back to article N00bs vs Windows 8: We lock six people in a room with new OS

The design of Windows 8's user interface - The Interface Formerly Known as Metro (TIFKAM) - leaves non-technical users yearning for the good ol' Start button. The Reg can report that finding after some rather non-scientific tests in which we offered different folks their very first experience of Windows 8. We chose …


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  1. Thecowking

    Now I hate Win 8 as much as the next man

    But complaining that people can't open the start screen when you give them a keyboard which doesn't have an obvious windows key is silly.

    I think the command key on a mac will act as a windows button but it's decidedly non-obvious.

    Though as an ubuntu user, I feel the pain of the windows people, Unity is possibly worse than TIFKAM, I live in Gnome 2 still, and will do for as long as I can.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Now I hate Win 8 as much as the next man

      To be fair, I don't think very many people in my office would know what the Windows key did anyway, or even that it was called the Windows key. I do a lot of training with people and I never see them press it unbidden when they're using XP or 7.

      The sad thing is though, that even though these people found the system hard to fathom initially, most of the population will probably end up using it at some point, and putting up with it.

      I'm a big fan of Ubuntu and Mint, no doubt commenters on here will say that if they can't use this opportunity to get a bigger foothold then there is no hope. But ultimately by the time people know Windows 8 is hard for them, they've probably already bought their computer, so, not being infinitely rich, they'll just curse and find a way to cope.

      I've converted plenty of people to Ubuntu, but usually only when their Windows install has given up completely. I've never persuaded someone with a fully functioning system to switch to Linux, they just can't be arsed.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Now I hate Win 8 as much as the next man

      Downvoted for the dislike of Unity which I find has everything just where I need it.

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: Now I hate Win 8 as much as the next man @AC 08:53

        Like or dislike of Unity is subjective, I might as well downvote you because you do or don't like Marmite.

        1. Martin 47

          Re: Now I hate Win 8 as much as the next man @AC 08:53

          errr.... if anyone puts in a post that they are the person who likes marmite they will (not unreasonably) get my downvote as soon as I see it.

        2. Thecowking

          Re: Now I hate Win 8 as much as the next man @AC 08:53

          Interestingly I don't like Marmite either, it's the anti-beer.

          On that note, roll on beer o' clock

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            marmite = anti-beer?

            Anti-beer? Surely it's a by-product of beer.

            1. the-it-slayer
              Paris Hilton

              Re: marmite = anti-beer? = puke?

              That what it essentially is... puke. I'm sure Paris knows what anti-beer is n'all in the form of anti-alcopops. Just more sugary.

            2. Someone Else Silver badge

              Re: marmite = anti-beer? (@AC 26Oct, 11:20 GMT)

              There is only one by-product of beer...

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: you do or don't like Marmite

          there's a Linux UI called Marmite?

    3. zooooooom

      Re: Now I hate Win 8 as much as the next man

      "a keyboard which doesn't have an obvious windows key is silly."

      Why would one expect to press a key in a *Graphical* user interface driven by a mouse?

    4. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Now I hate Win 8 as much as the next man

      KDE4 + Cairo Dock + Compiz 0.8.8 (Kwin is shit and Compiz 0.9.x is a mess) gives me the ideal desktop as you get both the best of Mac and Windows worlds with a huge amount of customization possibilities.

      NOT metro is just downright awful to use or DT & KB users.

    5. Crisp

      Re: Now I hate Win 8 as much as the next man

      I was hating Windows 8 back when it was still called Metro

    6. Merchman

      Re: Now I hate Win 8 as much as the next man

      Am I the only person who managed to read the part at the start of the article that said: 'The Apple command key maps to the Windows key in VMware Fusion'. I would assume that they also told the testers that they had done this.

    7. The Baron
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Now I hate Win 8 as much as the next man

      Ah, I remember back in the day when keyboard manufacturers hadn't been forced to incorporate an additional OS-specific function key into their keyboards for no good reason. Happier times, and the operating systems still seemed to work basically ok.

      1. sam bo

        Re: Now I hate Win 8 as much as the next man

        "Ah, I remember back in the day when keyboard manufacturers hadn't been forced to incorporate an additional OS-specific function key into their keyboards for no good reason. "

        I still use an old IBM model M - what is this Windows key, of which you speak ?

    8. DracheMitch

      Re: Now I hate Win 8 as much as the next man

      As a Mac user since 1997, I LOVE Windows 8 and I have been using it since early August on a Samsung tablet about 90% docked with a keyboard and mouse.

      Most suspicious about this "test" is

      A: it was pretty obvious they ran the VM windowed of the little girl had a hard time getting the mouse on the corner, because Fitt's law says corners are the easiest thing to hit.

      B: notably absent from this test was the introduction video that runs the first time any new user logs into Windows demonstrating Fitt's law.

      1. pdxbrit

        Re: Now I hate Win 8 as much as the next man

        Most suspicious about this "comment" is

        A: It's pretty obvious you need read the article:

        "We ran the VM in full-screen mode."

  2. CharliePsycho

    Windows on a Mac as a test?

    Did I understand this test correctly? You used a Mac to demo Windows 8, a machine without a Windows key and traditionally no scroll wheel? What did you expect?

    I have tried testing Windows 8 on my kids. I didn't help them or tell them, I just changed the home PC and left it for the after-school fun. I will admit I was expecting all sorts of problems, but no.... All they mentioned was that it was quicker, which was annoying as I was looking forward to showing off and humiliating them, but from that experience I don't think there is going to be any problem with the 'reimagined' start menu.

    1. Keith 72
      Thumb Down

      Re: Windows on a Mac as a test?

      In a VM no less. What a f**king waste of time. The author's clearly trying to show that Win8 sucks by confusing n00bs. Duh. Grow up El Reg.

      How about trying the effect of these users with a new laptop running Win8. Will they be totally baffled? Not unless they skip the welcome video.

      1. El Andy

        Re: Windows on a Mac as a test?

        "The author's clearly trying to show that Win8 sucks by confusing n00bs. Duh. Grow up El Reg."

        And yet, somewhat ironically, the only thing that really needed explaining seems to be the hot-corners - something that would have been shown to the users had they sat through the intro tutorial (which they apparently weren't given the opportunity to do, judging by their comments)

        1. John 62

          Re: Windows on a Mac as a test?

          I've read the tutorial only shows on first login and according to Ars Technica it's also crap. Lots of users will have individual accounts (and this will be more likely given that more people are more used to individual accounts), but there will also be a great many users who will share accounts and hence are unlikely to see the initial tutorial (of course it's great to have everything set up your own way, but it's very annoying when you can't find your photos because you can't remember which user account was used to upload them to the computer).

          And to previous commenters, the friendly article says the users were given a two-button mouse with a scroll wheel.

      2. Tim Cowley

        Re: Windows on a Mac as a test?

        Having spent the last two years running windows 8 every day across many machines - VM and physical - I completely agree with you. This is as absurd as the demo of winXP RTM being owned in 20 minutes - well after winXP SP2 was the only version available to buy, even in brick-and-mortars.

        I've relied on The Reg for hyper-critical, no-pulled-punches info for years but this farce shows that they just wanted to make win8 look bad. Normals aren't going to run it in a damned VM, and they're not going to use a mac keyboard.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      > You used a Mac to demo Windows 8, a machine without a Windows key and traditionally no scroll wheel?

      The Windows Key is like pork: It makes everything better!

      Really that intellectual abortion, brainfart of an unknown Microserf who I hope will be Satan's favourite squishy cow, mainly meant to make the unwashed masses go "oohhhaahhh" and buy new keyboards is of utter uselessness. There is a whole fscking row of F* keys on the top going generally unused.

      1. Epobirs

        Try thinking a little, even if it hurts

        The Windows key was created for good reason as part of Windows 95. There was a vast amount of software that had already staked out the Function keys, along with the bulk of other key combos using Control and ALT. All going back to the pre-GUI days with Win3.x staking out a scant few for itself, such as Alt-Tab and even that had a history in multi-tasking DOS variants..

