Design guru Nielsen: Windows 8 a ‘misguided’ product; UI ‘smothers usability’

“User interface design guru Jakob Nielsen is none too pleased with what he’s found in Windows 8, which he calls a ‘misguided’ product,” Don Reisinger reports for CNET.

“Nielsen, who has spent much of his career analyzing all kinds of user interfaces, including most notably Flash software for Web animation, says that the new Windows 8 user interface ‘smothers usability with big colorful tiles while hiding needed features,'” Reisinger reports. “Nielsen found that the users took issue with the operating system’s supposed ‘duality’ that includes a tablet-focused Start screen and a more traditional ‘PC-oriented desktop screen.’ According to Nielsen, those different design concepts force users to ‘remember where to go for which features.’ In addition, the duality creates an ‘inconsistent user experience,’ hurting overall usability.”

Reisinger reports, “In the end, Nielsen believes that Microsoft has focused on tablets with Windows 8 to the detriment of PCs. He argues that while Windows 8 is ‘weak on tablets,’ it’s ‘terrible for PCs,’ adding that ‘on a regular PC, Windows 8 is Mr. Hyde: a monster that terrorizes poor office workers and strangles their productivity.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Buh-bye, Microsoft, you hacks.

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

Related articles:
TechCrunch’s Siegler reviews Microsoft Surface RT: ‘It’s time for a drop test – right into the garbage can’ – November 19, 2012
Microsoft hit with lawsuit over Surface tablet’s lack of storage due to bloated Windows RT operating system – November 15, 2012
Beleaguered Microsoft has failed – November 14, 2012
Slate reviews Microsoft’s Surface tablet: Too slow, mercilessly buggy; why is it so bad? – November 6, 2012
Microsoft’s bloated Windows RT eats 16GB of Surface tablet – November 5, 2012
InfoWorld reviews Microsoft Surface RT: A disappointment; you’re better off with Apple’s iPad – October 31, 2012
Acer delays Windows RT tablets; adopts ‘wait and see’ approach after poor Surface RT reviews – October 30, 2012
Gizmodo reviews Microsoft Surface RT: Do not buy; inferior to Apple’s iPad; the worst of both worlds – October 25, 2012
The Verge reviews Microsoft Surface RT tablet: ‘The whole thing is honestly perplexing; who is this for?’ – October 24, 2012
Analyst: Microsoft’s Surface RT tablet priced too high, could be the next Zune – October 18, 2012
Dvorak: ‘Microsoft’s Surface tablet isn’t the Apple iPad, so it shouldn’t be priced like one’ – October 18, 2012
Microsoft inexplicably claims Surface RT tablet lower resolution screen beats iPad with Retina display – October 17, 2012
Microsoft Surface RT tablet Wi-Fi-only; 32GB for $599 with, $499 without keyboard, $699 for 64GB – October 16, 2012
Microsoft airs first TV ad for Surface tablet (with video) – October 15, 2012
Apple’s ‘iPad mini’ to obliterate Microsoft’s Windows 8, Surface RT tablet launches – October 13, 2012
Acer CEO to Microsoft: ‘Think twice’ about Surface tablets – August 7, 2012
Microsoft Surface tablet pricing leaked; US$1,000 for ‘cheapest’ Windows RT model – July 26, 2012
Ballmer: Uh, yeah, ‘Surface is just a design point,’ you know – July 10, 2012
Microsoft’s Buffoon, er… Ballmer throws down gauntlet against Apple – July 10, 2012
Microsoft reportedly dumps ‘VaporMg’ chassis, will use ‘VaporMg’ only as ‘surface treatment’ – July 9, 2012
Microsoft’s downfall: Inside the executive e-mails and cannibalistic culture that fueled Microsoft’s lost decade – July 7, 2012
HP said to dump Microsoft over Surface; to cozy up to Google Android for tablet efforts – July 2, 2012
Bad news for Microsoft’s iPad killer? – July 2, 2012
Dear Microsoft, Steve Balmer and Bill Gates: What is up with your obsession with keyboards? – June 28, 2012
Jason Schwarz: Top 10 reasons why Microsoft’s Surface is DOA – June 22, 2012
Why I love Microsoft’s vaporware Surface tablet – June 22, 2012
Microsoft’s Surface tablet said to be Wi-Fi only at launch; no 4G, no 3G, no 2G, not even 1G – June 22, 2012
Microsoft outsources Surface assembly to Pegatron; prices above $799 for Windows 8, above $599 for Windows RT expected – June 21, 2012
Acer founder: Microsoft will quit making tablets soon – June 21, 2012
Devastating video shows Microsoft’s Surface event aping Steve Jobs’ iPad unveiling (with video) – June 20, 2012
Thanks to Apple, Microsoft is doomed in the era of mobile computing – June 20, 2012
Why wouldn’t Microsoft let anyone touch its Surface tablets’ keyboard cover? – June 20, 2012
The cost of Microsoft’s Surface tablets – June 20, 2012
Apple’s revolutionary iPad vs. Microsoft’s anti-tablet ‘Surface’ – June 20, 2012
Microsoft’s Surface tablets provokes ‘sense of betrayal’ among Windows PC assemblers – June 20, 2012
Fox News: Copier Microsoft is doomed to fail with Surface tablet – June 19, 2012
Microsoft’s Surface tablet destined to be as successful as the Zune – June 19, 2012
Surface: Why Microsoft’s big mystery turns out to be a big mistake – June 19, 2012
Microsoft’s Suicide, er… ‘Surface’ – June 19, 2012
ZDNet Sr. Tech Editor Perlow: Microsoft’s Surface has catastrophe written all over it – June 19, 2012
Microsoft previews own ‘Surface’ tablet – June 18, 2012
Microsoft touts ‘major’ June 18 event said to showcase Windows RT tablets – June 15, 2012
ZDNet’s Kingsley-Hughes: Microsoft’s Windows 8 is an awful, horrible, painful design disaster – June 8, 2012
Analyst meets with big computer maker, finds ‘general lack of enthusiasm’ for Windows 8 – June 8, 2012
Dvorak: Windows 8 an unmitigated disaster; unusable and annoying; it makes your teeth itch – June 3, 2012
The Guardian: Microsoft’s Windows 8 is confusing as hell; an appalling user experience – March 5, 2012
More good news for Apple: Microsoft previews Windows 8 (with video) – June 1, 2011


