I was already excited to check out the consumer preview of Windows 8, having briefly test-driven it when it first dropped, but now, I’m really stoked.
Well, Microsoft is back. Windows 8 is brilliant, and its principles have been extended to phones, tablets, laptops, and desktop machines (and larger — for example, Surface), whether operated by gesture, mouse and keyboard, or stylus, but with appropriately changed interaction styles for the different sizes of devices and different input devices.
I’m actually surprised that he praises Windows 8 for avoiding (or ameliorating) the inconsistencies that have become rampant among gesture-based operating systems.
Jakob Nielsen and I have criticized existing Apple iOS and Android designs as confusing and unforgiving, ignoring fundamental principles such as discoverability. Microsoft does not suffer from these same design flaws. It created an innovative set of design elements that couple the power, fun, and ease of gestures with straightforward ways of discovering the possible range of actions.
Thanks to Apple and the iPhone, touch interfaces have become commonplace, but just like past interface breakthroughs, the implementations of touch lack consistency across vendors and force users to relearn common functions, if they exist at all. Remember that iOS didn’t get copy-paste until 3.0, nearly two years after its initial release. So, users are left to fiddle around and hope to get lucky, or they have to rely on friends and search to perform routine operations.
This is bad.
I firmly believe this is an empathy problem. Honestly speaking, empathy is not a strong value among many geeks, especially early in their lives. Thinking about my own progression as a nerd, in my 20s, I was much less forgiving of user error; it was easier to blame the user, who didn’t know how to use the product, than the people who spent enormous amounts of effort building it. Software is hard, deal with it was my mantra.
Perhaps age has mellowed me, or maybe working with users more has shown me that these people aren’t dumb, just busy. Technology should be helping users, and the best software stays out of the way and just works.
Anyway, I’m really excited to find some time and dig in with Windows 8. Are you similarly excited?
Find the comments.