        To make Windows really work well for those of us with the capacity to remember useful keyboard combos, a new key was needed. This was no different than Apple had done on the Mac a good decade earlier. Imagine trying to be a power user on a Mac with no Command key on its keyboard.

        The Windows key continues to make sense, being reserved for functions specific to the OS while leaving more universal commands like cut and paste to the more generic keys, along with app specific commands on the function row. Just because it's a GUI doesn't mean a perfectly good keyboard should go to waste. You should be able to unplug eitherthe keyboard OR the mouse and still get everything done. It may be less comfortable but such functionally is essentially, especially for enabling input methods for those who cannot use the regular keyboard or mouse.

  3. Studley

    Windows® 8™ TIFKAM™

    Bah, I knew I should've trademarked TIFKAM when I coined it. (It's my second biggest contribution to the English language, after I managed to get Boris Johnson's "BoJo" nickname to stick on his Wikipedia page some years ago.)

    Presumably, Miss 8's "hard to get the mouse into the corners" was primarily as a result of running in a virtual machine, as a physical machine will resist the pointer at the corners; still, more empirical evidence that the decision to remove the on-screen Start button was pure unadulterated bonkers.

    1. Ian Yates

      Re: Windows® 8™ TIFKAM™

      Magic corners are one of the strangest decision (well, after the whole of TIFKAM).

      To paraphrase a well-known UI guidelines document, all user actions should be obvious and recognisable.

      Sections 1, 2, and 3 apply here

      1. Rafael L

        Re: Windows® 8™ TIFKAM™

        Guidelines... Funny... Pay attention: who created them?

        Humans, and now humans they're creating new guidelines that oppose the previous, what's the problem?

        It's time to break the current guidelines and go for the better. This test was biased because all of the users were Mac OS / Windows users before. Now take the time to analyze the benefits of Windows 8 to people who never used a single software in their lives: would it be considered better or worse than Windows 7? What's would these people call the effect of hiding things in corners if they don't even know what these things do or were called before...?

        Will Alt + TAB be considered against the guidelines now? It's not obvious nor recognizable. The keys don't show at any moment they effect nor anything at the screen yet people use it. Everyone will be pleased all this stuff isn't in the screen all at once and will learn that they must go to the corner they want for task switching and menus.

        Stop comparing the current experience and the new one like the current experience didn't has any learning curve.

        1. Stoneshop

          Re: Windows® 8™ TIFKAM™

          Now take the time to analyze the benefits of Windows 8 to people who never used a single software in their lives

          And where would you find that person? Even the last Mongolian Yak-herd and the last Papua jungle-dweller have smartphones now. Rumour has it that there's a software-uncontaminated hunter somewhere in one of the Amazon source area. Good luck.

    2. Chris Beach

      Re: Windows® 8™ TIFKAM™

      what? having installed Win8 on my very physical machine, there's no resistance or any indication at all that the corners do anything.

      there was a immensely piss-poor animation during first start-up that kind of suggest they might do something, but there's naff all otherwise. They're also slow if you actually use the corners. To get the bars (charm or app switch) its best to go into the corner then down/up. esp as the charms are all in the middle, which is annoying, having to travel 2-3" to go from the corner to the first 'charm'.

      Still not found if you can close an app with the mouse only.

      Oh and the start screen not respecting snapped apps, or having a clock is damn annoying too.

  4. Chris Miller

    I'm not attracted to TIFKAM, the comment about 'it looks like a mobile phone' is spot on IMHO. But if you take any changed interface design and place people in front of it without any form of instruction, most of them will struggle.

    If or when you plan on deploying Win8 in the office (then you're insane, given its current state) you have to provide some basic training material. Whether this is a few minutes hands on (this is a scroll bar; here are the screen hotspots) or CBT material (MS should really be providing this), you need to do something unless your staff's time is worthless to you.

    1. Dapprman


      I was actually nodding my head at Chris Miller's comments (stated in case there are other replies above mine), but then suddenly realised that I have only worked at or in one company that actually had an up to date desktop. I strongly suspect most companies (after all how many are still using XP) will not be updating to TIFKAM for two to three years yet minimum, by which time most their staff will alerady be using it in their homes. Thus no training required for most and those who do need basic help will have colleagues neat by who can assist.

    2. hugh wanger

      @Chris Miller There is "training" or a brief guide when you first start Windows 8. This is what is most galling about all the "opinions" on this matter - mostly coming from people who have strong views but never actually tried retail/release Windows 8.

      Basically, use Windows 8 as an IQ testing tool. If you fail to be able to use it after a minute of using it (like an 8 year old girl) you didn't pass the test and should retire from office life.

      It is literally childs play.

      [As others have pointed out, Windows key and scroll wheel mouse (or touch screen) on actual hardware would have made most of this "research" moot. Nonsense article. El Reg needs to do better than this drivel that belongs in the like of Computer Shopper Magazine]

      1. Reg Blank

        @ Tiny Weeny Wanger

        Tiny Weeny Wanger - "There is "training" or a brief guide when you first start Windows 8."

        So you have never, ever sat down at a PC that you HADN'T bought brand new, and you were its first ever user? Not at work, or a public library, or at school, or a friend's or family member's?

        Come on, be honest. You have, haven't you?

        Of course you have, because we all do it everyday. So expecting a first-time not-Metro Win8 user to also be the first user of the machine they are using, is just nonsensical.

  5. NumptyScrub

    Switching back to TIFKAM

    I'm assuming that the lack of a Start / Windows(TM) button on the keyboard (it being run in a VM on a Mac) was expected to elicit some frustration from users; as I understand it, you can get TIFKAM to open immediately by mashing the Start / Windows(TM) button present on any PC keyboard for the last decade.

    So that frustration aside (anyone who would be expecting me to help them out will be running it with a PC keyboard), it's actually looking like your testers got the hang of it pretty quickly. Given the massive negative feedback I've had from techy friends who have run the beta / preview (e.g. "It's a fucking travesty and I won't touch it with a bargepole"), it's starting to sound like MS have actually managed to aim a Windows product at the mass market, and not miss usability expectations by the usual barn door. Intriguing.

    I'll have to have a chat with the boss regarding our Technet subscription, and have a play with it myself on the test bench. Maybe it's not going to be quite the steaming pile of shit I'd started to expect...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Switching back to TIFKAM

      "[...] you can get TIFKAM to open immediately by mashing the Start / Windows(TM) button present on any PC keyboard for the last decade."

      Mashing a button for a decade isn't what I'd call immediate.

      1. 404

        Damn guys!

        Hover your mouse in the left lower corner of the screen - the Start/TIFKAM 'button' appears....

        (installed Win8Pro yesterday on two laptops, HP Elitebook 8440P and a Gateway(Acer) NE56R12u laptop - hucked the Gateway into wife's lap and said, "Have Fun" - and she did.)

  6. P. Lee

    The long game?

    The only thing I can think is that ms is willing to sacrifice some desktop users to get tifkam used and familiar in the hope that familiarity with the look translates to success in the mobile sector.

    There is an assumption that most people will not give up windows on the pc.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The long game?

      The long game = No Desktop

  7. Select * From Handle

    OSX Users vs Windows 8 more like.

    A. This test was dun on a MAC! with no windows key...

    B. Everyone who tested it was from what i can gather, a MAC user...

    C. This article was written buy a Mac fanboi...

    Conclusion, cant believe how much the word MAC and OSX appeared in an article about First impressions on windows 8...

    1. Psyx

      Re: OSX Users vs Windows 8 more like.

      "This test was dun on a MAC! with no windows key..."

      Hardly a massive obstacle. Most users never use it anyway.

