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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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Anonymous Coward

Re: wat

Yes, a self important guy who is critical of anything slick and modern. He wants things to be very simple, very dull so it is familiar.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jakob_Nielsen_%28usability_consultant%29#Criticism

"Nielsen has been criticized by some graphic designers[4][5] for failing to balance the importance of other user experience considerations such as typography, readability, visual cues for hierarchy and importance, and eye appeal."

Yay, lets all create web sites with grey backgrounds, blue hyperlinks and party like its 1999.

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MIc

Re: wat

Good point. My thumb is pretty good at reversing direction. Not really that hard.

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Re: wat

I favor functionality over fashion. Most graphic designers have not concept of design as a whole. If color and typography is all you focus on, you fail hard.

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Re: wat

"Do you have even the faintest idea who Jakob Nielsen is?"

Someone who obviously didn't RTFM and is wrongly (and publicly) criticising an interface based on his own misunderstanding.

Don't care what his reputation is if he can't move his finger in 2 directions without getting confused.

PS - No I'm no windows fanboi, just as I'm not a fan of people who stuff up the operation of a product and then publicly blame the manufacturer for their own ignorance.

Besides, this is MS - there's a wide range of legitimate things to criticise windows 8 over, no need to make sh!t up like this...

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FAIL

Re: wat

Someone who obviously didn't RTFM and is wrongly (and publicly) criticising an interface based on his own misunderstanding.

Most software these days doesn't even have a FM ... the excuse is that it's supposed to be so easy to understand and to use that one isn't needed.

This being the case, I'd say that is someone criticizes the UI having failed to understand it then that UI has failed -- failed in being understandable, if not in being usable.

It's not acceptable to criticize someone for not RTFM when no M is provided.

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Re: wat

.... requiring users to be highly accurate and learn a bunch of new sequences off by heart.

Yep, like "f.ck, f.cking c.nt, b.st.rd", not good for the heart at all, that!

Someone who obviously didn't RTFM and is wrongly (and publicly) criticising an interface based on his own misunderstanding.

Which Effiing Manual? The Windows 8 computer that I returned to the shop for a Windows 7 version this very weekend did not come with any manual or even enough of a visual clue for my teenage son to find it!

However, I think the teenagers will like Metro for being pure "bling", people who have to work on their computer will hate it - and they will hate more that they cannot switch it off!

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Re: wat

What about your nan?

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Re: wat

"Do you have even the faintest idea who Jakob Nielsen is?"

Shirley he's that dude from the naked gun?

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Joke

So it's a swipe from the left, and then a move to the right...

Has someone in Microsoft been overdosing on Rocky Horror? Or perhaps Gangnam Style?

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Silver badge

Re: So it's a swipe from the left, and then a move to the right...

I'm not hanging about to see if Ballmer's coming onto the stage in fishnets!

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Pint

Re: So it's a swipe from the left, and then a move to the right...

"Shift your arm, then you pull it back..." ?

♫ Slide your feet up the street Bend your back

♫ ♫ Shift your arm then you pull it back ♫ ♫

Life is hard you know (oh whey oh)

So strike a pose on a Cadillac... ♫

♫ ...Walk like an Egyptian...♫

Ear worm launched. Sorry...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So it's a swipe from the left, and then a move to the right...

If? What do you mean if? You know for sure he is!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So it's a swipe from the left, and then a move to the right...

The discovery of using musical note Unicode characters in a comment post warrants an instant upvote already.

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Pint

Re: So it's a swipe from the left, and then a move to the right...

☺ ☂

Fun stuff.

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Thumb Up

He is right.

Jakob Nielsen is very very good. This is really bad for MS.

I have been reading his "common sense" approach for years. He tells it like it is. He has no axe to grind other than usability.

Essentially the GUI formerly called Metro is derived from Zune. It's best for a phone, mediocre for a larger than 6" tablet and useless for a Keyboarded device at desk. They also appear to have over-complicated interaction and dumbed the visuals what was a quite good UI on Zune.

This is exactly to opposite and equally bad as putting the win95 style desktop on a 3.5" phone or PDA. I don't agree with Nielsen though. Two interfaces isn't enough. You need four. One for smallest screens, one for medium tablets and one for mainly Keyboard + mouse desk machines (Notebooks, Ultrabook, laptop, Large tablet with keyboard and fixed Desktop machines).

The Fourth?

HDTVs without a keyboard but added "smart features" beyond TV, inc Internet. Try using a true "Media center" [sic] interface designed for Remote control on a Laptop or Desktop, or a regular "desktop" GUI on settee on a TV.

