back to article Microsoft 'touches 16k shop workers' to flog Windows 8 hard

Microsoft says Windows 8 PC sales were cursed by the unholy trinity of a slow economy, incursions by Apple and Android tablets, and the "ambitious" user interface design. But the software giant insisted it is working with retailers and manufacturers to supply hardware that people actually want in time for the peak sales season …

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Anonymous Coward

call me stupid but...

... if im sitting on my sofa with my laptop in my lap working hard on my new novel why should I want to keep reaching up to touch the screen?

I'm finding it hard to work out when I'd find a touch screen on a laptop any real use...

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Re: call me stupid but...

@AC:

Ok, you're stupid.

For fuck's sake, people, try to understand. Windows 8 is NOT a touch-centric OS. The desktop mode is completely identical to Win 7 in usability terms. You run all your usual software, you don't need a touch screen, no-one's going to make you little arms all tired. If you're running on a standard desktop/laptop, you use it just like Win 7, with the mouse / trackpad / keyboard, and everything works just fine.

IF - please note, I'm saying "IF" - you're on a touch-enabled device, like a tablet or a convertible, then you can ALSO - please note, I'm saying "ALSO" - interact with the machine using touch. Is anyone here claiming that there's no place for a touch interface? No, of course not.

Windows 8 has both a regular interface and a touch interface, with no requirement to use either one in a context where it doesn't work. If you're some sort of idiot sitting in front of a 24" 1920x1200 touch screen and you keep reaching up to touch the screen instead of using the mouse, then you've only got yourself to blame.

Why would anyone in their right mind, running Win 8 on a desktop with a 24" screen, be using Metro apps anyway? Metro apps are optimised for use on relatively small, touch-enabled screens. Sure, you can use it on a big screen if you want, but don't complain if it's not ideal - it's not meant to be.

I read the El Reg review of the Lenovo Yoga the other day, and it included something to the effect of 'Windows 8 doesn't make sense with a mouse/keyboard'. Bullshit, you're just using it wrong.

Now, I will agree with the thrust of this article which seems to taking the position that Win 8 is actually fine, but that it was launched with too much emphasis on the touch features, leading various commentards to say "touch won't work on a big screen / desktop". Microsoft should have spent more effort highlighting the continuity offered in Win 8, whose Desktop is hardly changed at all from Win 7. Desktop users need have no fear of upgrading.

Note that this is all based on the fact that I use Win 8 every day, on a desktop machine with two large non-touch monitors, using nothing more than a normal keyboard and mouse. Do not rely on the opinions of commentards who say things like 'I don't know anyone who's got Win 8' or 'based on the reviews I've read', etc.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: call me stupid but...

When Windows 8 has a simple switch to remove TIFKAM then I'll happily buy it for myself and all the people I support. You can lead a horse to water.....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: call me stupid but...

MS are saying that devices should be touch enabled. . At thr moment that pushes the price up a long way. What I was trying to express is why should I pay for a touch enabled device when I have no use for ir.

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Re: call me stupid but...

@Eadon

"When you see Win 8 in the shops it has a touch screen UI"

"it's default interface, that cannot be switched off *within* windows 8, is a touch interface"

No, it has a *touch-compatible* UI, one which is equally usable both on touch screens and with mouse/trackpad/keyboard. Seriously, are you trying to say that it's impossible, or even difficult, to use Win 8 on a non-touch device?

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Re: call me stupid but...

More difficult than Windows 7.

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Re: call me stupid but...

@M Gale

"More difficult than Windows 7."

That's true, at first, for some suitably small value of 'more'.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: call me stupid but... @ chris long

The W8 DT GUI is shit and a complete mess. I'll be sticking with XP's replacement (W7) until the complete crock of shit Vista replacement is itself replaced .

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Re: call me stupid but...

"that's true, at first..."

Having to deal with icon^Wtile spam, single-window interfaces and trying to drag the screen with a mouse is not something that gets easier with time.

Having a reasonably intuitive interface suitable for a computer that may have hundreds of programs installed replaced by a Tomy interface that goes from bad to awful the more you install, also does not improve with age.

Seriously, the XP default colour scheme was awful and deserves the Fisher Price moniker, but at least it was functional and could be turned into something less garish with a few pokes at the right checkbox. This thing just has no redeeming features. There is nothing in TIFKAM that cannot be achieved with the same or less effort in Windows 7. It isn't as good. Sorry.

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Re: call me stupid but...

People want icons, wallpaper, start menu and taskbar.

Just like a state of art technology BMW/Porsche still has a steering wheel and pedals and even (!) manual gears as an option. What would happen if they released only joystick controlled cars year?

Ms could simply ask user (their customer!) which way do they want to use it. "classic" or "touchscreen" centric.

