Rebuttal: Windows 8 “May Or May Not” Be The Disaster This Video Makes It Out To Be

on October 17, 2012
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Steve Kovach at Business Insider has a few words of wisdom regarding Windows 8:

Microsoft’s new operating system for PCs and tablets, Windows 8, will have a drastic new look.
The Start menu you’re used to is gone, replaced by a touch-friendly menu of tiles that houses all your apps and settings.

It’s going to be incredibly jarring for people to use at first.

Tech pundit Chris Pirillo demonstrates that in a man-on-the-street video where he asks people to try Windows 8 for the first time. The results don’t look good for Microsoft. Almost every person in the video is extremely confused by the new Windows 8 interface.

Does that mean Windows 8 is a flop?

Nope.

So far, I’m with Steve. Discoverability is not the same as usability. Microsoft’s radical new Windows 8 interface changes – particularly on the desktop – may be new but new isn’t necessarily bad. Features may be hard to discover at first – but learn a feature one time and you’ve probably learned it forever.

I think we can all agree that the lack of discoverability on Windows 8 is going to cause some problems at first. But it’s the overall usability that matters most and I’m not going to judge that until I’ve seen how regular people – you know, people who are not first adopters like you and me – react.

It’s at this point, however, that Steve and I part ways.

This is how you push innovation forward. It’s going to be jarring and scary for novices. It’s going to take time for people to learn the new menus. But they’ll catch on.

Hmm. Not so very sure about that. Sure, innovation CAN be jarring a scary. And jarring and scary is often the price we pay in order to move technology forward. But that doesn’t mean that we should pay that price if we don’t have to. So the question becomes, did Microsoft have to extract a price – or did they sacrifice discoverability on the desktop in order to forward their phone and tablet agendas?

Imagine giving someone who has never seen and iPhone or Android device before and asking them to use it. That person would be just as confused as the people are in the video below.

Say what now?

Kids and total novices can use smartphones and tablets. Ninty-nine year old senor citizens use them. Baby’s use them. Heck, even cats and apes use them.

As a friend on Twitter put it, “If every interface were designed by man-on-the-street committee we’d all still have Windows 3.1.”

Yeah, about that. Maybe that’s not so very accurate. Or even a little bit accurate . Perhaps the way Steve’s friend on Twitter should have put it was: “If every interface were designed with the “man-on-the-street” in mind, we’d all be using iOS or Android.”

Take a look at Pirillo’s video at the bottom of the the original article, here.