Windows 8 Interface Slammed by Usability Expert

Dennis Faas's picture

A "user experience specialist" says Windows 8 suffers from not being designed specifically for desktop and laptop computers. That expert goes so far as to say that performance enhancements associated with the new operating system (OS) might be meaningless for most people.

Raluca Budiu says the things that are easier to do in Windows 8 aren't the tasks most people will want to do.

Budiu, of the user experience consulting firm Nielsen Norman Group, works with clients to measure the ease of using specific websites and operating systems. She made her comments on Windows 8 in an interview with Laptop Magazine. (Source:

Although Budiu hasn't yet carried out extensive user testing, she claims she has used Windows 8 enough to get an overall idea of the changes it brings to the established Windows formula.

Windows 8 Too Biased Towards Tablet

According to Budiu, one of the biggest problems is that the new OS is designed for touchscreen devices, such as tablet computers, but this type of interface does not work well on a traditional monitor, keyboard, and mouse set-up.

In Budiu's opinion, Windows 8 is too focused on content consumption; that is, on users looking at websites or watching videos, rather than working with documents or using other productivity tools.

As a result, she believes Microsoft has gone too far toward making the screen clean and uncluttered. Users of Windows 8 will therefore waste time accessing simple tools such as the URL bar for typing website addresses into a browser.

Budiu also warns that the new interface for Windows 8 (previously known as "Metro") is "a cognitive burden." Luckily, users will be able to switch back and forth between the new interface and a more familiar desktop interface.

According to Budiu, users will need to remember more detail about how both the user interfaces work: "They will learn Windows 8," she says, "but won't be able to forget Windows 7."

Simple Tasks Could Take Extra Clicks

Budiu notes that when Windows 8's new, default interface is running, there's no way to see which applications are open in the desktop interface. Users must waste time flicking between screens to find this out.

In some cases, switching between applications could now take four clicks, compared to Windows 7, where it can be done with one. (Source:

However, home computer users may well decide to ignore Budiu's comments and give Windows 8 a try.

That said, if corporations share her concerns and decide that any benefits of Windows 8 will be outweighed by employees spending extra time dealing with the interface, it's unlikely they'll adopt the new OS as quickly as Microsoft anticipates.

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