I was giving win "classic" theme example to gnome 3 fanatics and this happened.

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Boffin

Lord of the flies

Ever seen flies on a touch screen ? I have last summer and it was hilarious - they are happy to open Control Panel for you or whatever ... close random windows ....

Every now and then, when I point at something onscreen, the display thinks I want to click it although I have not "touched" the screen ... so "touch screen" is inappropriate, it should be pointer screen ... And at the end of the day, it is expensive useless junk, tbh.

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Re: Lord of the flies

"Ever seen flies on a touch screen ? I have last summer and it was hilarious - they are happy to open Control Panel for you or whatever ... close random windows ...."

It's just a bug

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Re: Lord of the flies

...or a spider?

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Angel

Ambitious...

But rubbish,

Basically windows 8 is like anything the topgear lads touch....

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Holmes

"Ambitious" as synonym for "Awful"?

It's interesting that they describe the Windows 8 interface as "Ambitious". In my experience, a lot of people who describe themselves as ambitious, or are described that way, are actually just awful people. Not all of them, of course, but a lot. Windows 8 is an awful interface. Perhaps the words are effective synonyms.

I am wondering whether Microsoft are doing an Inverse Star Trek Movie approach to operating systems, where the odd numbered ones are alright and the even numbers are awful. Sorry, "ambitious."

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Re: "Ambitious" as synonym for "Awful"?

@breakfast:

"Windows 8 is an awful interface"

Please clarify. Which part of the interface is awful? The desktop mode, which is essentially identical to Win 7? The Start screen? Are you writing off the entire OS just because of the Start screen? What is it, exactly, that is 'awful' about the Start screen?

The Start screen is perfectly usable with a mouse and keyboard. Pro tip - the mouse scroll wheel will scroll the Start screen and various Metro apps left and right. It's like some sort of usability magic - how do they come up with these things? Using the scroll wheel for scrolling? MIND BLOWN.

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Mushroom

Re: "Ambitious" as synonym for "Awful"?

Where to begin...

The first problem I have is that the whole damn interface, aside from the crippled desktop, is designed for touch. Now I have never liked Apple, who make pricey gear for graphic designers, hipsters and Nathan Barley tosspots, but at least they understand that there is a difference between a desktop and touch-screen interface. Microsoft seem to have gone for a one-size-fits-all-but-the-desktop approach which as a user of non-touch-screen machines is very frustrating to me. The whole thing about Windows was that it was supposed to be a graphical user interface, but I find myself having to use keystrokes more and more to do things that I could previously do easily with a couple of mouse clicks.

Also what is the deal with the start page and the charms menu? Why are some things "charms" and others start page entries? I'm sure I could customise that, but why should I have to? The whole paradigm is simply confusing. And sometimes, I want to move my mouse to the edge of the screen and not have a menu suddenly drift in between me and what I was doing.

The division between TIFKAM and desktop is just weird - the way that applications can only exist in one space or the other. Also what happens when you minimise an application in TIFKAM? Is it different from closing it? Does that mean I can't close them too or that they can be both close and minimised, but without opening the application it is impossible to know which? I'm no usability consultant, but I don't think when Schroedinger's Box was proposed as a thought experiment, the idea was that it would make for an outstanding interface design.

One thing I think about when I deal with a new operating system is what my life would be like if my parents were to install it and I was to have to explain it to them. In that respect the curious dualism of Windows 8 would make for endless confusion and hours of attempting to explain concepts that make no sense at all to a person who has a mouse and keyboard in front of them.

There is no single factor in Windows 8s awfulness- it's not like Vista where the "Are you sure you want to" and "Are you definitely sure you want to" and "Please think again, you might not want to do this" pop up boxes on EVERY SINGLE ACTION were the clear thing that was wrong with the operating system. Windows 8 has a passably quick desktop ( but without the start menu, quite annoyingly crippled ) and it starts up quite fast.

In terms of general day-to-day use, however, the main thing it has done is drive me to Linux. If I could play Skyrim on Linux, I doubt I would need my Windows boot partition at all.

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Re: "Ambitious" as synonym for "Awful"?

@breakfast

"The first problem I have is that the whole damn interface, aside from the crippled desktop, is designed for touch."

Well, that's wrong for a start. The Start screen and the Metro apps are designed to be touch-comaptible, but the rest of Windows (ie 99% of it) isn't. The main Windows 8 desktop is just like Windows 7 with no obvious concessions to touch-compatibility. Agreed, the Charms menu is 'different' in Windows terms but that kind of always-available 'home' menu is a pretty familiar concept to anyone with a smartphone.

