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Jakob Nielsen: Disappointing usability for new and power users in Windows 8

Windows 8 Usability

Jakob Nielsen, Ph.D. and User Advocate and principal of the Nielsen Norman Group (www.nngroup.com), has spoken out about usability concerns in Windows 8. Nielsen goes into great detail about aspects of Microsoft's latest desktop operating system and how features just don't make sense to new and established power users.

Now we're not ones to quickly jump on the wagon to attack Microsoft's products, but criticism is due when it's required. Windows 8 is a mess to some consumers, with many believing it to be more difficult to use than Windows 7. Nielsen's article summary sums up his thoughts in few words:

"Hidden features, reduced discoverability, cognitive overhead from dual environments, and reduced power from a single-window UI and low information density. Too bad."

It's not all negative, though. There are praises for the innovations Microsoft has made and how the elements highlighted in his article could work. But the current implementation and restrictions that Windows 8 forces on those who are used to Windows 7 and prior versions of the desktop OS is an issue that's worth highlighting.

Windows 8 Upgrade

We'll not reiterate exactly what Nielsen wrote as his blog post is definitely worth reading in its entirety if you're experiencing similar issues with Windows 8, but this is a list of topics he covered in the write up:

  • Double Desktop = Cognitive Overhead and Added Memory Load
  • Lack of Multiple Windows = Memory Overload for Complex Tasks
  • Flat Style Reduces Discoverability
  • Low Information Density
  • Overly Live Tiles Backfire
  • Charms Are Hidden Generic Commands
  • Error-Prone Gestures
  • Windows 8 UX: Weak on Tablets, Terrible for PCs

Whether your thoughts be on either side of the fence, Nielsen's thoughts on the user experience in Windows 8 are well worth checking out. Such issues have been brought up previously through the few previews Microsoft released to the public for testing before Windows 8 launched.

The question has to be: why hasn't Microsoft already acted to at least help flatten the learning curve for new users? Do you agree with Jakob Nielsen's points?

Source: Useit

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Reader comments

Jakob Nielsen: Disappointing usability for new and power users in Windows 8

188 Comments

This is his idea of maximum usablility. And for what it is, I guess maybe it is highly usable. But he's critiquing an OS, and he is doing it in a way that is completely mechanical and ignores the emotional component and that does a lot more to shape a user's feelings about something than the mechanical does, IMO.

If that's his idea of max usability he can keep it, design wise that's such a distracting field of text with little to no information compartmentalization that using it is nigh impossible. Even by the design standards of the web in it's infancy that would have been considered lack-luster at best, by today's standards it's downright arrogant to critique *anything* visually and operationally while presenting such a dreadful front end. 

HOLY CRAP!
I think Nielsen's site just gave me cancer!
And the dude looks like he's 87 years old - "NEW THINGS MAKE ME ANGRY!"

Ditto. And I wouldn't call that website useful, engaging, or at all an example of anything besides what you should NOT do in terms of web or usability design. Above the fold, it's relatively clear, if unattractive in a manner that suggests his design aesthetic wasn't very forward thinking even 15 years ago. But that mass of links without page breaks or even real headings is just nightmarishly bad. Just, awful.

If you do web design for a living and have not yet come across Jakob's work, I suggest you go back and re-learn the principles of good design ... usability.
Meanwhile you have all missed the point my light years. Stop criticising his site and analyse his article. Unlike other sites and fanbpys (of either side), he applies QUANTITATIVE ANALYSIS (big words, I know, sorry) using known METHODS. While I don't agree with Jakob for many things, I am mature and intelligent enough to be able to take on-board his quantitative analysis and subjective conclusion and use it to form my OWN opinion.
It's how mature people have been doing things for years.

I honestly believe his site is a point of critique.. if you're going to make claims of being an expert at something but not present the burden of proof visually as well as verbally, well... something is lacking.  I'm a visual person.. *SHOW ME* that one has the skills... talk is cheap. 

also it's Analyze, not Analyse... Small words I know, sorry..

Wow and this guy wants to talk about usability...LOL... His site look like a paper in progress hahaha...

LOL LOL LOL well no shiit he'd find Win8 difficult to use.  His site is optimized for Netscape 3.0 on Windows 95! HAHAHA

I can't believe it's real, its almost as bad as the Steelers uniforms. This is HTML1.0 level crap. Where is the blinking scrolling marquee???

Lol, I know, right. Now all we need is a photo converted into a gig and we'll be set. Heck, why not put the page in frames.

As a user on both my desktop and surface tablet, I don't agree with his assessment.  On my tablet it's rather simple and I was shocked how quickly I adapted to it on mouse and keyboard.  I think again we are seeing a lack of adjusting to change.  For so long there was just one way of using the PC and now that MS is going in a different direction, there is gonna be bellyaching.  There could be some tweaks ms could put in to help ease that learning curves.  Some fine tuning in the form of a service pack update.  However I find Win 8 a joy to use vs 7 and would not switch back. 

Me either. Windows 7 seems so archaic. Another point this dude says lack of multiple windows? Wtf. I have 20-30 apps open at once. Its called multi tasking. This guy has brain cancer.

Well, when you are using WIndows 8 Sto.. err, Metro Apps, you can have at most 2 apps open at the same time.  And he COMPLETELY disregards that.  He also complains about "low information apps", yet doesn't understand that design principle is in EVERY mobile app.
 
And just because he has the last name Nieleson, some will confuse it with Neilson, as in Neilson Ratings, and think he has a leg to stand up on.  He's a bafoon.

Gotta be honest, I thought he was the person behind Neilson ratings. I didn't realize his last name was different.

I completely agree. I was uneasy about upgrading both my laptop and desktop to Win8, but after using my surface for about a week I jumped in and found it to be a rather pleasant experience. I haven't yet read his blog post, but I can't help but disagree with the points brought up. Sure there's a learning curve, but its all for the better in my opinion.

Same here.  I put Win8 on my laptop and desktop, I plan on getting the Surface Pro the day it comes out, and I have WP7 now and plan to get the Lumia 920 as soon as I'm more confident it will work on T-Mobile.  Pair those with the Xbox I've had for a few years and it truly is a 3 screen experience (minus the issues with Xbox Video).

