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Windows 8 Metro Search Has Lowered Utility / Convenience

    Question

  • With Windows 7 if you click Start then type in something, you're presented with several lists of things to choose.  If the very first one's a match, you need only hit return.  VERY efficient.

     

    With Windows 8, Start then typing takes you to the Metro search screen, where you're then presented with a category list of things to search through, and no results at all if the very first category yields no matches.

     

    Since it's pretty obvious the search has already been done (noting the numbers indicating matches in the top several categories), why not populate the page with those results, and make hitting Enter start the first one?

     

    Also note that as far as I can see there's no way to change the order of the categories it presents results for first (though you can hide them).

     

    As it is it's a DEFINITE reduction in ease of use over its predecessor.

     

    -Noel

    Friday, September 16, 2011 4:09 PM

Answers

  • Hi and thanks for your feedback.

    We believe the best way to show search results is to let the App control the presentation. The Search charm uses this model to offer a much broader scope than Windows 7 and to allow each view to evolve to its ideal display format which was previously unsupported by Start Menu Search. Searching Apps, Settings, and Files follows this model giving more room for touch-friendly results and enabling views to be designed for the content.

    With this approach users can focus on a particular search task like launching an app, searching for a movie, or searching the web without results from other apps getting in the way or degrading search performance. Long term, once users learn this approach, we believe this model delivers a powerful and consistent search experience.

    What about efficiency?
    Search has been designed for efficiency. Keyboarding to launch Apps is as efficient as it was in Windows 7; simply begin typing from Start and launch the App you’re looking for. Keyboard shortcuts can be used to jump directly to Settings (Windows key + W) and Files (Windows key + F) from anywhere in the OS. Switching from one App to another in the Search charm is also a big time saver. It is now easy to search for a show to watch in one app and then, if you don’t find it, try again in another app.

    What is the difference between an app and a setting?
    • Apps are launched to complete tasks users will frequently want to do such as consuming content, playing games, creating documents, etc. Apps are found in Start.
    • Settings are launched to set up, change, maintain, and configure the system or windows features. Settings are located in the Settings Charm and the desktop Control Panel.

    Thanks,
    Brian

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011 5:27 PM
  • Note that the Windows 7 start menu didn't allow you to search Twitter or Facebook directly. Windows 8 enables such a possibility via app search. So it is clearly more effective at certain tasks. (That said, I personally agree that an empty screen isn't a good way to display search results no matter how many new possibilities have been opened!)

    In the meantime, please keep in mind that:

    1. The feature set is not complete in Windows 8 Developer Preview
    2. We aren't allowed to comment on the changes we may or may not make in future releases of Windows 8 and beyond.

    Brian was explaining the rationale behind the original design, which clearly some people thought was valid. He didn't say anything was going to change, but he also didn't say it was going to stay the same.

    I'm sorry I can't make any promises, but know that we would not have asked for feedback if we didn't value it.

    (Disclaimer: Even though I work for Microsoft, I'm not involved with this feature at all, and this is just my own personal opinion)

    Thursday, September 22, 2011 10:31 PM

All replies

  • I am also not happy with the new solution and hope that the old behaviour will be back in the final version or its behaviour will be at least mimicated.

    The current behaviour is based on search contracts, so first the appropriate application page needs to be started and shown (here Apps) and than can that particular application start searching as far as that application is capable to. Each application also determines the way how to show you the results. As a result, there is no way how to integrate results from several contracts (applications) into one list. Quite sad.

    Friday, September 16, 2011 4:18 PM
  • Hi and thanks for your feedback.

    We believe the best way to show search results is to let the App control the presentation. The Search charm uses this model to offer a much broader scope than Windows 7 and to allow each view to evolve to its ideal display format which was previously unsupported by Start Menu Search. Searching Apps, Settings, and Files follows this model giving more room for touch-friendly results and enabling views to be designed for the content.

    With this approach users can focus on a particular search task like launching an app, searching for a movie, or searching the web without results from other apps getting in the way or degrading search performance. Long term, once users learn this approach, we believe this model delivers a powerful and consistent search experience.

