Windows 8 shocker

Started May 7, 2013 | Discussions thread
Simon Garrett
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Re: If true it's a good step, but Microsoft has other UI problems
In reply to raminolta, May 9, 2013

raminolta wrote:

Simon Garrett wrote:

As malch says, it was entirely predictable and was predicted.  As Tim Cook of Apple said (before the W8 launch) in the FT article malch cited:

"Windows 8 would be like combining a toaster and a fridge – something that, while technically possible, was probably not going to be pleasing to the user."

Win 8 has some good stuff, and if users can banish Metro entirely from a desktop or laptop if they choose then I'd definitely go for it over W7.

But MS has taken a number of poor steps in UI recently.  The ribbon interface, though visually pretty-pretty, is not well thought out.  The UI changes completely as you change the size of the window.  Icons change or disappear.  A function that was on a ribbon suddenly disappears if the window is made a weeny bit smaller.  Placing functions on different tabs is often illogical.  What I hear is that users find it harder to locate functions than with menus, which don't seemingly randomly change in appearance.

In several applications (Office 2013, Visual Studio...), Microsoft has idiotically gone over to USING ALL CAPS IN THE UI.  NOW WHY WOULD THEY DO THAT WHEN EVERY UI EXPERT ON THE PLANET WOULD TELL THEM THAT IT'S A VERY BAD IDEA AND REDUCES READABILITY?

Metro uses large, blobby icons in primary colours.  Hey, we used to do that in the 1980s because we had low-res 16 colour displays and couldn't do any better, not because anyone thought it was a good idea.  Not all retro is good.

MS used to have a large team of world-respected UI experts - have they fired them all, or do we have opinionated people in the design teams that think they know better?

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Simon

Well, if you ask for my opinion, I would say, metro UI is actually better than anything MS has brought to the table in the past. What they failed to anticipate is the amount of resistance from those people who have used Windows in the past and have been reluctant to see even slight changes to the interface: a reluctance mainly at an emotional level.

As per Cook's comment: I don't understand why we need to think whatever Tim Cook (or whoever Apple's CEO is) says has something to do with truth. His statement is more a political statement of a rival than a 'deep observation of a UI theorist'. If he for one cared about a proper UI, he should have banned Apple from the whole absurdity of using iTunes and 'synching' as a method of communication between computer and iphone (I could never grasp of it even after three years of using iPhone). But of course, what Apple didn't care about was an intuitive working UI but instead, forcing masses into using iTunes that is a clear move in creating and expanding an Apple's monopoly on media accessibility. Metro is MS's response to Apple on the same goal: if you want to watch a video or picture or listen to a music, it has to be through our applications and ideally through our online store so that all media consumers become our subsidiary and permanent payers: what a huge amount of profit for us if we receive a percentage for every application someone decides to install on their device (bought through our store) or, for the music they want to listen and, the video they want to watch, etc.. This is the bitter irony: the bad failure of the vast majority of Win 8 critics to see where the actual problem or threat is lying.

I agree with much of your analysis, but not with your conclusions!

There's a great deal of evidence, notwithstanding your preferences, that a large proportion of desktop and laptop users don't like Metro.  They may be "emotional", they may be reluctant, they may be resistant to change, but customers don't have to justify their likes and dislikes.

Tim Cook has an axe to grind, of course.  So do you.  So do I.  But his comments on Metro, biassed or not, chime with those of many critics of W8, which is why malch quoted the article, and why I quoted the specific comment. You may like Metro, but I don't believe a UI designed for bit fat fingers on a small screen works well on a larger screen with keyboard and pointing device.  It throws away the advantage of a high-res screen and high-res pointing device.  Nor is there any compelling logic to suggest the same UI benefits users.  Users cope pretty well with different, appropriate UIs in different contexts.  Even "emotional" users.

However, this isn't about users and user benefit.  I quite agree that Metro is MS's response to Apple's app store and ipad/iphone UI.  But they'll quite possibly fail even on tablets and phones as Android is likely to make a walled-garden for software difficult to sustain.  It offers nothing to users or 3rd-party developers.  And MS are even more likely to fail with Metro on laptops and desktops, as Metro is not a good UI for this context (IMHO, and in the opinion of most users, it would seem).

Hence my opening comment.  Microsoft's failure to persuade these "emotional" users to like Metro was predictable and predicted.

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Simon

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