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back to article Design guru: Windows 8 is 'a monster' and 'a tortured soul'

US usability guru Jakob Nielsen has rubbished "disappointing" Windows 8, savaging the Microsoft OS's signature Live Tiles and its complicated gestures. "Windows 8 encompasses two UI styles within one product," he said in a post on his useit website. "Windows 8 on mobile devices and tablets is akin to Dr Jekyll: a tortured soul …

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Trollface

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"Microsoft's Live Tiles have "backfired" with "hyper-energised" tiles that have far too much going on, according to Nielsen."

Fanboi alert.

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Joke

Re: .....

Everyone is missing the important point. The live tiles use more CPU power. Mor CPU power means more electricity consumed. More electricity consumed means more carbon emissions. More carbon emissions means higher temperatures. That means:

Windows 8 will turn the earth into a burning cinder.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: .....

It's a pile of crap, but very innovative crap -- crap in new and unexpected ways and dimensions.

And that's good if you've read the Woz article on ElReg.

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Re: .....

I hope you're being sarcastic. On the off-chance that you're not, allow me to educate you a little about how CPUs work.

A CPU clocked at 2 Ghz (or any speed) will always use the same amount of power. Unused processing cycles go into something called the "Idle" process. A CPU can save power in one of two ways: shut off different components (like an integrated video component) or change the clock speed to reduce the voltage requirements.

Modern CPUs can change the clock speed (and hence the required voltage) on the fly--this is particularly important on laptops, where minimum CPU speeds might be 1GHz or less, and might go up to around 3Ghz.

So for live tiles, since disabling components is off the table (tiles don't require any secondary components to help), the question is: can the laptop manage updating tiles at the minimum clock speed/voltage requirement? The answer is yes, and easily. A computer will never (or at least rarely) increase its clock speed just to handle live tile updating.

The upshot is... the earth may be burned to a cinder, but Windows 8 won't have anything to do with it. In fact, given how much it shortens the extremely power-intensive boot and shut-down processes, it might put off that day a little.

Dan

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Linux

Re: .....

Fanboi alert?

The sales figures are starting to arrive, perhaps that will cheer them up: http://techland.time.com/2012/11/19/windows-8-the-seven-roads-not-taken/

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Anonymous Coward

@dipique

A CPU clocked at 2 Ghz (or any speed) will always use the same amount of power. Unused processing cycles go into something called the "Idle" process.

And what this "Idle process" does is issue a halt/sleep instruction (HLT on x86) which basically shuts the CPU down until it receives an interrupt, thus reducing drastically its power consumption (and heat production too). Contrary to what you claim, even a CPU with a fixed clock speed will have its power consumption that varies wildly depending on its actual load.

Please get your facts straight before "educating" people with inaccurate information.

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LDS
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I guess it took it right

As a long time Windows user who never used a Mac or iOS device, I guess it took it right. Tile could be a good thing if they don't start to look like ads on a web page - flashing useless informations continuosly.

Moreover images too often convey an ambiguos message compared to text. A newspaper tiles should have headlines, not photos or videos. A mail tile should tell you how many unread messages *for each* configured account. Actual MS interfaces (and the new website) looks like a childrens' book - large images, little text. Did the MS Teletubbies group designed Windows 8?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @dipique

Thank you AC @ 21:23, a big +1 from me.

I presume that dipique had not considered why it is that CPU's loaded with work get hotter, or why the power rails sag a little when the processor is busy, or how SPA or DPA can be used to mount attacks, or why the lights dim when the kettle is switched on....or perhaps more eloquently, that he had not engaged his brain before opening his mouth.

Oh well: Watts will be, will be...

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FAIL

Re: ....."allow me to educate you"

about what the "Joke Alert" icon means ?

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Facepalm

Re: .....

Actually, when the OS is idle, it puts the CPU into a wait state so effectively the CPU is in a deep C state and not actually doing anything. So if you have lots of busy tiles being animated, the CPU has to wake up from a deep C state (activated by a timer interrupt), do some work, and then drop back to a deep C state again. So if you consider all the context switches and GPU activity (wake up, render, go to sleep) required to antimate tiles you do get reduction in battery life compared to a purely idle state with no animation.

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@select * from Clue

http://www.amazon.com/Microsoft-Windows-8-Pro-Upgrade/product-reviews/B008H3SW4I/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

3/5 star avg on amazon does not a good reception make. Interesting that many seem to object specifically to Metro.

Perhaps all fanbois, eh?

Personally I rather like Nielsen's views. Advocates stuff too dour & simple sometimes, but many websites have way too many things going on. Seeing that translated to a desktop is sad.

Hope ms gets a clue because I'll be on Win8 one o these days, unwillingly so.

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Re: Dan/dipique

1st) A CPU has millions of transistor that do not "work" (no electrons at their gates) all at the same time and all with the same instruction(s).

2nd) While the CPU idle it goes in some sleep states (C-States). Usually a few different ones exist and in those states the CPU consumes different amount of power however also it takes more time to wake up. For instance having 2 threads 'communicate' within the same process with sleep (say 50ms) in between the messages would result in significantly higher latency compared to no sleep. C states can be disabled and that's usually done for low-latency application, plus the obligatory busy wait.

