back to article Windows 8 and the ‘Dad test’ stunts

Out and about shopping yesterday, I spotted a PC magazine in the newsagent advertising the ‘ultimate guide’ to Windows 8 in the form of a ’33 page special’. As well as reminding me of reports that Microsoft is planning to spend over $1.5bn on Windows 8 marketing, it made me think of those horribly contrived YouTube videos in …


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  1. Adam Trickett


    "The truth is that users generally aren’t sat down in front a new installation of a new operating that someone has set up for them and just told to get on with it – that almost never happens in either a domestic or a business context."

    Utter bollocks, people are dumped in front of a computer with no training or if training is given it's often worse than no training.

    I make no comment about Windows 8, I've not seen or used it, but the idea that people are actually trained is madness.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bollocks

      The article is obviously written by someone who's spent a good deal of time working with those employed in the public sector :-)

    2. Keep Refrigerated

      Re: Bollocks

      I think I just had an epiphany as to the real reason corporations never adopt the latest Windows OS for their environments... let the users crash test it at home, save a small fortune on training costs!

    3. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Bollocks

      Yes, they are dumped in front of the computer and expected to get on with it!

      You even see this with specialised equipment - as long as the machine isn't directly dangerous (and worryingly, sometimes even when it is!)

      Just ask anybody who works in technical support!

      The only exceptions tend to be CRM systems, presumably because 100% of CRM systems are impenetrable crap that nobody truly understands.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "users generally aren’t sat down in front a new installation of a new operating that someone has set up for them and just told to get on with it – that almost never happens in either a domestic or a business context. "

    You clearly haven't worked where I work then.

    I had to work out/Google that Acrobat Pro 9 doesn't work with Office 2010 when my laptop was upgraded to Win7/Office 2010 (in late 2011, 6 months after forums etc had clearly established that you don't install Pro9 with Office 2010), and then go through hell internally to get an upgrade to Pro X. We get no support AT ALL on any version changes; I had at least used Office 2007 previously, so knew what the ribbon was for etc; everyone else got booted straight from Office 2003 on XP into Office 2010 on Win7 with no more than a cursory "Here's your new laptop - pretty isn't it?"

  3. edterry

    What planet are from?

    "The truth is that users generally aren’t sat down in front a new installation of a new operating that someone has set up for them and just told to get on with it ".

    That's not right; it's not even wrong. This is exactly what happens to most users is a corporate environment.

  4. T.Omoto

    More to the point

    I think the last time I saw anyone being "trained" to use a new Windows interface was in 1998.

  5. tony72

    "[...] it’s important to take a lot of the more extreme criticism you come across with a pinch of salt."

    Dale, I'll take everything written about Windows 8 in the next few months with a pinch of salt, including your article, thanks very much. The ratio of actual information to decidedly dubious anecdotal evidence combined with all the paid and unpaid shilling and uninformed opinion, is so low at the moment that really you've got more chance of learning something useful from an E! fluff piece on Justin Bieber than you have on any article with "Windows 8" in the title.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a bollocks "article". Doesn't really merit being called an article really it's just like reading a personal opinion on an amateur blog site.

    With this and the way El Reg has been flying the flag for Windows Phone (when no other news site even cares any more), I am getting suspicious.

  7. John Bailey

    And another vote for the "wat the hell you smokin" award.

    Punter buys a shiny new PC from PC World.

    Brings it home, unpacks it. Plugs everything in, bangs head on table, swears, turns it on, plugs the power cord in, and remembers the monitor cable this time, and turns it on again.

    Sits down at the table, and answers any questions as best they can. Usually a software serial number at most.

    Then they are ON THEIR OWN..

    The smart thing would indeed be to get a mate who knows a bit to give them a quick run through, but this does not actually happen. People don't want to appear stupid, so they make guesses. They do NOT ask questions. That's cheating. And people you ask use computer talk anyway, so what is the point.

    Updates.. Stop annoying me. And amazingly, these will be turned off. Especially if it reboots while said punter pops to the kitchen to make a cuppa, and comes back to a login screen. Irritation is a great way to get something done, and a nagging PC will always be reconfigured to stop it nagging. EVER.

    Firewall.. interferes with P2P.. Outa here.

    Virus scanner.. It's free innit.. Keeps screeching about a 3 month demo, but the little picture is right there in the corner.