      B. Everyone who tested it was from what i can gather, a MAC user...

      ...AND a PC user. Perception bias on your behalf there. What's the harm in handing the keys to a new model of car to someone who has both a driving license and a motorcycle licence?

      C. This article was written buy a Mac fanboi...

      ...In a positive an unbiased manner.

      1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        Re: OSX Users vs Windows 8 more like.

        Windows key is one of the least-used key on my keyboard, even though I know about Win-Key shortcuts and use them when I need them (it's just mostly I don't need them).

        1. Select * From Handle

          Re: OSX Users vs Windows 8 more like.

          But the Windows key in Windows 8 is the main key you will be using... like the single buttons on most smart phones these days, the windows key takes you back the main menu (metro ui). which kinda makes it vital for showing new users how you would expect them to use the new Windows 8. its kinda the same as giving someone a new ipad mini to test but taking away the round button...

        2. Jabber 44
          Thumb Up

          Re: OSX Users vs Windows 8 more like.

          As a Mouse-o'phobe - I think the Win key is excellent.. I've been using alt-tab for c.20 years... and on Win 7 Windows Key, plus TAB is awesome. When I built a hackintosh post Win-7 I realised their UI was really out of date and tired looking..

          I'm looking for a file on XP - Windows Key and E and I'm exploring.

          I want the desktop - Windows key and D -

          I guess I'll be enjoying TIFKAM -> Might stick it on the PC over the weekend.

          1. cynic56

            Re: OSX Users vs Windows 8 more like.

            Thank You. Thank You. Thank You.

            I hate the W7 approach to switching between windows. Windows+Tab is just what I need.

            1. bean520

              Re: OSX Users vs Windows 8 more like.

              "Windows+Tab is just what I need."

              Windows+Tab has existed since windows vista

        3. Lost in Cyberspace

          Re: OSX Users vs Windows 8 more like.

          Start is one of the most used buttons for me, but not for combos. It's for search.

          I just type [start] In [enter] to get browsing

          Or [start] wo [enter] for Word

          Or te for Teamviewer

          Or rem for Remote access


      2. Arctic fox

        @Psyx Re:"...In a positive an unbiased manner." I agree. There was not a snide bone...... the article's body (so to speak). Very interesting to see the reactions of the various test subjects. It does suggest that a) MS ought to put a proper tutorial on board and b) whatever the opinions of a certain proportion of the vanguard of the white-collar techno-proletariat might be the ordinary punter may get on with the os rather better than many have been assuming. However, the proof of that particular pudding will be in the eating - we'll have to see what the reactions en masse in the private retail market are over the coming year before we can draw any hard and fast conclusions about how the ordinary punter has in fact gotten on with it - or not as the case may be.

        1. B4PJS

          Re: @Psyx ...In a positive an unbiased manner." I agree. There was not a snide bone......

          There is a tutorial when you login with a new account for the first time that describes the edge/corner system perfectly. It was actually a travesty that ElReg decided not to show this to the punters.

          1. Psyx

            Re: @Psyx ...In a positive an unbiased manner." I agree. There was not a snide bone......

            "There is a tutorial when you login with a new account for the first time that describes the edge/corner system perfectly. It was actually a travesty that ElReg decided not to show this to the punters."

            Umm... No: It was kind of the *point*, to see how people got along without any such aid.

            A report about punters following a tutorial would have been very dull, and not very useful.

            1. B4PJS

              Re: @Psyx ...In a positive an unbiased manner." I agree. There was not a snide bone......

              But the fact that one punter said "There should have been a tutorial" and THERE IS A TUTORIAL shows what complete and utter bollocks the test was.

              1. Psyx

                Re: @Psyx ...In a positive an unbiased manner." I agree. There was not a snide bone......

                " 'There should have been a tutorial' and THERE IS A TUTORIAL shows what complete and utter bollocks the test was."

                No, it doesn't.

                By the same logic, if someone not very good at basic maths sits down for a basic maths test and says "I should have had a calculator", is the test 'utter bollocks'?

                If a new user sits down after a PC upgrade, what percentage actually fire up a tutorial? I've never done it in my life, and I reply on waving the mouse around and experimenting. Exactly like the situation described.

                And again: An article of 6 people doing a tutorial would be very, very dull reading.

                1. Epobirs

                  Re: @Psyx ...In a positive an unbiased manner." I agree. There was not a snide bone......

                  No, it's more like handing a calculator to someone who hasn't ever seen one before and expecting them to do better than otherwise on a maths test.

                  If you'd paid attention you'd know that the tutorial about the hot corners is unavoidable. It comes up the first time a new user logs into a Win8 machine. It was grossly unfair to test these people as first time users without giving them the full first-time user experience. The single biggest complaint would have been nullified if this test were better executed.

  8. Robert E A Harvey

    New name

    I think TIFKAM deservers to stick.

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: New name

      This looks like a subject for the El Reg Language Soviet to vote on: "Modern", "Notro", "Metro," or "TIFKAM" - you decide...

      1. hplasm

        Re: New name


        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: New name

          Since the new interface is fullscreen and will only display one app at a time:

          Microsoft Window

          1. Vic

            Re: New name

            > Microsoft Window™

            Have you noticed the new logo?


  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Next time

    Try using a touch screen, since it is apparent that this OS is designed for that. Microsoft is just waiting for the rest of the world to catch up.

    1. Ted Treen

      Re: Next time


      I use a desktop at work and at home.

      After half an hour of reaching out to tap a vertical screen, my arm's going to be aching like hell.

      Touchscreens are OK for mobies, tablets, and things of that ilk - but for desktops?

      Do me a favour!

      1. Psyx

        Re: Next time

        "Touchscreens are OK for mobies, tablets, and things of that ilk - but for desktops?

        Do me a favour!"

        You're preaching to the choir, here. But take a look in PC World and you'll see that a HUGE number of desk-top models currently being sold to 'bloke in the street' have touch screens. There's clearly a demand. I'd argue that it's a *stupid* demand, but then: It's worked for apple!

      2. TeeCee Gold badge

        Re: Next time

        Presumably this is the reason for the flurry of product development announcements from MS recently, all to do with some variation on a device to recognise gestures from a user sitting in front of it.

        The endgame is touchscreens you don't actually touch. From a "screen covered in fingerprints" perspective, a rather good idea.

      3. Epobirs

        Re: Next time

        Perhaps you've noticed Apple flogging really big track pads for desktop users for a while now. Microsoft is going the same route. A big multi-touch track pad works quite nicely where touchscreens are impractical.

  10. g dot assasin

    Charm bar thing....

    Did they not get to see the video when you log in, that tells you (about 10 times) to move the mouse into a corner??

    1. Fuzz

      Re: Charm bar thing....

      This was going to be my point, when everyone asked "is there going to be some kind of tutorial?" you forget to tell them "there is but we've neglected to let you see it"

      I can't remember when the tutorial is shown but it's either part of the OOB experience or at first log in to a new user account.

      If they don't get to see the video how do you expect them to know what to do?

      How many of them would have know how to produce the start menu in Windows 95 the first time they saw it if they didn't get to see that weird animated arrow that flies in from the right first time you log in?

      1. B4PJS
        Thumb Up

        Re: Charm bar thing....

        First login to a new account

    2. Raumkraut

      Re: Charm bar thing....

      If your UI requires a tutorial, you have a bad UI.

      The start menu, while perhaps mysterious in its function to the uninitiated, was at least *visible* for exploration. If you can't see a UI element, the only way to discover it is through chance.

      The world has not grown up expecting "magic corners" on devices, so there needs to be some indication that these areas are "active zones". Any half-decent student of UI/UX could likely give you half a dozen workable suggestions, just off the top of their heads.

      1. Keith 72

        Re: Charm bar thing....

        I totally agree. But still, deliberately exposing newbies to it without letting them watch the video just stinks of a "journalist" skewing the story to try and spin it his way.