    What about efficiency?
    Search has been designed for efficiency. Keyboarding to launch Apps is as efficient as it was in Windows 7; simply begin typing from Start and launch the App you’re looking for. Keyboard shortcuts can be used to jump directly to Settings (Windows key + W) and Files (Windows key + F) from anywhere in the OS. Switching from one App to another in the Search charm is also a big time saver. It is now easy to search for a show to watch in one app and then, if you don’t find it, try again in another app.

    What is the difference between an app and a setting?
    • Apps are launched to complete tasks users will frequently want to do such as consuming content, playing games, creating documents, etc. Apps are found in Start.
    • Settings are launched to set up, change, maintain, and configure the system or windows features. Settings are located in the Settings Charm and the desktop Control Panel.

    Thanks,
    Brian

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011 5:27 PM
  • I'm pretty sure we all know the difference between an application and a setting, but it remains much faster to search in Windows 7.

     

    In Windows 8, you're forced to either use the mouse when searching, or deal with the arrow keys on the keyboard.

     

    Don't get me wrong, I love that the searching within an application was added, but you've added button clicks and key presses to just about every process, including the most basic, searching an app from the start menu.


    This is especially ridiculous when you search for a setting and do so by name.  Then there are 0 Apps listed, but you still have to click on the settings button before anything is displayed, and then click on the program you want.  What makes the search so efficient in Windows 7 is that you can launch programs quickly and easily using only the keyboard and Windows 8 makes that a convoluted and much slower process.

     

    If there was an "All" category in the settings that advanced users could turn on to combine Apps Settings and Files (and then have the Application Search Contracts below that), that'd help a lot, but really I'd consider something from back in the original Palm OS days.  It was said that at the time of the original Pilot, Jeff Hawkins would go through everything and count how many taps it took for simple processes.  You should really think about the same for Windows 8, using the keyboard, using the touchscreen, and using the mouse.  You'll find that in that sense, pretty much everything in Windows 8 is less efficient than Windows 7.


    • Edited by JHoff80 Wednesday, September 21, 2011 5:44 PM
    Wednesday, September 21, 2011 5:37 PM
  • JHoff80: I wonder why you see

    "right click and move your mouse over whole screen to get into app bar" instead of "right click and move few pixels to an item in the context menu",

    or

    "move mouse to the bottom left, click Start, type xyz, move mouse over whole screen to the right, select Settings than go through whole window to the left and click on the chosen applet" instead of being forced to "move mouse to the bottom left, click Start, type xyz, move your mouse a bit up and click on the chosen applet" 

    less efficient. It so fast, fluent, impressive, seemless and no-compromise.

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011 5:54 PM
  • Wow, what a response. A user shows you a concrete, easy to understand example of how the new experience is worse than the old experience, and your response is, "It's ok, we believe that the new way is better. So it is."

    With that single post you have destroyed any belief I might have had that Microsoft might actually be willing to listen to and act on user feedback.

    Just...wow.


    Moderator | MCTS .NET 2.0 Web Applications | My Blog: http://www.commongenius.com
    Wednesday, September 21, 2011 6:26 PM
  • Exactly, I no longer can properly participate in this "discussion" we are supposedly having with Microsoft, I've yet to see them admit one thing that they agree they could do better so much so that I'm pretty sure this more a marketing thing than an actual "lets takes on the feedback of devs/users". They are so far into the dev cycle anyway that medium to large changes at this stage are no longer possible anyway, what's the point in commenting then?

    They simply jerking our chain until release and I'm quite frankly bored of it.

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011 6:57 PM
  • After that response, I do have to agree with all this - is it just something done to temporarily appease us here, or are they actually considering anything that's read? Considering the massive (and very strong) feedback that has been received on so many aspects of Windows 8, I truly hope that MS is really, really paying attention.

    Of course, perhaps MS is actually listening attentively - they just don't have the staff assigned to this area to respond; the regular staff don't respond (or they're too busy working to respond ;)). Anyway, there's always hope.

