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Windows 8.1: 8 Things I Hate About You
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cafzali
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cafzali,
User Rank: Moderator
8/18/2014 | 10:31:54 AM
the wisdom of a single interface
Maybe it's just me, but I never understood how Microsoft thought a single interface, spanning different types of devices and interaction types, was going to work. It seems to me that in its quest to prove it can still innovate, Microsoft tries to convince us that they're ushering in a trend, when in fact they're giving users a "feature" they don't want. 

The computer and software industry hopefully by now understands that people who buy a conventional PC don't want a touchscreen environment because those devices are geared more for productivity than information browsing, which is the main strength of a tablet. That distinction should play a big role in guiding the way an OS is designed for consumer interaction. But, in its quest to come up with one product, Microsoft completely ignored that fact. To me, such an oversight is beyond baffling. 
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
8/18/2014 | 11:31:06 AM
Re: the wisdom of a single interface
It's not you. MSFT is just full of hubris. It is that arrogance which allows them to think that they can throw anything out there and the market will adjust to their wishes. There is a reason why millions of regular and corporate users have not switched from XP. And I won't switch from Win7. I'll go to Apple first before I screw around with 8.x
Mark532010
IW Pick
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Mark532010,
User Rank: Strategist
8/18/2014 | 1:39:11 PM
Re: the wisdom of a single interface
Most of the problems are anoyances but really do annoy.

The review doesn't even mention non-UI related things, like the removal of backup, the inability to fully uninstall apps (they only uninstall for the current person, to actually uninstall you have to use powershell) or the inability of TileWorld apps to access network drives.

One UI thing not mentioned is the dissapearance of the UI when in "TileWorld" (great name!) My wife recently accidentally started a full screen app and had to wait for me to come home to figure out how to get out of it. I showed her how if she ran the mouse up to the upper right corner and waited for a couple of seconds a "close X" would appear or a desktop tile in the upper left, she said "how would I have ever known that an invisible thing would appear? am I supposed to run my mouse around the screen randomly hoping something nonsensical would happen?"

As for the start screen...In my case, by constant (and manual) pruning, I have got the start screen to the point where I can use it..but what a waste! Microsoft really wanted to force people to dump desktop - no way to add desktop apps easily, there are no tools for managing the tiles - how hard would it have been to make a wizard that adds the primary .exe to the main start screen and all the readme's/uninstallers/etc. to the "full apps" screen...there is not even a converter for the details and multi-select items in the games-explorer - In their drive to try and capture some of the "iPad market" it really seemed like Microsoft just wanted to ignore the rest of us completely.

 
OldNHMan
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OldNHMan,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/18/2014 | 2:29:36 PM
Re: the wisdom of a single interface
The biggest problem Microsoft has is they they don't really understand human nature, particulaly in regards to some conventions when it comes to user interfaces.

I deal with UI's in my job as a design engineer and it never ceases to amaze me just how bad some of them are. Oh, they look pretty but the learning curve for using them can be steep, even with experienced users. That sours the user experience with otherwise great equipment and it doesn't sell well. And so it is with Microsoft.

The first inkling that major changes in their UI came with Office 2007/2010. Users with years of experience with previous versions of Office had to spend a lot of time trying to figure out where functions they used on a regular basis had been moved to or whose functionality had been changed. If experienced users have trouble using something with a "New and Improved!" user interface, then the new UI is a failure. A Ui us supposed to make things easier, not harder.


When Windows 8 came out my first thought was "Why are they using a tablet interface on a PC?" Nothing was easy to do or easy to find. It was such a major shift in UI that many abandoned it and went to using Win 7. If you're going to change an interface, make changes that ease use of an already good interface. Add some functionality, make other tasks easier, and include some customization. Small changes are easier to deal with, particularly with experienced users. Over time the shift can be made to a 'new' interface.


