonder how we lived without the Start UI, in the meantime, some of us will embrace the future and others will be more hesitant.

What do you think, do you like the new Start UI or do you prefer the older desktop style from Windows 7?

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