    • Edited by Walkop Wednesday, September 21, 2011 8:37 PM
    Wednesday, September 21, 2011 8:35 PM
  • Hi and thanks for your feedback.

    We believe the best way to show search results is to let the App control the presentation.

    Thanks for your thoughts, Brian.  I understand what you are trying to accomplish - a specific search result presentation depending on the category chosen. 

     

    It's rare and a much appreciated opportunity to have a 2-way dialog with Microsoft, so please allow me to make a suggestion that would make everyone happy, and actually make the Metro search as easy to use as Windows 7:

     

    Would it be so hard to group the first three together (exactly what's done in the Windows 7 Start Menu)?  Something like this, for example?  I can't see how this places the app any less in control and it would nicely solve this significant reduction in functionality.

     

     

    Please allow me to provide one more set of feedback on an issue I noticed while capturing the screens to create the above mock-up.  Today, if you search for "clear", then click Settings, there's NO WAY BACK for a desktop user without a Win key and without a touch panel.  Even Alt-Tab is disabled!  One MUST choose one of the results.  Please make the Escape key work to get out of this.

     

    -Noel

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011 9:45 PM
  • Please allow me to provide one more set of feedback on an issue I noticed while capturing the screens to create the above mock-up.  Today, if you search for "clear", then click Settings, there's NO WAY BACK for a desktop user without a Win key and without a touch panel.  Even Alt-Tab is disabled!  One MUST choose one of the results.  Please make the Escape key work to get out of this.
    CTRL+ESC does the same as the Win Key, or you can move the mouse into the lower left corner which brings up the Charms menu. I do agree that Esc to dismiss search (and other side panels) would seem natural.
    Wednesday, September 21, 2011 10:13 PM
  • CTRL+ESC does the same as the Win Key

    Thank you for that! I wasn't aware of that key combination, nor of the sensitivity of the lower-left corner.

    -Noel

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011 10:47 PM
  • It appears that the path to get to Search is being taken literally - click, click, click...  Microsoft's response indicates shortcut keys: 1) Start (or rather the Window key) and start typing for an application; 2) Window-W and type for settings; 3) Window-F and type for files.  This seems to work very well.  At this stage of use, I like the new search capability and with the snappy response of the system seems to be very quick but the index may not be large yet.
    Thursday, September 22, 2011 1:09 AM
  • Hi and thanks for your feedback.

    We believe the best way to show search results is to let the App control the presentation. The Search charm uses this model to offer a much broader scope than Windows 7 and to allow each view to evolve to its ideal display format which was previously unsupported by Start Menu Search. Searching Apps, Settings, and Files follows this model giving more room for touch-friendly results and enabling views to be designed for the content.

    With this approach users can focus on a particular search task like launching an app, searching for a movie, or searching the web without results from other apps getting in the way or degrading search performance. Long term, once users learn this approach, we believe this model delivers a powerful and consistent search experience.

    What about efficiency?
    Search has been designed for efficiency. Keyboarding to launch Apps is as efficient as it was in Windows 7; simply begin typing from Start and launch the App you’re looking for. Keyboard shortcuts can be used to jump directly to Settings (Windows key + W) and Files (Windows key + F) from anywhere in the OS. Switching from one App to another in the Search charm is also a big time saver. It is now easy to search for a show to watch in one app and then, if you don’t find it, try again in another app.

    What is the difference between an app and a setting?
    • Apps are launched to complete tasks users will frequently want to do such as consuming content, playing games, creating documents, etc. Apps are found in Start.
    • Settings are launched to set up, change, maintain, and configure the system or windows features. Settings are located in the Settings Charm and the desktop Control Panel.

    Thanks,
    Brian

    Please don't justify your stupid approach, just listen to customers. We are going to abandon Windows 8. Windows 7 nailed the UI for deskktop and laptops. Eventually someone would get fired from Microsoft due to putting metro on desktop but it would happen too late after the damage is done, this is what happened with Vista, KIN and many other cases in history.

