My Feedback For Windows 8 RRS feed

  • General discussion

  • This post might be too long to read for many people. It is my feedback for Windows 8, and aimed primarily at Microsoft. (It would be nice if ordinary people could get their hands on the feedback tool)


    First, I would like to say that I like the general direction that the OS is heading. There are a lot of innovative features and the OS is certainly bold.

    I realize that this is just a developer preview. However, the first time Microsoft showed us Windows 7, it was pretty much set in stone. I hope that isn’t the case with Windows 8.

    The thing that scares me is that they did not listen to feedback with Windows 7. They showed us what they had done, and when people argued about something, they explained why they did it but did not consider changing anything. That turned out to be ok because Windows 7 wasn’t a radical departure from previous versions. Windows 8 is. Radical changes must be open to feedback.

    The presence of the “Building Windows 8” blog and this forum prove that Microsoft is willing to accept feedback. More importantly, Microsoft needs to be prepared to act on this feedback, not just explain their decisions to us. That means reevaluating decisions, redesigning things, removing things, adding things, and leaving some things just the way they are. Closed door usability studies don’t always give you a clear picture.

    There are usability issues that have to be addressed when using Metro both inside and outside of touch. Microsoft may already have plans to address some of these issues. I just wanted to outline a few because I feel that, by the time the Beta rolls around, it will be too late.

    Task Switching

    1.    Task switching needs to be improved on both touch and non-touch devices. That flick gesture feels like playing a game of chance to try to find the app you want to switch to. You have to roll the dice until you get the app you want to use. Much like Alt+Tab today, I think that this paradigm is good as an alternative way to switch between apps. However, there needs to be a primary way to switch between Metro apps that allows you to get an overview of what is currently running. My suggestion is to bring over the card-based task switching view from Windows Phone Mango.

    2.    You cannot close Metro apps. Yes, I realize that the apps are suspended and don’t impact system resources when not in use. This is a task management issue, not a system resource issue. Having to wade through a bunch of applications that you don’t care about anymore is counter-productive. Users need a way to “close” an app that they are finished with. Behind the scenes, it doesn’t have to really close. All it has to do is be removed from task switching. If a user doesn’t want to worry with closing apps, they won’t have to because it would behave like it already does.


    Everything in the Metro UI seems hidden and difficult to discover. I think that the heart of this issue deals with the fact that we are now facing new paradigms for how to interact with the system. In time, these paradigms will be well known just as the current paradigms are well known. However, since Windows 8 is the first OS to introduce these paradigms, there needs to be some added effort to promote discoverability. Please note that I don’t think there is anything wrong with these paradigms. In fact, I think they are easy to use.

    1.       Swipe from the right and left to access system functions. Swipe from the top and bottom to access application functions. Once someone explains it to you, this is very obvious. However, there are no suggestions or hints on the UI that might prompt you to try these gestures.

    2.       Swipe down to select. To be honest, I’m not sure how you can make this discoverable. This is a very different paradigm that has not been used before. A hint or suggestion on the UI might help.

    3.       Move your mouse over the bottom left of the screen to get the Charms menu. Again, this is not discoverable and needs to have some kind of UI hint to indicate there is something down there.

    4.       Keyboard shortcuts are not discoverable. When you move your mouse over a command, a tooltip should appear indicating the keyboard shortcut. You should also be able to press alt (like in Word and Explorer) to view all of the shortcuts for commands visible on the screen.

    5.       Move your mouse to the left side of the screen to see the next app in the task switching list. Scroll the mouse wheel to change the app. Click to switch to the app. These were also not discoverable because there are no UI hints to indicate you can do any of that.

    Mouse + Keyboard

    With the current state of things, the mouse and keyboard are second class citizens in Metro. I know that Microsoft does not agree with me. I think that the mouse and keyboard could be first class citizens, but there are some usability enhancements that must be made first.

    1.       You have to do a lot of scrolling to navigate around the Metro UI. I think this can be mitigated by making sure certain keyboard/mouse features are supported universally. Some of these work in some apps but support is spotty:

    a.       Mouse scroll wheel: This should always scroll whatever is under the mouse. If it is the start screen or an app, it should cause the screen to scroll horizontally. If the mouse is over a list of some kind, it should scroll the list.

    b.      Home + End: Should always take you to the beginning and end of the scrollable region within the start screen or app. Make sure that the scrolling happens quickly. Right now when I press the home key, it moves quickly. When I press the end key, it slowly scrolls to the end.

    c.       Page Up + Page Down: Should always scroll the scrollable region within the start screen or app one screen at a time. Make sure that the scrolling happens quickly. When I press these keys, the scrolling animation is slow.

    d.      Back: Any program that has a back button or a way to “return” to a previous screen should support the back button.

    e.      Back button on mouse: Any program that has a back button or a way to “return” to a previous screen should support the mouse back button.

