Usability expert Jakob Nielsen: Windows 8 UI is disappointing

There has been much debate over the "Modern" user interface of Windows 8 before and after its launch in late October. Today, one of the leading experts in web usability, Jakob Nielsen, took the time to conduct a study of the Windows 8 UI and called his final results "disappointing".

Nielsen said in a post on his blog that he invited 12 "experienced" PC owners to try out Windows 8 for his study, both on regular PCs as well as on Microsoft's Surface tablet, which runs under Windows RT. He felt that having both the "Modern" UI and the desktop interface was a problem for a number of reasons, including switching between the two set ups and its users having to remember which UI to go to for certain features.

While Windows 8 does support running two apps, with one in a "snapped view" at the same time, Nielsen said that his test subjects were unable to get this feature to work. He added:

The single-window strategy works well on tablets and is required on a small phone screen. But with a big monitor and dozens of applications and websites running simultaneously, a high-end PC user definitely benefits from the ability to see multiple windows at the same time. Indeed, the most important web use cases involve collecting, comparing, and choosing among several web pages, and such tasks are much easier with several windows when you have the screen space to see many things at once.

He also felt that the "Modern" UI cut down on information that is presented to the Windows 8 user, and that the touch screen gestures can lead to a number of user errors. He also feels the Charms feature is not well implemented.

In his conclusion Nielsen says:

I have nothing against Microsoft. I happen to think that Windows 7 is a good product and that Windows 8 is a misguided one. I derived these conclusions from first principles of human–computer interaction theory and from watching users in our new research. One doesn't have to hate or love a company in order to analyze its UI designs. 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.

Source: Jakob Nielsen | Image via Microsoft

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