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.]

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30 Comments

      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.

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