    You ignore our feedback and defend your stupid decisions instead of listening to your customers.

    Thursday, September 22, 2011 4:32 AM
  • Hi Brian

     

    Building an OS and making everyone happy is simply impossible. Microsoft is also taking some risk with Windows 8 and that's a good thing.

    However I strongly beleive that users using regular PCs (not tablets) will prefer the 'old fashioned' Windows UI.

    The same goes for search results - when using Windows 8 on my PC - I prefer Windows 7 presentation showing search results.

    I also don't think multitasking is handled well with metro UI.

    The same goes when choosing a wifi network. Getting a huge green pane on the right hand side of the screen is innapropriate.

     

    I have a question:

    - When using a tablet - can you pinch to zoom with the regular windows UI?

    Thursday, September 22, 2011 4:14 PM
  • WinKey+W and WinKey+F for searching settings and files, respectively, doesn't seem that bad to me, considering the additional flexibility added with the new search UI.

    (Disclaimer: Even though I work for Microsoft, I'm not involved with this feature at all, and this is just my own personal opinion)

    Thursday, September 22, 2011 4:59 PM
  • I doubt that normal users are about to remember additional hidden shortcuts so for them, the new approach is significantly slower and inconvenient..
    Thursday, September 22, 2011 7:49 PM
  • No, it's not bad per se, but it's CLEARLY LESS EFFECTIVE than Windows 7's Start Menu search.  

     

    Don't you realize that this is a problem?  People are already used to finding things without having to know where to look.  Why does Microsoft feel it can just ignore a precedent they've already set?  Ever hear of "raising the bar"?  Usually that implies that anything less will no longer be acceptable.

     

    -Noel


    • Edited by Noel Carboni Thursday, September 22, 2011 7:53 PM
    Thursday, September 22, 2011 7:52 PM
  • Note that the Windows 7 start menu didn't allow you to search Twitter or Facebook directly. Windows 8 enables such a possibility via app search. So it is clearly more effective at certain tasks. (That said, I personally agree that an empty screen isn't a good way to display search results no matter how many new possibilities have been opened!)

    In the meantime, please keep in mind that:

    1. The feature set is not complete in Windows 8 Developer Preview
    2. We aren't allowed to comment on the changes we may or may not make in future releases of Windows 8 and beyond.

    Brian was explaining the rationale behind the original design, which clearly some people thought was valid. He didn't say anything was going to change, but he also didn't say it was going to stay the same.

    I'm sorry I can't make any promises, but know that we would not have asked for feedback if we didn't value it.

    (Disclaimer: Even though I work for Microsoft, I'm not involved with this feature at all, and this is just my own personal opinion)

    Thursday, September 22, 2011 10:31 PM
  • Ben (and Brian),

    That's fine, but then Brian's response should have been more along the lines of "I can see how the new experience might be less efficient than the old experience in the situation you have highlighted. We will consider this feedback in our planning," instead of (please forgive me for slightly exaggerating in my paraphrase), "Here are all of the reasons why you are wrong, and the new way is clearly better than the old."

    "...know that we would not have asked for feedback if we didn't value it."

    Microsoft has a particularly checkered past in this area, and while recent experience would suggest that the trend is going upward, responses like Brian's don't inspire confidence that our concerns are being given weight.

    Let me put it another way: clearly you guys believe (or have been told to believe (: ) that you have created a great new experience here. And the thing is, you may have. We are still digesting it, and there will undoubtedly be a long adjustment period. We also understand that this is a developer preview, that it is not complete, that a lot may change. But that doesn't mean that every piece of criticism that comes through these forums is an unjustified over-reaction. As you said Ben, you can't tell us what future plans are. So if we see something we don't like, we have to speak up, because we have no idea if you have already thought of it, or if you're planning on doing anything about it. And in cases like this post, where there is a very specific scenario being discussed, giving a canned speech that hits all of the talking points while failing to address the specific concerns just fuels the paranoia that you are not planning to do anything about it.

