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5/22/2013
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Windows 8: Consumers Not Warming To Interface

Windows 8's look and feel is still a flop with consumers, especially with those who don't use tablets, two studies say.

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Consumer response to Windows 8's Metro interface falls somewhere between negative and indifferent, based on the results of two studies released this week.

Though the findings are not surprising, given the embattled OS's sluggish adoption, they offer Microsoft a few silver linings, such as the fact that Win8 is far less reviled than Windows Vista. Nevertheless, the studies reassert the pressure Redmond faces as it readies Windows 8.1, a much-anticipated update expected to debut next month.

On Wednesday, Soluto, a PC management company based in Tel Aviv, published a study of Metro users' app activity. Derived from a sample of 10,848 Windows 8 machines Soluto monitors, the report states that users with touchscreens launched 47% more Metro apps than those with traditional hardware, a conclusion that jives with an earlier report that claimed the OS's tablet adoption has outpaced its desktop and laptop adoption.

Still, even among the study's tablet users, 44% launched a Metro app less than once daily. That number predictably jumped to 60% among desktop and laptop users, for whom the UI's touch-centric Live Tiles do not offer obvious benefits. Indeed, the study found that Metro failed to impress even those with touch-equipped laptops; 58.10% of these users launch a Metro app less than once daily.

[ What does our "touch skeptic" think after spending two weeks with Windows 8? Read Windows 8: 4 Things I've Learned. ]

Across the entire study, users of all types launched Metro apps 1.52 times a day. Tablet users launched 2.71 apps per day. Without similar metrics for Android and iOS apps -- Soluto said it might release this data in the future -- it is difficult to put these numbers in any concrete context. Even so, it's hard to imagine that such low figures indicate consumer approval.

The study found that Microsoft's native Mail, People, Messaging and Calendar apps were the most popular. 86% of users used at least one of the apps. No other apps were used by more than half of the sampled population.

Soluto noted that while fewer users than not have installed the Yahoo! Mail app, those who have are particularly engaged, launching it an average of 26.91 times per week. The most frequently accessed of any Metro app, regardless of form factor, Yahoo! Mail is curiously popular, the study notes, because Windows 8's native Mail app supports Yahoo accounts out of the box. Soluto blames Metro's confusing UI for this outcome, speculating that it's easier to install Yahoo! Mail than to add a new account within Win8's Mail app.

"If you're pragmatic about using the Windows operating system with a keyboard and mouse -- there’s no rush. Wait and see what Windows Blue has in store for us before you upgrade," the report advises.

Released on Tuesday, a new study from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), a survey founded by the University of Michigan, also came to ho-hum conclusions about Windows 8.

Microsoft earned an ASCI customer satisfaction score of 74 and was the only software company substantial enough to warrant its own statistical breakout. All other software companies in the study were lumped together and aggregately achieved a score of 76. The national average for all industries in the study, which spanned a variety of consumer-oriented categories, was 76.6.

Redmond's score was down one point from last year, and down four points from its all-time high of 78 in 2011, when Windows 7 was the company's most prominent product. The current mark is comfortably above Microsoft's all-time low of 69, however, which the company earned in 2008, the second year Windows Vista was on the market. The study concludes that Windows 8 has neither helped nor hurt Microsoft's overall reputation, a contention made in at least one other recent report.

With Windows 8.1, Microsoft hopes to show that it can make the Metro UI more user-friendly and engaging. Given that OEMs will soon launch faster, cheaper and lighter Win8 tablets, a successful OS update could position Redmond for meaningful market share gains. If the company posts disappointing back-to-school and holiday sales for the second consecutive year, however, its dedication to the Metro UI will become increasingly difficult to defend.

