Windows 8 – fresh new Start, but same old inside!

28 Nov

Windows 8 Usability Review - Cover

Microsoft Windows 8, has been in the talks for quite a long time now, and has gained significant level of importance among techies and specially those who live by the rule of user experience and design. No doubt, as oppose to previous versions of Windows its not as simple and small tweak in the look, but an entirely fresh idea of interface to interact with software. Having said that, the buzz does not seem to be justified by looking at the Start screen only, because there is all that more that we use everyday on Windows, and it has that old same look.

I can tell you how it looks, when I used it for 30 minutes.

Brand new look! on Start!

Alright, here we power-on, and Wow. It stars very fast and there you see it “oooooh Metro, oh i mean Windows8 Style UI start screen”. No doubt, it looks really Cool and AWESOME!

So as I see all new nicely tiled Start screen, my first impression is where is the desktop. I am looking for Start button, a taskbar and desktop shortcuts for my software. With all that in mind, it takes a fraction of minutes to digest the all new look of Windows 8.

Windows 8 Start Screen

Its aLive! and it breaths.

Colorful tiles give Start screen a very cool effect, and when they are live with latest updates they look even better. It really feels the best use of aesthetics on an interface and give modern contemporary look for an OS.

All that magic charm goes away, when switch to desktop view! sad.

As soon as you switch to the desktop view, you will loud out “Holly Crap”, Windows8 is all that same Windows7. So what was all that crazy buzz about Metro, Windows8 UI Style for Windows8 for all these days…that was just the Start screen…duh!

Everything slides out of your screen you saw on start, when you close it and you see same old desktop, same start button (but its flat gray button, look yaikh) and same task bar that I was missing (oh Yes!)

Windows 8 Desktop

How do you feel, when Folders and Software open in same old Windows legacy style that you used to see for all these years, one could say “thank you Microsoft for not horrifying us with too many changes“, or could say, “is that all you could fashionize for Windows8“.

But wait, should I learn how to use it!

I am using it and I can now understand when they are saying that…

“Learning curve is steep and in-app navigation isn’t obvious.”

Two UI, confuse me like brrrrr!

In Windows 8, you get two different style of interfaces, (1) Metro (Win8 Style UI) and (2) Same old Legacy Desktop. When using OS it feels like two different Operating Systems running at the same time…wow! (You can say, you get 2 in the price of 1!).

In an Study by Nielsen he found that the users took issue with the operating system’s supposed “duality” that includes a tablet-focused Start screen and a more traditional “PC-oriented desktop screen.”

Windows 8 2 UI in one OS

PC Mag goes even further and says…

“Windows 8 Is a Desktop Disaster”

Because both Interfaces (Metro and Desktop) work differently, which makes it highly inconsistent user experience. Its an interface, where OS wants its users to learn and remember where to go for which features and how they will work.

Hidden actions, oh yes Charms are very charming

In Windows8 all your PC screen is covered by either the Start Screen and Tiles, or when playing an App, its also full screen. So there is no place you can see action buttons for allowing users to perform windows related actions. All these actions are placed in a bar of icons that is hidden and you can discover while you point mouse to screen’s upper-right corner on PC.

When we designing Apps/Web we face this challenge of showing all important action on the screen so that user dont have to think or learn on finding them. Accessibility to actions in an App or OS is so important that one cannot leave it to users to discover it themselves. Hidden actions make it difficult for users and adds burden to remember different actions hidden at different positions. We dont expect all users to understand actions that change on different screens and do different things.

If users cant find an action, they will not be able to work, so they will get frustrated and simply stop trying a feature.

99% of all consumers will never find the damn thing same Start button thanks to new Start Screen in all its Metro glory.

win8 charms menu

Thanks Microsoft, I can write tutorial on switching off Windows 8

No Start button! So how do you shut it down? Well, shutting down Windows used to be a simple matter of clicking the Start button and choosing the “Shut down” option. and here is what my Tutorial would say and its very first my Howto Tutorial…

How to Shut down Windows 8!


1. Hover your mouse over the Zoom icon that appears in the lower right corner of the screen,
2. Click the Settings icon,
3. then the Power Icon,
4. Clicking Shut down will close Windows 8 and turn off your PC.

or you can quickly Press Power button to shutdown.

There are several ways of shutting down Windows 8, but they are not quick or convenient. Even with the Start button gone, why didn’t Microsoft include a more user-friendly way to close Windows 8?

One last thing

  • Windows 8 look like Windows 7 with a fancy layer of colored and rich tiled screen on top.
  • It makes it difficult for users by removing legacy Start Button/Icon and leaving customer unsatisfied.
  • Also its one OS which Microsoft is aiming for all platforms, yet it comes with different apps for each and store as well. Confused.

Dont worry, you will soon hear an Update for fixing their own mistakes.


7 Responses to “Windows 8 – fresh new Start, but same old inside!”

  1. Paul January 10, 2013 at 9:03 PM #

    Totally unimpressed or amused with MS’s current offering.

    I don’t like having to log into livemail/hotmail to use the PC. Set a wallpaper then have to hunt for the screen W8 has used it on. So many more steps to do anything. Things downloaded to need to be on the front screen.