Just because some coder or techie somwhere thinks an entirely redesigned UI is great doesn't mean the other 99.99% of users will agree. More often than not they won't. Changing a UI for change's sake is never a good idea. Change them to correct a deficiency or to add some function that didn't exist before. Don't change it because "It's cool!"
cafzali
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cafzali,
User Rank: Moderator
8/18/2014 | 2:48:57 PM
Re: the wisdom of a single interface
@OldNHMan I completely agree with the sentiment of your post. Only thing I would add is that Microsoft isn't the only company that does this. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it's rampant in the technology industry. 

Apple thinks of itself as the king of design, yet there have been many aspects to their products that I've personally not found intuitive. That's because, in my opinion, they go overboard in thinking about design and don't think enough about intuitive design. It's almost as if they've gotten people to proudly wear this badge of courage once they figure out how to use their products. 

Now, in terms of functionality and reliability, Apple products are great. 
OldNHMan
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OldNHMan,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/18/2014 | 3:07:22 PM
Re: the wisdom of a single interface
@cafzali, While my comments were targeted primarily at Microsoft, my experience with UI's covers a wide range of equipment.

One of my company's biggest competitors came out with a new version of a piece of test equipment that performed better than anything we or other competitors had at the time, but it didn't sell because the UI was so poorly designed it was difficult to use. A user shouldn't have to open the user manual just to figure out how to turn it on, should they?

While our equipment didn't meet or beat its performance by any means, it was easy to use because the UI was designed to make it so. A novice could get the equipment up and running in a few minutes and start testing shortly after that without the need to break out the user's manual.

Our competitor finally figured out its UI was terrible and fixed it, though it still wasn't as user friendly as it might have been. After that they started selling units, though overcoming the stigma of being difficult to use still stung them for quite a while.


Any OS or piece of equipment or whatever should always have been "usability tested", meaning give the new UI to both experienced users and newbies. If it's a struggle for either group it needs to be fixed. If it's a struggle for both, it needs to be scrapped and started from scratch.
cafzali
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cafzali,
User Rank: Moderator
8/18/2014 | 3:22:23 PM
Re: the wisdom of a single interface
@OldNHMan I completely agree about testing and it's not like Microsoft doesn't do it, which makes some of their choices ever the more baffling. 
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
8/20/2014 | 1:51:34 PM
Re: the wisdom of a single interface
I think Microsoft clearly made the wrong bets with Windows 8. That said, at least some of the hubris being discussed in this thread appears to have involved the Sinofsky/Ballmer regime more than Microsoft in its current form. I still have hope that the new Myerson/Nadella pairing will make better calls. As some have pointed out, they need to address not only the aesthetic and UI (which it sounds like they might be-- with desktops booting to a desktop, tablets booting to tiles, the removal of Charms, the return of the Start menu, and other changes coming in "Threshold"), but also IT annoyances-- managing and installing apps, etc. If they get the next version of Windows right, and then give it away to both Win 7 and Win 8 users, I think they can erase a lot of ill will. If the next version isn't a big improvement (Some people seem concerned about the new, Tile-infused Start menu, for example), that'll be a different story.
ExplEngineer01
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ExplEngineer01,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/20/2014 | 5:43:05 PM
Re: the wisdom of a single interface
Bottom line is that Win8.x is just "Vista Revisited". Microsoft is getting soft. What we need them to do is to lose their belief that buyers of new computers are not customers or clients, but only joining a group of (involuntary Beta-Testing subject). They think that we have forgotten "GIGO (for the Millenials, that is Garbage In, Garbage Out). One would think that after the Vista fiasco, and with so many folks, corporations, etc. or opting for Win7 OS computers, that they had once again missed the boat, and start all over again, and agree to support XP until they could get it right!
bjackson310
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bjackson310,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/18/2014 | 12:42:28 PM
Windows 8 & 8.1
Both versions of Windows 8 are a mess.   I'd probably still be with XP if it supported more than 4 GB of memory...  but Win 7 64 works well and is very stable.  My new laptop came with Windows 8 and I screwed with it for about 20 minutes before I gave up trying to get anything done with it.  I blew it off my machine and replaced it with 7. 

