How Could Microsoft Screw Up Windows 8 So Badly?
By David Richards | Monday | 26/11/2012
What is wrong with the new Windows 8? The answer is a lot, but what is utterly dumb is the decision by Microsoft to not integrate into the opening Window of the new OS, an easy to follow guide that helps new users navigate around the new OS which has been designed to work across multiple platforms.
This glaring omission highlights that Microsoft is seriously out of touch with consumers and the way in which they engage with their PC, especially when you are asking them to step out of the comfort zone of Windows 7 or Vista.
A business executive who last week rushed out to buy a Windows 8 upgrade for his notebook summed it up when he told me that he had to use Google to find out how to turn off his PC because Microsoft has not only removed the traditional start button, but has also failed to offer any form of easy instructions as to how to use the software.
When you open a Windows 8 PC for the first time the experience is more than intimidating, it is downright stupid. There is no help screen or tile to tell you how to use the new OS and everything--and I mean everything--is different.
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In a radical reworking of their Windows OS Microsoft engineers seemed to have forgotten that the new generation of savvy consumers have fallen in love with Google and Apple software, not Microsoft's offering.
Now Microsoft is set to alienate their traditional base by giving them a really good reason to go out and buy an Apple Mac with Apple's easy to use OS X software.
As one observer said to me in a JB Hi Fi shop after playing with the new Windows software on a notebook "I left off buying an Apple Mac because I did not want to have to learn a new OS. Now Microsoft is giving me a reason to join my kids in getting an Apple Mac PC".
The new Windows 8 interface which consists of a screen full of coloured tiles is designed to work across a smartphone, tablet and a PC. Microsoft seems to have forgotten that their real customer base is people who use the Windows OS on a PC at home or in an office.
The really bad news is that the bulk of new PCs will come with the new Windows 8 OS and one only has to walk into an Officeworks or a JB Hi Fi store to see how consumers are utterly confused by the new Windows 8 OS.
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Critical to using the new Windows 8 are short cuts and I suggest that you get to know these quickly as nothing works the same way as Windows 7. Where in the past you clicked a close icon at the top of the Windows pane running an application, you now have to click-and-hold the top of the screen and drag it down.
You also have to move your curser to the top of the screen to reveal a menu.
When you first open a Windows 8 PC the first thing you will notice is that there is no start button. What you have to do is drag your mouse or finger to the top right side of the screen to reveal a menu.
You then have to start searching Microsoft databases or the Internet for instructions as to how to access applications and under the bonnet features, and while Microsoft has not completely abandoned the "classic" Windows look-and-feel, they have made it harder to access.
If you are one of those people who really do want a start button you can buy a third party application. All you have to do is search the Web for "Classic Shell" or "Start8".
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What has improved under Windows 8 is Skype. It is cleaner and integrates into Windows while delivering noticeable improvements.
The new Skype needs 512MB of RAM to operate, both the desktop, smartphone and tablet versions have greater integration with its hardware than prior editions
For the average home with a family PC and several laptops, I recommend sticking with Windows 7 especially if you also run a small business and have seriously considered an upgrade to Windows 8.
Another reason is the lack of applications with the new OS.
While Microsoft globally brags that the Windows Store in Windows 8 has a whopping "20,000 apps", most of which are free, a search of the Australian Windows store reveals that there are less than 13,000 apps available locally.
This is versus 600,000 apps available in the Apple store and 500,000 Google Android apps available in the Play Store.
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Jakob Nielsen, a usability consultant and former engineer for Sun Microsystems claims that two interfaces, a lack of multiple windows and a flat visual style that hinders "discoverability" are just of the problems associated with Windows 8.
Nielsen claims trying to combine a tablet and PC interface into a single operating system was a "strategic mistake" by Microsoft.
Speaking to Computerworld in the USA, Nielsen states that Microsoft's vision of a tablet/desktop OS hasn't worked out:
"That was the true strategic mistake, that they could do 'one Windows' on both tablets and PCs â€¦ Windows 8 has low usability, amazingly low usability."
Nielsen goes on to say that Windows 8 takes control away from users, something they've grown accustomed to with previous iterations of the operating system. He's also not a fan of the low information density that Metro apps have adopted.
This is a really bad piece of software.
What appears to have been uppermost in the design process was to launch a new OS that would help Microsoft grab market share in the tablet and smartphone market where the struggling software Company is getting hammered by Apple and Google. What has gone out of the door is useability.
What Microsoft has done is reinforce choice for consumers by driving them to Android and Apple's iOS software that they are fast becoming comfortable with.
Apr/May 2011 issue
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