      1. As if “‘… Windows 8…terrorizes poor office workers and strangles their productivity.’”
        Like this is a new thing for a Microsloth OS?
        Slogan should be: “Microsoft strangling productivity since 1985.”

  1. damning analysis. MS will license 100 million W8’s anyway. 10 million will want it, the other 90 million will be trapped into it. but it’s really DOA none the less. early next year MS will have to allow OEM’s to revert to W7 sales, becausing they will be screaming in agnoy over a big drop in new first world PC sales. and very few businesses will update to W8 at all (they can still buy W7).

    Apple will pick up another 5-10% of first world computer market sales as a result, and tablet sales will boom. at least 1/2 will be iPads. almost none will be the Surface.

    this may prove to be Ballmer’s Waterloo.

  2. As a longtime Windows user (when forced), my only emotion using Windows 8 was rage. Frustration mounting on frustration trying to figure how to even get started. I’m insulted that Microsoft felt they needed to do this to us.

    1. It is odd. And after reading his article (on his site) about Windows 8 RT I noticed this at the bottom of the web page:

      ArticleView.prototype.dataError: GET error. Status 404

      But then he did switch from Macintosh to Windows a number of years ago…

    2. There is a philosophy here. His site is not meant to “flash” your pants. However it’s meant to communicate.

      I am having a difficult time remembering the name of the book. However the point being, as an example. Slides in a presentation should be devoid of colors and images, with respect to pleasing the eye and only to re-enforce the message.