        1. pixl97

          Re: Charm bar thing....


          There will be piles of people that never see that start video.. Why? A technician sets up their login and desktop the first time. Or, they use someone other persons computer. I'm sure other scenarios can be thought of.

          What is stupid is Microsoft has this huge tile based start menu with lots of space to put shit, and they didn't even think of linking the tutorial there so other people could find it easy.

      2. Epobirs

        Re: Charm bar thing....

        If your UI cannot benefit from a tutorial you aren't doing much of anything new or interesting with it, nor offering much to the more intelligent users.

        The traditional GUI was heavily influence by the business desktop of yore, which is why we call it the desktop and have metaphorical filing cabinets, trash cans, etc. Vast numbers of people have grown up with this and never really knew what it was aping. The world has moved on. Our interfaces now don't rely on simulating a real world structure.

        The hot corners are readily discoverable, as everyone on the test appears to have found. That none of these people asked 'Where is the Windows key?' and made use of its substitute once informed suggests none of them had done more than use what they could discover without exercising any curiosity in the past. I've lost count of the number of clients I printed hot-key reference sheets for. All of them greatly appreciated it once they'd memorized a few and found how much it sped things up. Any one of those people would have tried the Windows key immediately when try to return to the Start screen.

        1. Oninoshiko

          Re: Charm bar thing....

          You SHOULDN'T be doing anything "interesting."

          We perceive the OS to be boring, and that's a good thing. You may not have noticed, but computers are REALLY common. As in "as common as a toster." Because we all have to deal with these things, they should not ever surprise us. I don't want to be amazed by my OS, I want it to get the fuck out of the way and let me work. Don't surprise me, don't amaze me, DO WHAT I EXPECT.

  11. Ian Yates

    "friend's home"

    I'll have you know that I have more than 1 friend!

    I do! Really!

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: "friend's home"

      You may have several friends, but as long as they have separate homes, each such residence is a friend's home.

  12. Psyx
    Thumb Up

    Nicely written and interesting article there, El Reg!

  13. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    There. Is. Just. No. Point.

    Change for the sake of change in not needed.

    All the stuff I need runs well on XP, most of the programs I use, except for the Outlook and the Office are not MSFT-made. Some of these programs are so essential for me (e.g. FAR file manager) that I would refuse to use any PC on which they cannot be run and function properly. All of my PCs are relatively old but they are totally adequate for the office stuff, some image and video processing. I am not happy with many things about Windows but I'm used to it now.

    So, that Windows 8, what will it give me - shave a couple of seconds off the boot time?

    What do I have to pay for it? Total change in the interface, which does not add any functional benefits but is only there for the sake of change and as part of an attempt to combine the functionality of 2 incompatible types of devices in one. Ugly (and I cannot say that enough) combination of colours and CGA-quality graphics on the main screen.

    What are the risks of me switching to the new system? Potential lack of backward compatibility with the essential software I use - which will render the PC unusable and require fall back to the old system. Potential loss of control over what is being stored where (I don't know for sure but the interface inconsistencies suggest to me that the whole system's concept is totally schizophrenic with 2 minds trying to control one body).

    All of that means the risk of wasting hours of my time on trying something that *in the best possible scenario* will only allow me to do the same stuff that I could do before, only using completely different command actions. Why do I need even to think of doing that?

    P.S. I will never allow a piece of tech in my house or in my office that has one of its key components called "Charms Bar".

    1. Psyx

      Re: There. Is. Just. No. Point.

      "Change for the sake of change in not needed."

      Then don't buy it.


      1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        Re: There. Is. Just. No. Point.

        Oh, don't worry, I won't.

        1. Epobirs

          Re: There. Is. Just. No. Point.

          Fine. And we'll stay off your lawn, too.

    2. Matt_payne666

      Re: There. Is. Just. No. Point.

      Yes, why upgrade from a 10 yearold OS wich reaches EOL in 2 years...

      Your machine is obviously perfect for you, but some of us like (useable) support for more than 2gb of memory, some of us like to enjoy the day in performance boosts of SSD technology, some people enjoy the overall performance increase from moving away from XP... there are other pros, like useful consumer backup optons, security, increased battery life, eyecandy, built in driver support, better deployment options, better group policy options, etc, but you, know, none of these are really compelling reasons to not live in a cave!

      1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        Re: There. Is. Just. No. Point.

        Hmm, yes, perhaps I live in a cave... Or maybe I just look at my computer as a tool which must do what I need and not as a toy which must always have the latest bling attached to it... Or perhaps its a combination of both.

        However, none of the things you mention requires combining OSs for two incompatible device classes in one. None of that justifies schizophrenic colour scheme either. Eyecandy? R U MAD? Do you need pretend-touch-screen interface to use SSD? Can't you add more device drivers AND keep the OS interface workable (and perhaps, just perhaps, make a file manager that can actually be used to manage files)?

        All the things about backup, security etc are not an OS's business - they are done by separate software utilities which don't even need to be written by the OS maker.

        Oh, and batteries in my PCs last for months, I don't know what battery life you're talking about ;-)

        1. John 172

          Re: There. Is. Just. No. Point.

          So talking tools, you must still be using a stick with a stone tied onto it for a hammer? Damn those modern metal incarnations and don't get me started on those round wheel things!

          1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

            Re: There. Is. Just. No. Point.

            Better that than staring at a screen filled with green and magenta rectangles.

      2. Psyx

        Re: There. Is. Just. No. Point.

        "Don't worry, I won't"

        I can't say it was causing me much consternation. I won't be buying it either, but decrying the product is useless, when it's merely useless *for you* seems a bit short-sighted. There's lots here that other people will like, and will want.

        Personally, I'm religiously opposed to *buying* operating systems.

        "some of us like to enjoy the day in performance boosts of SSD technology"

        I'd actually debate that one. I still run Ye Olde Windowes, and SSD still results in an enormous performance boost.

        1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

          Re: There. Is. Just. No. Point.

          "Decrying the product is useless, when it's merely useless *for you* seems a bit short-sighted."

          I did not say it was useless (I'm sure you can send and receive emails, look at photos, go on the Internet and even, if you're lucky to find how, print something off a Win8-running computer). Simply, that the improvements do not justify putting up with a screwed up interface. Also, that the interface was screwed up for no good reason at all.

          1. Psyx

            Re: There. Is. Just. No. Point.

            "Simply, that the improvements do not justify putting up with a screwed up interface."

            It's just a GUI. It's not rocket science to adapt, if the behind-the-scenes improvements are ones that you want. Or, maybe just spend five minutes on Google to find and download the invariable 'XP Look and feel' hack that someone will have made.

            I'm guessing that they had good reason to change the interface and tested it with plenty of 'noobs'. Simpler net-facing interfaces (Apple and mobile phones) have opened the web and computing up to a lot of customers who never used it before. Now those users are perhaps looking at 'home' computing, M$ need a 'simple' interface to grab a corner of the market which might otherwise be lost to Apple.

            I personally think that they're trying to get away from this idea of 'how do I get to the internet' on a computer, to the internet being a seamless-feeling part of the user experience.

            And... it might not be so bad, with a couple of hours practice. I'll definately make a point of spending a couple of hours playing with it at some point.

            After all: 15 years ago, I thought all GUIs were for WIMPs and that any *real* work always was simpler and easier via the command line.

          2. Epobirs

            Re: There. Is. Just. No. Point.

            Why would printing be a problem? My Windows 8 system found and installed the printer on my network automatically. It just works. I can install drivers from Win7 via the desktop if necessary but so far that hasn't been an issue. I've yet to have a single instance where something I used on Win7 didn't work on my Win8 desktop or laptop.

            The interface is fine. If it really bothers you you can remove all but the tiles for the items you use and leave everything else invisible until summoned with the 'all apps' command. You can even edit the whole thing to be a nice monochrome as you seem to desire. A number of such apps already exist in the Store.

