Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Serious Flaw with Windows 8 and Metro

John C. Dvorak comments that "The fault is so simple that you didn't even recognize it" by which he means that the new "tiles" interface in Windows 8 actually makes it difficult to recognize what you are looking for on the screen.
Let me pose a simple question:  When you look at  your desktop screen, how do you find the program you are looking for?  You look for distinctive icons using your human ability to recognize  patterns.  It’s what we do best.  You ignore the words beneath the icon.   For example, you scan your desktop for a red flat cat, locate it, and  click, knowing the program is Irfanview.  We are so good at this that we  can identify an upside down icon.

How is it a step forward to create a tile inscribed with the name of  the program?  An old alphabetized DOS listing is easier to navigate than a  wall of tiles, on which nothing is immediately familiar.  Our innate  pattern recognition is short-circuited by similar tiles.  You have to  read text rather than react to an iconic image.  And while colored tiles  help a little, it's still problematic.
In another column entitled, "Microsoft Screws Up Windows 8," Dvorak continues the theme, with which I agree wholeheartedly, that Microsoft has screwed up royally with the design of Windows 8.  He compares Microsoft Zune to Apple's iTunes, which he also sees as flawed, by delivering one of the best descriptions of Microsoft's predicament that I have ever read:  "If Apple jumped off a cliff, Microsoft would jump shortly thereafter, only with less elegance."

My advice:  Buy Apple stock.  If Microsoft keeps plugging this kind of klunky, poorly designed user interface, people will gladly pay twice the price to move to a Mac.

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