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back to article N00bs vs Windows 8: We lock six people in a room with new OS

The design of Windows 8's user interface - The Interface Formerly Known as Metro (TIFKAM) - leaves non-technical users yearning for the good ol' Start button. The Reg can report that finding after some rather non-scientific tests in which we offered different folks their very first experience of Windows 8. We chose …

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Linux

Now I hate Win 8 as much as the next man

But complaining that people can't open the start screen when you give them a keyboard which doesn't have an obvious windows key is silly.

I think the command key on a mac will act as a windows button but it's decidedly non-obvious.

Though as an ubuntu user, I feel the pain of the windows people, Unity is possibly worse than TIFKAM, I live in Gnome 2 still, and will do for as long as I can.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Now I hate Win 8 as much as the next man

To be fair, I don't think very many people in my office would know what the Windows key did anyway, or even that it was called the Windows key. I do a lot of training with people and I never see them press it unbidden when they're using XP or 7.

The sad thing is though, that even though these people found the system hard to fathom initially, most of the population will probably end up using it at some point, and putting up with it.

I'm a big fan of Ubuntu and Mint, no doubt commenters on here will say that if they can't use this opportunity to get a bigger foothold then there is no hope. But ultimately by the time people know Windows 8 is hard for them, they've probably already bought their computer, so, not being infinitely rich, they'll just curse and find a way to cope.

I've converted plenty of people to Ubuntu, but usually only when their Windows install has given up completely. I've never persuaded someone with a fully functioning system to switch to Linux, they just can't be arsed.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Now I hate Win 8 as much as the next man

Downvoted for the dislike of Unity which I find has everything just where I need it.

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Re: Now I hate Win 8 as much as the next man @AC 08:53

Like or dislike of Unity is subjective, I might as well downvote you because you do or don't like Marmite.

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Re: Now I hate Win 8 as much as the next man @AC 08:53

errr.... if anyone puts in a post that they are the person who likes marmite they will (not unreasonably) get my downvote as soon as I see it.

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Pint

Re: Now I hate Win 8 as much as the next man @AC 08:53

Interestingly I don't like Marmite either, it's the anti-beer.

On that note, roll on beer o' clock

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Re: Now I hate Win 8 as much as the next man

"a keyboard which doesn't have an obvious windows key is silly."

Why would one expect to press a key in a *Graphical* user interface driven by a mouse?

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Re: Now I hate Win 8 as much as the next man

KDE4 + Cairo Dock + Compiz 0.8.8 (Kwin is shit and Compiz 0.9.x is a mess) gives me the ideal desktop as you get both the best of Mac and Windows worlds with a huge amount of customization possibilities.

NOT metro is just downright awful to use or DT & KB users.

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Coat

Re: Now I hate Win 8 as much as the next man

I was hating Windows 8 back when it was still called Metro

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Anonymous Coward

marmite = anti-beer?

Anti-beer? Surely it's a by-product of beer.

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Facepalm

Re: Now I hate Win 8 as much as the next man

Am I the only person who managed to read the part at the start of the article that said: 'The Apple command key maps to the Windows key in VMware Fusion'. I would assume that they also told the testers that they had done this.

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Black Helicopters

Re: Now I hate Win 8 as much as the next man

Ah, I remember back in the day when keyboard manufacturers hadn't been forced to incorporate an additional OS-specific function key into their keyboards for no good reason. Happier times, and the operating systems still seemed to work basically ok.

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Paris Hilton

Re: marmite = anti-beer? = puke?

That what it essentially is... puke. I'm sure Paris knows what anti-beer is n'all in the form of anti-alcopops. Just more sugary.

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Happy

Re: Now I hate Win 8 as much as the next man

"Ah, I remember back in the day when keyboard manufacturers hadn't been forced to incorporate an additional OS-specific function key into their keyboards for no good reason. "

I still use an old IBM model M - what is this Windows key, of which you speak ?

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Re: marmite = anti-beer? (@AC 26Oct, 11:20 GMT)

There is only one by-product of beer...

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Re: Now I hate Win 8 as much as the next man

As a Mac user since 1997, I LOVE Windows 8 and I have been using it since early August on a Samsung tablet about 90% docked with a keyboard and mouse.

Most suspicious about this "test" is

A: it was pretty obvious they ran the VM windowed of the little girl had a hard time getting the mouse on the corner, because Fitt's law says corners are the easiest thing to hit.

B: notably absent from this test was the introduction video that runs the first time any new user logs into Windows demonstrating Fitt's law.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: you do or don't like Marmite

there's a Linux UI called Marmite?

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Re: Now I hate Win 8 as much as the next man

Most suspicious about this "comment" is

A: It's pretty obvious you need read the article:

"We ran the VM in full-screen mode."