            There used to be a saying in the Royal Society that Astronomy advances by funerals. The same can be said for other fields.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There. Is. Just. No. Point.

      I think that the problem Microsoft has, is that the consumer PC market is turning to tablets. Most people don't really do any useful work on computers, it's all media consumption and games with a few moments of 'real work' thrown in. M.S. is already late to the game. The only advantage is a fragmented market, because Apple won't cut their profit margin to sell to the masses (at least not yet, but Jobs isn't around to prevent this). The only disadvantages I see to this, are a slowing in better tech. for the desktop, possibly more expensive parts as there will be fewer people buying to drive down the price AND... an even worse throw away mentality than what we currently have.

      1. chris lively

        Re: There. Is. Just. No. Point.

        You are partly right. Yes, consumer PCs are being replaced by tablets because thvast majority of them simply browse the web, facebook and play games.

        Business PCs are a whole different ballpark. This UI is utter crap for developers and power users. The concept of "didn't really close" applications means that a number of apps need to be rethought which is going to be painful.

        What MS should have done, and Ive been saying this for awhile is to have 3 OSs: server, IT and consumer. The differences should be in how the UI functions, not the available options. The way MS has previously partitioned those out based on whether some app was included or not was the wrong way. For example a developer has much different needs out of the OS than grandma at home on fb. Grandma just wants to turn it on and get to fb quickly. A developer wants multiple screens, fast and efficient keyboard navigation and support and the ability to have LOTS of things open.

        So instead of trying to make a one size fits all, they need to better target them.

        1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

          Re: There. Is. Just. No. Point.

          "A developer wants multiple screens, fast and efficient keyboard navigation and support and the ability to have LOTS of things open."

          I'm not a developer but I want the same things.

          Also, when I turn my PC on I want to see a "clear slate" - not some pre-selected shortcuts that would push me to do certain things while hiding everything else. A PC is a *universal* device, not a tablet or a phone.

        2. Vic

          Re: There. Is. Just. No. Point.

          > have 3 OSs: server, IT and consumer

          I disagree.

          What Microsoft *should* have done - were they interested in their users' happiness - would be to have a choice of desktops - the "classic" style from W7, and TIFKAM. That way, users can pick what they want, rather than putting up with what they're given.

          The various 3rd-party desktop replacements show how easy this could have been. That MS has chosen not to offer this option has several implications, none of which are especially flattering...


  14. Matt_payne666

    Thanks for a sensible article... Win8 doesn't deserve the bashing it gets... It is different, but it doesn't take a genius to fathom it out...

    1. Stacy
      Thumb Up

      I agree - though I don't get the point of removing the orb from the task bar...

      1. Mog0

        The reason for removing the orb

        They removed the Orb because people would go to the desktop and get back to the start screen easily. Then they go to a TIFKAM app and get stuck because there's no orb. This way the start screen navigation is consistent regardless of where you are and it only takes a tutorial or a quick nudge from someone to find it and you're away.

    2. dajames
      Thumb Down

      Win8 doesn't deserve the bashing it gets.

      Nor does it get the bashing it deserves.

      The issue, really, is not that TIFKAM is a bad interface, but that it is a bad interface for desktops (or, at least, for desktops without touch screens ... but I suspect that if I had a touch screen I wouldn't want to use it much because my arms would get tired).

      TIFKAM is quite well-suited to phones -- it's not IOS or Android, but it's a huge step forward from Microsoft's earlier phone OSes. It's also probably not bad on tablets -- in the same way that Android is -- because again the main interface is touch and the screen tends to be too small for the user to want to do two things at once.

      What people are complaining about -- and quite rightly, in my book -- is the way that the "classic" desktop in Win8 has been all but sidelined in order to show off the new shiny ... functionality has been taken out of the desktop and added to TIFKAM, when it would have been better to leave the familiar desktop version alone and just added the TIFKAM version. If they'd been able to put ALL the functionality into TIFKAM and remove the desktop altogether the OS would have felt more cohesive and I think most people would have been happier to accpept it ... it's the fact that TIFKAM isn't finished enough to stand on its own so the rump of the desktop has been left in place like the wasted body of an old friend with a terminal illness that makes people uncomfortable with the new OS.

      I think most people would be happier to live with the Win8 experience if the desktop had retained all the functionality it had in Win7, but with TIFKAM as an alternative ... or maybe as a desktop widget, or something.

      It's the emasculation of the familiar desktop that really annoys people. Having an alternative GUI alongside it is peculiar, but not not a fatal flaw. Having key OS functionality that used to be available in the classic desktop now available only through TIFKAM is daft -- it should have been in both.

      I daresay that what Microsoft hope eventually to do is to evolve TIFKAM to the point at which it can replace the classic desktop altogether ... but to do that they're going to have to think up some way of supporting multiple windowed applications running concurrently, because that is a very useful feature, and one that people are used to having.

      What we have at present in Win8 is an OS that seems to fit nothing quite so well as a touch-enabled netbook, and (surprise) that's what they seem to be pushing it on with the greatest fervour. What they have now is no good for the desktop, though.

      Microsoft keep coming back to this point. They produced generation after generation of PDA and mobile phone OSes that failed because they tried to bring the Windows desktop metaphor to the handheld, where it just doesn't fit. With WinPho 7 they finally did something different on the phone and gained a modicum of acceptance and it seemed that they had finally grokked the fact that handhelds and desktops are not alike, and deserve different GUIs. Thst doesn't seem to be the lesson they've taken away, though ... they're now trying to put a phone GUI onto the desktop, and that is ultimately doomed to fail for exactly the same reason putting a desktop GUI onto a phone did -- it's the wrong interface for the form factor.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "But the big "Desktop" tile did make sense, so she clicked on that, found Chrome in the task bar, and quickly decided to play Moshi Monsters. "

    This turned a cloudy Friday into a sunny day of laughter and giggles. "Out of the mouths of babes" sprang to mind. Really, I think MS could have done better with 8 year olds as advisers. :)

    1. Ted Treen


      "...MS could have done better with 8 year olds as advisers..."

      But you've got to find an 8-yr old who's the intellectual equivalent of Balmer.

      Where d'you find a kid that dim?

    2. 404

      That desktop tile needs to be active

      just so you can see what's open over there - less than 24 hours on Win8MyDesktop, maybe this I can change... working


  16. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

    To (slightly mis)quote Groucho Marx

    "A child of eight would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of eight."

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Its not difficult!

    Instead of a start button on a desktop, its a start screen and the desktop is accessed via a tile.

    Rocket science stuff!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Its not difficult!

      Except that I don't want a silly fucking Fisher Price screen in my face when I want to application X or Y.

      1. Mog0

        Re: Its not difficult!

        That's why you shouldn't use Windows XP :-)

        1. hplasm

          Re: Its not difficult!

          Isn't XP the Teletubbies interface?

          1. 404

            Things That Suck About XP

            1. troubleshooting an XP workstation and realizing that after dealing with Vista/Win7 for years now, you can't do that on XP - whatever 'that' is.


      2. Armando 123

        Re: Its not difficult!

        As Steve Jobs said in the mid 90s (and this may not be an exact quote), Microsoft's real problem is that they have not taste.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good job you didn't ask them to close a TIFKAM app...

    As per title... the experiment would still be running otherwise.

    1. g dot assasin

      Re: Good job you didn't ask them to close a TIFKAM app...

      Yeah, took me a while to figure that one out too!!

  19. Piro Silver badge

    So really, the bare minimum you need..

    .. Is a Windows logo in the bottom left of the start bar to bring up Metro.

    Just like they had in the developer preview.

    THEN people can explore from there. Their hotcorner and mystery meat rubbish is simply bad design.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So really, the bare minimum you need..

