Some initial thoughts...

    General discussion

  • When I first saw the Building "Windows 8" - Video #1 back in June, I was really excited about Windows 8 and Microsoft's future on tablet devices.  In fact, I haven't been this excited about a Microsoft technology since .NET was announced a decade ago.

    But now that I've used it a bit, I've noticed that Windows 8 has some serious usability problems.

    First, as has been discussed elsewhere in this forum, there is no way to close an application within the Metro UI.  This needs to be fixed.

    Second, task-swapping is cumbersome.  Swiping apps from the left works fine if you only have a few apps open.  But what you have more?  As I type this on my Win7 machine, I have 11 apps open and this is a relatively light session.  What if I have 20 apps open?  It could take as many as 20 swipes until I get the app that I want.  Isn't there some way to add WP7 Mango's 'card' metaphor to Win8?

    Third, the Start menu is severely crippled.  It's missing most of the functionality of Windows 7’s Start menu.  Gone are the Programs, Documents, Music, Pictures, Games, etc.  You can no longer start a program from the Start menu.  Nor can you run a command.  In fact, clicking on the Start button doesn't bring up the Start menu.  Instead, it takes you back to the Metro UI.  Microsoft needs to restore the Windows 7's Start menu.

    Fourth, the Start screen is an endless tile of apps which is worse than iOS's endless grid of apps.  The weird thing is that Microsoft was able to solve this usability problem in WP7.  In WP7, all apps are accessible in at least one of two ways:

    1. Through the applications menu
    2. Through a Live Tile. 

    You can put your most commonly used apps on your Start screen for easy access, while still having access to a menu with all of your apps sorted alphabetically.  Unfortunately, Win8 doesn't support the concept of an applications menu.  Everything is now a tile.  Since tiles are bigger than icons, and there are far more apps for Windows than any other platform, you will now have a hugely long interface that requires lots and lots of scrolling.

    There are other things, too.  For example, I had trouble figuring out how to go back in IE.  I figured it out, but it seems like MS is trying too hard to be different instead of trying to be consistent.  In desktop mode, IE's Back button is on the top.  In Metro, it’s on the bottom.  There’s no consistency.  When I use my iPad, it’s a different device, a different OS, so I expect things to be different.  But in Win8, it’s not just inconsistent with previous versions of Windows, it’s inconsistent with itself. 
    Like I said, I was really excited about Windows 8.  But now that I've used it, there are some serious usability issues.  Hopefully, Microsoft will address these issues.  If not, I don't think that this is going to be successful either the desktop or the tablet markets. 

    • Edited by I-DotNET Thursday, September 29, 2011 1:50 PM Added italics to clarify when I refer to the Start menu versus the Start screen.
    Sunday, September 18, 2011 10:48 PM

All replies

  • I have couple of suggestions for you.

    "First, as has been discussed elsewhere in this forum, there is no way to close an application within the Metro UI. This needs to be fixed"

    most of the time, it should not be required. but you can always close any app from task manager(ctrl+shift+esc) and then end the app.

    "Second, task-swapping is cumbersome."

    Keep Alt+tab  pressed, it shows all runningapp,you  can swtch to whichever one you want.

    "Microsoft needs to restore the Windows 7's Start menu."

    could you explain why? Windows+R gives you run dialog. and Windows+F gives you search.

    1. "
      Through the applications menu
    2. Through a Live Tile. "

    thats same for Windows 8 as well, search app gives you all apps - thats same as application menu .if you’re already at the Start screen, just start typing. As soon as you do, the Search pane opens and begins accepting your input. (If you’re at the classic Windows desktop, tap the Windows key to jump to the Start screen and then start typing.)



    • Edited by DigitalCasper Monday, September 19, 2011 6:11 AM added more details
    Monday, September 19, 2011 2:38 AM
  • Windows 8, if it is to be successful, needs to provide a great user experience out of the box.

    Sure, there are ways around some of these problems, but this isn't 1995 anymore.  It's no longer realistic to expect end users to memorize arcane keyboard shortcuts to get around basic usability issues.  Not to mention that many of these devices won't have keyboards.