I guess I'm not as challenged as the "experts" and "power users". I have both a tablet and a desktop with non-touch monitor and can switch between both without missing a beat. Maybe I'm a mutant.....

Your not a mutant I've had the same experience. For every 12 people that will find it difficult there will be 100 that don't.
Some people don't like change. Even if it isn't difficult, they are predisposed to bitch about it.
 

Man, I wish you'd stop being so damn agreeable all the time.
 
I can't stand the way people post stuff to the Internet.

I have no issues with Windows 8 on a traditional laptop. In fact, it's made my 4 year old laptop much faster.

I can't wait for a Surface Pro or another tablet with an Ivy Bridge processor.

I can see it now.
Hmmm, oh neato a picture of a kitten frockling in a field of grass! I gotta share that one.
Charms -> Share -> Bluetooth?
I HAVE BLUETOOTH!?

I'm on windows 8 and I won't go back. It is indeed different but its a good different. At first there are something's that made go wtf...because i once I learned the os, its all good change. I like having apps for somethings like Facebook messaging because its easier to read and sometimes that's all I want to have on my screen.

windows 8 is also stupid fast on my desktop. The speed increase alone is worth it.

i agree with the dumb fast. I bought my mother an hp desktop idk what model but it has a tb of storage 5 gb of ram and 2.36 dual core intel processor and when i put win8 on it, it blew my mind how damn fast the thing was. This is the windows i have been waiting for productivity wise as well as personally. it just does everything flawlessly. completely disagree with the notion that windows 8 is a mess.

Sorry but I hate windows 8. They should have called it "windows for tablets" or something like that and kept PC and tablet OS separate just like Apple.
Does Apple have OSX on an iPad? No. Because Apple are smart enough to realize the difference between using a tablet and a PC.
Windows 8 is totally meant for tablets and with just the metro UI. Having both desktop and metro UI available merely confuses the average consumer. The consumer just can't understand what to use it as: tablet or PC?
Thank you MS, you have driven me to buy a MacBook pro. I'll continue to use windows phone but goodbye to PC.

No what I'm saying is that it's meant for TABLETS ONLY. The experience is way better than an iPad but sucks for a laptop or desktop.
And I observed my non tech-savvy relatives and friends use windows 8 and they couldn't understand what to use it as. Tablet or PC?

It isn't mean for tablets only. Microsoft clearly means it to be used on the PC too.
Maybe that's the problem. They are trying to define it instead of just using it.

Well, I have been using Windows 8 on my laptop and desktop and couldn't disagree with you more. I can't imagine using Windows 7 on my desktop anymore. On my Surface, it's also a beautiful and functional OS. I observed my non tech-savvy relatives and friends using Windows 8 on their laptops and desktops, and boy, do they enjoy every second of it.

Thats weird my family who are all non-tech savvy all have no problems with navigating it. So are these people smarter than you or more adaptable than you.  

my 50 year old mother knows how to use it, and she is not tech savvy at all. my 19 year old brother uses it fine. Hell my 14 year old sister knows how to use it. my friends love it, my family loves it. maybe blackprince is right maybe you and your tech savvy friends are either too dumb to use it or too stubborn to use it. Gotta be one or the other.

Sorry but you are 100% wrong, windows 8 is actually really nice on a regular desktop and especially nice once you get everything set up with short cuts on the start screen/taskbar on the desktop. I am running windows 8 pro on my 4 year old desktop pc and it works like a charm. All my applications work from windows 7 and I get the best of both worlds, apps like I have on my phone and desktop like I had when running windows 7 plus improved performance.
 
Sure there are some things that need to be worked out but the initial out of the box use is fantastic. Now the one thing I will say is this: Preview versions of windows 8 that I used were nowhere near as nice as the finished version. I tried the previews a couple of times and both times went back to windows 7 unimpressed but when I switched to the final version and gave it a chance I would now rather never go back.
 
Most of the people I have seen who do not like windows 8 only spent about 20 minutes playing with it, if you make a focus on using it and learning it the experience becomes immeasurably better. Maybe this is the same thing with this person who reviewed it, he tried to have it render his website and the browser laughed at him because of how ridiculous his useit site was so he gave up :p

I hope you can explain to me in detail why Windows 8 sucks on a laptop or desktop. We all know that the tablet UI is not for desktop. That's why MS provides you with a desktop interface as well, and it is one click away from the start screen and you are back to your favored interface. You don't ever need to go back to the tablet UI if you don't want to. Are you saying just that extra one click and Windows 8 sucks? and your tech-savvy relatives and friends could not understand that and confused about the interface? I really wonder how tech savvy are those people or you are just BS'ing. I keep seeing people like you hating Windows 8 and yet would not do that one click to go to your beloved desktop and keep torturing yourself with the tablet UI. What gives?

I think I said "NON tech-savvy" if you read correctly. And the start menu is gone from desktop. I use that alot to search and quickly open programs and folders. Now I have to keep shortcuts on my desktop.
God, this site has become like that shit site wmpoweruser. Full of zealots.
There are many users here who use Macs and are not too happy with win8. I guess I'm a fool for just coming out and voicing my opinion.

You do realize from the start screen you can find any app (Metro or otherwise) simply by typing its name? HOw much easier can it get. If you are looking for folders you'd be doing that from Windows Explorer that still exists on the desktop where you find it now. The Start Screen is nothing more than a full screen Start Button. How much easier can it get?

If you really want to get your start menu back, you can use Start8 or classic menu. But of course you'll continue to complain about it instead of helping yourself with it. People having different opinions about the OS are zealots? Really? What about you then? and people using Macs have a high probability of not happy with WIn8. Isn't that obvious? Are you one of those?

Really? Goodbye to PC? Win 8 works just like win 7 and better if you want it to. It just has the added touch functionality for you when you need it (For new PC's with touch screens.) If you don't have a new PC and hate the mouse interaction with win8, buy a touchpad. It'll be just as intuitive as using a touch screen. What's the confusion? You're gonna buy a $1500 MacBook instead of learning a few gestures for win8? Pretty extreme dude.