      "Their hotcorner and mystery meat rubbish is simply bad design"

      I have been lead to believe that Apple are the good design gods - they have hot corners too. Oh and Linux has similar available too. Therefore. by your very own logic, all 3 main desktop operating systems suffer the same "meat rubbish and bad design". Which poorly designed OS do you use?

      1. janimal

        Oh and Linux has similar available too.

        "Apple are the good design gods - they have hot corners too. Oh and Linux has similar available too."

        I don't know about apple but the key word in your linux statement is "available", you could add as an option to make the point abundantly clear.

        This is what pisses me off as a developer. MS could have easily achieved their 'touch first' design goal, their new minimalistic style goals in many no-brainer methods which don't fly in the face of 30 years of HCI research.

        You could write an eassay on the obvious and logical ways in which MS could have done this. As such it makes it obvious that the whole design has been skewed to a high degree by a bullying business and marketing philosophy.

        They don't seem to understand that it is also possible to attract and retain customers through pure exellence rather than using restrictions and bullying which is only possible because of their dominant pre-installed OS monopoly.

        They really should start considering changing their name to the Syrius Cybernetics Corporation.

        1. janimal

          Re: Oh and Linux has similar available too.

          I should have added...

          User configurability is the key.

          If I could by Win 8, but skin the gui to look and behave like any of the following (whether that ability was supplied by MS or purchasable from a 3rd party supplier)




          TIFKAM (I can't think of it as any other name!)

          Some other GUI or paradigm.

          I wouldn't hesitate to purchase one or even two copies.

          But i'll stick to the various perfectly functional existing OSs used in our house

          (2xMints, 1xXP Pro, 1xXP64, 1xWin7, 1xUbuntu[non-unity])

        2. Tim Cowley
          Thumb Down

          Re: Oh and Linux has similar available too.

          you know about the win8 'edgy' touch commands, right? the same ones you've been using in iOS and on the apple trackpad?

  20. DrXym

    The lack of start button is just so dumb

    GNOME 3 has a hot corner equivalent to Microsoft's that is used to get to the Activities screen, but GNOME puts it next to an "Activities" button so the user who is unaware of the corner has something to click on. In other words the functionality is discoverable and it's likely the user would find the hot corner in time too since they'd be mousing up that direction in time.

    Windows 8 doesn't have a button. What makes this really stupid is MS *did* have a button and people are looking for it but it's not there any more. This is just stupid behaviour. It wouldn't have affected the task bar in any way to put some button in the corner. Perhaps when Microsoft get around fixing Windows for the desktop they'll reinstate it. At present, it's just one more annoyance in an OS designed for tablets first and traditional computers as an afterthought.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All Them Boxes

    Quote from another test in which the tester put his elderly dad in front of a Windoes 8 machine

    "How do I get back to 'All Them Boxes'?"

  22. Antoinette Lacroix

    Another Windows 8 Story ?

    Why don't you try FreeBSD for a change ? It's GUI won't give you any headaches.


  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Civilians? Noobs?

    I usually refer to them as normals......

  24. ukgnome

    New MS advert

    I'm a broken PC

    And Windows 8 is a bad idea

  25. Big_Ted

    A month ago

    My 15 year old goddaughters laptop died (it was an old XP model) so I bought her a nice new lenovo with 750GB hard drive partitioned into 2, i7 processor and graphice card so it could do for her into uni which she plans on doing.

    I left windows 7 on drive c: and added windows 8 on drive d:, showed her a couple of things for about a minute and left her to it.

    After a month she uses windows 8 almost exclusively as "Its faster, starts my games faster, shuts down and starts faster and its easier on a laptop than windows 7 with aps as they work beeter with swipe an have bigger buttons".

    Its the same as everything, we "oldies" are used to a style of OS with windows that has been fairly constant all our computing lives, youngsters etc are used to several UI's with xbox, ps3, wii, windows, android, iOS etc and to them its "just another UI" so they just use it. I have used windows 8 myself for several months and find no real difference between working on it at home than using XP at work, its just a UI that you get used to and get on with it the same as someone using windows at work does when they get home and change to their apple laoptop or iPad.....

  26. /dev/null

    TIFKAM tiles and colours?

    Never having used Windows Phone or Windows 8, am I correct in guessing there is no colour coding to the background colour of the tiles, and the colours are in fact chosen in a random-and-pleasing manner? Seems like another violation of fundamental user interface principles if so...

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: TIFKAM tiles and colours?

      "fundamental user interface principles"

      Yep. T...AM goes against many of their own documented principles. Well until they get around to throwing ithe current versino away and replacing it with a T...AM version that is.

      This new interface is ailmed at 'basic users'. By this I mean those who want to do a bit of browsing, email and maybe create a document or two. For them it might be a winner.

      Their new UI model does not suit my way of working one little bit so I will not be using it. mind you neither does Unity or Gnome 3(yet). So I'm sticking with Windows 7 modded to give me Windows Classic with quick launch and Gnome 2.

      I know I am not alone as other IT professionals I know have expressed just as much dismay at the new TellyTubby interface in W8.

      I'd like to nuke the people in Redmond who thought that this UI is a good idea AND were then allowed to make it the default. Pah!

    2. B4PJS

      Re: TIFKAM tiles and colours?

      On WP, you choose the colour of the tiles when selecting a theme (At least untill a dev decides to ignore the theme colour and substitute their own colour). On W8 it seems fairly random.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: TIFKAM tiles and colours?

        I was just coming to leave a "Can you change those colours?" comment. It looks like some crazy 8-bit palette. Bright Magenta should be firmly confined to the Spectrum era; this is the post-Ceefax generation.

  27. Hooksie
    Thumb Up

    I'm (almost) stunned

    A reasonable idea if handled with the dexterity and thoughtfulness of a white dog turd. Why didn't you stick Windows 8 on a PC instead of a Mac? Or install Splashtop and let them use Windows 8 through an iPad for the touchscreen experience? Still, the premise of the article and the experiment is an excellent one and I was please to see that after the coaching, which as others have pointed out would have been given prior to logging on had they actually purchased the OS, they were all able to use the system and found no issues with it.

    Closing a TIFKAM app may not be THAT intuitive but you do get a wee had appearing that suggests you can grab it then I suppose you would quickly figure out the drop off the screen to close part. Good article and without the usual snyde pish - liked it.

  28. Whitespace

    Try this...

    Remember how Windows was sold as the system you could just sit in front of and use. Not like that illegal Linux thingy with all those obscure keyboard commands?

    I wonder how long it would take test subjects to discover Windows-U (Ease of Access center - whatever that is)

  29. po228

    "This subject has grown up with computers, is familiar with Mac OS X and Windows 7, and is quite happy making animated PowerPoint presentations and using a word processor"

    Animated powerpoint presentations at 8 years old???


  30. Badvok


    Amazing that given how much the test was stacked to make things as difficult as possible (running in a VM on a Mac, wrong browser installed for some users, Office hidden on tiles off screen, users asked to save to the 'desktop' rather than the default location of 'My Documents'), the conclusion was still "Our small sample therefore seems to indicate that civilians will occasionally strike trouble, but will generally enjoy exploring Windows 8 and TIFKAM."

  31. brain_flakes

    Incredibly annoying

    I had to install Windows 8 in a VM to look at a reported IE10 issue with our webapp, and I couldn't believe how annoying the interface was -

    First off returning to Metro, I I jammed my mouse into the bottom left corner to get the Metro button, then moved it to the centre of the button to get a good click on it (because that's how I roll), and it just bloody disappeared! It was hard to get used to keeping the mouse in the exact lower left, and how the hell are you supposed to do that with a touchscreen?

    Then there was MetroIE, I literally couldn't work out how to get the address bar, I tried doing the usual phone scrolling to the top or bottom, nada! It was only after my co-worker was trying random things that they found it, you have to press RMB on an empty part of the page (as RMB is STILL the the context menu on links), who the hell decided that trash and again how does that even work if you're using touch??