    2.       You have to move your mouse around too much. Throughout the Metro UI, many related commands are located far apart. This is ok for touch centric displays, but results in a lot of mouse movement. I’ve written some examples below but they aren’t the only ones I have noticed:

    a.       Right click a Tile to select it. The app bar for the start screen appears at the bottom of the screen with all of the commands positioned towards the right. You have to move your mouse all the way down there to use one of those commands. Adding a context menu that appears under the mouse fixes  this issue.

    b.      Move your mouse to the bottom left and select any of the options. The UI for each of those options opens on the right side of the screen. You have to move your mouse from the bottom left all the way to the right to continue interacting with things. This was obviously designed for touch since the charms menu opens on the right when you swipe in.


    1.       Add a sleep and shut down option to the user menu at the top right of the start screen. There is already a log off option. Settings is not an intuitive place for the shut down option because it is not a setting.

    2.       Add date+time, internet connectivity, and power glyphs next to the user icon on the start screen. The start screen is all about “glance and go” information. You shouldn’t have to interact with the computer to get this information if you are on the start screen.

    3.       Add back buttons to the share and settings charm menus. If you drill into an option from one of these menus, you can’t get back to the top level. You have to go back to the charms menu and select the charm again. The devices screen already has a back button when you go into the “Play To -> Project” command.

    4.       When you unlock a computer, the start screen doesn’t animate in. It just appears. This detracts from the fluid feel of the start screen. It would feel better if the start screen animated in after unlock.

    5.       I am confident that you will be modifying the Aero look of the regular desktop so that it blends in more seamlessly with Metro. If you don’t have plans to do this, please do so. Especially focus on the Start button. It looks out of place next to the nice glass effects of Aero.

    6.       In the Windows 7 start menu, typing in the search box lets you look for anything: applications, files, and settings. In Windows 8, they are divided into separate categories. Add an “All” category that combines the two so you can get the same experience as in Windows 7. Also, add a setting for the search screen that lets you choose to always start the settings screen with the “All” category selected.

    Keep up the good work! Focus on mouse+keyboard usability scenarios and polish. Remember that task management is a fundamental capability where Windows shines. Stay true to the spirit of task management in Windows and give users control when they want it.

    Monday, September 19, 2011 2:42 AM

All replies

  • On Mon, 19 Sep 2011 02:42:45 +0000, LCARSNxG wrote:

    This post might be too long to read for many people. It is my feedback for Windows 8, and aimed primarily at Microsoft. (It would be nice if ordinary people could get their hands on the feedback tool)

    Search the forum for feedback tool. There have been lots of posts that
    include the invitation code required to gain access to the tool on Connect.

    Paul Adare
    MVP - Identity Lifecycle Manager
    Closed loop: A method of execution no longer in vogue except in Iran.

    Monday, September 19, 2011 10:30 AM
  • >Move your mouse over the bottom left of the screen to get the Charms menu.
    >Again, this is not discoverable and needs to have some kind of UI hint to
    >indicate there is something down there.

    Not only is this not discoverable, it's counter-intuitive.  If the user wants to access something on the right, why in the world would they go to the left?

    Monday, September 19, 2011 3:11 PM
  • LCARSNxG , I agree with your "summary" of missing items and interfaces which can be approved (well most of them). I like the new Windows 8 Metro interface a lot and was impressed with the BUILD keynote presentation. Microsoft is moving in the right direction and I see a bright future, but they have to make the interface intuitive and easy to use. Especially the touch vs keyboard/mouse is a challenge. But for the first time I really feel like I would like to own a tablet device I could try Windows 8 on.

    Some suggestions:

    - Popup Animation when you get close to a touch sensitive area (which also explains the mouse/keyboard action to take). Of course these hints should stop after some time or when the user already uses them. 

    - Make F1 work again as a help/tutorial and demo's. Explain ALL shortcuts, movements and click actions.

    - Focus on perfection instead of quantity for the interface, you only get to invent it once and if you do it right others will follow, if you are not perfect others will perfect it and we'll have multiple standards again

    Monday, September 26, 2011 11:33 PM