Windows 7 is still better than anything Apple puts out, so the choice is between Win 7 and Win 8 really.

As for Windows 8 on a tablet, you cam think of it like a tablet that is docked to the computer all the time, switch to desktop mode to manage it, run in metro to use it.

Application windows on a low ppi screen looks really bad compared to Windows 8. Visually the rounded edges in Windows 7 were the most disturbing in my opinion.

Days of personal computers being a hulking bulk at home that you cannot take with you are becoming a dying breed.  Laptops replaced a lot of desktop computers.  Virtual machines over take the large footprints of computers.  MS is hoping that this trend continues and the Surface will eventually replace the laptop and netbook.  Its actaully pretty genious and Apple will slowly find themselves doing the same thing.  But they will already be left behind.

Leo...

I'm typing on a MacBook Pro and found your post - amusing.  :)
You do realize you don't HAVE to use the Windows 8 UI right? You can stay in tablet/touch screen/Metro mode OR flip over to a standard desktop experience. That's pretty handy... and in fact... a pretty darn good experience - choice.

Mac OS X does something similar - Launchpad - which is a complete mess. It's not iPad/iPhone/iOS6, it's not a shortcut screen. It's faster to launch your apps using the dock than the Launchpad.

Windows 8 has got to be the most visually appealing and actually innovating approach to a mobile-style / desktop compromise that works.
The biggest hurdle Apple faces now is iOS6 - the UI is all over it's mobile and TV products, but can't find a way to the desktops/laptops...
Then again, does Apple *really* sell PCs anymore? 

 

 

 

 

You decided not to understand, what works how in Windows 8 and just cleared it as non-sense...Can you explain in what was so confusing...?
I mean seriously, iConfusing...?, when, where, how, what...
Piece of cake = Windows 8, I use it on my laptop, however I want it...

It is really not that hard to tell the difference. If you dont like the modern UI you still can hit the desktop app and stay there forever! There is even an app that brings back the start menu. Also on the desktop mode, things have improved, its faster, it crashes less and still packs all the features of windows 7 ! it cant be that bad! On the other hand you can still jump into the modern UI and take advantage of all the new features and download applications from the store... it really gave my machines a new start. Now i have windows 8 runing on my desktop and on my macbook pro (bootcamp). I dont use OSX anymore since i installed windows 8 on my mac!

I will buy a win8 as a tablet. Its meant for entertainment and media consumption. But that's it. It will be like my iPad and won't replace my laptop.
I don't find it confusing. Its more of an inconvenience. I'm a programmer and I prefer a traditional windows UI to work(creating folders, managing projects, moving files around etc..).
I just think it should have been Microsoft's version of the iPad. Instead it seems like a product that's trying to achieve too many things at the same time.
So tablet-yes win8 wins there. But laptop(for work specifically)- not quite.
And I never said its confusing to use. Its very intuitive, fluid and modern but is trying to play two roles at once.

I don't understand this perspective. I am also an software engineer and spend a great deal of time in Visual Studio and the traditional desktop mode. I just don't seem to have the same issues you seem to.

You realize that apple has slowly been shoving ios traits into its osx right?" Apps" and even their launch pad turns your screen into a giant iPad menu. I have a bootcamped MacBook pro. Good luck.

Yes I know that. I'm only switching to a MacBook pro because I like the experience. Windows 8 will replace my iPad though.

Lol. I guess you're right. I was just voicing my opinion on win8. This is a WP fan site not a MS one so I just thought I'd post my opinion.

your entitled to your opinion but you seem to be nitpicking elements of windows 8 to justify your leaving. If you prefer the mac experience say so, but dont make it seem like windows 8 is complex or an inconvenience to you when its pretty well stated at this point in time that you can work and do all of your legacy app work in desktop view. i have found that the universal search charm makes finding what your need exceptionally fast and thats a huge plus for me as i love not having to hit start/control panel/add remove programs etc etc.. windows 8 is undoubtebly much faster more productive, and much easier to use once you look past the obvious boundaries you think there are.

I somewhat agree. Windows RT tablets if sold wrong can leave consumers with a bad taste in their mouth. For all the complaining done by ms, the Surface doesn't really stop the issues. If I was in charge, rt would have been Windows Mosaic, and the other side would have been Windows 8 with Mosaic. Keep the Windows name still be different enough by name... Not RT vs. 8, the only difference in name.

Yes, all iDevices run a version of OSX, which is pretty clear to everyone ( or should be ). iOS is basically the RT version of OSX, just without everything people love and need from a computer. Windows 8 couldn't be more simple, and everyone I know are extremely happy that they're not forced to use the awful search field the Start menu used to have and they couldn't love the gestures more. If it's impossible for you to understand that dragging to the left -> multi-tasking, dragging to the right -> app-specific menu, then you won't ever be understanding customization of the app window menu or all the difference customizable gestures in OSX that makes it hard for the average consumer to go from Mac to Mac. There's not much to learn about Windows 8, and when it comes to switching between tasks and getting from A to B, Windows 8 does a lot better than Mountain Lion.

Yes, all iDevices run a version of OSX, which is pretty clear to everyone ( or should be ). iOS is basically the RT version of OSX, just without everything people love and need from a computer. Windows 8 couldn't be more simple, and everyone I know are extremely happy that they're not forced to use the awful search field the Start menu used to have and they couldn't love the gestures more. If it's impossible for you to understand that dragging to the left -> multi-tasking, dragging to the right -> app-specific menu, then you won't ever be understanding customization of the app window menu or all the difference customizable gestures in OSX that makes it hard for the average consumer to go from Mac to Mac. There's not much to learn about Windows 8, and when it comes to switching between tasks and getting from A to B, Windows 8 does a lot better than Mountain Lion.

