Windows 8 is hard! So say 14 'typical users'

A U.K. design team recruited 14 Windows users and subjected them to the new Windows 8 interface. Apparently none of them cottoned to it immediately.

A look at Windows 8.
A look at Windows 8. CNET

A U.K. design firm put Windows 8 under the microscope recently, and users reported some issues with handling the operating system.

The firm in question, Foolproof, had 14 "typical users" try out Windows 8 for the first time to see how they fared using the new-look operating system. This tiny group reportedly consisted of regular Windows users, so they supposedly weren't coming to the Microsoft universe cold.

But Microsoft's new user interface, which largely consists of a series of tiles, ditching the traditional look and feel of Windows, "comes with a huge learning overhead." Foolproof's relatively small number of testers made several observations, including:

  • The user interface was "fresh and attractive," but by the end of the session, none of them "felt confident using the new interface."
  • They were confused on how to open Internet Explorer.
  • They quickly became confused by e-mails, responding that they didn't realize that text fields were editable.
  • The lack of the tray on the bottom of the screen caused some to feel like they lost apps when switching from one to another.

That there is a steep learning curve is nothing new to those who have used the software. In CNET's own review of Windows 8, it found that the operating system's "learning curve is steep and in-app navigation isn't obvious. There are just too many known unknowns here."

Full coverage: Windows 8

Microsoft will make Windows 8 available tomorrow. At that point, users will finally have the chance to determine just how hard (or easy) the operating system is to handle.

About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.


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