Unsurprisingly, Microsoft’s ‘Big Ass Table’ has basic usability issues

“We recently purchased a Microsoft Surface unit on behalf of one of our clients, having been sold on ‘the power, magic & possibilities of tabletop touch screen computing,'” Gordon Miller reports for FD kinesis’ Momentum.

MacDailyNews Take: Mistake #1.

Miller reports that when it “arrived at our office, we were like kids on Christmas morning. But that’s when the sad music began to play.”

“We unpacked the unit, put the three manuals (titled ‘Quick Reference,’ ‘Start Here’ and ‘Warranty & Maintenance’) aside, had a quick chuckle at the included wireless keyboard and mouse set (‘Why would they send us these for a touch-screen computer!?! Maybe it’s a freebie – nice!’), grabbed the power cord and got ready to take a look at the future,” Miller reports.

MacDailyNews Take: We could’ve shown you the future back on June 29, 2007 when we first slipped our original iPhones into our pockets.

Miller continues, “‘Ummmm…anyone see where we plug this thing in?’ After a couple of bemused minutes looking in, around and even under the unit, somebody grabbed the ‘Start Here’ manual. On page 3 or so it made a reference to keeping the power cord safe and out of the way, but no mention of where it attaches to the machine.”

MacDailyNews Take: Dudes, it’s Microsoft: “Start Here” is for shutting down, not powering up. Sometimes our jobs are too easy. Okay, oftentimes.

Miller continues, “We consulted ‘Quick Reference,’ only to learn about the Status Lights – ‘Blue when the unit is turning off, Red when there is a problem, and Rhodamine (pink) when the unit is first turned on’ – but maddeningly no mention about how to get the unit on in the first place.

Miller asks again, “‘Ummmm…anyone see where we plug this thing in?’

“After :20 full minutes of looking and reading, the three of us (each with a 4-year college degree) finally punted and called the help desk,” Miller reports. “We described our plight, took some relief in her courteous assurance that she could help us out, and then waited for her to look thru her documentation…several minutes later, ‘well, you know what, I don’t see that either – but I have a unit here so let me see where we plug it in.'”

After way, way more wasted time and increasing frustration, Miller reports, “The whole experience was probably best summed up by Amanda who, when asked why it was taking us so long to get the machine up and running, and why we all looked so unhappy, replied ‘Oh, it’s just so…Microsofty.’ That’s the true cost of a poor approach to usability – it gets you a reputation that’s hard to shake.”

MacDailyNews Take: We have a name for that true cost: “The Microsoft Tax.”

The rest of what should be a very familiar tale to anyone who has ever tried to use Windows is here.

UPDATE: 7:59pm EDT: Microsoft apologists FD kinesis’ Momentum has pulled their article and replaced it with an ode to Microsoft. Make of that what you will. (Google’s cache has the original article here.)

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “John M.” for the heads up.]

Microsoft’s Big Ass Table:

Direct link via YouTube here.

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