I think for clarity, you should say it is mainly a Mobile OS. I agree, this is TRUE, but it DOES let these high-powered machines run better. There's just too much nuance to this subject for definitive answers. We are at a crossroads now, I say go forward regardless. =/

All right guys enough. Too many comments. Have you heard of the phrase "too each his own..."? Most of you have replied with comments insulting my intelligence or saying I'm stubborn. Either way I'm unperturbed. To me win8 desktop is a downgrade. And yes even one or two extra clicks piss me off(sorry that's just the way I am).
Oh and apparently people think I'm switching just because of win8. I was planning on switching anyway to a MacBook pro before win8 was announced but I decided to wait and see how win8 turns out. I didn't like it and am now switching as I had intended.
Now give it a rest already. Most of you seem so butt hurt that someone is switching from windows.
Its just tech, yet you guys seem to have associated your whole life to it as if its some best friend you're defending.
Good day and I'm not commenting anymore since this is going nowhere...

I understand "to each his own..?" We all can agree to disagree and I would not comment more on you replies. But then you ended your comment with "butt hurt.." and "associated your whole life..." bla bla bla. That is uncalled for and unnecessary. To you Windows 8 is a downgrade, to others it is not. Other people have a completely experience than you. You say people are defending the OS, I guess you are doing the attacking then? I don't know who is the one that got butt hurt.

I am a Windows fan but I really don't have much use for the "metro" apps.  From the "metro" apps that I've played with, they really don't offer much in comparison with traditional desktop apps.  Yesterday I installed Start8 from Stardock and now my Windows 8 Dell XPS 12 is awesome.  It boots to the desktop, it has a Start menu, and it blows Windows 7 out of the water with its blazing speed.  I'm sticking with Windows 8.  I love it now that I tweaked it!

I like window 8 as a whole...but there some missing features that is very annoying. Like trying to save an email attachment into a new folder. They don't give you an option to create new folder. And where is the genres option in the music app?

I agree with you regarding apps, but that's something that can be fixed or addressed wth apps.  I made a nice lenghthy list of things I feel can be done better with things like the Music app and mail.  The OS isn't the blame in those cases, just the apps need to be better written. 

I'm one of those that likes change, but there are issues in Win8 that I could live without. For example, go try and connect to a vpn via pttp. 
1. Type in VPN, and you get three options (if i remember correctly).
2. Select first option and you'll go into desktop to establish a new connection.
3. Go to start and retype VPN again.
4. This time you can now select "Connect to VPN" or something like that.
5. Now you need to go find credentials, so you go bring up email or some document, well, that closes the "Connect to VPN" screen.
6. Retype VPN again in the start menu, and bring up the same "Connect to VPN" area, this time you paste the username, then you need to go copy password. Repeat this step again.
7. Eventually, you'll connect, assuming your credentials were good, but if you screwed up, you'll have to retype VPN on the start menu a few more times.
 
That right there, is quiet rediculous, there are similar "settings screens" that follow that same approach, normally these would be in floating windows, and you'd just toggle back and forth, but these slideout settings areas are just not well executed. They need to stay there, don't slide away...

Those are all valid criticisms - things that will likely (hopefully) get worked out and get better as the new paradigm matures.

Yea, I'm sure, i wouldn't give up on windows because of that, can't really work in anything else. But I think the actual "working" is made more difficult in this itteration, but with tweaking could be really helpful.

I expect it'll meet somewhere in the middle. There is no denying that Windows 8 is a different expereince. There IS an adjustment period, as people find ways to do the things they need to do in the new environment. With the experience improvment program, MSFT is gathering a lot of metrics and those will no doubt play a large role in the changes and tweaks we'll see as things move forward.

If I were Ballmer, I'd announce that there will be a service pack pushed out that will include enable/disable desktop and metro mode via a lock button in settings. And the glorious return of the start button! That would be a better transition for those in love with Windows 7 and/or don't need live tiles for an Office or gaming PC.
Let's be frank. Keep RT for tablets and use Pro for desktops and slash pricing for ARM and increase it for PRO. Also, Sinofsky can take one for the team and be the scapegoat for all this. Homerun! Microsoft is back!

His comments are spot on. His website is poor, spartan in the worst way, which undermines everything he says. You'd think he'd connect the dots there.
 
In any case, I fully agree that Win8 is a usability nightmare. Installing Start8 and ingoring the Modern start screen is the only way I can survive it on my desktop. 

That context bar on the start screen where you have "all apps" needs to have quick settings features or something useful because it is wasted space at this point

I've been using Windows 8 since the beta and I can find places both to agree and disagree with this article. I find that (as a power user) Windows 8 is incredibly simple to use. I don't find too many issues with doing the same things that I did in Windows 7. However, discoverability and hidden menus and multi-tasking in metro can all be individual disasters. Microsoft hides too many things in locations that users would not assume are buttons, and hides too many options away in the right click.

The Music app is the perfect example of a clusterf#$k of hidden menus. You can't get to the "Now Playing" screen without first right clicking somewhere on the barren screen, then clicking on the album art of whatever track is playing. Bear in mind that nothing tells you to right click for more options, and absolutely nothing hints that something might happen if you click on the album art.

Another big issue I have is that you cannot run two full screen 'Metro' apps on two different monitors. The only way to "multi-task" in 'Metro' is to do the 1/3 - 2/3 on a single screen and have the desktop on the second monitor. For instance, I was watching the Hulu Plus app on my main monitor and thought, why don't I get some email done while I'm watching this. I open the 'Metro' email app and it closes Hulu Plus. Multiple monitor support is garbage in the 'Metro' ui, however it is leaps and bounds better while only using the desktop ui. Quick launch and task bar on both monitors for one is huge, multiple wallpapers is another.

So over all, this is a mixed bag of tricks and treats that Microsoft has brought us. Definitely a lot of improvements over Windows 7, but just as many UI disasters in Windows 8 that were not present in Windows 7.

My past experiences in windows continually tell me to "right click" I hazard that's not something you had to do a lot..? =)

Nielsen, hasn't used Windows as Windows and instead tried to use it as Mac....Im afraid, after that experience, ts gonna sound like that...I installed and cant get enought if it...on top of that my friend who uses a Mac, and iPhone and an iPad, is just so so with Windows 8 & Office 2013, that he put it on parallels virtual s/w....
So nielsen U R Wrong..

Who?
And for a guy proclaiming the virtues of ease of use, WYSIWYG is apparently completely foreign to him and his web site.
Maybe he can redesign Windows 8 in Notepad. Lets see how well that turns out for him.

