Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums

Jakob Nielsen review

  1. #1

    Posts : 9
    Windows 8.1

    Jakob Nielsen review

    I'm in the market for a new laptop, trying to decide whether to go with Win 7 vs Win 8. Today's review by Jakob Nielsen is kinda discouraging -


    Having two environments on a single device is a prescription for usability problems. Users have to learn and remember where to go for which features. Switching between environments increases the interaction cost of using multiple features. The two environments work differently, making for an inconsistent user experience.

    One of the worst aspects of Windows 8 for power users is that the product's very name has become a misnomer. "Windows" no longer supports multiple windows on the screen. Win8 does have an option to temporarily show a second area in a small part of the screen, but none of our test users were able to make this work. The main UI restricts users to a single window, so the product ought to be renamed "Microsoft Window."

    The single-window strategy works well on tablets and is required on a small phone screen. But with a big monitor and dozens of applications and websites running simultaneously, a high-end PC user definitely benefits from the ability to see multiple windows at the same time.

    The Windows 8 UI is completely flat. There's no pseudo-3D or lighting model to cast subtle shadows that indicate what's clickable (because it looks raised above the rest) or where you can type (because it looks indented below the page surface)

    We saw problems with users overlooking or misinterpreting tabbed GUI components because of the low distinctiveness of the tab selection and the poor perceived affordance of the very concept of clickable tabs.

    One of the most promising design ideas in Windows 8 is the enhanced use of generic commands in the form of the so-called charms. In principle, it's great to have these commands universally available in a single, uniform design that's always accessed the same way. In practice, the charms work poorly, at least for new users. Because the charms are hidden, our users often forgot to summon them, even when they needed them. Hiding commands and other GUI chrome makes sense on small mobile phones. It makes no sense at all on huge PC screens.

    Furthermore, the charms don't actually work universally because they're not true generic commands. In our test, users often clicked Search only to be told "This application cannot be searched." This violates basic usability guidelines - you shouldn't tease users by offering a feature that isn't actually available.

    Many other features are initially hidden and are revealed only when users perform specific and often convoluted gestures. Users' difficulties were exacerbated by the fact that the Modern GUI style doesn't indicate which words and fields are active and can be changed.

    What's the long-term usability of the hidden features in Windows 8? We might expect users to grow accustomed to the need to reveal the charms and other non-visible commands, even though this imposes additional cognitive overhead on using the system. That is, people must think to do something, rather than being reminded to do something, and thus users will sometimes neglect useful Win8 features.

    Also, the familiarity bred by long-term use might be counteracted by the fact that well-designed websites have trained users to expect important features to be shown directly in the context in which they're needed. You simply can't design a website with hidden features and expect it to be used. Website features are usually ephemeral, meaning that they must be explicitly represented if they're to gather any use. Thus, people's experience with the web exerts a powerful pull in the direction of expecting visible features.

    The tablet version of Windows 8 introduces a bunch of complicated gestures that are easy to get wrong and thus dramatically reduce the UI's learnability. If something doesn't work, users don't know whether they did the gesture wrong, the gesture doesn't work in the current context, or they need to do a different gesture entirely. This makes it hard to learn and remember the gestures. And it makes actual use highly error-prone and more time-consuming than necessary. The UI is littered with swipe ambiguity, where similar (or identical) gestures have different outcomes depending on subtle details in how they're activated or executed.

    The underlying problem is the idea of recycling a single software UI for two very different classes of hardware devices. It would have been much better to have two different designs - one for mobile and tablets, and one for the PC.

    Because this column is very critical of Microsoft's main product, some people will no doubt accuse me of being an Apple fanboy or a Microsoft hater. I'm neither. I switched from Macintosh to Windows many years ago and have been very pleased with Windows 7.

    I have nothing against Microsoft. I happen to think that Windows 7 is a good product and that Windows 8 is a misguided one.

    I'll stay with Win7 the next few years and hope for better times with Windows 9. One great thing about Microsoft is that they do have a history of correcting their mistakes.