Similarly re: closing apps. You're getting stressed about whether an app is really closed, like some OCD victim constantly checking that the front door's locked. It doesn't matter - it's a different paradigm. You don't need to close apps, you just switch away from them and don't worry about it - let the OS deal with it. (If you really want to close them, drag from the top of the screen to the bottom).

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Joke

Re: You don't need to close apps... let the OS deal with it.

That's why so much Surface capacity is used by the OS- All of the installed apps are running all of the time!

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Holmes

The Identical Desktop

"The desktop mode, which is essentially identical to Win 7?"

LOL@ThePaidMicroTroll!

You mean the "essentially identical desktop mode" that has no Start Menu, is impossible to boot into directly without third party software, keeps jumping back to the horrid Metro UI at the drop of a hat, and crazy things keep zooming onto the screen from random directions if you accidentally move the mouse the wrong way? Do you mean that "identical desktop"?

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Stop

Re: The Identical Desktop

Asok Asus,

Someone disagrees with you. It doesn't make them either a shill or a troll. It just means they hold a different opinion. It's really not a hard concept to grasp. Please stop it!

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Facepalm

Re: "Ambitious" as synonym for "Awful"?

You're having to explain to someone who works full time as a Windows developer and has done for a long time now, how to do basic Windows tasks through the Reg forums. This hasn't happened with any previous version of Windows. I should be able to look at the screen, try a few things and figure out what I need to do- I shouldn't need to Bing it on my Zune to find how to do the basics.

The thing is, after 20 years or so of refinement, Windows usability *wasn't wrong* - most people could figure out how to do most things. There was no reason to change it for most users. See also Visual Studio 2012 - it's like they took the usability guidelines and threw them out the window for that.

The whole thing reeks of Microsoft trying to be cool. Obviously, I'm a programmer, I don't know much about being cool, but I do know that one thing that nobody ever got cool by trying.

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Re: "Ambitious" as synonym for "Awful"?

"Closing apps is important, one often needs to know which apps are active or not. The dumbing down of the UI is a nightmare."

It's only "important" if the OS is doing a poor job of managing system resources. Beyond that, it's literally the least important thing possible. People don't use there computer because they want to start and stop applications, they are trying to get actual stuff done.

And in any case the idea that an application needs to be "running" to be active is also a dated idea. Metro apps can respond even if you've never "run" them or indeed after you've "closed" them. Try it out with the Messaging app, for example and you'll soon see it will happily inform you of new IMs, regardless of it's "running" state.

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Re: "Ambitious" as synonym for "Awful"?

@breakfast: The world has moved on. Sure you could just leave things as they were, but they'll become increasingly less relevant or useful to most people. The idea that the classic "desktop + Start menu" is somehow UI perfection is as ridiculous as similar comments back in the days when DOS was being phased out, or Win 3 after that.

Regardless of whether it's "cool" or not, or whether it requires people (yes, even programmers!) to learn new stuff, it's still important to move things forward. The absolute one way to be guaranteed to become obsolete is to do nothing at all.

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Fresh feeling of quit!

Google tried that concept of running all apps without quit option and still insists on it. It really makes sense, as an advanced user who understood it, I rarely "quit" apps on Android.

Google also added the "service" vs "full application" and made it possible to make services run as long as they are needed, even triggered when something occurs (e.g. Charger plugged). Anyway, too complex to write in one post.

Do you know what happened when Android works this way? Most of developers use "if user is at main menu and touch back key, destroy yourself" trick. Opera mobile even has own "have quit button" setting. Top downloaded utilities are "task killers", even manufacturers like htc add the function to their UI. By the way, killing a task is really stupid and wastes huge battery. Complete pseudo science.

If they didn't insist on arrogance, google did the billion device test for them. Users want quit option!

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Re: "Ambitious" as synonym for "Awful"?

Also what happens when you minimise an application in TIFKAM?

Nothing. The application carries on flicking between running and suspended states in the background until such time as the OS decides it needs more memory. The program then gets a short time (5 seconds if I remember that lecture correctly) to save anything important before it is forcibly terminated.

See also here.

So in the future when everything's Modern, will I watch everything slow to a crawl if I enable power saving, because there's no close button on the million and one store apps open? Or will I end up with the system deciding what apps I get to have immediately available and what ones get extra added switch times and the uncertainty of whether they really did manage to save everything in the time required?

Someone really should apply a chair-end to Ballmer's cranium and tell him a PC isn't a games console or a phone.

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Vic
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Re: "Ambitious" as synonym for "Awful"?

> It's only "important" if the OS is doing a poor job of managing system resources

> you'll soon see it will happily inform you of new IMs, regardless of it's "running" state

If a messaging app can inform me of anything, it's running something.

If I haven't told it to run, then the OS *is* doing a poor job of managing resources...

