Usability Expert Slams Windows 8 as “Disappointing”

19 November 2012
Ben Logan

Author: Ben Logan

Passionate about improving services and experiences for the people that use them.

Despite being faster and more stable than its predecessors, Microsoft’s new Windows 8 operating system has come under-fire from leading usability expert Jakob Nielson.

Hiding features, introducing two separate working environments and the introduction of applications with an extraordinary low information density are just a few of the issues that Nielson, who holds a Ph.D. in human-computer interaction, has highlighted.

Top of the list is the confusion caused by having the tablet-orientated Start screen and the more PC orientated desktop screen available on the same device.  Described as “a prescription for usability problems”, Nielson commented on the need for users to remember where to navigate to access features on two separate platforms, and the switching between the two, as being inefficient.

“The main UI restricts users to a single window” Nielsen writes, “so the product ought to be renamed Microsoft Window”.

The new ‘Live’ tiles function which displays different icons for the same function was also called into question, with the result being a Start screen that is “an incessantly blinking, unruly environment that feels like dozens of carnival barkers yelling at you simultaneously”.

In conclusion, the expert says that he has “great hopes for Windows 9 on mobile and tablets. Just as Windows 7 was “Vista Done Right”, it’s quite likely that the touchscreen version of Windows 9 will be “Windows 8 Done Right”.

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