Coming from  Samsung Series 7 Slate which ran Windows 7 out of the box, and masked with Samsung's touch interface, you can imagine I could be nothing short of content with Windows 8 being here. Just sayin'....

I was one of the first people to point out at least some of those flaws. The best word I could find to describe Windows 8 was "unfinished". You don't see the same robustness and logical organization of Windows Phone on Windows 8.
I think tiles work best on smaller screens. Even on Windows Phone I think Live Tiles shouldn't keep updating individually, as this creates a sense of haphazardness; (imagine how cool it would have been if a wave ran through tiles from top to bottom, turning them over and updating their info for example every 10 seconds!).
Still, I can't call Windows 8 a flop since I remember reactions to Windows XP back in the day, and now look where XP is now. (Vista's problem was awful AWFUL performance)
I wouldn't design Windows 8 this way. My approach would have been to give the desktop a cool flat look (not like what MS did to desktop on Windows 8 - "unfinished" - maybe something like http://blog.gsmarena.com/this-is-what-windows-8-on-desktop-should-have-l...), then create new desktops like on MAC, and allow the user to choose widgets in the shape of tiles on whichever desktop they want.
On second thought, maybe the current Start screen should have been simply another desktop that you'd get to with a shortcut or a swipe, instead of it replacing the Start menu. Then you could choose which screen the PC should boot to, depending on whether you have a laptop or a tablet.

Actually, I maintain that Vistas problem was the pcs being so weak...but it was kind of silly for them to assume anyone had that kind of computer that could handle it. =[

He makes some good points - it's true, some clickable items could well benefit from looking more "button like" (but I don't think it needs 3D chrome or anything really.
However, I disagree with his "Windows 8 UX: Weak on Tablets, Terrible for PCs" assertion. On my PC, I just "Start" the Desktop, and it runs like a cleaner, faster version of Windows 7. Sure, I dip into the new Start Screen now and then to launch things, but I can't imagine a user thinking that every single program on Win8 must run in "Metro"/full-screen mode.  (Actually... I can imagine it, and that's sad. But perhaps those people should be using WinRT instead... on a tablet, where it makes more sense)... 8)
Microsoft probably should make it clearer that the Desktop in Win8 is not gone (nor should it go anywhere. There is value to having multiple windows open next to each other, and it'd be foolish to scrap it).  But big, full-screen apps do make prettier screen-shots in ads.
I would, however, like to right-click a Tile on the Start Screen and have options like "Create Shortcut on Desktop" available (which I could use to populate my own docked Toolbar - it's a bit of a pain right now manually creating those links).  A lot of those "power commands" should be made available for those that need them, at least on Win8's "Metro-facing" UI.

I actually prefer the full screen use even on the desktop. I don't like clutter on my tech, I have enough clutter around me. Since 7, I have not kept anything on my desktop, all pinned to taskbar which is auto-hidden! Full screen my browser when I can...the aero switch was fun but that jazz isn't necessary. With HD screens we don't need all these micro details...and that kind of experience should never just be limited to smaller devices and small menus! =P

I work in computer sales and some customers feel like they have to argue with me that Windows 8 is not a PC friendly OS. But as part if my job I am usually successful in changing their minds about it. I show them the possibilities and a little crash course on it and even older folks like the new experience. I know I like it in my regular laptop coming from Windows 7 and I have never looked back.... :)

I love windows 8. I did t care for it at first now I prefer it over windows 7. You can do everything on desktop still its improved then you have the new metro environment which is a bonus. Things will just get better. I bought a 10 point touch and it works smooth just like windows phone. Even in desktop mode. I use bluestacks for some android apps. Everything runs smooth. Boots up in 8seconds on ssd. I wonder if anyone make a real game w multi touch intended for powerful PC gaming rather than tablet games like angry birds. I play dota and Diablo 3 touch is good however weren't developed focusing on touch. All I can say is I see potential and wouldn't go back to windows 7 XP/mac.

I know its all been said but.....I really love windows 8 (I dont have a touch pc, laptop, or tablet I only use mouse and keyboard).........i think it is in large part because I expected from the begining to have to relearn a few things. I enjoyed that instead of hated it because I was expecting it.

I'm liking Windows 8, no complaints, though I get there are complaints out there, and things can always be improved. That cycle will never end, there will always be something out there somebody has a complaint about, and/or an improvement that has to be made, no doubts about it.
Just a thought: like Windows Phone 7, Windows Phone 7.5 did wonders for us, right? Here's hoping Windows 8.5 comes soon to alleviate some of y'all!

I am a software architect for a large corporation and was very skeptical about moving to Win8 mainly due to the complexity myself and my team deal with day-to-day.  I have a tablet that I have tested it on for quite some time and saw no drawbacks there so I decided to upgrade my personal laptop (non-touchscreen). I took a full image of my Win7 installation prior to the clean install... Just in case!
I'll admit, for the first week or so I considered rolling back quite a few times.  As the week continued and I learned some of the "tricks" in Win8 I started to actually enjoy it.  Then Asus released the new touchpad driver for the G75vw and that made all the difference in the world.  I was then able to use gestures as if I was using them on the screen to do simple tasks such as bringing up the charm bars, scrolling, pinching, zooming, etc.
I have since grouped all my most-used programs on the start screen and my most-used-desktop programs to the taskbar (just like I did in Win7).  I still sometimes think the startscreen is a waste for me overall, but have learned to utilize it efficiently for what I do.  I do think they should have the option to default to the desktop view for people like me who use mostly desktop apps like Office, Visual Studio, SSMS, and other development apps.

I completely agree, and more to the point... once you realize that you CAN stay in the Desktop environment 99% of the time (save lock screen and Wi-Fi connections), you discover that really... who cares about the Modern UI stuff? It's tucked away where it belongs in a business environment... and for consumers, well, they can have the simplicity of Modern UI and fall back only when they need to... it's comfort and familiar when you need that, and it's fresh and new when you want that too.
 
People are making way too big of a deal about it being different, and quite frankly, it's kinda boring to hear the whining... this literally happens EVERY RELEASE! "OMG! The sky is falling! CHANGE IS COMING!"
 
