Windows 8’s disappointing usability

Here’s a summary of Jakob Nielsen’s study on Windows 8:

Hidden features, reduced discoverability, cognitive overhead from dual environments, and reduced power from a single-window UI and low information density. Too bad.

To say that the study is not favorable would be a huge understatement. It’s also worthwhile to read Gruber’s comments on the study, especially the last sentence.

  • True story. Windows 8 installed on a PC connected to a 70″ Sharp touchscreen TV.

    Without the Sharp screen pen or the mouse connected to the PC, the UI was utterly unusable by touching the screen, as the ‘touch optimized OS” touch targets were still to small. Watching a coworker and a client accidentally close, drag, click on the wrong target, close opened windows, open unwanted items… I am ashamed to say it made me smirk like Hell.

  • adrianoconnor

    I respect Nielsen, and his opinion holds a lot of weight amongst programmers and usability experts. However, it’s interesting to go back and read what he said about the iPad when that was released:

    The world was a different place for tablets then, but his opinion still didn’t quite fit with my experience of the iPad. Also, it proves that a damning early critique doesn’t necessarily offer any insight to how successful the product might be ;o)

  • “cognitive overhead from dual environments” is a fancy way of saying he thinks people are too stupid to learn the new UI. W8 has problems, but I thought some of these were bogus. The one Gruber picked out was problematic: the way it’s written makes it sound like Nielsen pinned 4 tiles and then asked some random people to find them, and apparently they couldn’t (however 3 of them were very obvious to me, they had clear icons on them). Is that a realistic use case? Are you likely to install an application and then forget you even did, then forget where you pinned it and be frustrated that the Live Tile doesn’t say the name but only shows the icon? Isn’t a person not knowing what the icon looks like a separate issue, not only to windows 8? In addition, if these are genuine concerns, isn’t it the developer’s fault for not making their Tile clear, and nothing to do with Microsoft?

    This kind of bashing just annoys me because there are real and bigger problems with the OS that people should be picking on, not bullshit ones just to pad a blog post. Sometimes people need to learn a new UI. That’s just the way it has to be, otherwise everyone would be stuck on 80s software.

    • kibbles

      no… cognitive overhead from dual environments means there’s no way my dad is going to remember “which windows” he needs to be in to do various tasks.

      • your dad isn’t that slow. Give him some credit.

  • A UX buddy and ex-Microsoft employee who is known for bashing Microsoft had a lengthy response worth the read: Jakob Nielsen is not your Windows 8 Guru heres why.