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UI guru Jakob Nielsen says Windows 8 is ‘misguided’ product

Microsoft have launched Windows 8 to a mixed response. While sales figures are good, the enthusiast audience haven’t embraced the new operating system with open arms, claiming the user interface changes are more suited to a touch screen tablet, than their prized desktop computer.

Jakob Nielsen, the well known interface design guru is not impressed with Windows 8, and says it is a ‘misguided product’.

Nielsen has spent a large portion of his career analysing many kinds of user interface systems. He described Windows 8 user interface with “smothers usability with big colorful tiles while hiding needed features.”

He verified his views by bringing in 12 ‘experienced PC users’ to try Windows on both PC and Surface RT tablets. Nielsen said that users took issue with the operating system’s ‘duality’ which includes a tablet designed start screen and traditional ‘PC oriented desktop screen’. Nielsen said that the mixed design concepts forced users to ‘remember where to go to for which features’. The duality design also inflicted a ‘inconsistent user experience’. This damaged the overall usability.

Nielsen also added “”Windows” no longer supports multiple windows on the screen. Win8 does have an option to temporarily show a second area in a small part of the screen, but none of our test users were able to make this work. Also, the main UI restricts users to a single window, so the product ought to be renamed “Microsoft Window.”

Nielsen says that Microsoft has focused on tablets with Windows 8 to the detriment of desktop PC’s. In damning fashion he said Windows 8 is “weak on tablets,” and it’s “terrible for PCs.” He added “on a regular PC, Windows 8 is Mr. Hyde: a monster that terrorizes poor office workers and strangles their productivity.”

So what should we do? He says “I happen to think that Windows 7 is a good product and that Windows 8 is a misguided one. I’ll stay with Win7 the next few years and hope for better times with Windows 9. One great thing about Microsoft is that they do have a history of correcting their mistakes.”

All is not lost, if you disable the tiles and install Start 8 by Stardock, then you can get Windows 8 to look almost the same as Windows 7. Should we be paying $5 to fix Microsoft’s UI mistake however?

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