Vic.

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Facepalm

Re: "Ambitious" as synonym for "Awful"?

I'm not saying things should be left as they were. I am saying that things should not *deliberately be made worse*. That is a massive difference.

I love usability changes that make things more usable. I'm all in favour of those.

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Advice to Microsoft

PANIC NOW!

-A.

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FAIL

Re: "consumers didn't understand touch-based laptops"

Consumers understand touchscreen... what they don't understand is why they are so expensive, or why they should pay hundreds more and have worse specs... apple only got away with that by exploiting idots that think price = quality, and they could only do that by not having cheap good quality hardware in the first place, sadly MS has been helping to flog cheap hardware for decadeds by giving away windows and offering OEMs discounts to bundle windows with their hardware.

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Linux

"But the software giant insisted it is working with retailers and manufacturers to supply hardware that people actually want in time for the peak sales season this spring." -- It's the lack of a decent operating system that's the problem not a lack of decent hardware. I was dissuaded from by a very nice, very shiny Samsung Ultra Book simply because it came with W8 and there were no W7 drivers available on the Sammy website.

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Trollface

@Miek

Possibly the first recorded case of a fool and his money not being parted.

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@Eadon

Not a Samsung, but yes, I bought a new desktop from Novatech in November, specified Windows 8, and haven't looked back. It's not perfect but it's a long, long way from being the disaster that various commentards round here would have you believe.

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Anonymous Coward

For "ambitious," read, "Crap."

And, for "different comfort levels," read, "people don't like it."

How many millions can I expect from Microsoft for this ultimate piece of management consultancy: Stop living and dealing in lies. There, I've just transformed your company's future. I think I deserve a few pennies.

Of course, Mr Ballmer and colleagues might find that they have different comfort levels with my advice.

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Anonymous Coward

Windows 8 reminds me of an old joke about meeting customer requirements.

A man goes into shop and asks for a particular widget. The shopkeep says to him in an exasperated voice "look - you're the hundredth person I've told today - there's no call for that widget".

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Vic
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> Windows 8 reminds me of an old joke about meeting customer requirements.

Reminds me of a joke about management...

"It is a crock of shit and it stinketh."

Vic.

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Linux

Windows 8 could be great for 3D design applications.

A large screen, high power, Windows 8 kit could be very useful in applications such as 3D Studio or Blender for example. With a few improvements to the software workflow, they could become so much easier and more intuitive to use with a touchscreen. Definitely, they would be a great way to demonstrate the potential of touch-screen computing.

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Re: Windows 8 could be great for 3D design applications.

An optional stylus acting directly on the screen would prevent smudges and aid precision. As an example, you can see how useful it is for drawing 2D on the Galaxy Note 2.

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Re: 3D Design

What you're suggesting is basically strapping a touch screen/stylus combo to a computer and using it to twiddle about in 3DS Max. An interesting experiment, especially for Photoshoppers, but not one that requires TIFKAM.

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Re: 3D Design

If the software could be optimised for the touchscreen, it could become much more powerful. I'm imagining that with the stylus, one could freestyle in say, Zbrush, or use certain actions to translate, even write the numbers for precise co-ordinates. With the other hand, one could double tap for menus, two fingers for zooms, pans, etc. There is a potetntial for completely new UI's for some applications to make them more intuitive and improve productivity. I may sound like a fan, but I personally would not use W8 until it actually becomes more useful in applications than it is now.

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Vic
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Re: 3D Design

> I'm imagining that with the stylus

What you're imagining is very similar to what we did in the '70s with light pens.

The ubiquity of light pens today should give you an idea as to how well that went...

Vic.

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Re: 3D Design

Perhaps. Although the high costs, CRT's, vector graphics, and functionality relative to modern hardware may have put paid to light pen UI. The wire tethering the light pens would also have been unhelpful. In any case, many different input devices have been tried to overcome the shortcomings of keyboard and mouse alone. With flat screen, high res, and speedy hardware, a touch screen interface can have some very useful UI features. Obviously, it could match all the advantages that light pens would have but without the physical tether. Handwriting recognition would be a bonus. The screen itself could show functions or menus accessible on specific screen locations or context. Being able to use your hands to interact directly with the screen together with the speed of modern hardware should make the experience feel very "natural". In short, a lot of potential.

(PS. I hope I haven't posted this comment twice)

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Facepalm

And todays Microsoft rep on a comments thread is...

Chris Long.

Not including a classic desktop sort of mode in Windows 8 is the biggest act of stupidity I have seen in a long time. I installed Win 8 on my spare laptop at home just to see what the crack was, I'll be buggered if I put that on my main rig as my day to day OS. Productivity seems to have been an after thought...lets make it all pretty instead.

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