    If a user spends 5 minutes trying to figure out how to do basic tasks, we've just created a negative experience for the user.  Why are consumers going to buy a product if they have a negative impression of it?

    What I would like to hear from Microsoft are two things:

    1. Yes, we are aware of these issues.
    2. We are working to resolve them.



    Monday, September 19, 2011 11:00 AM
  • “Microsoft is monitoring these forums for issues and concerns.  This will be reported up so that the right people are made aware of your concern.”
    Wednesday, September 21, 2011 11:25 PM
  • Hi there.  Just wanted to see if I could shed a little light on the concerns you brought up about the new Start menu and applications launching.  The design of the new Start menu is that you keep the applications you most pinned there.  The model differs a little from the phone, but a lot of the same concepts apply.  One difference is that newly installed apps are pinned by default.  If you install an application but find you don't use it regularly, you can easily unpin it by selecting it (swipe down on it, or right-click), and choosing "unpin" from the App Bar at the bottom of the screen.

    You can see an alphabetical listing of all installed apps by clicking on the Search "charm" without entering a query.  How you access this depends on your input mechanism:

    Touch: Swipe from the right, tap Search.
    Mouse: Put your mouse in the lower-left corner of the screen, then click Search on the hover menu that appears.
    Keyboard: Press Win+C to bring up the charms menu the arrow to Search.  Or just press Win+Q.  Or, you can start typing anytime while you're at the Start screen if you want to filter the view based on what you're looking for.


    As for the UI of the Metro browser, I would say that there are principles and goals which outweigh what you describe as "consistency."  For example, Metro experiences are designed to be touch-first.  Putting controls like Back at the bottom makes them more accessible when working with a tablet device, given the common ways of holding such a device.  This is very important for a Metro experience, but it is not necessarily a goal for desktop experiences.  Forcing one to be like the other for "consistency" would actually mean compromising one of these designs.  By adapting to the primary target form factor, many consider this sort of inconsistency to be a virtue.

    You can read a lot more detail about the design of the Metro browsing experience (and the "duality" of the browser) here at the Building Windows 8 blog.

    I hope that gives you some background on the design choices you see in the Developer Preview.  Of course, it's very important to remember that this is in fact a developer preview and not a finished or even beta product.  Everyone on the team is watching for feedback like yours and while one way we can respond is by attempting to clarify the design (as I've tried to do here), we also are not yet finished with our work and value your input a great deal :)

    • Edited by Brandon Paddock Wednesday, September 28, 2011 9:37 PM Add blog link.
    Wednesday, September 28, 2011 9:30 PM
  • Even with touch first - I had difficulties to find that start bar (it is hardly accessible on a Fujitsu T900 machine).

    The problem is, that there is a lot not intuitive to be found for experienced Windows users (and who is nowadays not an at least semi experienced Windows user?).

    What is the problem to add a close icon to an app or keep a button/or even one of the screens in the start area reserved to show all running apps and quickly select one of them as replacement for Task Manager and Alt-Tab?

    And there are still too often situations, in which I have to turn the machine from tablet mode to keyboard mode because I reached a dead point, which requires me to use some keys.

    (TrueSuite finger print software did not allow me to enter password in tablet mode for example, but it didnt accept my finger prints either later.)

    Too many drivers had to be installed manually using the Fujitsu software in Windows 7 compatibility mode, even if adequate drivers for Windows 7 are offered by Windows Update.

    TBH, I am a bit afraid, that Microsoft goes the same way like with the much hated ribbons in MS Office 2007 - cut the old UI and press the new into the market, independend from what the users want and ignoring the concerns of the testers. Users usually want a choice. (And I am sure, Microsoft does not want, that users choice would be Windows 7 instead of classic or touch UI within Windows 8.)

    Best greetings from Germany

    Thursday, September 29, 2011 10:05 AM
  • TBH, I am a bit afraid, that Microsoft cut the old UI and press the new into the market, independend from what the users want and ignoring the concerns of the testers. Users usually want a choice.
    +1 well said.