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WTF?

Windows on a Mac as a test?

Did I understand this test correctly? You used a Mac to demo Windows 8, a machine without a Windows key and traditionally no scroll wheel? What did you expect?

I have tried testing Windows 8 on my kids. I didn't help them or tell them, I just changed the home PC and left it for the after-school fun. I will admit I was expecting all sorts of problems, but no.... All they mentioned was that it was quicker, which was annoying as I was looking forward to showing off and humiliating them, but from that experience I don't think there is going to be any problem with the 'reimagined' start menu.

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Thumb Down

Re: Windows on a Mac as a test?

In a VM no less. What a f**king waste of time. The author's clearly trying to show that Win8 sucks by confusing n00bs. Duh. Grow up El Reg.

How about trying the effect of these users with a new laptop running Win8. Will they be totally baffled? Not unless they skip the welcome video.

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Re: Windows on a Mac as a test?

"The author's clearly trying to show that Win8 sucks by confusing n00bs. Duh. Grow up El Reg."

And yet, somewhat ironically, the only thing that really needed explaining seems to be the hot-corners - something that would have been shown to the users had they sat through the intro tutorial (which they apparently weren't given the opportunity to do, judging by their comments)

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> You used a Mac to demo Windows 8, a machine without a Windows key and traditionally no scroll wheel?

The Windows Key is like pork: It makes everything better!

Really that intellectual abortion, brainfart of an unknown Microserf who I hope will be Satan's favourite squishy cow, mainly meant to make the unwashed masses go "oohhhaahhh" and buy new keyboards is of utter uselessness. There is a whole fscking row of F* keys on the top going generally unused.

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Try thinking a little, even if it hurts

The Windows key was created for good reason as part of Windows 95. There was a vast amount of software that had already staked out the Function keys, along with the bulk of other key combos using Control and ALT. All going back to the pre-GUI days with Win3.x staking out a scant few for itself, such as Alt-Tab and even that had a history in multi-tasking DOS variants..

To make Windows really work well for those of us with the capacity to remember useful keyboard combos, a new key was needed. This was no different than Apple had done on the Mac a good decade earlier. Imagine trying to be a power user on a Mac with no Command key on its keyboard.

The Windows key continues to make sense, being reserved for functions specific to the OS while leaving more universal commands like cut and paste to the more generic keys, along with app specific commands on the function row. Just because it's a GUI doesn't mean a perfectly good keyboard should go to waste. You should be able to unplug eitherthe keyboard OR the mouse and still get everything done. It may be less comfortable but such functionally is essentially, especially for enabling input methods for those who cannot use the regular keyboard or mouse.

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Re: Windows on a Mac as a test?

Having spent the last two years running windows 8 every day across many machines - VM and physical - I completely agree with you. This is as absurd as the demo of winXP RTM being owned in 20 minutes - well after winXP SP2 was the only version available to buy, even in brick-and-mortars.

I've relied on The Reg for hyper-critical, no-pulled-punches info for years but this farce shows that they just wanted to make win8 look bad. Normals aren't going to run it in a damned VM, and they're not going to use a mac keyboard.

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Re: Windows on a Mac as a test?

I've read the tutorial only shows on first login and according to Ars Technica it's also crap. Lots of users will have individual accounts (and this will be more likely given that more people are more used to individual accounts), but there will also be a great many users who will share accounts and hence are unlikely to see the initial tutorial (of course it's great to have everything set up your own way, but it's very annoying when you can't find your photos because you can't remember which user account was used to upload them to the computer).

And to previous commenters, the friendly article says the users were given a two-button mouse with a scroll wheel.

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Windows® 8™ TIFKAM™

Bah, I knew I should've trademarked TIFKAM when I coined it. (It's my second biggest contribution to the English language, after I managed to get Boris Johnson's "BoJo" nickname to stick on his Wikipedia page some years ago.)

Presumably, Miss 8's "hard to get the mouse into the corners" was primarily as a result of running in a virtual machine, as a physical machine will resist the pointer at the corners; still, more empirical evidence that the decision to remove the on-screen Start button was pure unadulterated bonkers.

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WTF?

Re: Windows® 8™ TIFKAM™

Magic corners are one of the strangest decision (well, after the whole of TIFKAM).

To paraphrase a well-known UI guidelines document, all user actions should be obvious and recognisable.

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa468595.aspx

Sections 1, 2, and 3 apply here

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Stop

Re: Windows® 8™ TIFKAM™

Guidelines... Funny... Pay attention: who created them?

Humans, and now humans they're creating new guidelines that oppose the previous, what's the problem?