    I know you guys have taken something of a beating this week (although I know that there has also been a lot of positive reaction too). Just remember that many if not most of us rise and fall with Windows, even if we don't work for Microsoft. This is our careers and our livelihoods we are dealing with; we are going to take everything, even the seemingly little things, very seriously. It is important for Microsoft to take them just as seriously.


    Moderator | MCTS .NET 2.0 Web Applications | My Blog: http://www.commongenius.com
    Thursday, September 22, 2011 11:23 PM
  • I'm sorry I can't make any promises, but know that we would not have asked for feedback if we didn't value it

    I think it's fun either way to discuss new paths and concepts. 

    I like what I see in windows 8 a lot.  I just don't like how the desktop and metro are being mixed.  I don't mind a redesigned desktop menu, but I do mind it being gone.  This means a constant back and forward switching which is not good at all.  It makes no sense to have to leave the desktop to look for something on the desktop.

    I also think it would be a lot better to only have metro apps on the metro screen (the desktop being one such metro app).

    Thursday, September 22, 2011 11:24 PM
  • I see what your talking about, It IS an inconvenience to have to click on a certain category. What I hope they do is show all results and have the categories to narrow down the search. Hope they listen. Also the only way to see my metro/legacy apps is to do Win + F and then click apps I also hope they make a different key combination or location to view all apps. Like so...


    Friday, September 23, 2011 1:22 AM
  • I think it's fun either way to discuss new paths and concepts. 

    I agree! And that's why even now, home from work, I'm here on this forum instead of doing my laundry :-P

    FWIW, my biggest gripe actually wasn't the separation of Apps/Settings/Files, but rather the fact that you can't scroll the list of apps to search via scroll wheel without switching focus away from the search textbox.


    Friday, September 23, 2011 2:11 AM
  • I think it's fun either way to discuss new paths and concepts. 

    I agree! And that's why even now, home from work, I'm here on this forum instead of doing my laundry :-P

    Haha :-)

    I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like to reimagine a product used by like more then a freakin' billion users.  I also can't help but wonder what it is like at this moment inside the redmond campus.  I wonder if what is posted here is repeated on the workfloor, if it is being discussed.  And if it is, is it casual talk during lunch or is it a serious and organised meeting...  Surely the reactions on win8 are the talk of the day at the moment?

    I also think that this is a great example to showcase the actual difference between microsoft and a company like Apple and why microsoft couldn't be like apple even if it wanted to.

    David A Nelson hit the nail on the head...  For a lot of us, windows is not just an operating system.  Windows is the platform where we earn our money.  Living in windows is our job.  The company where I work is all about microsoft.  And we are loving it for sure.  Team foundation server, sql server, windows server, visual studio, office,...   Our entire enterprise runs on microsoft code.  It's great, but it's also very bad.  I don't want it to sound to negative, but you guys basicly have us in a strangling position.  IF microsoft would choose to, they could destroy our company.

    Apple can pretty much do whatever it wants.  They could completely turn OS X around, break every application older then 5 months and not many would really care much.  Because of most of these folks are just using their expensive macs to sync their iTunes with <insert iDevice>. 

    So I think it is very important for microsoft to never forget this fact.  Yes, us developers can start crapping out dozens of metro apps, but let's be serious here...  The business world of tommorow is not gonna run on metro applications.  Some applications might (thinking about some query/reporting app on a tablet), but the vast majority won't.

    There's no reason at all to shoehorn metro into the desktop.

    On a desktop, there is no added value at all about suddenly running applications fullscreen using a touch-first paradigm (big fonts, big buttons,...).

    As said before, I love what you did in win8 but I hate how you have crippled my desktop.

    So to come back to my first paragraphe...  if you are at Redmond campus and find yourself in a conversation with other msft employees (during a luchbreak, at the coffee machine, during a meeting about feedback,...) I can only hope that you would speak up and express/repeat the concerns we raise here.