    And now.. "To the internet!!" not for tutorials, but to download software, to surf porn sites, to watch Youtube and update your facebook page to "new computer set up and pretty damn fast so far".. Yes.. I suppose I'd better click ok for this virus scan what popped up out of nowhere.. See.. Told you the demo one worked just fine.

    This is reality. When faced with a warning box, they look for the OK button, because if you don't read the writing, anything that happens is not your fault. Common sense.. I didn't see nothin, I didn't do nothin, I wasn't even there. Amazing how grown men and women regress to 8 years old when faced twit a tech problem.

    And in six months or so, when it takes a half hour to boot, they will take it to a mate, or take it to a shop, and get it drenched in digital pesticide, so it's good for another six months of abuse.

    Defragging.. HAH..

    Malware avoidance.. You gotta be kidding me.

    Reading, or following a tutorial.. BWHAAAAAA!! If they know which version of Windows they have it's a miracle.

    This is the real world.. Not the Reg offices, where everybody has been using computers all their lives, and have picked up a thing or two on the way.

    And no. Outside computing hobbyists(who can and do figure out how to operate an new OS properly by themselves), people do not read computer magazines. Any more than computer shopper publishes articles from Plumbing today monthly.

    Ever wonder why people like web based email so much? Oh.. you thought it was because you could access it from anywhere..


    They like it, because all they have to do is put in a user name and password and it's up and running.

    The only unrealistic thing that is in those "Dad uses new Windows" videos is the lack of swearing and shouting, and blaming the kids for mucking the computer up.

    1. Keep Refrigerated


      Thanks, made me chuckle!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    wait, what?

    Hmm, another time to miss article ratings, this time to add a negative one, set around "absolute tosh". This isn't a journalistic retelling of facts; it's not even an interesting retelling of an interesting and thought-provoking opinion.

    It is weak chinny-reckon wibbling, more in the "Barry down the pub" league, quality-wise.

    Many many people are either plonked down in front of a new interface and left to get on with it with a new machine at home or a refresh at work, or after installing an upgrade. Many people do not read technology sites, and the plummeting circulation indicates that dead tree magazines are dwindling to a historical curio, even in the Dad market. However, please do continue to describe your curiously banal ideal world where the reverse is true.

    Hold on.. maybe this is just Lewis trolling again, and "Dale Vile" is a psuedonym?

    1. Keep Refrigerated

      Re: Dale Vile

      Evil Deal?

  9. 45RPM

    Speaking as a Dad

    I've tried Windows 8 and it can definitely be improved on.

    Windows 7 is a massive usability upgrade over Windows 8.

    Ubuntu is also a massive usability upgrade over Windows 8.

    Still, I'm very grateful to Microsoft for shovelling out more high quality entertainment. It's hilarious watching the Windows fanboyz justify this latest crock of shit. Now, wheres the popcorn?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Speaking as a Dad

      Hmmm, well as a Mac enthusiast, I have to say Windows 8 isn't all that bad. Yes, it's annoying to get this annoying metro screen every time you press Cmd/Win, because it takes you out of your workflow. But in actual use, it's not all that different from Win7 if you keep away from the Metro stuff. It's quicker, there's Powershell 3 (ok, that also runs on Win7). Frankly, I thought it would be more of a hassle but so far I'm not disappointed (if you expect that Microsoft can' t design nice software that is, Windows will always be riddled with unhelpful dialogues, cryptic error messages, and a FS littered with unintelligible files and directories).

      1. 45RPM

        Re: Speaking as a Dad

        Personally, one of my main objections to Windows (and pretty much my only objection to the many Linux UI's) is all the superfluous bloody decoration going on. Macs look pretty, but there's no decoration in the UI - every pretty icon, widget and gizmo has a function. This has always been the case.

        So no painful !Metro (which is a usable UI on phones, and very nice it is too - but scales badly to desktop systems). No dumb as fuck 'Ooh, look, I'm copying a file' animation (which is, admittedly, less irritating on Windows 7 than it is on XP and earlier). No stupid 'Well done me, I'm delet…'. I could get on, but you get the point.

        Google deserves kudos for not following Microsoft down the pointlessly decorated UI route.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    WRONG wrong wrong wrong wrong

    "The truth is that users generally aren’t sat down in front a new installation of a new operating that someone has set up for them and just told to get on with it – that almost never happens in either a domestic or a business context."