It's time to break the current guidelines and go for the better. This test was biased because all of the users were Mac OS / Windows users before. Now take the time to analyze the benefits of Windows 8 to people who never used a single software in their lives: would it be considered better or worse than Windows 7? What's would these people call the effect of hiding things in corners if they don't even know what these things do or were called before...?

Will Alt + TAB be considered against the guidelines now? It's not obvious nor recognizable. The keys don't show at any moment they effect nor anything at the screen yet people use it. Everyone will be pleased all this stuff isn't in the screen all at once and will learn that they must go to the corner they want for task switching and menus.

Stop comparing the current experience and the new one like the current experience didn't has any learning curve.

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FAIL

Re: Windows® 8™ TIFKAM™

what? having installed Win8 on my very physical machine, there's no resistance or any indication at all that the corners do anything.

there was a immensely piss-poor animation during first start-up that kind of suggest they might do something, but there's naff all otherwise. They're also slow if you actually use the corners. To get the bars (charm or app switch) its best to go into the corner then down/up. esp as the charms are all in the middle, which is annoying, having to travel 2-3" to go from the corner to the first 'charm'.

Still not found if you can close an app with the mouse only.

Oh and the start screen not respecting snapped apps, or having a clock is damn annoying too.

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Re: Windows® 8™ TIFKAM™

Now take the time to analyze the benefits of Windows 8 to people who never used a single software in their lives

And where would you find that person? Even the last Mongolian Yak-herd and the last Papua jungle-dweller have smartphones now. Rumour has it that there's a software-uncontaminated hunter somewhere in one of the Amazon source area. Good luck.

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I'm not attracted to TIFKAM, the comment about 'it looks like a mobile phone' is spot on IMHO. But if you take any changed interface design and place people in front of it without any form of instruction, most of them will struggle.

If or when you plan on deploying Win8 in the office (then you're insane, given its current state) you have to provide some basic training material. Whether this is a few minutes hands on (this is a scroll bar; here are the screen hotspots) or CBT material (MS should really be providing this), you need to do something unless your staff's time is worthless to you.

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Go

Except

I was actually nodding my head at Chris Miller's comments (stated in case there are other replies above mine), but then suddenly realised that I have only worked at or in one company that actually had an up to date desktop. I strongly suspect most companies (after all how many are still using XP) will not be updating to TIFKAM for two to three years yet minimum, by which time most their staff will alerady be using it in their homes. Thus no training required for most and those who do need basic help will have colleagues neat by who can assist.

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@Chris Miller There is "training" or a brief guide when you first start Windows 8. This is what is most galling about all the "opinions" on this matter - mostly coming from people who have strong views but never actually tried retail/release Windows 8.

Basically, use Windows 8 as an IQ testing tool. If you fail to be able to use it after a minute of using it (like an 8 year old girl) you didn't pass the test and should retire from office life.

It is literally childs play.

[As others have pointed out, Windows key and scroll wheel mouse (or touch screen) on actual hardware would have made most of this "research" moot. Nonsense article. El Reg needs to do better than this drivel that belongs in the like of Computer Shopper Magazine]

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@ Tiny Weeny Wanger

Tiny Weeny Wanger - "There is "training" or a brief guide when you first start Windows 8."

So you have never, ever sat down at a PC that you HADN'T bought brand new, and you were its first ever user? Not at work, or a public library, or at school, or a friend's or family member's?

Come on, be honest. You have, haven't you?

Of course you have, because we all do it everyday. So expecting a first-time not-Metro Win8 user to also be the first user of the machine they are using, is just nonsensical.

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Switching back to TIFKAM

I'm assuming that the lack of a Start / Windows(TM) button on the keyboard (it being run in a VM on a Mac) was expected to elicit some frustration from users; as I understand it, you can get TIFKAM to open immediately by mashing the Start / Windows(TM) button present on any PC keyboard for the last decade.

So that frustration aside (anyone who would be expecting me to help them out will be running it with a PC keyboard), it's actually looking like your testers got the hang of it pretty quickly. Given the massive negative feedback I've had from techy friends who have run the beta / preview (e.g. "It's a fucking travesty and I won't touch it with a bargepole"), it's starting to sound like MS have actually managed to aim a Windows product at the mass market, and not miss usability expectations by the usual barn door. Intriguing.

I'll have to have a chat with the boss regarding our Technet subscription, and have a play with it myself on the test bench. Maybe it's not going to be quite the steaming pile of shit I'd started to expect...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Switching back to TIFKAM

"[...] you can get TIFKAM to open immediately by mashing the Start / Windows(TM) button present on any PC keyboard for the last decade."

Mashing a button for a decade isn't what I'd call immediate.