I wish people would grow up.

There are some valid concerns, first of all MS did a rubbish job at education users on how to use Windows 8. Some things could have been better, for example why can't I move tiles the same way as in windows phone? why can't it just "float" as in windows phone when I touch and hold to move?

What do you mean can't move tiles? I arranged my tiles the way I want it like windows phone, and organized it by programs

I tend to agree. Win8 is great in my tablet and I appreciate the access to the powerful side of Windows when I need it from my tablet. But Win8 on my desktop is a pain. I rarely go to the modern interface and have had to install apps to replace their modern/metro equivalent.

Okay, what the heck is a "power user" and how do I know if I am one.  I use a computer at my desk every day, I have two monitors, I use photoshop and office products, etc.  Am I a power user?  Because if so, I love Win8 and I'm pushing our IT department to upgrade to it when our current laptop leases are up.

I also have no idea what a "power user" is. I've been tinkering with PC's, etc for a long time and I do not consider myself this. To me a "power user" is someone who requires abnormal amounts of processing power. CAD Designers, Graphic Artists, some Programmers, etc.
The people described above likely do not run Windows on there main desktop machine.
CAD Designer = Some form of Unix
Graphic Designers - MAC's
Programmers = Mixed bag
Maybe the guy who wrote the article should write his own OS. I'd bet he would be so arrogent when someone is throwing his ass under a bus. Personally I'd be embarrased / afraid to publish an article like that. It screams "There are two things I do not like in this world. Change and people."
 

Yea?
I've been out of that loop for a long time. Back when I was around that kind of environment they used these 20k Unix workstations.
Still to dak's and my point. What the hell defines a "power user"?
An even greater mystery is people who define themselves as smartphone "power users". Watching videos and playing games are not definitions of this. Maybe the term "addict" would be a better definition.

I would like to know as well. Its kind of like that argument about who is a "Hardcore gamer" vs a "casual gamer". Is it someone that uses a product in a specific type of way? Is it someone that uses specific programs or software? Is it measured by amount of usage? Seems more like silly terms to sort of differentiate yourself further within a group.

You know, my 8 year old son has Windows 8 on this desktop and I don't see him whinning about the the interface.  And yes, I upgraded him from Windows 7.   Amazing how lazy are.   I find Windows 8, even on a desktop, very easy to you.  And for those that say it is to hard to get to "management" items, have they even tried to right-click on the start menu in the bottom left corner.
 
Oh, and my 4 year old daughter has a Surface and I no longer need to "help" her.

Windows 8 is easy to use.....this people complaining are just dumb....I suggest you buy a new hardware to maximize the experience..now if u don't have the money just stay with w7.....by the time you get the money w9 is out then you all can complain again SMH!!

I'm using Windows 8 on my Home PC and even got my dad to install it. I have to say that I disagree with him, Win 8 has been nothing but amazing for me and a few friends so far. Even my parents got used to it within one week, and they aren't really up to date with technology.

Windows 8 is a better optimized Windows 7 with added tablet mode for touch screens. In terms of "productivity" its identical to Windows 7. Any arguments around that area are just silly.. 

Windows 8 minus anything Metro would equal a pretty good upgrade.  But the mess called Metro or modern ui or whatever they're deciding to call it now is a deal breaker.  Leave it to MS to turn something like Windows 7 into a train wreck. 

I am using Windows 8 on my non touch laptop at home, I own a surface, at work we are in the process of upgrading to windows 8, 50% of the company is already running on windows 8, we are a Microsoft development Shop, we have 0 complains or issues with the OS upgrade, everyone seems to be happy with it and running all their old applications, this guy just wants some attention, I never heard of anyone criticizing windows 8 unless they are apple or android fan boys, the OS is truly amazing and easy to learn and use. There is nothing hidden or complicated with the OS, the main gestures are known, and they are all common in al apps, users or “power users” needs to do some effort to learn, I mean come on, how lazy can you people be.

I wish the cost of a surface tablet wasn't so expensive.  I'm ready to make the switch and give my kids my desktop. 

Some trivia...they are actually about the same price as an unlocked smartphone off-contact! Surface RT (No cover) =$499.00 | Nokia Lumia 810 = $499.00 =P

Windows 8 on my touch-enabled slate = Love it.
Windows 8 on my Lenovo W520 = Love it.
Windows 8 on my touch-enabled laptop - Love it.
Windows 8 using three monitors = Can't stand it.
Windows 8 using three monitors using Start8 = Much better.

Been using windows 8 for a while, and being a Windows Phone user it really feels immature to the solidity of what WP delivers. First look at the basic apps, the People app on Windows Phone is much more refine with deeper integration, and doesn't really on IE for account management. Look at the Photos app, compare them, you'll find WP 7's to be much better with social updates and what not. Look at the generic camera, much more controls on WP and barely any on Windows 8. Gestures aren't universal as well. WP has such a lower learner curve than Win8. The only things I see similar are live tiles, but that's about it. UI they could have made the charm bar have a peekout so we know it's there same for appbars. The screens Windows 8 are on are much larger, so I'm sure they could have done this but they went for a cleaner look I guess. Don't get me wrong, Windows 8 has been great for me, but if I think of it from what these people are saying their arguments are just as valid usually, menus being hidden and what not. No one is going to associate right click with app bars immediately, etc. I say wait for a service pack and see what Microsoft does.

"Why hasn't Microsoft already acted to at least help flatten the learning curve for new users?"
Actually, when I bought my Lumia 920 yesterday at Microsoft Store (outright fullprice.......Kinda having a buyer's remorse... lol), they were conducting a class of some sort for new users of Windows 8 and most of the people inside were Baby Boomers.

What so fricken hard of windows 8? I been using consumer preview past 6 months and find it simple. I guess we got allot of lazy or dumb people. One click of windows key brings u straight to windows 7 desktop. He must be one dumbass to criticizes windows 8

A real power user would adapt in minutes. Nothing is hidden, just not gathered in one clunky start menu anymore. Want control panel, press windows and type control panel. Just like i used to...