    Turn on a printer, W8 finds it & loads drivers; so far so good. Printer doesn’t work, but can’t remove the drivers to re-install.

    Install programs that I want, put icons where I want… W8 decides I am wrong. What is this? I’m pretty sure my wife even knows better than to move icons – she hates it when hers are moved.

    Most of my time is only in word/excel or on the web. I only need to find an ‘easy to use’ finance / invoicing program & I can move to Mint Linux.

  2. xclusivesalman December 17, 2012 at 8:03 AM #

    Craig Buckler reviews Windows8 on SitePoint:

    When I first opened a standard desktop application I thought there was a problem with my graphics card; windows are plain rectangles without Aero transparency. While I liked the attractive Vista/7 view, I always considered it to be an unnecessary resource hog. It reminds me of Windows Home Basic or — dare I say it — Windows 3.1.

    It’s reasonably attractive and you can make basic changes to the color scheme but, as the screenshot above illustrates, it can be a little difficult to determine window edges. I often find myself changing the dimensions of the wrong window.

    Another irritating problem: all Metro apps show a splash screen. Why do I need to see a full-screen calendar icon immediately after I’ve clicked it? It may only appear for a second or two, but it’s impossible to switch it off.

    Next issue: Metro apps scroll horizontally. Again, this possibly feels more natural on a tablet where you can swipe, but it’s bizarre on a PC. For example, your mouse’s vertical scroll wheel moves the screen left and right.

  3. Lloyd Hudson December 5, 2012 at 4:02 PM #

    I concur, WIn 8 maybe great for tablets
    but for desktops in business environment it is not appropriate. First question I had was “where are my programs?” And “what are apps”. . Then,because the computer was bit my 90 YO Mother and she uses Juno desktop email and solitaire I attempt To put icons on start page for her convenience. what!! No solitaire? Recommendation to load some Xbox thing. I have never even seen an XBox. Something for kids to waste time on? Teach my Mother to point mouse at invisible spot on a teen then steadily drag it down the dice to find something that is renamed and/or repurposed? Needless to say, I installed win7 on other’s new machine. Maybe Microsoft and the rest of the computer world are focusing on the younger generation, but they would do well to remember that the over 50 segment is growing larger by the day.

    • xclusivesalman December 6, 2012 at 9:18 AM #

      Lloyd Hudson, I am completely inline with you. You really highlighted the most important issue here about Widows 8 Usability. That even if Windows 8 is so great for teenage users, its very confusing for mature, corporate, professionals or users above 35 years. Not making comparison here, but when my parents fist ever wanted to use a computer device in their life in recent days, I bought them iPad and trust me, they both play on it and enjoy right from the first day. That’s the same thing I would question how many users of same age can use Surface so quickly. Microsoft might have to revisit Windows 8, and comeback with a design that works for everyone, anywhere, in any age.

      Once again thanks for sharing your thought.

      • Anonymous January 1, 2013 at 8:08 PM #

        As a teenager, I have to say it’s not easy for us either. While it might make a little more sense for our generation, the giant learning curve is still there. Some parts of the interface still make no sense, or make it much more difficult than w7 did. I think he hit the nail on the head with all of these qualms because I feel the same way. I agree. They need to come back with a new design that just generally is easier to use. More intuitive, because this one is definitely not.

  4. John December 1, 2012 at 4:05 PM #

    Unify The User Experience
    A major source of frustration voiced by early adopters of Windows 8 is the lack of consistency between Metro (or Modern UI) mode and the classic Windows desktop. Metro is what users see when they first boot up. It’s got the Live Tiles and apps optimized for touch and tablets. From Metro, you can launch the Windows Explorer desktop, which is similar to Windows 7 (with some marked differences) and is geared toward mouse and keyboard computing.
    It’s understandable that there would be differences in how the two operate. But there’s no good reason for the vast UI and performance gulfs between the Metro and Windows Explorer versions of the same applications. Take Internet Explorer 10. Even cosmetic differences — like the fact that the navigation bar is on top in the desktop version and on the bottom in the Metro version — are bound to flummox some users. But it’s more than cosmetic.
    On Thursday I tried to listen to the Webcast of Microsoft’s annual shareholder meeting on IE10 Metro. “The site you opened is not on the Compatibility View (CV) list” is the response I got. Apparently IE10 Metro, Adobe Flash and Microsoft’s own investor site don’t play well together. I was able to get the Webcast from the desktop version of IE10.

    For PC Metro has to Go?
    If all else fails, Microsoft has one last, nuclear option, which I’ve previously suggested. It could ditch Metro, and introduce what I’ve been calling Windows 8 Classic. Windows 8 Classic would restore familiar features like the Start button and Task Bar, while retaining Windows 8’s numerous new security and manageability features.


  1. Windows 8 – fresh new Start, but same old inside! | 30 Minute Time Out - December 11, 2012

    […] So as I see all new nicely tiled Start screen, my first impression is where is the desktop. I am looking for Start button, a taskbar and desktop shortcuts for my software. With all that in mind, it takes a fraction of minutes to digest the all new look of Windows 8. Read more on […]

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