I am very interested in Windows 8 both as a user and as a tech industry watcher. Big bet, big changes.
Given the size of the bet, I believe Microsoft is making two UI mistakes that will cost them billions if they are released.
It took me, a developer and lifelong Windows user, quite a while to figure out how to search from the start screen. There is no search box. What would you do, given the above?
The answer is, just start typing, and those keystrokes will be interpreted as a search term.
Note that there is nothing to type into. My parents, and most computer users, don’t type at interfaces. They type into boxes with a little flashing line.
The problem with bad UI is not simply productivity. It’s that people, when they can’t figure out a machine, feel stupid. It’s not rational, but it is an emotional truth. Bad UI makes people feel bad about themselves.
Second issue: the “desktop”. It’s not the worst thing in the world, given that Windows has 20 years of legacy apps to support. But here’s the problem:
How to get out of that desktop and back to where one started? I know the answer, but only after I stumbled upon it after several minutes. And I still don’t know how to do it with a mouse.
This user, a presumably smart and well-meaning guy, is made to feel stupid. (Be sure to watch til the end for the punchline.)
As Kathy Sierra says, we don’t buy products because we feel good about the product. We buy products that make us feel better about ourselves — looking better, feeling smarter, more able to communicate and create.
A poor UI is an attack on self-esteem. Humans, not consciously by the way, shy away from such things. This might cost Microsoft dearly.