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Devil

Re: .....

45 down votes, Troll complete! :D

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Re: .....

"A CPU clocked at 2 Ghz (or any speed) will always use the same amount of power"

No. Just no. Others have already said this, but I have a practical counter-example.

Back in the day, I had a Win9x machine running the pre-BOINC SETI client. The machine, for complicated reasons mostly linked to dirty electricity supplies, was on a UPS. The difference between "SETI is computing" and "SETI is not computing because it is waiting for a dial-up connection to get more work" was, according to the UPS monitoring software, equal to about 16 watts on a 950MHz AMD Duron.

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: Troll complete

Getting lots of upvote is pleasing. But really pissing people off is an art form to be savoured. I salute you, sir.

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Re: cpu power consumption

even a Z80 system will stop the CPU clock when its not needed...

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Re: .....

> On the off-chance that you're not, allow me to educate you a little about how CPUs work

No, let me. Measure the power consumption of a CPU that's doing work and one that isn't. Ten years ago I did exactly that and found that running BOINC on my server was costing me 20p a day in electricity because the box consumed 100w more every hour.

But you can also fire up a laptop. Leave it sat at the desktop - it'll be silent and fairly cool. Now kick off an HD video. Or a game. Mostly likely after half a minute the fan will come on. Then it'll start to get hot.

> Unused processing cycles go into something called the "Idle" process

The idle 'process' is just a HALT instruction. It's questionable if you can even call it a 'process'. It would be more accurate to call it a label that a task manager can use for when the CPU is doing nothing. I'm not sure in this day and age how much CPU updating a 'tile' takes but I suppose it depends on the tile. For sure the machine would use less power if it didn't do it.

Now whether the difference would be enough to cause or offset global warming (assuming we believe in GW to start with) is another matter. But what I can say with certainty that disabling tile updates would extend your battery life.

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Re: .....

> No. Just no. Others have already said this, but I have a practical counter-example.

Damn, you beat me to it by an hour. In my case I was just being anal about power consumption but yeah - we found the same thing. I confess at the time to being a bit surprised actually. It was a bit of a revelation to realise that computing consumed power.

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Re: .....

> Windows 8 will turn the earth into a burning cinder.

Only if idiots are stupid enough to feed the Redmond patent troll.

I wouldn't bother we're already *forced* to give them money as tax payers.

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We're looking to hire a new EE

dipique, please don't bother applying.

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Re: dipique

You remind me of those people who freak out the first time they use a task manager when they notice "idle process" is "using up" all their CPU time.

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Re: .....

Great. Now explain why the CPU temperature rises on the PC I am using when I give it a job to do. Fixed clock speed, by the way.

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@ Bob Vistakin

OK being forced at gunpoint to buy this crap, doesn't constitute legitimate sales. When people are leaping over sale clerks and service desks and companies are poising their IT departments to deploy, then I'll believe their sales forecasts.

Until otherwise, it's just another pile of steaming crap like Windows CE,ME,NT, & Vista.

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WTF?

Idle Process is stealing my cycles

"You remind me of those people who freak out the first time they use a task manager when they notice "idle process" is "using up" all their CPU time."

Had a colleague come in one monday morning in an exasperated state complaining that he'd spent a sizeable part of the weekend trying to fix his computer for just that problem.

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Coat

Re: Idle Process is stealing my cycles

Let me guess, he went out and bought a much faster system, and discovered that the idle process was stealing even more of his time?

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Holmes

What's new?

So a design guru has come forward and stated what we already knew; when Windows 8 was designed Microsoft forgot all about the desktop/laptop users. I'm sure Wndows 8 will be great one day, when "Windows 8 Desktop Edition" is released. :dreams:

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Re: What's new?

I think he's also saying that they even botched it for tablet users too... Frankly I don't care enough about tablets to have bothered trying a "Surface" device (just who is coming up with these stupid product names at MS anyway?) so I only know for sure that he's right about the desktop disaster.

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Re: What's new?

I'm just glad Dell are still offering Win7, as we manage small companies who are too small to benefit from VL software; everything is OEM-based. I dread the day when the first Win8 machine gets installed, hopefully we can live on Win 8, stall, then go Win 9.

Win 8 is the new Vista. No wait, it's worse.

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N2
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Re: What's new?

Win 8 desktop edition, complete with:

Familiar ways to do new tasks

Start menu of your choice: Classic 2000, Fisher price, oops wheres the start menu, etc

Toggle the ribbon for proper menus

Puerile adjustment - thought ballons & annoyances etc turned to minimum

And not have to buy a new suite of software!

For starters

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What's new?

Mr Nielsen is loved as much as he is reviled.

If his guidelines were followed the WWW would look like it did in 1995.

I wouldn't listen to his opinion much, there is almost nothing he ever likes.

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Re: What's new?

If his guidelines were followed the WWW would look like it did in 1995.

You say that as if that would be a bad thing.

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Re: What's new?

> the WWW would look like it did in 1995.

