About Windows 8: It’s the Interface, Stupid.

Microsoft has plenty of reasons to worry about Windows 8. Despite the hundreds of millions of dollars the company is spending on marketing, initial surveys of IT buyers suggest a reception that’s cool at best.

Windows 8 Start ScreenLast quarter, about 24 percent of more than 1,200 North American and European hardware purchasers said they had no plans to migrate to Windows 8, though they expect they will at some point. David Johnson of Forrester Research, which conducted the survey, said only 4 percent of respondents intend to upgrade in the next 12 months.

Most IT shops are still in the midst of Windows XP to Windows 7 migrations, and Windows 7 is good enough for most. But, could there be an even more fundamental problem with the new OS that’s literally staring us in the face?

That candy-colored interface that Microsoft is so proud of has left some tech veterans scratching their heads. For consumers, a colorful home screen full of pretty photos, friends’ smiling faces, Twitter updates and weather reports may be just the thing, but for office workers in a world built around files and folders, and who’ve seen that world mirrored on their screens for the past 20 years, it’s hard not to wonder whether the tile-based approach is relevant to their daily needs. Even Steve Jobs liked files and folders, after all. And while you can opt out of the tile interface, it never really goes away.

I’ve spent many years in offices full of files and folders but, sad to say, I’ve never worked in an office full of candy colors and constantly smiling people.

Meanwhile, Microsoft should also be concerned that Jakob Nielsen, widely regarded as the final arbiter of all things interface-related, gives Windows low marks.

One of the worst aspects of Windows 8 for power users is that the product’s very name has become a misnomer. “Windows” no longer supports multiple windows on the screen. Win8 does have an option to temporarily show a second area in a small part of the screen, but none of our test users were able to make this work. Also, the main UI restricts users to a single window, so the product ought to be renamed “Microsoft Window.”

Neilsen says he has “great hopes” for Windows 9 on mobile and tablets. Windows 7 was “Vista done right,” so he believes it’s likely that Windows 9’s touch-screen version will be ‘Windows 8 done right.”

That leaves us to ask Microsoft when it thinks Windows 9 might be ready for a sneak peak.

11 Responses to “About Windows 8: It’s the Interface, Stupid.”

  1. naval arya

    I have to agree the tile interface doesn’t make sense for a desktop user. None one is going to touch their screen when they are working on a desktop.

    Tile interface is more suited to tablet environment. MS would have to eventually separate the two system if they want to windows to remain in market.


  2. I was about to buy a new HP Envy laptop, that is until I read reviews about Windows 8. I instead opted for a slightly older refurbed dv7 that had the same processor (and cost exactly the same) as the Envy, solely because it had Windows 7 pre-installed. I would have liked the Envy’s backlit keyboard, but oh well…

  3. I think you are all missing the point. There is a Desktop mode in Windows 8. I use Windows 8 in a day to day basis. I develop code, prepare proposals, edit my blog, spending more than 10 hours in it… I dont have any complaints till now… opening “multiple” windows? Well I can understand 2 windows at a time – one to to refer and the other one to work on (and there is Snap feature for that)…

  4. I thought it was, “It’s the stupid interface.” Wow, look at all the pretty squares! What shall I waste my time on first? What Microsoft monkey thought this one up? Bad monkey! I kinda like the touchscreen, but the mouse is easier to use. Instead of reinventing the wheel, Microsoft, why don’t you innovate something?

  5. The Windows 8 interface is quite a shock initially. It reminds me of the introduction of the “Start” button in Windows (anyone else remember the “Start me up” ad campaign?). Not that that was much of an interface change in comparison to Windows 8.

    Windows 8 is intended for people who always leave shortcuts sitting on their (cluttered) desktop. Anyone who buys a Windows 8 computer without buying a touch screen is nuts.

    BTW, you CAN order HP products with downgrade rights…… We did that a lot for people who didn’t want VISTA. I suspect the same thing is going to happen again. People have just now figured out that Windows 7 is OK (after 2 years), and are willing to give up their beloved Windows XP. Businesses don’t want the latest and greatest fad, they want to be sure that the OS works.

    Yeah, Windows 9 might be the one to wait for.

  6. All Microsoft has to do is to come up with SP1 for Windows8 for people who liked Windows7 or for business users and Desktop tile should take you to full Windows7 familiar interface, with Start button, quick shutdown, Computer , My documents and Control panel access.
    This should be so easy to do.
    I’m using a third party free software that does it,
    and I’m very happy with it.

  7. Win 8 is “classic” MS craziness. Rather than refine an existing product; introduce new features, improve existing features, eliminate bugs, they completely reinvent the UI or OS, forcing users to “deal with it” or stay with what they know.

  8. Punk Sandwich

    I’m starting to think XP was the golden age of Microsoft … 7 showed few improvements, took away useful features, wasted a lot of space with un-customizable ribbons, slower, freeze & hang, etc etc … and now this? Gaudy colored tiles that make my eyes hurt.

    Did Microsoft do a survey that says most computer users are stupid and, therefore, we shall make this interface for babies?

    And the only way they can sell it is with people dancing like crazy monkeys with their tablets.

    With all the user feedback and surveys, you just trash what we want and develop crap.