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  2. #2

    Posts : 1,308
    Windows 8 enterprise x64

    I must say he is dam right and I don't see after read this how someone can argue on the fact that Windows is the worst OS produce by Microsoft. Well let see what Coke and Mystere ( alias Sinofsky) have to say about it
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. #3

    Posts : 2,156
    Win7 Ult on DIY; Win8 Pro on MBP/Parallels; Win7 Ult on MBP/Boot Camp; Win7 Ult/Win8 Pro on HP

    8 would be OK if MS would simply give you the option of starting up to, in effect, Win 7 or, alternatively, to Metro. One could toggle between the two subsequently. Another option would be to take the OS 10 approach to using screens that are more pad like.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #4

    Posts : 5,707
    Windows 8.1 Pro

    Windows 8 review | In-depth expert review - PC Advisor

    "Windows 8 represents the biggest change to Microsoft’s operating system since the launch of Windows 95. Here’s our Windows 8 review. It’s the only Windows 8 review you are going to need."

    Reviews can be subjective. With Windows 8, you'll find ALL kinds of varying opinions from good, to bad, to ok.

    Now in my professional opinion as a doctor, since you're in a market for a laptop: Windows 8.

    Yeah, the UI changes are new and different, but that's rather superficial and the Start Screen can be EASILY, I stress, EASILY conformed to how you use Windows 8. If you primarily use the Desktop, you can have all Desktop related items pinned to Start from programs, Libraries, folders, hard drives, Control Panel items, and if you use a third party tool you can even pin Word documents to it. But when it comes down to pure performance, Windows 8 does some anus kicking of 7. A read a review (also subjective) that was based off using a Sony Vaio with a 500 gig hard drive. Boot time? Five seconds. Even on a desktop that is like over five years old, I'm personally seeing 10-15 second boot times from BIOS POST to Start. There's that, along with the fact that some are finding extra battery life from Windows 8 over 7. Overall, Windows 8 on a laptop is just faster, more efficient, cooler (both literal and visually), and gives you extra battery life. It's designed to be mobile and done so rather well.

    Now then, I'm going to subjectively comment on the review you posted. I call BS. Yes, it can definitely be confusing, especially when you give someone Windows 8 after using 7 and never give them any hints on how to do anything. This is like giving a 10 year old kid keys to a car with a manual transmission and tell him to turn the car on, while expecting this to be simple and easy. It takes some time to learn something new. Windows 8 was designed, in part, to get rid of GUI chrome simple because it's more or less not needed so much anymore when a new way, a chrome-less way, works just as well if not better. I personally like the immersive IE 10 in 8 because I don't see anything other than the webpage I'm on, just pure internet. When I do need to see some chrome, I right click and close that tab and move on to the next. As for some of those apps that can't be searched, yeah there are some. Like one I think of off the top of my head is Custom tiles maker. This is an app that lets create static or live picture tiles on your Start Screen. How can that be searched? What if you want find an image of a landscape that you don't have on your hard drive? Instead of hitting Start and going to IE, load the default web page, then enter in a search query; you can open the Search Charm and type the query in, hit enter then filter the results by images. A couple steps just got eliminated. The Search Charm is a UNIVERSAL search tool from your local hard drive, to the internet, and using apps (that can be searched) to find content relevant to that app.

    Now, I've used Windows 8 for over a year now, literally 24/7, as well as a few of my normal non-tech head friends for roughly the same time period. When I look back at first using Windows 8, yes it was a tad confusing. I remember having to sign out, slide off the lock screen, and then shut down for about a week. Then one day, I was looking around to see what the Charms did, and look at that! I found out that you can shut down right there! Did I say posh to this all and revert back to Windows 7 because my superficial pride got damaged? No, I continued to learn it a bit further to where I am now. I've taught several people already how to use Windows 8 and they have little complaint other than the immersive IE. I even asked one of my non-tech head normal friends (who has used Windows 8 as long as I have) how she would react if someone told here Windows 8 is too hard to learn and use. Her response paraphrased a bit, "What?!?! They have be stupid or something! How's it hard to use? It's straightforward, it's not like it's confusing." (To everyone else, I can post a Start Screen of her laptop running Windows 8 Release Preview if anyone is curious as to how a normal person uses it)

    My advice, go for Windows 8. You already know of an are a member of a forum for Windows 8 and there are many people here that can help you figure things out, learn what's what, and help you take advantage of the new UI. There is even a thread I started a long while ago of people's Start Screen that show how you can use it, and there is even another thread, the one in my signature, that details on how to get the Start Screen to your liking.