    Finally it came time to turn the VM off, where's the shutdown button? Is it in that symbol on the charms menu that looks a bit like a power symbol? Nope. Is it in settings? Nope. Oh, wait, what about power settings? Yes that's it, Settings > Power isn't the power options, it's the shut down menu (Where the actual power settings are I don't know or care).

    All in all Windows 8 feels like it's been thrown together by idiots who didn't even bother testing the UI themselves, and needless to say I won't be using it on any computers I own ever.

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Re: Incredibly annoying

      "All in all Windows 8 feels like it's been thrown together by idiots who didn't even bother testing the UI themselves, and needless to say I won't be using it on any computers I own ever."

      I have to say that I felt exactly that way when I first tried Win3.0 and from then on that feeling never left me.

      I came to conclusion very quickly that MSFT developers are indifferent to the products they develop and either do not use them themselves or do not even know how the target customers are supposed to use them. They seem to just go through the checklists of things - "OK, it does this, this and that, job done". <Alt-F4> to exit a program - WTF?

    2. El Andy

      Re: Incredibly annoying

      in a VM

      That's your first mistake.

      how the hell are you supposed to do that with a touchscreen?

      You aren't. That's a piece of mouse-focused UI. On a touch device, either use the Start Charm or the physical Start button on your device.

      1. pixl97

        Re: Incredibly annoying

        El Andy

        What exactly is wrong with a VM in full screen mode? Hot corners go right to the edge.

      2. Allonymous Coward

        Re: Incredibly annoying

        > use the Start Charm

        "Start Charm"? Blech.

        Icon, because "charm" is the most ridiculous (and oxymoronic) UI metaphor I've heard of in quite a while.

  32. Shakje
    Thumb Down

    It's like Win 95 all over again.

    Some people just need to learn to adapt to change. What I found saddening was this:

    “Microsoft needs to put some tutorials in this or it will frustrate a lot of people.”

    “Microsoft will have some kind of introduction to this, won't they?”

    So I'm guessing that you didn't let them watch the welcome video which explains how to use the UI then?

    1. AJ MacLeod

      Re: It's like Win 95 all over again.

      It's nothing like Win95 all over again. Windows 95 was a really, really rubbish OS, but I remember quite clearly the first time I used it. Yes, it was different to previous "consumer" versions of Windows before it (which were a complete mess, UI wise), but there was at least some attempt at being logical and intuitive and I very quickly found my way around it.

      Obviously, going to "Start" to stop the computer was very illogical, but nothing like as stupid as hiding things off the side of the screen with zero indication of their very existence.

      As for people crying about the welcome video not being shown... lots of people, possibly even most people, will first experience Windows 8 without seeing that video. As the article shows, they will be confused and at least slightly irritated.

      Why should anyone have to adapt to this kind of change? It's pointless and unnecessary.

  33. jason 7
    Thumb Up

    Just installed Win 8 Pro

    ..and it gives a little tutorial on the corners etc. when it boots for the first time.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just installed Win 8 Pro

      Yes, it will, if <u>you</u> install it. If some guy in a factory somewhere in India installed it, made an image, restored that image on 2000 machines then performed some mass script to update the product keys on each machine, and you happened to buy one, this looks like you're out of luck.

      Look for 404's comment below regarding such an OEM-provided upgrade.

  34. Bill Gould

    Switching from THIFKAM to Desktop and back

    If your hardware doesn't have a Windows key, and yet has Windows installed, you have shit hardware. That's like a Mac not having a funny looking little symbol key (is that the command key? I don't know, they're fucking useless).

  35. David 155
    Thumb Down


    It looks like it was designed for touchscreens, presumably MS expect us to use new desktop touchscreen computers to be able to use it properly. But even then your average office worker would die of arm ache after half hour.

  36. jason 7

    I think this shows one stark fact about folks in the IT profession...... much as they would deny it, they really can't handle change.

    1. hplasm

      Re: I think this shows one stark fact about folks in the IT profession......

      IT bods don't handle change.

      They use Pay-by-Bonk.

    2. Armando 123

      Re: I think this shows one stark fact about folks in the IT profession......

      More accurately: They can't handle OTHER people's change.

    3. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: I think this shows one stark fact about folks in the IT profession......

      Nope. What is shows is that people who work in IT have the confidence to blame a bad interface when they see one, whereas those outside IT are more likely to blame themselves for being "poor with computers".

      With Win8, MS have actually hidden many important elements and deliberately neglected to put any visual cues in to point to the hidden stuff. This is a text-book example of what we have *known* to be bad UI design for several decades. No amount of hype will polish this turd up to a shine.

  37. mittfh

    I imagine...

    Win 8 will quickly gain traction in the casual user market, particularly among those using a touch screen device. It sounds as though your sample quickly got used to its quirks on a mouse-driven computer, but I'd imagine that over time they'd notice more hangups (especially as someone earlier in this thread noted, if they'd been using a 'real' installation and told to shut down the computer - hiding the relevant option is likely to lead to people using the hardware shutdown - i.e. pressing the physical power button...)

    Given the 'traditional' desktop is relegated to an application rather than the default shell (which is apparently now called either "Windows 8 UI" or "Modern UI"), it seems as though Microsoft want to wean people off using it over time and increase the prominence of the new UI (which of course can only run applications pre-selected by Microsoft). The new UI version of IE is presumably intended to try and recoup some market share, even though they haven't improved it in line with rival browsers and it apparently won't support plug-ins or extensions (I wonder how well it will cope with HTML 5?).

    So while they may gain some traction against iOS and Android, they seem to have ignored that both those OS' have different "big brothers" with different UIs for running on desktop machines: OS X in the case of the fruity company, Linux (in one of several dozen different flavours) in the case of more open environments.

    I can't imagine many companies rushing out to buy Win 8 for their desktop machines - besides which, any company worth its salt would be waiting for SP1 anyway. So it's unlikely to be as big a disaster as ME, but may possibly be another Vista.

    Oh, and incidentally, apparently the internal version number is Windows 6.2, indicating that there's still a lot of Vista (6.0) and Win 7 (6.1) code left....

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Programs do not close?

    From reading it seems that you cannot exit programs and that they just sit open in the background? Is this correct? If that is the case I can see all kinds of privacy issues appearing like when someone switches back to the browser that the other person had open on some dodgy website and thought they had actually closed. Or easier ways for malware to steal your data.

    Please correct me if I am wrong on this.

  39. Steve Knox


    So to summarize,

    08yr old female -- had trouble finding non-obvious features (context-switching hotspot, hidden scrollbar)

    12yr old male -- no real trouble

    22yr old female -- had trouble finding non-obvious features (context-switching hotspot, hidden scrollbar)

    30yr old male -- no real trouble

    40yr old female -- had trouble finding non-obvious features (context-switching hotspot)

    70yr old male -- no real trouble

    There's definitely a pattern here. It could just be a side-effect of the small sample size, but there appears to be a class of people who will have serious trouble with Windows 8's hidden pieces. Did Microsoft just not engage them in their user testing, or is there some institutional bias in play here?

    In any case, I think Microsoft should revisit how their user interface is skewed to discriminate against these people, who through no fault of their own have even digits in the tens-place of their age...

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Hmmmm.....

      Steve, you're over-reacting. What is going on here is that people with an even digit in the tens-place are less inhibited about just asking for help when they get stuck with something that is obviously brain-dead. Consequently, they get marked down as "got lost".

      OTOH, those with an odd number in the tens-place are too proud to admit that they are stuck and start flailing about randomly until they stumble upon the solution by chance. Whereupon they declare that they knew where they were going all along.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Been thinking about this test for a while now.

    Some have criticised the use of an Apple computer. While not the typical case, I don't see this as bad, since they've at least plugged a USB mouse in. A standard USB keyboard might've been a good idea, then they'd have the logo key (sorry, I refuse to call it a "Windows" key) marked in a meaningful manner. (I realise that Command is equivalent at the hardware level.)