    "A programmer is just a tool which converts caffeine into code"

    Thursday, September 29, 2011 12:30 PM
  • ...Users usually want a choice.

    This is something I don't understand why many folks don't seem to grasp this.  More "choice" means more people are statisfied and more customers will be available to you.

    I see comments like "you don't need to close Metro apps" as if I'm supposed to accept that explanation as "all knowing" and be quiet and like it.  Here's a concept I wished Microsoft (and others) would understand:  I WANT to close my apps, whether they be Metro or not when I'm done with them.  Why is this so hard to understand?  Give me the choice to do this.  If I choose to switch away to a different Metro app, then fine, leave the Metro app I was running suspended in memory.  But give me the choice to close it.  Since Metro apps get suspended if you do something else, you can't multitask anyway, so I'm going to do what I want to do in them one at a time and want them closed when I'm done.  Yeah, they suposedly don't take any CPU's cycles when they are suspended, but they do take up memory and if I've run 25 Metro apps since I last rebooted and have to ALT-TAB through all 25 to find the one I want if I wish to cycle through them.  That's just plain disfunctional.  It's obvious Metro is designed to only do 1 thing at a time, so why is it so hard to understand that I, and maybe others, want to close them when we're done running them?

    As far as the Metro 'tiles', I find this interface to resemble a child's toy.  (I keep looking for the Fisher Price logo on the screen.)  I'm not sure how anyone can look at a bunch of colored squares and rectangles and not think they've been warped back to some kind of 1990 retro DOS menu system.  This is like comparing the cheesy "Mario" graphics on a Wii to Gears of War or something on an xbox.  Where are the cool 3D high color icons with transparency, etc.?  Why not make it "look" good?  But with regard to functionality, why there isn't a "choice" to swipe up a menu system that resembles my current Windows 7 destkop menu is not clear to me.  I don't want to swipe left and right 15 times just to find the square box I need to click on to run an app.  A single fly out menu system that has everything on 1 screen is so much more functional for me, so why not have this option?  But it seems obvious it's not going to change because Microsoft apparently wants everyone's computer to look and function like a cell phone.  It seems Microsoft got stuck in the thought process somewhere that they MUST make Windows 8 look and work like it's a Windows phone.  I don't get that, but fine, go ahead and do that.  But why not add more choices into it just in case I actually run it on a desktop computer and don't want to function like I'm holding a cell phone?  Which actually is what I want to do with Windows 8.  I mean if all I want to do is browse the internet, read my web mail, or play Angry Birds, I'll either use my existing cell phone or a stupid iPad.  Why would I want to re-purchase equipment and pay for an operating system like Windows 8 to do simple tasks that I'm already doing?  This is something I hope Microsoft recognizes and they don't forget to put the beef in Windows 8 for folks who use "real" computers.


    Thursday, September 29, 2011 1:33 PM
  • @ Brandon Paddock

    You explained perfectly why Windows 8 will be unacceptable for desktops.

    Thursday, September 29, 2011 3:09 PM
  • "As far as the Metro 'tiles', I find this interface to resemble a child's toy. (I keep looking for the Fisher Price logo on the screen.) I'm not sure how anyone can look at a bunch of colored squares and rectangles and not think they've been warped back to some kind of 1990 retro DOS menu system."

    What he said.

    Unfortunately for me, i haven't spent as much time as i would have prefered using the DP, because frankly, looking at those tiles makes me feel slightly nauseas. I just hate the site of it to the point that i want to look away or change activity. Maybe this is partly related to feeling uncomfortable with a UI for the first time in my life. When i first looked at early pictures of WIMP (windows, icons, mouse and pull-down menu) interfaces many years ago, i understod how it worked before i'd even seen a Mac, but with this new interface i feel uneasy for the first time i can recall, and i feel uneasy about feeling uneasy, in a cascading like manner...