    In my 25+ years ICT consultancy/support to large companies, small companies, charities, personal users: proportion acting on my recommendation to even investigate training: less than 5%. Never mind bosses not wanting to pay - most end users actively reject training. Current case in point - one CEO who wants his first experience of W7 to be on a new laptop on his own on a trip to the other side of the planet. This from someone who gets into trouble with his tried and tested 5-yr-old XP laptop most trips.

    Another example of the downsliding usefulness coefficient of Register articles.

  11. Khaptain Silver badge

    Dale Vile

    Dale : 1st thing, the audience of this site is very tech savvy and that bullshit article belongs in a cheap fashion magazine. Really the article is utter crap.

    Do you really work in the IT world, it seems very doubtfull.

    Home user training : FROM WHOM. Do you really believe that they have the resources to PAY for tuition.

    I can't imagine many techies offering to help them either as it is a subject which everyone, who has any experience in the matter, avoids like the plague. Home users usually possess one PC so that can't even Google the answers while trying to learn. So where exactly does their training come from ?????

    Corporate user training : If an employee does not state that they have prior Windows/Office knowledge they will probably be eliminated from the selection list. You are EXPECTED to know how to use Windows BEFORE entering the corporate environment. Training users is very, very, very expensive so it is usually way down at the bottom of the todo list. Again no training !!!!!!

    And students aren't given much more than; This is a mouse, this is a keyboard training either.

    In fact almost everyone has to learn on their own and I do not think that that will come as a suprise to anyone on this site.

    Can you please provide us with the source of your arguements. Hopefully you weren't reading Balmers or Sinofskys guide to selling Windows 8 .

  12. kissingthecarpet
    IT Angle

    Crap article

    "It is weak chinny-reckon wibbling, more in the "Barry down the pub" league, quality-wise."

    Spot on.

    Must try harder...

  13. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Both the article and the product are complete bollox. That is all.

  15. Dale Vile, Freeform Dynamics
    Black Helicopters

    Got that wrong then :-)

    It's obviously a lot worse out there than I thought. The article (or non-article as the case may be) was I admit a bit of a rant against what I thought were a bunch of contrived and unhelpful videos. The point I was trying (and obviously failing) to make was not about training in the full-on formal sense, it was more about the number of ways in which users will be provided with a nudge to get them going with an updated UI.

    From what you guys are saying there is a high chance that consumers will buy a new PC without ever seeing Windows 8 demonstrated, then miss the in-yer-face hints about corner and edge menus during setup, ignore the one page quick start card that comes in the box when they get stuck, and have no one around or on the end of the phone to give them the hint they need to get going. Fair enough, I’ll take it on the chin for the phrase “this almost never happens” being a bit of an over-statement, but I am not sure I would concede that it *always* happens as some are suggesting.

    Re the work side of things, of course people are plonked down in front of PCs without training, and there's always going to be exceptional situations like the guy firing up a new OS for the first time from the other side of the world, but isn't there usually at least someone around or on the end of the phone that users can ask on a basic UI question like “what’s happened to the start menu?”

    Again, I am not talking about formal training or support here, which is clearly lacking in a lot of organisations, just someone who can say the words "try moving your mouse to the corners of the screen and see what pops up", and perhaps offer a couple of other basic UI tips.

    We've been through this before with XP, and some have been through it with Vista and Windows 7. Everyone moans and groans because they don't like change, and some get stuck on some things initially until ask someone, look it up or work it out through trial and error. And it's not just Windows. I have even seen people struggle when you put a Mac in front of them for the first time (in my experience, people who spend shed loads on Macs often trivialise the learning curve). There’s then Android, which for most people involves a hill to climb too with regard to the UI, but people do get hints from various sources and are obviously getting on with it.

    Perhaps iOS is an exception in terms of out of the box usability, and hat tip to Apple for that. Even so, it’s easy for experienced iPhone and iPad users to forget that someone in the early days probably had to show them the ‘press and hold’ trick to move and delete icons, and more recently how to use multi-tap gestures for things like task switching (assuming they know about them even now). Or maybe they consulted some source of help?

    The bottom line is that you could put all sorts of new and unfamiliar things in front of your Dad with no hints and clues about how to get something done and get a similar result. What I take issue with is inferring from such stunts that the new thing they are struggling with is inherently flawed, and that’s exactly the inference of the Dad test videos.

    I would be interested in whether people out there who have given Windows 8 a proper go really do think it’s as impenetrable as these videos would have us believe. It’s not my experience, nor that of the people I have introduced it to. Whether you like the changes to the UI or not, the effort/intellect needed to figure how it works (especially if you are a desktop user) is not that different to other UIs. But as someone said in a previous comment, that’s just anecdotal.