    What I would like most of all, is for a MSFT employee who is responsible for mixing metro with desktop to come in here and explain msft's reasoning for crippling the desktop.

    To me, it feels very much as "mixing it for the sake of mixing it".  It doesn't make any sense and (as seen in this forum) it seriously overshadows all the great work that has been done.

    Friday, September 23, 2011 7:03 AM
  • Why can't we have a search box right on the Start screen? Why do we gave to go any where to search at all?
    Monday, November 14, 2011 4:20 AM
  • Note that the Windows 7 start menu didn't allow you to search Twitter or Facebook directly.


    Brian was explaining the rationale behind the original design, which clearly some people thought was valid. He didn't say anything was going to change, but he also didn't say it was going to stay the same.

    I'm sorry I can't make any promises, but know that we would not have asked for feedback if we didn't value it.

     

    Twitter and Facebook.... 3rd party apps have allowed it for years and WHO CARES?  The last thing i want is my users doing is installing viruses and browsing Facebook.

     

    It's examples like this are what I find upsetting... Windows 7's start menu and ability to support many open apps, see all of them, and rapidly switch to the app I actually want, are far more important.  Windows 8 fails on many levels, most things take me more steps to do in my normal work and the start screen is jarring and overbearing.  I want to launch an app to talk with a coworker online.... I shouldn't have to loose the screen I'm on to start an app that needs only a small footprint.

     

    The start screen is s travesty, forcing me to run all "metro" apps full screen is stupid.  If I want to run the app in a window LET ME!  MS got where it is by empowering users not crippling the way they want to work.  Metro takes control and it means I need to develop for 2 UI's and my versions can't communicate... twice the work so I won't loose my existing user base and my user base uses things like drag and drop... which metro kills.

     

    MS keeps defending Metro and a tablet/touch interface for desktops which is inefficient and less powerful and we really don't feel like you're listening to valid issues.  


    • Edited by Bladehawk Monday, November 14, 2011 5:56 AM
    Monday, November 14, 2011 5:55 AM
  • Why can't we have a search box right on the Start screen? Why do we gave to go any where to search at all?

    Because for that to happen MS would have to admit that their design is flawed and their paradigm is broken.  I see a lot of people that dislike metro and showing it to friends (including 2 technophobes) NONE of them found it compelling or even attractive.

     

    I've got a lot of concerns about metro turning my desktop into an ad platform (streaming ads to the tile is straightforward from what I can see) and I really hate where windows is going and MS giving generic responses when we point out shortcomings in concrete terms makes me feel like they are living in some kind of fantasy land where people that can demonstrate design shortcomings must be wrong because MS has telemetry data (and drew poor conclusions from it).


    • Edited by Bladehawk Monday, November 14, 2011 6:04 AM
    Monday, November 14, 2011 6:03 AM
  • There are other deficiencies as well. Like you can only search for "files" on the Windows 8 Start Screen whereas the Windows 7 Start Menu also returned "Folders". Like this image shows. Why are folders not shown in search results on the Start Screen??

    Microsoft's reasoning to split the search results across "Files", "Settings" and Apps" is they want more search results and more details about search results to be displayed. However, this reasoning itself is flawed. Users search to narrow down or filter items. It is very unlikely that users *want* to see these many search results items split across categories because they typed a search term in the first place to clear out the clutter.



    • Edited by xpclient Monday, November 14, 2011 7:16 AM
    Monday, November 14, 2011 7:07 AM
  • Yeah, it's basically stepping back to an earlier time.  As though no one will notice.

    It's becoming ever more clear that this is all in pursuit of the least-technical users out there, in the hopes of marketing things to billions of them via the App Store.

    Comments like the following seem to count for nothing...

    The last thing i want is my users doing is installing viruses and browsing Facebook

    As many corporate users and power users as there are, Microsoft appears to be ignoring all of us in pursuit of the much larger market of casual, non-technical users who only want to entertain themselves with Windows.  It's a shame, really.  Windows had actually become a serious operating system.

    -Noel

    Monday, November 14, 2011 3:42 PM