Dvorak: The serious flaw with Microsoft’s Windows 8 and Metro

“The problem with Windows 8 and Metro finally became clear to me when I was confronted by a wall of tiles and was lost,” John C. Dvorak writes for PC Magazine. “The sameness made it impossible to find anything. Why anyone would revert to vague and homogeneous tiles from highly identifiable icons is beyond my comprehension. Perhaps someone thinks it’s more artsy.”

“People sense something is wrong. The miserable sales of the Phone 7 products reflect the user sensitivity,” Dvorak writes. “So what does Microsoft do? It pushes the same bad idea to the new OS. Win 8 will be a huge disappointment if Microsoft insists that these metro tiles are a good idea.”

“When you look at your desktop screen, how do you find the program you are looking for? You look for distinctive icons using your human ability to recognize patterns. It’s what we do best,” Dvorak writes. “We are so good at this that we can identify an upside down icon. Mac takes the icon approach to interesting and useful extremes. Even document icons are miniature and identifiable shrunken images of the title page. This is extremely useful.”

Dvorak writes, “It dawned on me that, while artistically interesting, the Microsoft wall of tiles presents a navigational dilemma. It’s an out-and-out hindrance. As a user interface, it’s actually a disaster. It’s also a disaster for the Phone 7 phones.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: This might be John’s record for staying on his meds.

BTW, we came to a similar conclusion back in February 2010, when we wrote regarding Windows Phone ’07: Apple offers “a better-designed UI that doesn’t continuously destroy users’ visual memory.”

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

Related article:
Dvorak: High-end niche apps drive market to iPhone, the one platform users and developers can trust – August 31, 2011

54 Comments

  1. The Apple fans have gotten too smart for hit-monger Dvorak; he’s not getting mega “hits” with anti-Apple pieces like before. So now, he’s going after hits from the Microsoft fanboys.

    (But at least he can “tell it straight” this time instead of making stuff up.)

  2. Microsoft takes blandness to a new level of retardation. Let’s face facts. WP7 like WM6 is a poorly selling platform no matter how you slice and dice it. So instead of learning to avoid mistakes Microsoft jumps in with both feet and adopts the Zune model for its next lineup of Windows bloatware. 

    This is the exact opposite of Apple’s strategy of slimlining the Mac OS. The Bloatfarm mirrors the thought process of its leader, Mr. Fatso Ballmer, who can’t resist a cake if it’s put in front of him. So the Bloatfarm develops more bloatware to cater to its perception of market needs which in the case of Microsoft is to get as close to nerdvana as possible. 

    Well what works for nerds won’t necessarily translate to the general consumer but the Bloatfarm can’t see beyond it’s admiration for its own handiwork which is to add useless bloat to software by making it as unmanageable as possible for the average user. Nerdvana? You’ve found it in Microsoft bloatware.

  3. In fairness to Microsoft, the Metro interface is optional on desktops. Not that it means Win8 will be a success. I think it’s like Mr. Creosote, and Metro will be the wafer-thin mint that finally pushes it over the edge.

      1. Stick with Win 7?!?

        I was in Best Buy the other day listening to some woman looking to buy a new laptop (she was looking at an HP). Every question she asked just screamed: “Get a Mac!”

        So finally I just said to her, “really, you should get a Mac.”

        “But I’ll have to learn something new.”

        “Trust me the Mac OS will make more sense than Windows 7.”

        I hate giving tech support to people running that clusterf— of an OS that is Windows 7.

        When Dvorak writes, “It’s an out-and-out hindrance,” he might as well be talking about every interface change that Microsoft has made to Windows since they settled the look-and-feel lawsuit with Apple in 1998. The Windows OS is getting more obtuse and difficult with each iteration and Windows 8 will just be taking that difficulty to a new extreme.

        1. Every time somebody says they can’t switch to a Mac because

          “I’d have to learn something new”

          You should always point out that, thanks to Microsoft’s serial kleptomania, they actually don’t have to learn something new.

      1. “People who speak in metaphors should shampoo my crotch.” ~ As Good As It Gets (1998).

        However, I believe, the OP (Darkness) has dropped a reference (Pythonesque), more so than a metaphor.

        1. Actually, Darkness combined elements of the simile (“it’s like Mr. Creosote”) and the metaphor (“Metro will be the wafer=thin mint that finally pushes it over the edge.”).
          Know your figures of speech, and you can call yourself a language geek.

  4. Just thought of something…

    If I recall correctly, with Windows before Windows 3.x, the “windows” were actually more like “tiles.” They did not overlap and things were pretty much text-oriented.

    Now (twenty years later), with Windows 8, the “tiles” are back, and things are more text-oriented.

    Microsoft goes back to its roots…

  5. I’ve been saying the same thing about the retartedness of the tile UI since it was revealed. I’ve used Windows ’07 and it’s fine I you have just 6 appps but beyond that it’s like wading through a chocolate river to find a chocolate bar.

  6. I dislike the tiles idea in W8, a lot. I think I will wait for the next OS from MS and also W764 is solid.

    However I agree MS is lost on innovation I would like MS to succeed, really. I don’t think the Mac is the answer for everything or that Apple is prepared to deal with the whole human computer experience. Besides I don’t like a world with just one OS. Sorry Linux but it looks you are never going to lift up.

    Still, OSX is mostly the OS I choose everyday to work with as an artist.

    W8 is in it’s early design stage, please MS do that thing better.

  7. Ya, but it’s way to early to tell if it will flop. Yes, WP7 hasn’t been successful but it’s had crap hardware supporting it. People might actually like W8. It’s just change…

    At any rate, people can exit out of tiles and use the old UI. There are problems with things in the tile interface, but it’s pretty cool and interesting nonetheless.

    1. a) Windows will be ‘successful’ because its Windows, we’ll never know if people actually like it. That’s what a Monopoly gets ya.

      b)WP7 is an example of what MS can achieve when they enter a competitive market.

      c) I’m not so sure you can ‘switch off’ the Start Screen. It’s a pretty huge part of the OS. This thing replaces the Start menu which is now GONE.

  8. I won’t completely judge it until I have tried it myself. It is interesting to see Microsoft attempt to copy the walled garden business model for Win8, and the App Store idea for the Win8 mobile version.

    When all the smoke of the recent demo and fanboy orgasms ebb away, reality will slowly trickle in. If what I read is correct, for perhaps the first time since Windows was introduced back in the 80s, backwards compatibility may be at risk. This of course is the biggest single cause of nightmares in the Windows world. But it also has led to success for Microsoft in the enterprise. If backwards compatibility means that corporations and government agencies running old legacy apps can’t use it, that may freeze out a lot of sales. We will see.

    Personally, I find the Metro interface’s colors to be too garish and tiring for the eyes. As others have noted, as you try to add many apps to the interface, its original premise begins to break down in my opinion. Again, I have not tried it myself, but that is my conclusion.

    I am always skeptical of demos, as they can be optimized to depart from reality. Once you add a ton of startup apps and NOD32, that near-instantaneous startup time can suddenly stretch to minutes. I have to run Windows on my Mac and startup for the Windows portion is on the order of 15-20 minutes each morning, including virus check. On the Mac side? About 40-60 seconds.

    The defense rests.

  9. Microsoft is doing it in Windows 8 because they think of people get use to the UI on their computer, then Windows Phone 7 sales will go up.

    Dvorak is doing what he is doing because he’s discovered the mac community is growing and there’s now money to be made by writing positive stories about Apple.

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