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Jakob Nielsen: "Windows 8 — Disappointing Usability for Both Novice and Power Users"

Michael Brown   November 20 2012 03:50:48 AM

Two Desktops?  It can be done, up to a point...
When Apple released Mac OS X, over a decade ago, they  required that all existing Mac OS apps to be recompiled/rewritten to run on it.  There weren't many of these around with to start with, of course.  To get around that little problem, Apple originally supplied a "Classic Mode" with OS X.  This allowed you to run Mac OS 9 applications alongside OS X applications on the same Mac.

The company IT Dept at which I was working at the time investigated this compromise solution and we decided that we wanted nothing to do with it.  The thinking was that if most end-users have trouble understanding how to use one operating system at a time, then they're hardly likely to grasp a hybrid of two different ones.  We decided that we would run OS X apps only, and any company that dragged their heels on updating their apps for OS X was going to be out on their ear.  Lotus Notes, for one, was in the firing line for a time, before IBM finally came through.  (Thanks again, Ed!)

IMHO, OS X's Classic Mode was quite a smooth experience, and one that actually made complete sense at the time.  But we still said "no way".

... but not when there's no point!
Compare and contrast to Windows 8.  The first time that I saw it, way back at the first beta (or whatever they call those nowadays), there was no doubt in my mind that it was going to be a complete and utter usability disaster.  Nothing about it made any sense to me: a tiled interface that was supposedly "good on tablets", thrown on top of a traditional Windows desktop, and with no real user control over which interface was going to pop-up at what time?

What on Earth are they thinking?  Do they really think that enterprises are going let this mess get within a mile of their end-users?

Not if Jakob Nielsen's research is anything to go by!  If you don't know Nielsen, he's probably the prime exponent of usability on the web.  I was hoping he would do some usability research on Windows 8 at some point, and I had a fair idea of what that research would turn up.  All I can say is that he has not disappointed!

Jakob Nielsen: Windows 8 — Disappointing Usability for Both Novice and Power Users"

The next time you hear somebody say "ahh, but Windows 8's not really for PCs; it's for tablets", this is the url that you need to send them.
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