    OK, shutting up and going away now. Apologies if anyone feels I have wasted their time.

    1. PaulMacnicol

      Re: Got that wrong then :-)

      The point is that this is supposed to be an UPgrade from Windows 7. You point out that at some point someone showed an iOS user how to 'Press and hold" and at some time, a Windows user was shown how to click the start button to get to the control panel. But while the iOS feature has always and will always work, where has the start button gone? Microsoft have a habit of changing the fundamental workflow processes that people learn - the ribbon, for example - and with this latest so called "improvement" of Windows, they have taken away the start button which everybody understands and has been in use longer than most can remember. Why do this? Is this an admission that for all those years they had it wrong and the start menu isn't actually the best way to find your applications?

    2. nation of stupid

      Re: Got that wrong then :-)

      "Again, I am not talking about formal training or support here, which is clearly lacking in a lot of organisations, just someone who can say the words "try moving your mouse to the corners of the screen and see what pops up", and perhaps offer a couple of other basic UI tips."

      Honestly, the majority of people out there don't have anyone to turn to, or if they do their help isn't much better.

      For example I have a father in law who is pretty technically competent and never asked for advice, but when visiting him discovered that after using a computer for years when going on the internet he still waited for his ISPs home screen to load before typing in the web address he was going to into the search box on the page. That's what happened the first time he went online so he had been going online in the same way ever since. Changing the browser preferences so it opened with a blank screen confused the hell out of him, so much so that I had to set it to Googles home page so it was more familiar to him.

      There are many others in the same situation, telling him something all of us here take for granted as common knowledge I would later find out he had used to impress his friends as their computer 'expert'.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I predict...

    based on the level of vehemence of the hate for windows 8, and the levels of hate directed at the iPad before its release, and the predictions of failure for the iPad and that devices actual success...then windows 8 will likely be enormously successful. El Reg commentard prescience is vanishingly microscopic; almost at homeopathic levels.


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      iPad vs. Windows 8

      The Reg commentards also panned Vista, and it was a disaster - only recently did Windows 7 beat Windows XP's installed base, while Vista never rose above single digits.

      I don't think Windows 8 will be as bad as Vista, but Windows 7 has the chance of becoming the next XP - something that OEMs will sell with new PCs far longer than Microsoft would prefer due to customer demand, just as they did when they continued selling XP long after Vista had been released.

      The iPad was a different animal altogether. Take some Apple haters, mix in some "but it's just a big iPod touch" and a little "Microsoft has tried tablets several times and they've always flopped, why should this be any different" and it's obvious where all the doubters came from. A lot of techies still don't understand the explosion in tablet sales, and what that says about the future of PC sales. For them, a tablet is totally inadequate for the types of tasks they use their PC for, so they extrapolate this to everyone. But for a lot of casual users a tablet is a better PC - a PC that is both more portable and has no malware worries...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: iPad vs. Windows 8


        Even though I am the author of the original post I totally agree with your own very rational reply and have no qualms upvoting you. Vista wasn't really a target for hatred before its release and only became so afterwards when it became clear this was NOT the much vaunted Longhorn which everyone was looking forward to.

        The Ipad - well, - the hatred was apparent long before Jobs went on stage and demonstrated his magical unicorn device, and continued on afterwards unabated by exceptional sales.

        I was genuinely just trolling having been irritated beyond endurance by yet more vitriol from the win 8 haters. Normally I find it entertaining but today, not so much. Really, it all remains to be seen whether its a success or not; personally I have no idea nor do I care to guess; though I am very interested to see how it all works out. Whatever, as a developer, I will have to deal with it.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: iPad vs. Windows 8

        But the iPad *is* just a clown-sized iPod touch, that's what I like so much about mine :)

  17. Nameless Faceless Computer User

    I have a question

    Why does Microsoft feel the need to spend $1,500,000,000 on Win8 marketing when they use their usual tactics to insure that Win8 will be THEE ONLY operating system available bundled with a new PC?

  18. Pat 4

    Thanks I needed a good laugh

    " As I have already reported, my own experience of Windows 8 is very positive on desktop configurations driven by a mouse and a keyboard,""


  19. Wil Palen
    Thumb Up

    Off topic maybe, but you have to admire the ninja skills of Microsoft to sell a mere theme as a totally new OS..

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