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Re: He is right.

Seconded.

Yes, Jakob Nielsen can be a little too academic at times, but in general UI/UX terms he usually hits the nail on the head.

And with the summery I've read so far (going to have a peak into the full report) he has got it spot on. Windows 8 is two UI's thrown together and served up as one. I know, we've all said the same, but it's worth reading a review that articulates the issues better than the many "WINDOWS 8 IS DA SUX!1!!"

I like Windows 8 for its 'Windows UX'. Smooth, fast, not too heavy on resources - like Windows 7 but more 'less is more'. Like Nielsen, I also like Ribbon. But I hate them literally wedging an entirely separate entity into Windows and saying "There we go, it's unified now".

No, it's not. It's a Siamese twin.

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MIc
Thumb Up

Re: He is right.

it is. But with such a legacy base I can't think of a way for that company to really do something different and also not ditch the massive ecosystem of normal windows products and code.

This is called the innovators dilemma I believe. I will be an interesting Christmas season to watch the tech industry fight it out.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: He is right.

Funny how if Apple produce a very simple GUI it gets shot down as being simple and for idiots.

Yet if someone creates a more advanced UI that isn't simple and for idiots then it's also bad.

Jakob is critical of Android:

http://blog.utest.com/testing-the-limits-with-jakob-nielsen-part-i/2011/04/

"In our current user testing, Android scores fairly well, but not as good as iPhone. "

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Re: He is right.

See what he thinks of a popular Android tablet, is he still right? lol

http://www.useit.com/alertbox/kindle-fire-usability.html

Android usability is pretty dire.

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Silver badge

Re: He is right about Android ICS

"Jakob is critical of Android"

ICS and Jellybean are both infected by the same thinking that created Metro's plain rectangles. The same lack of visual cues confusing the eye, the same oversimplification. Most of the world don't have ICS upgrades yet, probably why there's been no backlash - along with the substantial performance/feature improvements bundled with the new theme to soften the blow. Been using it for a few months now and it just isn't getting any better looking to me and I'm still poking the wrong hit zones far too often.

Both seem to be copying Google's web theming with it's plain rectangles and cryptic icons (still grateful someone kindly reminded me there is a text option instead), which confuses the hell out of me. Simultaneously looking dumbed down but needing more mental effort learning and remembering your way round the UI. It's as if MS looked at Googles success and blindly copied, tweaked, renamed without stopping to check they'd copied the good bits.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: He is right.

Windows 8 doesn't come with a very good grammar check does it?

Summery: something which is summer-like in nature.

Peak: the top of a mountain (see "peek" for definition of looking at something with your eyes)

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Re: He is right.

"Jakob Nielsen can be a little too academic at times, but in general UI/UX terms he usually hits the nail on the head."

Except for completely stuffing up the "show running applications list" gesture then ripping into MS based on his own ignorance.

Its like him using a hammer with its head turned sideways then complain about how awkward it was to hit nails in...

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Re: He is right.

"See what he thinks of a popular Android tablet, is he still right? lol...Android usability is pretty dire."

The article is a discussion on web browsing using 7 inch tablets, not a review of Android!!

Just to demonstrate his lack of credibility:

"The Fire is a heavy object. It's unpleasant to hold for extended periods of time. Unless you have forearm muscles like Popeye, you can't comfortably sit and read an engaging novel all evening. "

The Kindle weighs absolutely nothing FFS. He must get removalists or a forklift to move his laptop to another room.

Sorry, I call Fanboi, don't care what his "reputation" is...

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Thumb Up

Re: He is right.

Absolutely. There should be four versions of Windows for each of the kind of devices you describe. They could be called, respectively:

Windows Phone 8

Windows Surface 8

Windows Desktop 8

Windows Media Center 8

And Microsoft could then do us the huge favour of making them interoperable as well. What a novel idea...!

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Facepalm

Re: He is right.

The minute I used it for the first time I realised what they'd done.

They took out the start menu code and replaced it with Metro. Metro *is* the Start Menu for Windows 8.

I thought: What's the simplest way they could do this without having to rewrite all the code?

And no, I don't think it was a good idea either.

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Re: He is right.

Well firstly it doesn't come with a manual and the gestures are supposed to be intuitive -- so fail 1 for MS.

Secondly it wasn't him who had the problem -- but nearly all of his 20 guinea pigs (which included some very experienced techies) who had the problem -- he was merely observing their experience.

