Windows 8 Usability: Is it Possible to Merge Web and Desktop Standards?

Since the date when the last highly innovative Microsoft’s brainchild saw the world, debates over its usability still continue. Now Windows 8 possesses completely renewed, modern-style appearance. Its Live Tiles got rather creative futuristic look. The operating system stepped away from traditional interface and replaced the start button with tile-based system. The design was intended to enhance usability and create a revolutionary interface suitable both for desktop computers and portable devices. We can say that the idea to hide controls and free more space for content definitely makes sense for gadgets with smaller screens. Unfortunately, the novelty faced a good portion of criticism from the side of PC users, complaining that their lives became a little bit more complicated.

For justice’s sake we should say that the owners of handheld devices have gotten used to hidden features and are always able to find the needed access. As to PC users it turned to be rather unexpected that they should click the right button of the mouse to expose the URL bar or the list of tabs in the browser. To make the back button visible they should roll over the left side of the screen, which is also rather confusing. So, according to usability experts, Windows 8 is frequently blamed for making some things difficult to find, introducing two separate working environments and creating applications with low information density.

Windows 8 usability

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Let’s try to summarize some main Windows 8 usability cons and make our own conclusions.

1) It’s obvious that Windows 8 better suits content consumption rather than production of the latter and performing several tasks simultaneously. Portable devices are more convenient for content consumption as we are not restricted by the limits of our office or apartment, while production and multitasking still stays the prerogative of desktop computers.

2) Surely, users can exploit different interfaces for different tasks, but it doesn’t seem too convenient as you should remember which app goes well with particular framework.

3) The next usability drawback is that Windows 8 folds all desktop apps into a single thumbnail. It is rather irritating because you should remember what is running in the desktop and go back to that app to continue working with a document.

4) Working with a mouse you should hover for some time over the upper left or right corners of the screen to bring up the Switcher or Charms menu, it slows down the user of course, but the fact that the menus are hidden and you should remember where to find them demands a little bit more practice.

5) Another issue with key menus in the corners is that they mess with scroll arrows in some apps. The scroll arrows are very close to the bottom corners of the screen and can’t be considered good places to arrange controls.

Nevertheless, some big enterprises predict the cloudless future to the operating system and are going to implement it with certain amendments or without them. Windows 8 can be called a huge leap towards the unification of PC and mobile interfaces, having multiple positive sides. Here are some of them:

1) High compatibility of Windows 7 and Windows 8 is an indisputable benefit, able to smooth the adoption of Windows 8 devices in Windows 7 environments.

2) With Windows 8 installation, your tablet acquires the functionality of desktop computer.

3) Windows 8 inherits all features and strong points of its predecessor and boosts them with a set of new ones, contemporary design and focus on content.

4) Windows 8 has loads of various applications (Metro Apps or Windows 8 Apps), which occupy the whole screen and are programmed to be touch-friendly.

5) Control Panel of Windows 8 looks similar to the one of Windows 7, which relieves the stress from transition.

6) A lot of features have been upgraded, general start up and applications start up became faster.

Windows 8 usability

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Considering everything stated above we can arrive at the conclusion that technological progress brings positive changes in our lives and the most crucial ones are impossible without fails. In any case Windows 8 is an evolution of user interface, which tried to combine incompatible features and managed to reach certain success. Tastes differ and it’s impossible to please everybody. The choice is always up to you, either upgrade to Windows 8 or stay faithful to its time-tested predecessor, everything depends on your everyday tasks. To be absolutely sincere we should say that beautiful modern UI is not absolutely user-friendly for PC users as not all mobile design principles are suitable for non-touch screens. Although the idea of starting an app the same way regardless of the device you operate at the moment is extremely creative. From our viewpoint, we should pay tribute to Microsoft’s invention and turn a blind eye on minor imperfections, which only leave some space for moving forward to improved later versions.

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