Well, "power users" already have some prior knowledge and context of using computers. So of course it would be quicker for someone who uses a PC to figure things out. For someone like my mother in law who has only been using computers outside of light emailing for the last 5 years, can you really blame them for being absolutely confused as to WTF is going on with W8?

Yeah, but be completely honest...did she really have all that great an idea of what she was doing on previous editions? ONLY saying that not everyone knows all there is on their computer ... =)

You know what people in general do not like change, when change happens chaos begins. I personally love W8, is it perfect, no, but its a fresh idea and I enjoy using it everyday. Anyone that can't see Microsoft replaced an aging start button with new "Metro" interface is blind. I hated going through menus to find apps I pinned everything to the menu for immediate access. Metro has taken this further and I love it. Combined with the same interface on my 920 and soon to be W8 tablet I love what Microsoft has done for me lately!

Why are the positive statements only in comments and not in headlines?
I'd like to see WPCentral post an article headlined: 100s of actual, real people refute the usability study - are more effective and productive in Windows 8 than in Windows 7.
Maybe someone else would pick up on it. Maybe even ZDNet. Oh, wait, that's just crazy talk.
 
 

Seriously! WPCentral, can I take this comments thread and put up a blog post on the internet? Jk, you can totally do it! Lol =P

I'm a power user and after learning some keyboard shortcuts I can navigate quite effectively through Windows 8.  At first, the start screen really bothered me, but now I learned to deal with it by only using it to start programs by "typing to search".  Desktop mode is good and there's a handy shortcut for this: WINDOWS-D. 

Metro apps, on the other hand, are a complete disaster and I don't think they should have been allowed.  Have you tried using the metro Skype app?  You can't search for contacts and everything is so spaced apart.  Metro apps in general, the right click rarely works, and when it does, you get a menu at the bottom of the screen, not near your cursor (so inefficient!).  How do you close a metro app?  Good luck with that if you don't know keyboard shortcuts.  I can see how metro apps can work well with tablets, but power users on desktop?  No thanks.

i have found win8 personally to be a blessing from the heavens in terms of ease of use and simplicity.
universal search-godsend
speed of os-awesome
responsiveness on touchscreens-fantastic
productivity on office 2013-perfect
im not an engineer or a power user just someone who occasionally uses his operating system from time to time to check information, create excel spreadsheets, create powerpoints, and come to wpcentral for my weekly windows phone/windows8 goodness SHOUT OUT TO THE HOMIES AT WPCENTRAL! lol

Quote "Windows 8 UX: Weak on Tablets, Terrible for PCs"
The windows 8 UX is F A B U L O U S on tablets. What the %uck is this guy smoking? Does he live in Colorado?

For me, the biggest and really one of few problems is consistency. Xbox Music on W8 is a total fucking nightmare. Its as if they have a mac truck engine powering a big wheel. Bottom line is that they released too early. The same applys to just about all the MS produce W8 apps. The charms bar should be static and more meaningful... A dynamic atartmenu of sorts.

You could have made the same arguments for Apple II users exposed to the Mac for the first time, or MS DOS users exposed to Windows 3.X for the first time. Paradigm shifts in UI require "relearning."

I like where windows is going but some parts feel unfinished or inconsistent. I've been using win8 since its official release. My comments:

Treat desktop programs like just another metro app. Instead of switching to desktop mode, use the same metro app switcher (left side menu) to switch between different desktop programs. I want to run 2 desktop programs side by side on metro split screen.

Start screen should be an "app" that can run within split screen.

Option to have 50-50 split screen. Also option to have 3 apps sharing screen.

If I have split screen and make a video go "full screen", it should not make the other split screen app disappear. Going to start screen should not stop the sound from videos that are playing in IE. Desktop IE and metro IE behave differently with regards to this.

Allow multiple instances of metro IE so you can run two browsing sessions side by side in split screen.

Make it easier to activate the correct area for scrolling. Right now, if you click above or below the area, scrolling stops. When there are lots of tiles in that area, you have to carefully click on white space between tiles in order to activate scrolling.

The new Synaptics touchpad driver doesn't let me do left-side swipe. Right swipe and top swipe work fine.

I totally disagree with this guy. This is a very wrong evaluation. I bought an Ativ Smart PC from Samsung with W8 not RT, and I assure everyone that I could, for the first time since I have a laptop, find a device which has substituted it completely. Wonderful SO, best Windows ever. And the hardware is awsome too. You should delete this notice from your site, if I may suggest, you can talk a little more about other tablets beyond Surface, because W8 RT is limited and there is a lot of another tablets now, incredible devices. Well, that s all. This notice is so wrong.

Many people trying Windows 8 may be put off by the poor drivers the OEM's have on some of their PC's in stores. I have tried Windows 8 in stores and some of the features just dont work. Getting multi task to work on 80% of the machines I tried failed miserably. I own a Surface RT and I love it and the experience is awesome and represents how it should be done. I now understand why Microsoft has started to build its own hardware. Windows 8 properly realised is a great experince, however I can understand why people who have only had limited exposure with poorly implemented in store PC's would find it confusing.
I tend to agree with the criticism with to many hidden features, some apps drive me a little crazy trying to find features. I realise that the menus are contextual, however simplifying some of these functions would go a long way.
BTW, I cant wait to get W8 on my desktop (currentley broken due to power surge) and I consider myself a power user as I am an IT engineer. I am always using my Surface like a desktop, by plugging in a second monitor, keyboard and mouse when at my desk at work. I then unplug and volia I have an awesome tablet.

God, yet another person that wants to critique the OS without actually using it for a couple of weeks.  Yes, I'm the first to admit there is a little bit of a learning curve.  But hey, I got my 70 year old mother using it and she is doing just fine after a couple of days.  It seems that people don't understand that modern UI apps are designed to be cross platform.  It was done to make it easier for developers to create applications that will work on phones, tablets, laptops, x-box, and desktops.  And the decision to add ARM support was wise, ARM devices should be cheaper then intel devices. 
 