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Damn guys!

Hover your mouse in the left lower corner of the screen - the Start/TIFKAM 'button' appears....

(installed Win8Pro yesterday on two laptops, HP Elitebook 8440P and a Gateway(Acer) NE56R12u laptop - hucked the Gateway into wife's lap and said, "Have Fun" - and she did.)

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The long game?

The only thing I can think is that ms is willing to sacrifice some desktop users to get tifkam used and familiar in the hope that familiarity with the look translates to success in the mobile sector.

There is an assumption that most people will not give up windows on the pc.

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Re: The long game?

The long game = No Desktop

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FAIL

OSX Users vs Windows 8 more like.

A. This test was dun on a MAC! with no windows key...

B. Everyone who tested it was from what i can gather, a MAC user...

C. This article was written buy a Mac fanboi...

Conclusion, cant believe how much the word MAC and OSX appeared in an article about First impressions on windows 8...

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Stop

Re: OSX Users vs Windows 8 more like.

"This test was dun on a MAC! with no windows key..."

Hardly a massive obstacle. Most users never use it anyway.

B. Everyone who tested it was from what i can gather, a MAC user...

...AND a PC user. Perception bias on your behalf there. What's the harm in handing the keys to a new model of car to someone who has both a driving license and a motorcycle licence?

C. This article was written buy a Mac fanboi...

...In a positive an unbiased manner.

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Re: OSX Users vs Windows 8 more like.

Windows key is one of the least-used key on my keyboard, even though I know about Win-Key shortcuts and use them when I need them (it's just mostly I don't need them).

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Windows

@Psyx Re:"...In a positive an unbiased manner." I agree. There was not a snide bone......

........in the article's body (so to speak). Very interesting to see the reactions of the various test subjects. It does suggest that a) MS ought to put a proper tutorial on board and b) whatever the opinions of a certain proportion of the vanguard of the white-collar techno-proletariat might be the ordinary punter may get on with the os rather better than many have been assuming. However, the proof of that particular pudding will be in the eating - we'll have to see what the reactions en masse in the private retail market are over the coming year before we can draw any hard and fast conclusions about how the ordinary punter has in fact gotten on with it - or not as the case may be.

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FAIL

Re: @Psyx ...In a positive an unbiased manner." I agree. There was not a snide bone......

There is a tutorial when you login with a new account for the first time that describes the edge/corner system perfectly. It was actually a travesty that ElReg decided not to show this to the punters.

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Re: OSX Users vs Windows 8 more like.

But the Windows key in Windows 8 is the main key you will be using... like the single buttons on most smart phones these days, the windows key takes you back the main menu (metro ui). which kinda makes it vital for showing new users how you would expect them to use the new Windows 8. its kinda the same as giving someone a new ipad mini to test but taking away the round button...

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Re: OSX Users vs Windows 8 more like.

As a Mouse-o'phobe - I think the Win key is excellent.. I've been using alt-tab for c.20 years... and on Win 7 Windows Key, plus TAB is awesome. When I built a hackintosh post Win-7 I realised their UI was really out of date and tired looking..

I'm looking for a file on XP - Windows Key and E and I'm exploring.

I want the desktop - Windows key and D -

I guess I'll be enjoying TIFKAM -> Might stick it on the PC over the weekend.

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Pint

Re: @Psyx ...In a positive an unbiased manner." I agree. There was not a snide bone......

"There is a tutorial when you login with a new account for the first time that describes the edge/corner system perfectly. It was actually a travesty that ElReg decided not to show this to the punters."

Umm... No: It was kind of the *point*, to see how people got along without any such aid.

A report about punters following a tutorial would have been very dull, and not very useful.

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Re: OSX Users vs Windows 8 more like.

Thank You. Thank You. Thank You.

I hate the W7 approach to switching between windows. Windows+Tab is just what I need.

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Re: @Psyx ...In a positive an unbiased manner." I agree. There was not a snide bone......

But the fact that one punter said "There should have been a tutorial" and THERE IS A TUTORIAL shows what complete and utter bollocks the test was.

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Facepalm

Re: @Psyx ...In a positive an unbiased manner." I agree. There was not a snide bone......

" 'There should have been a tutorial' and THERE IS A TUTORIAL shows what complete and utter bollocks the test was."

No, it doesn't.

By the same logic, if someone not very good at basic maths sits down for a basic maths test and says "I should have had a calculator", is the test 'utter bollocks'?

If a new user sits down after a PC upgrade, what percentage actually fire up a tutorial? I've never done it in my life, and I reply on waving the mouse around and experimenting. Exactly like the situation described.

And again: An article of 6 people doing a tutorial would be very, very dull reading.

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