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Rigo123
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Rigo123,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/24/2013 | 10:40:52 PM
re: Windows 8: Consumers Not Warming To Interface
Analogy to the operation of a motor vehicle: Microsoft wants us to operate our cars using our eye balls. However intriguing and through-provoking it may be, what's the point? There is nothing wrong with pedals and a steering wheel folks.
ANON1245867443530
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ANON1245867443530,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/24/2013 | 4:12:46 PM
re: Windows 8: Consumers Not Warming To Interface
Touchscreens on computers are stupid.
ANON1245867443530
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ANON1245867443530,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/24/2013 | 4:08:59 PM
re: Windows 8: Consumers Not Warming To Interface
That's what happens when you make an OS that's crippled by invisible controls.
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
5/24/2013 | 11:48:14 AM
re: Windows 8: Consumers Not Warming To Interface
Modern apps are geared towards a touch interface. Compact controls such as menus, radio buttons, check boxes, drop-downs and so on cannot be used for touch. So it needs large buttons that operate on only one type of click (ever tried to right click with your finger on a touch screen?). That means all the functionality needs to be stuffed into a very flat UI that uses up a lot of space and make usage way more complex. In order to regain some usability features need to be dropped so that there is only the bare bones functionality left. Also, many of these apps are built to work on small screens such as phones or tablets.
Touch is really a dozen steps back in UI evolution, almost as primitive as Apple's one button mouse, but even worse than that. And if you leave color out the Modern apps look like the faux windows environments on DOS. Just a box with some text in it. And we are supposed to not only like this, but also pay money for that?
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
5/24/2013 | 11:42:31 AM
re: Windows 8: Consumers Not Warming To Interface
We didn't need studies for that. Just read the comments in the public beta forum and this outcome would have been clear before Win8 ships. And Microsoft missed a huge opportunity in not caring a bit about the free advice. Why even run public betas when Microsoft doesn't want to listen to what testers have to say? Now they feel that excessive arrogance in the pockets.
SMP
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SMP,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/23/2013 | 9:29:20 PM
re: Windows 8: Consumers Not Warming To Interface
QUOTE
Windows 8 machines Soluto monitors, the report states that users with touchscreens launched 47% more Metro apps than those with traditional hardware, a conclusion that jives with an earlier report that claimed the OS's tablet adoption has outpaced its desktop and laptop adoption.

UNQUOTE

I don't think there is any discrepancy here.

Windows 8 users launch more Metro apps, because there aren't many Metro apps, and so the pretty much the only thing users can do is amuse themselves by pushing the Metro tiles to see what it does. They don't actually use the Metro apps like Windows 7 users do with Windows their apps.

I wasn't aware Windows 8 tablets outpaced Windows 8 desktop and laptop adoption. If this is actually true, then the only explanation for this would be that Windows 8 desktops and laptops can be downgraded to Windows 7 and are, but Windows 8 tablets can't be unfortunately, because they can't be used without touch support, and so aren't.
CopyingAppleIsDangerous
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CopyingAppleIsDangerous,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/22/2013 | 9:46:32 PM
re: Windows 8: Consumers Not Warming To Interface
The next logical question is: "Why did they do that?"

Ads.

Ads, ads, and more friggin' Fisher-Price Metro Live Tile ads shoved down our collective throats.
CopyingAppleIsDangerous
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CopyingAppleIsDangerous,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/22/2013 | 9:42:45 PM
re: Windows 8: Consumers Not Warming To Interface
My personal estimate for what Ballmer expected from this stunt was (eventually) $25-$40 billion US per year. Sure, their App Store revenue sucks right now, but the senior executives had their sights set for converting the desktop. Even Forbes is calling the desktop "legacy desktop":

http://www.forbes.com/sites/to...

Yes, yes..it's stupid, but that's what you get when you let someone with a used-car-salesman mentality run a high-tech company.
moonwatcher
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moonwatcher,
User Rank: Strategist
5/22/2013 | 7:17:34 PM
re: Windows 8: Consumers Not Warming To Interface
Extrapolating what AsokAsus said, what happens if this is a failure in the long run and very few tablet and/or phone users decide on buying Windows 8 driven devices, but instead, stick with the tried and true and more established Android or iOS? Many people simply aren't wanting to get an OS that their friends aren't using (and won't be able to recommend what they perceive as the "best" apps). If Windows 8 Modern UI is a failure will Microsoft quickly retrench to a more desktop (non-touch) friendly UI, or will they keep flogging a dead horse? If the cheapest Surface Pro device pushes $1000 many users will decide to buy a cheaper tablet in the $200 to $500 range or go ahead and get a "real" lap top. And if you get a real lap top, then why use dumbed down tile apps say for Facebook, when you could just as easily use the real web site? Finally (and I'll shut up), I don't think their model of wanting to eventually start charging for OS and MS Office updates on a monthly basis, so as to have a constant cash flow, is going to be popular with anyone. It will simply mean we users will be dealing with buggy "alpha" software all the time, not even "beta" level - jeez...
dpearce
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dpearce,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/22/2013 | 6:51:28 PM
re: Windows 8: Consumers Not Warming To Interface
To me the modern 'metro' interface is inefficient at best, and downright frustrating at worst. Swiping in and out from the top, bottom and sides of the screen produces the desired result maybe 50% of the time...and so requires multiple attempts. Quite often you wind up pulling up (or sliding over) a different program, or closing the one you are on...I think the interface is clumsy, immature, and (at this point) a time waster. Of course you do have the option to switch to a strangely configured subset of Windows 7....
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