My wife's new laptop came with 8 (and a touch screen) and she's been determined to learn it and make it work.  Still, she often finds herself cursing Win 8 becaue it seems to make no sense or lands her someplace she never intended to go.  Then she struggles to get back to where she wanted to go in the first place.  Sometimes she just gives up and fires up her desktop that has Win 7 on it.  Who needs those kinds of headaches?


I suppose most people have now figured out that MS gets it right with every other version of Windows... let's see if Win 9 upholds that tradition.
MemphisITDude
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MemphisITDude,
User Rank: Strategist
8/18/2014 | 1:01:13 PM
Re: Windows 8 & 8.1
I recently set up a new Windows 8.1 PC at home and my wife had the same reaction - she's going to give it a try and I'm not. There is a free app called "Classic Shell" that restores the Windows 7 start menu. The PC is set up so my user account logs in to the old desktop while hers shows the start screen. (Speaking of user accounts- that's another annoyance in Windows 8, the attempts to get you to use an online account. This annoyance has forced me to regress from the OneDrive app in Windows 7, to the OneDrive Web Site in Windows 8...)
ANON1241631011972
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ANON1241631011972,
User Rank: Strategist
8/18/2014 | 12:56:18 PM
It doesn't take much to overcome these issues
While I agree that there are a lot of clunky things about the Windows 8 UI, I think the ones mentioned are all minor issues.   The larger issue is that very few apps are designed for touch. The smaller problem is that Microsoft removed the start menu and replaced it with a button that takes you from the desktop to Tile World.  That is easily remedied by installing one of the after market start menus.  I use Start8.  I have a Surface Pro that I use in desktop mode most of the time.  When I disconnect the keyboard and use it in tablet mode, I use TileWorld--but even then, only for the apps that are designed for tablets--like Nook and Kndle, for example.  If Microsoft could do anything better, it would be to create a ccontextual distinction between apps that are more adaptable for desktop mode vs. ones that are more suited for tablet mode and not try to force everyone into touch mode.  For example, Word and Excel documents willl always be very difficult to author using only a touchscreen.  So, they should simply admit that the different modes are compatible with different types of user applications and optimize around the two contexts.
Somedude8
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Somedude8,
User Rank: Ninja
8/18/2014 | 1:00:51 PM
Works for me
I got a Lenovo Yoga when the first version was released. It came with 8. Honestly, it has given me very little trouble. I spend nearly all the time in desktop mode. All the application I use seem to work fine in 8. I found the adjustment curve to be not that steep, but did have to Google a few basic things that were not intuitive, like how to connect to a hotspot.

The tiles interface is something I almost never use, so don't really have much of an informed opinion there.

One thing that irks me a bit though, is that some thrid party folks insist on use of Metro apps. Take Netflix for example. Hit their site with a browser, you get a message that you need to use the Windows App to access content.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
8/18/2014 | 4:09:49 PM
Re: Works for me
Somedude, that is surprising re Netflix and the browser. Only on your Lenovo Yoga/Windows 8 machines?
Somedude8
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Somedude8,
User Rank: Ninja
8/18/2014 | 4:11:58 PM
Re: Works for me
Yes, Laurianne, just ont he Yoga. Its the only Win 8 machine I have right now though, which I guess says something. I haven't updated my workstation from 7 to 8 yet. No compelling reason.
JediSQL
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JediSQL,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/18/2014 | 1:02:40 PM
Jump Lists
To a large extent, whether the things I click on are menu items or colorful rectangles really doesn't matter much to me.  What I really miss in the Win8/81 interface is jump lists in the menu.  I end up seriously multitasking, and I don't have task bar space for a bunch of icons for programs that aren't currenlty running just so I can have the jump list there.  If the Start screen tiles had jump lists, I could work with that.

At work when they rolled out Win81 (from WinXP), they gave us "Classic Shell" for a classic start menu.  I find it works really well.  I use the Classic mode, and it has the best of both the WinXP and Win7 menus:  WinXP's ability to make my own menu structure and Win7's jump lists.  I have to admit that I am plesantly impressed.

 
wfmkelly
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wfmkelly,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/18/2014 | 1:12:03 PM
Windows 8 and Skype
Another Huge Problem with Win8 - if you're a skype user whether business or personal - FORGET IT!!

