Windows 8 UI 'strategic mistake,' argues design guru
"That's the failure, and the missed strategic decision," Nielsen said.
Microsoft has, of course, trumpeted the massive UI changes as a step in the correct direction, not a wrong turn, calling Windows 8 "fast and fluid," labeling it a "no-compromise" solution, and dismissing criticism that Windows 8 is difficult to use.
In an interview prior to the Oct. 26 launch of Windows 8 with the IDG News Service -- like Computerworld, part of IDG -- Tami Reller, the Windows division's CFO, said Microsoft had done hundreds of usability tests during development, both in labs and in real-world settings.
Reller said Microsoft's results were directly opposite Nielsen's conclusions. "Within 24 hours [Windows 8] users were using 80% of the core capabilities of the operating system," Reller told IDG News reporter Joab Jackson. "And they just get faster every day."
What the company hasn't clearly explained, however, is why it did what it did, rather than develop a new OS for tablets that didn't also intrude into PC turf.
Nielsen has some ideas. "There's the marketing angle, of course, the 'Let's make one Windows,' but there's also the fact that it seems to have been engineering-driven," said Nielsen. "And all the engineers were probably thinking, 'It's not so bad, people can figure this out,' because they're brainy people and can manage to keep more things in short-term memory than most. And then there's the Apple envy, wanting to make something cooler than Apple. But they shouldn't have done that at the price of sacrificing usability."
Nielsen was confident that Microsoft could correct the mistakes of Windows 8, in part because of last week's executive reshuffling that sent former Windows division chief Steven Sinofsky packing and promoted one of his lieutenants, Julie Larson-Green, a user interface expert, to head all Windows hardware and software development.
"They've put someone in charge [of Windows] who knows UI, who understands that it's important and understands the usability arguments," said Nielsen. "Going forward, it's vital that the person at the helm inherently understands that you have to design for real people."
Until then, Nielsen said he was sticking with Windows 7. "I'll stay with Windows 7 the next few years and hope for better times with Windows 9," he said.
Joab Jackson of the IDG News Service contributed to this report.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is email@example.com.
- Windows 'Threshold' to go public within weeks
- How risky will it be to run old IE after Microsoft's 2016 patch stoppage?
- Deja vu all over again: Windows 7 will be the new XP
- Microsoft postpones IE's Java blocking after IT complains
- Mac sales so far in '14 may signal share push
- Chromebooks may grab 5% of PC market, about the same as Apple's Mac
- Microsoft slashes IE support, sets 'huge' edict for Jan. 2016
- Windows 8's no-name update plan nails OS's coffin shut
- Windows 8.1 biz users face patch freeze as Microsoft sets critical updates
- China scrubs Apple's iPad and MacBooks from government buying list
Read more about Operating Systems in Computerworld's Operating Systems Topic Center.
- QA Automation: Reducing Test Execution While Improving Coverage A leading capital investment firm in the US was in need of a comprehensive, cost effective and flexible solution to reduce their existing...
- Tablet, Laptop, or Desktop - Form (Factor) Follows Function Desktops, laptops, Ultrabooks, tablets, convertibles, and all-in-ones; suddenly hardware decisions seem a lot more complicated. To take advantage of these benefits, the savviest...
- The IT handbook for Windows 7 and Windows 8 migrations A comprehensive guide for IT departments making the switch from legacy versions of Microsoft Windows to Windows 7 and Windows 8. To date,...
- 7 Reasons Why Windows 8 is the Future Touch, cloud, BYOD and IT consumerization dominate the mindshare of IT managers. Windows 8 enters the scene with a host of features that...
- Cloud BI in Action: Recorded Webinar of Customer, Kony, Inc. See how Kony, Inc., a leading enterprise mobility company, is using TIBCO Jaspersoft for Amazon Web Services and Redshift to achieve embedded analytics...
- Cloud BI Overview: Jaspersoft for AWS Check out this overview of Jaspersoft for AWS, to easily and affordably build business intelligence solutions as well as embed visualizations and analytics... All Operating Systems White Papers | Webcasts