    Oh, and another thing, welcome! I see you're using vista, my bet is that Windows 8 would run better than that old thing!
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. #5

    Posts : 5,360
    7/8/ubuntu/Linux Deepin


    Might be better to post a link if there is one - rather than the whole article.

    I agree with it mostly - then I suppose the majority of people would, too.

    The fanboys will try and rubbish it, or more likely post completely irrelevant tosh to try and smoke screen.

    Windows 8 — Disappointing Usability for Both Novice & Power Users (Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox)

    MS ....has now thrown the old customer base under the bus by designing an operating system that removes a powerful PC's benefits in order to work better on smaller devices.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  6. #6

    San Diego
    Posts : 22
    Windows 8.1 Pro 64 bit

    If I had known that only one window could be open at a time, I NEVER would have bought Window(s) 8. I feel it is fraud to call it Windows.

    I have re-installed Windows 7 on a second HDD on my computer with duel boot and almost never go back to Window(s) 8.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  7. #7

    Posts : 5,360
    7/8/ubuntu/Linux Deepin

    You should ask for a refund.

    I think they will do it - there is a link somewhere in the email if you did the upgrade offer thing.

    I understand MS have been pressured into honouring 14 day money back for store bought, and 30 day for online bought, even if the product has been opened.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  8. #8

    Posts : 1,925
    Windows 8.1 Pro

    What's interesting to me is how many of the Windows 8 haters like to put words in peoples mouths. They insist that their opinions are the same as everyone elses. They attempt to speak for people that are of a different opinion. And they try to dominate any conversation in which someone might speak well of Windows 8. I wonder why that is?

    In any event. I don't necessarily disagree with Jakobs findings, but I do disagree with his conclusions.

    First, most of the "problems" people encounter with Windows 8 are temporary. Once they learn how things work, many of them go away.

    Second, the article talks about "long term" issues, but ignores the fact that Windows 8 will grow and improve in long term, addressing some of the problems raised.

    Third, his pithy comments about "Window 8" completely ignores the fact that the standard desktop is still there, and that you can in fact have multiple windows open if you have multiple monitors.

    Windows 8 is a transitionary OS. As such, it has to do both what the new OS does and the old OS does. It's like how when MacOS converted from PowerPC to x86, the OS had to run apps from both platforms (with PowerPC apps running at a distinct disadvantage to x86 apps). That problem largely went away as more and more x86 apps were introduced. The same will be true of Metro apps.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  9. #9

    Posts : 5,707
    Windows 8.1 Pro

    Technically, the new windows in Windows 8 aren't like the traditional Windows. You have think..... (wait for it) outside the box a little.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  10. #10

    Posts : 1,320
    Server 2012 / 8.0

    It's horrible, useless. Get a refund. Why bother. It's a tablet phone OS that is unintuitive, ugly, cumbersome, and imposes a cognitive overhead. I want to be able to run 12 websites simultaneously, and 4 instances of photoshop at the same time while keeping connected to messenger, email and skype all at once and I need to have 700 nested links and 14 partitions listed in My Computer in front of me so I do not get distracted. I am a serious creative professional and find Windows 8 to be a flat UI that offers little. Also at the same time, it is necessary to enter several spreadsheets and keep the financial times live feed running and my bank is sending a fax and I need to process a few pdfs and run powerpoint and the office database all on my 24 inch screen simultaneously. Of course touch is pointless and the desktop is unavailable because of the metro.
    But ultimately, where is Microsoft taking me?

    Click image for larger version
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

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