    To say something slightly more constructive, if on a scale of 1-7, the ideal touch interface in terms of element sizes and interaction was defined as 4, then Explorer/Desktop/Win32_apps would be about 2, and Metro/apps about 6. Regardless of input method, the 'legacy' start menu is not really much improved on a "1990 retro DOS menu system", and of the 4 corners it could have been placed in, the bottom-left corner is/was the worst possible in terms of kinesthetics, and tied with the bottom-right, in terms of contradicting our commonsense view of the physical world. That is, pull-up menus "contradict" gravity. On the other hand, Metro tiles are bigger than strictly necessary (as well as creating a toy-like look), and the off-screen grid introduces its own usability issues. Where is the happy medium?

    To all those who say "Metro is the future", i simply say this. The future is what the future will be, not what you or some high-status group at Microsoft say it will be.


    • Edited by Drewfus Thursday, September 29, 2011 11:00 PM typo
    Thursday, September 29, 2011 3:25 PM
  • Brandon,

    I have Windows 8 Developer preview running on a Zoostorm SL8 tablet and also on my laptop, so that I can compare the usability from both perspectives. Like a lot of people here I have lambasted Metro because it absolutely does not work on a standard desktop PC or laptop.

    From a desktop PC user's perspective, Microsoft need to have a control panel applet that allows you to turn the Metro UI off and turn the Windows Start Menu on. Once you do that everything starts to look and behave better. I do like all the under the hood improvements you have made to memory usage, new file copying dialogs, new Explorer and EFI Boot stuff. In themselves that would sell Windows 8 for me, though you may have difficulty getting non-technical users to go for it?

    From a tablet user's perspective the desktop mode is poor and I can see why Apple with IOS and Google with Android have moved away from the pointer driven paradigm and made the UI more usable with a finger.  Metro is definitely better from a finger usability point of view but it has a lot of annoyances:

    1.    Metro Apps cannot be closed - THE MOST ANNOYING THING.

    2.    Discoverability - If you are going to drop this O/S on non-technical users, you must provide some form of help whilst in the Metro interface so that non-technical users can find out how to make things work. I am technical and could not discover how to shut down the tablet without doing a search on the net!? When you are in applications like IE10 Metro it is not obvious how you open and access multiple tabs. I know I could press the power button but that just seems wrong to me I want to be able to do it through the O/S itself.

    3.    Comments from non-technical users I have shown the Metro UI to have been as follows:
                a)  It looks very flat and boring.
                b)  How do you close the application.
                c)  It isn't user friendly (that was my 21 year old daughter who used to be a Mac user and now uses a Windows 7 PC for facebook and Internet).
                d)  The Metro styled applications are designed to look good not work (daughter again).
                e)  I need to be able to close down all the running applications so that I don't have to swipe through 10 closed apps to get to the one I want.

    4.    ALT+TAB and swiping is a pain when you have hundreds of closed (not) apps running.

    5.    Only being able to have two Metro Apps running on screen is hopeless, they should behave like normal Windows and be sizeable and able to overlap.

    6.    Trying to have one UI for both desktop and tablet is wrong. Maybe have it as an either/or option when you install it and have a switch in control panel so that it can be reveresed, but the transitions between desktop and metro are not good.

    Having used a tablet for a while, I cannot see there is any point making them any more than a web browser and for running lightweight applications, as anything that needs more precision in terms of keyboard input or the accuracy of a mouse is better suited to the Aero interface. I cannot imagine using one for doing serious writing or spreadsheets. For lounging on the sofa and catching up on blogs and slashdot they are great.

    Which is a bit of a quandry as you really need a Metro Style interface for tablets and Aero for desktops. So the questioon is, are MS putting both interfaces into Windows 8 and making it a switchable so that you can install Windows 8 on anything and just switch on the appropriate interface, or are you really trying to convice us that this dual personality can work?

    I think if you are and it stays like it is this will go the way of Windows ME and Vista.


    Graham Sivill - Martley, Worcester. UK
    Thursday, September 29, 2011 7:41 PM
  • Like I said, I was all gung-ho to develop Win8 Metro apps.  But now I'm not so sure, and the question I'm struggling to answer is this: Do I want to invest the next year of my life learning and writing Win8 Metro apps, only for the platform to bomb?
    Thursday, September 29, 2011 10:27 PM