Modern UI apps are great.  But they weren't really desinged for multi-tasking.  And I'm perfectly fine with that.  I can pin an ap to the side of my screen.  Alt-Tab still works great for switching between programs and aps, and we also have the ap bar on the left side of the screen.  Mordern UI aps a really more for mobile devices then they are on the desktop, I'll agree with that.  But it is nice to have the same aps available on my desktop.  I use them constantly for viewing news sites, technical sites, and I really like the new egg ap, makes shoping much nicer.  The acuweather ap is just awesome.  I just wish they would roll the music ap back to the preview version, that one was so much better.  A well designed and executed ap like the people ap is just incredible.  It pulls data from all the social networking sites into one ap that is easy to navigate and use.  It's one of the things that I absolutely love about my new W8 Phone.
 
And all this complaining about the different versions of the OS.  Meaning the x86 version and the ARM version.  Given the limited hardware with it's low power consumption people shouldn't be surprised that full scale desktop programs won't run on an ARM device for now.  I have no illusions that I'd be able to run access or sql on an ARM device.  Or the latest game from Bethesda.  But (when someday I get a tablet), I can still do basic editing of my office documents anywhere I have a data connection is simply amazing.  Android and Apple can't offer that. 
 
Alot of people complain about how they can only install aps from the Store on their tablets.  Well, Microsoft wants to first make sure it's not malware and that it won't compromise the device it's installed on.  I hope they do a lot of QA before they release any ap on the store.  And Apple has been doing that for years.  I can still buy desktop software and install it on my desktop and laptop from any source.
 
The loss of the start menu is hardly a loss.  The start screen is so much better for me.  I don't need to wade through all the menu lines just to find the program I'm looking for.  I can pin them to my start screen and organize them so that the are all in groups, that I can zoom in and out of for navigation.  All the added programs that get installed for settings, or utility apps, I can pull from my start screen and still quickly find them on the search screen.  It took me all of 10 minutes to get use to not having the start menu, and I don't miss it a bit.  And for my mom, I can just pin the programs she uses the most.  I don't have to deal with shortcut copies all over the place that she somehow managed to create on Vista.
 
At first, I didn't have a touch screen for my desktop.  The OS worked just fine with mouse and keyboard.  But man, when I added a touch screen it was incredible.  I love browsing in IE10 Modern UI ap.  The flick to previous page, the zoom in/out and how it remebers the zoom setting on the previous page is awesome.  I find myself constantly reaching for the screen at work even though we are still running XP.
 
I do agree that multi-monitor support needs some work though.  It's very frustating when I have an ap running and want to do something with the desktop, like watch a video full screen.  If I go back to the ap, the video goes back to embeded on a website.  It was really annoying when I was catching up on the olympics while trying to do some real work.
 
And it should be easier to find settings.  I hope in a future itteration they combine the traditional control panel with the settings feature on the charms.   It'd be more seemless and not make the os feel like it's two different os's.  But that is probably the only real complaint I have about the OS. 
 
As far as the aps go, I wish the mail ap would work with POP servers, and the video, pictures, and music ap would work with DNLA servers.  I have an NAS with a DNLA server and none of the aps play well with it, I need to copy everything on one of my harddrives.  But these issues are fixable, and I'm sure at somepoint will be corrected, either by Microsoft or some other developer.
 
With all this said, I've found that Microsoft hit a homerun with W8.  It's fast, stable, and recovers very well from errors. I have yet to find a program that doesn't run on it.  And I'm able to install it on just about everything.  My 1 year old laptop sings with it, and the 6 year old media center from HP my mother has works very well now.  Starts up fast, and has practically no delay in launching programs. 
 
Honestly, I don't get all the hate with W8.  It's the future, and it seems that everyone just wants to stay stuck in a UI that was designed 18 years ago.  Microsoft knows that PC and laptop sales are going to do nothing but decline.  And that's not a bad thing if the company can adapt and develop an OS that will work on the smaller form factors.  They did it with W8, and I really look forward to see what else they can do with the framework they created. 

Man, it really sucks that you still have to use XP at work...I was dying before they upgraded me to 7 and now I want so bad to upgrade to 8! =P

WOW his website is shockingly bad hehehehe
 
So am i really smart because i find windows 8 very easy?

If someone were to be learning to use a computer for the first time there's no question the Metro UI would be a quick study compared to the old desktop, so called mother In-law test. Power users can just stay on the desktop to get their fix. Think this is the way we must counter this view as were seeing it a lot.

Screw that and screw him! Shall we say the same thing for Windows Phone? Some of the best stuff I thought were the pseudo-hidden items which recalled some zune-like features and things *I* thought made sense for touch, like holding my finger down for a pop-up menu for that "right click" vibe...whatever, man. I'm so sick of all the negative press! Meh, journalism...HA! >=(

I totally disagree. He's just whining fancily. Only time and market figures will tell whether the UX-Designers at MS got it right. I think so. Maybe even Nielsen does, because his critique shows that he didn't get the point. Low information density is actually key to complement the flat design and single windows, which I love for working on, e.g., texts. There's nothing to distract me in OneNote. Tough to really write there, but gorgeous interface to just get down notes an figure out what to write. So no, Nielsen just says: "Its not Windows 7". Well, I knew that.

I do not understand why WP central, a reference for me in as a good site, if not the best, in Windows Phone, open space for this kind of news. Sincerelly, this analysis is so wrong,.

Is it me or I do get headaches everytime I use Windows 8 on my PC? The content is just way too big and switching apps is a joke.

And his site is a model for design? Right. I would rather stab my eyes out with a rusty fork! His website looks like a reject from 2001! :&

jeektan its just you all you have to do is go to the top left side of the screen and swap away people who refuse to try the os will never understand the potential in full about Windows 8 Reivented around you like WPhone 8

I'm really sick of hearing about usability issues with Windows 8 from people who haven't really used it. It took me a few minutes to learn what was new and 2-months for it grow on me. I;m using Windows 8 now to type this. I don't see what the dreadful usability issues are. The folks that post  these 'findings' are seeking their 15-minutes of fame, to spread FUD, to repeat what someelse has said, and have difficulty with embracing the new.
Besides, that guy's we page is THE DISAPPOINTMENT. Was it designed back in the late 90's, early 2K's? Ugh!