I will avoid the UI formerly known as Metro for as long as I can, which shouldn't be too hard as the Firms PC is still running XP, and, I use UBUNTU for preference.

Also for anyone put of by the UBUNTU UNITY interface, my advice is stick with it for a couple of weeks and you won't even miss gnome.

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Meh

Mr Guru...

Right click Live Tile, move mouse down to Turn Live Tile Off button and click. There...no more blinking tiles.

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Re: Mr Guru...

"Right click Live Tile, move mouse down to Turn Live Tile Off button and click. There...no more blinking tiles."

Dead, static tile then? Right good job!

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MIc
Alert

Bought a surface...

And I find that on a tablet win 8 is really good. The learning curve is significant. But the consistency that you get within all Win8 apps is awesome. The contract approach to search / settings / sharing is very fluid and very fast. There are features that you can't get on other OSes. But it took me a while to start to become familiar with these feature and to get to a point where Win8 was a net benefit.

On my desktop with 4 monitors.... meh.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Bought a surface...

I would suggest you try a touch mouse, it makes Win8 far more useable. Amazon are currently selling the MS touch mouse (other touch mice are available) for about £20 - it's probably so cheap because of all that tax they're avoiding.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Bought a surface...

You can prise my works-on-glass mouse with free-scrolling wheel and lots of buttons out of my cold dead hands!

I like my buttons to go 'click'.

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MIc
Joke

Metro version of visual studio anyone???

Just though of having to use Visual Studio with a touch based Metro UI.... The though of it made me punch 3 kittens in the face.

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Bronze badge

Re: Metro version of visual studio anyone???

That's why the desktop still exists and why it will continue to, because some applications need much more complex UI, whilst the vast majority don't. That's kind of the whole theory behind Windows 8, not that many people seem to have grasped this. You'll never be able to write iPad apps on an actual iPad, but you can write Windows 8 apps on a Windows 8 tablet device today.

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Re: Metro version of visual studio anyone???

Why vote him down for stating the truth?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Metro version of visual studio anyone???

Matthew, Voting on here is often not about facts.

You like something something someone else doesn't, you'll get downvoted. Criticise Linux. The penguins will downvote. Like Windows, Linux and Fanboys will downvote. Like Apple, the downvoters come out of the woodwork like woodworm at an orgy. If you don't like what 'they' like, you're doomed.

Fickle lot.

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"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,"

Seriously?!!!

How in hell did anyone even discover how to do that in the first place?

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MIc
Facepalm

OMG!!

How did anyone discover Ctrl+V, Ctrl+C, Window+P, Alt+Tab?

Relax everything will be ok.

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Re: OMG!!

>How did anyone discover Ctrl+V, Ctrl+C, Window+P, Alt+Tab?

I personally remember some kind of sticker or card mounted on the keyboard of the computer I was working at? But that was back in the day when computers and applications came with manuals.

These days we just jab shit with our greasy fingers and hope that everything turns out ok.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: OMG!!

Or, follow the interactive tutorial which appears the first time every new user logs on.

A bit like a manual, but more in your face, so there's less excuse for not noticing it...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: OMG!!

> How did anyone discover Ctrl+V, Ctrl+C

Because they are sitting there on the drop-down menus next to the words "Paste" and "Copy".

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Re: OMG!!

it's more interesting discovering (win-key) + x

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Linux

Re: OMG!!

I'm not sure I even know what you are on about.

Although I am sure I can find the relevant features by using the mouse to poke around whatever interface you happen to be talking about.

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How in hell did anyone even discover how to do that in the first place? They were flailing wildly trying to get something done.

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Re: OMG!!

@Mlc: How did anyone discover Ctrl+V, Ctrl+C, Window+P, Alt+Tab?

Welllll, Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V, like Ctrl-Q and Ctrl-S were around in VMS, Apollo Aegis, Ultrix, so I was happy that they were around in Windows/DOS, too.

As to Window+P: Don't know, dont care.

...and Alt+Tab: Fluff

There. All clear now?

Georg

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Happy

Re: OMG!!

Holy shit, why am I just learning this now.

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Joke

Just wondering if any of you have been to the homepage of this guys website, it might be the worst site I have seen on the net in 10 years. Looks like it was built using design from 1990 and an RM Nimbus.

Obviously this guy is clueless and why anyone would actually listen to anything he has to say about modern technology is beyond me.

http://www.useit.com/

^^ I LOL'd

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Might not be pretty...

But seems to be functional.

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