Interesting that you bring up 1995. That was the year when Microsoft tried to change the WWW into being the original MSN, or actually to avoid the WWW and replace it with MSN for Windows 95 users only, which MS expected to be 98% of computer users. (The later use of 'MSN' was for something else entirely).

Then in 1998 MS tried to bring in 'Active Desktop' and 'Channels' but they made the mistake of allowing it to be turned off.

They have not made that mistake with Windows 8. Tiles are the new 'Active Desktop'. Services will be able to be locked to MS (with advertising).

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Pint

Re: What's new?

Why is anyone surprised that Windows 8 sucks? Microsoft has always released OS in a 'Bad, Bad, Good; Bad, Bad, Good, ...' pattern. After Windows 7, "It Simply Had To Be Bad" ™.

The next one will also be Bad, but the one after that will be fantastic.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What's new?

"It is easier to transition to Linux Mint"

Nah. The non-techies can transition to PC-BSD easier I reckon. PC-BSD. The better kind of free :)

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Re: What's new?

Sorry, but no. Linux Mint installed quite easily for me (installed it as a dual boot with Windows 7, rarely boot in Windows 7 anymore), I tried checking out BSD, and couldn't figure out how to get the darn thing installed. While I admit I am not an IT guru, I do know my way around computers. If I couldn't do it, then I doubt the non-techies would be able to.

(Note - I am only responding as I do not see a Joke Alert icon on your post)

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Joke

Re: What's new?

Vista without the charm and usability.

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Stop

Re: What's new?

@Eadon So the solution to having a horrible OS is to install Linux and run your productivity applications inside of a VM that runs the horrible OS? Don't you end back up at square one?

While I love Linux too (Xubuntu to be exact), what people need to realize is that most companies don't run Windows because they like Windows. They run Windows because Microsoft Office and the last 20+ years of industry standard productivity applications are written for it.

It's easier to deal with the issues surrounding Windows than it is to rewrite all of the productivity programs and retrain the staff.

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

Re: What's new?

Hamster dance

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Re: What's new?

> PC-BSD. The better kind of free

i.e under performing in most benchmarks (compared to Linux) , lack of drivers, lack of software - has a license where anyone can skank someones work without giving back - no thanks.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What's new?

"(Note - I am only responding as I do not see a Joke Alert icon on your post)"

PC-BSD as opposed to other flavours is a doddle for anyone to install. It has a graphical installer with a complete installation walkthrough. (Maybe you tried a different more 'tecchie' flavor?) Can't get much easier than this:

http://wiki.pcbsd.org/index.php/Installing_PC-BSD

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What's new?

"i.e under performing in most benchmarks (compared to Linux) , lack of drivers, lack of software - has a license where anyone can skank someones work without giving back - no thanks."

"under performing in most benchmarks"

Not an issue for the average home user.

"lack of drivers"

PITA sometimes, yes. But I have only had issues with Intel WiFi on an old Toshiba. Otherwise plain sailing on the dt and lappie I tried it on.

"lack of software"

Enough. And growing. Anyway, didn't Linux once have a small user base and a lack of software. It didn't all appear mysteriously overnight!

"has a license where anyone can skank someones work without giving back"

Irrelevant to the average home user.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What's new?

The best, easiest to install and use at home predominantly to surf the net, OS I'd used was DesktopBSD. Sadly, it had a very small set of people, person often, keeping the project together and was basically discontinued several years ago. I tried several Linuxs' before and after it, as well as PC-BSD which I liked but always found a bit sluggish. Linux Mint sure works well for me and is what I've been using since Ubuntu lost its GUI way.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What's new?

@AC 22:31

I am the AC who mentioned PC-BSD above. Have to say, I really dislike Ubuntu and have for some considerable time. As far 'mainstream' Linux goes, Mint is my preferred option. But when it comes down to serious work my end it's usually Open/Free/DragonFly BSD that I find myself working with.

I put the kids on Isotope (PC-BSD 9). They use KDE4. Don't ask me why - too heavy imo. I can't explain that one! Except for games and school work (which they can do on their school laptops) they don't miss Windows now they have got used to the difference and they prefer BSD to Ubuntu and Mint.

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WTF?

wat

"The worst gesture might be the one to reveal the list of currently running applications: you need to first swipe from the screen's left edge, and then immediately reverse direction and do a small swipe the other way, and finally make a 90-degree turn to move your finger to a thumbnail of the desired application. The slightest mistake in any of these steps gives you a different result," Nielsen said.

Or swipe in from the left and then select any of the list of applications shown. Which brand of crack does this guy prefer?

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Re: wat

Quite possibly he's not on any drugs... which is presumably not the case with whoever thought that Windows 8 was in a fit state for release, UI-wise. Otherwise, I'd like to hear their excuse!

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Meh

Re: wat

Hard to find any other reason why he'd be quite so catastrophically wrong.

Unless he got his operating instructions from Cupertino, I suppose.

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Re: wat

Anyone that calls the gestures complicated is over complicating them. Swipe in from the left switches apps. Swipe in from the left and back out and it brings up the list of running apps. This 'finally make a 90-degree turn' is him making crap up. You would think 'in and out' would be an easy gesture for a guy to make.

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