 

When will they get their act together......
JohnReagan
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JohnReagan,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/18/2014 | 1:28:32 PM
What Microsoft doesn't get.
What Microsoft doesn't understand is that the operating system is supposed to be a 'flawless' means of finding and running programs..It isn't supposed to be an artform that exists to be pretty and flashy...Just an interface, nothing more. ...Gee, I miss DOS.
Number 6
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Number 6,
User Rank: Moderator
8/18/2014 | 1:38:28 PM
Re: What Microsoft doesn't get.
And I still miss Windows 3.1 program groups, especially on my smartphone.
JohnReagan
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JohnReagan,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/18/2014 | 2:16:08 PM
Re: What Microsoft doesn't get.
Presuming you don't have an Android Phone, which allows for desktop folderrs. I find 5 screens of Apps sufficient for cellular use anyway.
OldITGuy
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OldITGuy,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/18/2014 | 3:42:48 PM
Windows 8
Doesn't Microsoft have a history of alternating good and bad releases?   NT got replaced by 2000 which was not well received.   2000 got replaced by XP which was (is) very successful.   Vista replaced XP and flopped.   Windows 7 successfully replaced Vista, so Microsoft was due to release a dud.   Perhaps Threshold will continue the trend and be an excellent OS.
cafzali
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cafzali,
User Rank: Moderator
8/20/2014 | 2:03:53 PM
Re: Windows 8
@OldITGuy Yes, Microsoft gets -- at best -- 50 percent of its OS releases right at first glance. This is why I'd say Microsoft is the perfect example of a company where first mover advantage was more critical than anything. If you're the first to market, often you can amass enough of a critical advantage over competitors that many of your failures can be overlooked. 

This is especially true in Microsoft's case because people make investments in hardware based in large part because of OS compatibility. And while we could all in theory run Linux on PCs, in reality, that's not going to happen, leaving Windows to rule that party. Few companies amass enough of a competitive advantage that they can fail 50 percent of the time. 
moonwatcher
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moonwatcher,
User Rank: Ninja
8/19/2014 | 8:45:49 AM
re: Indexing of external drives
Thank you for this blog. Having to manually index external drives before they can be searched is dumb and aggravating!  This needs to be fixed. Even lowly Windows XP did this better.
impactnow
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impactnow,
User Rank: Ninja
8/22/2014 | 2:28:01 PM
New may not be better...

I recently purchase a laptop with windows 8 and its was a huge surprise the UI is anything but intuitive and took allot of getting used to, I created my own shortcuts to overcome the feeling of getting lost in the tiles. Now I am fine but it was a serious productivity hit in the first few weeks. I am not ready to go threshold until I see what it has to offer and what the ramp up time is for users. I do however like a few of the new features of Windows 8 but the redundant features are annoying.

SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
8/25/2014 | 3:10:44 PM
Re: New may not be better...
It really is true. When I got windows 8 I was lost within its complicated UI. Even after 7 long months sometimes I feel many stylistical things around windows 8 were nonsensical as well. It surely was not needed. What they did right was the copy pause and remove flash drive thing. Also pressing windows button could stop anything and take us to the start screen.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
8/25/2014 | 3:18:45 PM
All may not be lost for Windows 8
Somethings Windows 8.1 fixed upon the trail of destruction Windows 8 left. This change was appreciable but the update was too late to develop a huge fan base. Sure, windows 8 is faster, but it also is a lot clumsier. Even I could not understand the use of a live tiled start screen. Had it been a mobile device, it would have made sense. 

However with all these flaws some people really liked Windows 8, some very few though.
Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
9/2/2014 | 9:53:06 AM
Re: All may not be lost for Windows 8

The major issue is about the intent to consolidate desktop with mobile. The tiled start menu makes sense for mobile but for desktop it looks rather weird. Well it's a matter of habit but it's rather difficult to coach the end-user in short time.



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