      Nielsen may be a follower of the idea that visual rhetoric detracts from what he is trying to provide, therefore his page is very simple and to the point. I have not taken the time to read it carefully.

      I am just trying to provide a perspective that he actually may know what he’s talking about.

      1. I understand the point of having as little distraction as possible. And he may have valid points about surface. But the overall look of that page is so ugly that it distracts me. It does not invite to read, but it looks like slapped together cheaply. Why should I expect the contents to be worth while? that’s just my reaction to the looks.

      2. “therefore his page is very simple and to the point”

        There is the simplicity and elegance of a MacBook Air – or iMac – or the new ear buds – etc. Or there’s the simplicity of, “I have NO taste and know absolutely nothing about design.”

        His site is ugly – and always has been. Looks like a site from 1995. Even uses the very limited color range from back then. Ugliness does not increase usability.

    3. Ye gods and little fishes! My eyes are still crossed.

      That page is way too busy – it needs to be redesigned by a better designer with only a few very salient points and links to interior (less cluttered) pages. It’s like being far-sighted trying to read the phone book. Yikes!

      1. It’s just a bit plain! I get the feeling you’ve never really seen a poorly done web page before. It’s not like this site has all-caps bold italics text, poor foreground/background contrast, no white-space, under construction gifs, flash banner ads (MDN, that was a cheap shot on you), blinking text or anything like that.

  3. This is a larger-scale repeat of what happened in mobile. Both precipitated by Microsoft’s reactions to Apple’s actions…

    Before iPhone, Windows Mobile had a large mobile OS share. After iPhone was released, Microsoft (after some “denial”) panicked, threw away their existing base of Windows Mobile customers, and put everything into Windows Phone 7, which essentially started at zero. A lot those former Windows Mobile users got an iPhone instead.

    Before iPad (and after the disastrous Vista), Microsoft released the respectable Windows 7. It was headed for a good run as the successor to Windows XP, to be the long-term “standard” for Windows on the desktop.

    But after iPad, Microsoft panicked again. Windows 8 is the equivalent act of throwing away their huge existing base of Windows users, in an attempt to pursue new tablet customers. A lot of those existing Windows users (many still using Windows XP) are going to get a Mac or an iPad (or both).

  4. It is being different for different’s sake. Who was asking for this UI?

    This is what happens when you panic and have no “actual” innovative ideas. You end up calling this abortion innovation.

    Unfortunately, it will not totally disappear because of Windows corporate lock-in for most cubicle drones.

  5. With all the activity (new products, new OS’s, new support) by all of the competitors (MS, Google, Samsung, etc) in all of the arenas (computers, phones and tablets); there is one thing I would really love to know.

    How closely does what is actually happening follow Steve Job’s plan and timetable for competitor ambush?

    Knowing your enemy will toss out a knee jerk reaction to your carefully planned products is a strategic advantage.

  6. ah, what is crucial is this is now becoming the CW: W8 sucks.

    that of course is a death knell. when even the hack pundits turn against you, it’s over.

    Vista was bad. but W8 is terrible.

  7. I find major usability issues with Windows. The tiles that are the same colors become almost useless. The tiles are limiting with little function, abstracting too much information away. They have some utility on a phone but the interface is all wrong on a point and click device.

    MS will still manage to make record profits because people will eat their lard ridden office cake no matter what they do. If they don’t like the MacDonalds birthday cake with yellow, red, and green icing tiles, there’s always the Windows 7 cake with tasteless icing and a dried out center.

  8. I thought this was MS’s goal, to provide smothering products – After all it’s always what they’ve done first and best, and it looks to me like they’re still spot-on the mark with their latest products.

    What’s the problem?

  9. I completely agree with Nielsen. However, Mac fans should be concerned about the direction the last two major OS X releases offered: more dumbing down, no usability or performance enhancement. That is not acceptable!

    Apple should keep its iOS push-notification and social crap at the application level. Do NOT corrupt the OS as MS has done.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.