    As for not apparently running the tutorial, a couple of thoughts:

    1. A first-time user of Windows 8 may not necessarily get to see the first-time users' tutorial as they may be using someone else's already set up computer (e.g. at an Internet cafe or at a friend's house)

    2. Given they were running on a VM; perhaps a way they could achieve this, would be to set things up, create a new user account, then use the snapshotting feature to make a snapshot at this point so they see the tutorial. Then when the next user comes along, you just roll-back to the snapshot.

    3. A lot of users will (perhaps foolishly) click away the tutorial, much like how we all click away the balloons that invite us to "Take a tour of Windows XP", as if none of us have used that decade-old OS before.

  41. Swins

    Windows 8 is like punching yourself in the balls.

    If I could I would punch everyone on windows 8 dev team in the balls or the vag!

    A third rate moronic tablet OS does not belong on a laptop or PC that is not a touch screen, ever!

    The fact you have to use keyboard shortcuts and mouse gestures to get to things that you previously could do with just a mouse is foolish. The have taken 30 years of learned and taught behavior and rotated it 90 degrees for no good reason. They have increased the number of steps to do things in many cases by 50%! This is progress? I think not.

    Want to search, instead of going left and down to where the old start button was, now you go up and right?

    Why? For no other reason then to be different.

    This reminds me of the days when people converted from WordPerfect to Word, but in reverse.

    And who came up with the color scheme? a blind person in need of some ugly contrast theme?

    1. jim 45
      Thumb Down

      Re: Windows 8 is like punching yourself in the balls.

      Holy smoke dude. Anger Management.

  42. jim 45
    Thumb Down

    why is this important?

    I had Windows 8 figured in a few minutes. Why should I care if some clueless people off the street had trouble? And hasn't this profound experiment now been performed about 50 times, by every technology news site?

  43. 404

    First impression of Win8MyDesktop

    "Mkay. WTF do I do now?".

    ->1st laptop - Gateway (Acer) NE56R (deal! $100 off Staples coupon on clearance= $239 out the door +free win8 upgrade). Intel Pentium B950 2.10Ghz, 4GB ram, 500GB hd, full kb, 15.6" screen, mult-iouch touchpad, Upgrade was seamless through Gateway upgrade assistant - kept her apps & data. Burned .iso for reinstall.

    ->2nd laptop - HP Elitebook 8440p ($300 Craigslist) Intel Core i5 M520 2.40Ghz, 6GB ram, 250GB hd, 14" screen,multi-touch touchpad. Started upgrade after logical thought after starting first on using Microsoft's Upgrade Assistant - only retained my data but finished first.

    While I saw the tutorial on start up, my wife did not. I just handed it to her and said "Your password is the same". We spent the next few (enjoyable) hours finding out the different ways to do things (while I reinstalled my apps), overall we like what Microsoft has done with Win8. I can still do my IT work with it and the wife can do whatever it is she does (FB and the like). - we also note that having the same interface across desktop/mobile/tablet, will make it easier for consumers to buy into it easier. They can pick up anything from Microsoft and know exactly what to do.

    Food for Thought: If you consider that TIFKAM is an active desktopish start menu and the desktop is still there, it's easier to conceptualize Win8 (although I think the desktop tile should be active so you know whats on over there, just saying)


  44. figure 11

    Windows 8 is ok if.....

    You install Classic Shell or similar. Then its pretty much windows 7 with a few nicer control panels and it boots a fair bit quicker.

    TIFKAM helpfully opens on one monitor if you have multiple monitors enabled if you want it and plays nice with the other desktop. The built in apps are OK and very responsive.

    All in all have I wasted my £25? Maybe, but it works well enough and with classic shell installed the metro interface doesn't intrude, and on multiple monitors can actually be useful.

  45. Araxian

    I dont like windows 8 beacuse i dont wanna

    I find it amusing that most of the vocal haters have never used win 8 at all, or used it for 5 mins wanting to hate it and gave up.

    I have been in the computing industry since the mid 80's, Ive used all manner of oses from early macs to win 3 to windows nt 3 and 4, multiple flavors of linux and unix. was part of UT computation center staff on the day ncsa mosaic launched. done minor developing in 4 different languages.

    Im a good bit more than a power user, and I actually like Windows 8, when ya boil it down, all they did was make the start menu full screen and active instead of passive, and present a more minimalistic approach to the desktop. yes it took a couple of mins to adjust to how the os works, and ill prob be finding new things about its depth for some time to come

    I find the over all speed increases on the same hardware to be a great improvement, especially in 1 os version jump.

    File Transfers in win8 are a huge leap ahead, i saw up to 2x faster drive to drive transfers on both my ssd's and hdd's . add the fact you can now do multiple different file transfers at the same time. example your moving a 25 gig folder to a different drive a friend comes over and needs some music files transfer to a usb stick, WITHOUT interrupting the 25 gig transfer you can copy the files to the usb or any other drive at the same time. On my system neither transfer was hampered in speed at all. only exception to this is what you would except as it a limitation of the hardware, trying to do multiple write and read operations on the same drive, example copying a folder from hdd 1 to hdd 2 then at same time copying a file from an ssd to hdd 1, as hdd 1 is now writing and reading 2 different sets of data at the same time it will slow down a good bit.

    The win8 UI is actually a lot more powerful than it looks at 1st glance ya can remove any "tile" from it at any point there are also groups and custom groups, you can move any group or tile and others of it's type reorganize and move out of its way on their own. by crating custom groups you can group apps anyway you want and move them where you want with a lot of options, there is alot more ability to customize here than any previous windows os. the only issue i had is with certain apps, which is really bad install programming on the developer of the app. if an app creates a a direct folder in a start menu folder instead of letting the os handle it, it will dump all the icons as tiles into your main grp. if the apps is setup is programmed correctly win8 will create a separate grp for it to replace a folder and dump the tiles in there.

    There really are very few issues with win8 and I say to the haters use it yourself dont whine about something you never tried , and give it more than 5 mins use it for a week as your primary OS, you can legally try it for 30 days without buying it.

  46. regadpellagru

    enjoy exploring Windows 8 and TIFKAM

    "Our small sample therefore seems to indicate that civilians will occasionally strike trouble, but will generally enjoy exploring Windows 8 and TIFKAM."

    Well, for people that like that, "exploring OSes" and researching how things work, that is OK.

    But the world contains also a number of people at work that have to be productive, and spending

    half an hour to find out where the hell is the print button, shutdown button, or hidden menu, is

    not popular to them, when put on top of business as usual.

    I know very well why/how I should invest time to learn a new UI and MS should really be cautious

    about imposing change for change in the hope of keeping the computer at home locked on the office

    one (which is Windows), otherwise it's gonna backfire at them.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Probably not worth posting this late but...

    I wonder if the test subjects were offered cake as a reward (a select group of gamers will get the joke)

    I also believe that TIFKAM is a bit like the UI on my trusty old nintendo WII except the WII does not bother with a tiresome old desktop!

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Enjoying Windows 8

    Installed Win8 over the weekend on an old Dell Laptop (2006 vintage, non-touch screen). One of the best install experiences ever. No problems at all.

    Played around with it for a while and can honestly say I am mystified (though not entirely surprised) by all the whining. I'd have to agree with one poster, that Unity on Ubuntu is hands down the worst UI remake I've ever seen and even it was tolerable after a while. The WIn8 UI gets a lot of clutter out of the way and lets you get on with doing stuff.

    If you know about 5 basic navigation tips you can get around easily. As for tutorials, the first thing that comes up on reboot after the install is a series of tutorial screens. Simple, graphical, and easy to follow, they quickly demo how to get around - where and what the "charms" are, the "magic" corners, etc.

    I'm also older than any of your testers.

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