Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 19th Mar 2012 22:48 UTC
Windows "Microsoft will finish work on Windows 8 this summer, setting the stage for personal computers and tablets with the operating system to go on sale around October, according to people with knowledge of the schedule." Judging by the community preview, they've got a lot of work yet to do, like, you know, actually making it usable on non-touch devices. What I'm tying to say - pretty aggressive release schedule.
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phoenix
Member since:
2005-07-11

Any change of UI will have some people confused. Most of Windows is based on "Muscle Memory" and repetition.


It's not about confusion. Confusion can be worked through. It's about "lack of discoverability". Just by looking at the Start Screen in Metro, without touching the keyboard/mouse can you explain how to:
- access the control panel
- access settings
- what the corners of the screen do
- what the sides of the screen do
- how to bring up a task list
- how to change screens
- etc

That is the major issue with Metro (and all tablet interface, to be honest). There's no indication anywhere onscreen about what things do.

Start a Metro app. Now, without touching the keyboard/mouse, can you explain:
- how to resize the app
- how to move the app
- how to close the app
- how to switch back to the Start Screen
- how to switch to another app

Nope, you can't, because there are no visual clues whatsoever on the screen for doing these kinds of things. There are no title bars. There are no window borders. There are no maximise/restore/minimise buttons. There are no indicators in the corners to show they are "hot". There are no indicators around the screen edges to show they do things. It's just the main app screen, and that's it.

Start a classic app. Now, without touching the keyboard/mouse, can you explain:
- how to get back to the Start screen
- how to switch to a Metro app

Nope, because there's no start button the screen. There's no list of Metro apps in the taskbar. There's no indication anywhere of how to switch between classic/metro.

All the nice visual clues that have been onscreen in Windows for decades are now gone. We're supposed to either "just know", or randomly click and swipe and button mash to find these things.

The same complaints were made about the Ribbon in Office 2007. The same complaints could be made about PhotoShop that has drastically changed it UI quite a few times in 10 years.


Very different issues. The ribbon at least has icons and text labels and whatnot to show you what you can do. The Metro interface? Nope, nothing.

People struggled for years with the Start Menu and the concept of "files". Should the start menu and files not exists because of these normal people?


Again, not relevant.

I am sorry by the start screen is pretty much like an android launcher or iPhone launcher ... and if my Dad can figure those out I am pretty sure other people can figure out the start screen.


Which works fine on a tablet, where big fat fingers can press on big squares, and everyone is used to swiping around randomly trying to figure out which multi-touch gesture works where (again, lack of discoverability).

But it doesn't work on a desktop, where people are used to getting hints about what works, what's doable, etc.

The problem with Metro on the desktop is that you can't just look at the screen, and figure out what you can do.

Reply Parent Score: 3

lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

Well most UI people would probably disagree with you. It doesn't need a visual cue, just moving the mouse around is sufficient for discovery and just mashing the keyboard in frustration will teach you how the text things work.

Why should there be words and symbols littered everywhere to indicate something. Do you have labels on every door knob in your house? Do you have tabs on every page of a novel? Do you have labels on a lock saying "turn here"?

Most UI research (I actually went to a University where they actually had quite a few lecturers that spoke about it) is to get away from the WIMP paradaigm ... I was in a lecture where the lecturer was talking about a Kindle 3 years before it came out.

I am also of the opinion that most system configuration shouldn't need to be touched unless you need to go in there and change something for advanced use cases. If I need to change my network setting from DHCP ... I am doing something somewhat advanced compared to a normal user (and please don't say that is discoverable ... it at least 3 config windows in and is a very specific setting in a list in Windows).

tl;dr; version ... having X's on Windows and random symbols (Floppy Disk for Save ...) does not mean discoverability.

Discoverability means that without any prompting you or experience (you need to understand what the X does in the right hand corner). Yes a lot of it I "discovered by accident" ... but that is the entire point really.

Most Websites don't follow any similar UI paradigms, however there are design elements that are similar, such as "call to action".

I find it funny when developers think about UI design ... We fit our mental model around the computer, users shouldn't have to do that ... and that is how Windows currently works.

8 is an attempt to solve this, iOS and Android are other attempts. While they may not be perfect ... it is a start in the right direction IMHO.

Edited 2012-03-20 17:28 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

Why should there be words and symbols littered everywhere to indicate something. Do you have labels on every door knob in your house?


Don't need to, it's obvious that a door knob turns (or otherwise moves in some fashion) and can be used to pull/push a door.

Do you have tabs on every page of a novel?


Again, not needed, it's obvious that when you get to the end of a page, you flip over to the next one (just looking at the page numbers increasing is enough to discover this).

Do you have labels on a lock saying "turn here"?


Again, not needed, as the visual design of most locks shows you how they work.

tl;dr; version ... having X's on Windows and random symbols (Floppy Disk for Save ...) does not mean discoverability.

Discoverability means that without any prompting you or experience (you need to understand what the X does in the right hand corner). Yes a lot of it I "discovered by accident" ... but that is the entire point really.


Except, without any indications anywhere on the screen, how do you even know to try? That's the point. There are so many "hot points" in the Metro interface without any indication they are hot points.

Flinging a mouse around the screen is not "discoverability". It's randomness.

Mashing on the keyboard hoping you'll find some magic key combination is not "discoverability". It's randomness.

A good UI gives you hints about how to do things (icons, text labels, overlays, tooltips, etc). You don't need big red flags and bouncing balloons pointing you at things. But you do need some indication of what things do. There's absolutely no indicators anywhere in the Metor UI that the four corner are "hot"; that the two vertical sides are "hot"; that the top of the screen can be dragged down to kill apps; that you can even move/drag a window since there are no borders; etc.

Button mashing, mouse cursor flinging, swiping random number of fingers in random directions, these are not "the epitome of discoverability". These are indications that the UI has failed.

Exploration of a UI is ok and expected. But random flinging/mashing is not exploration, nor conducive to learning. The UI should give you information on how it works. Metro UI does not give you any information whatsoever about how to do anything.

Edited 2012-03-20 17:39 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

Nelson Member since:
2005-11-29

Intuitiveness is just another word for familiarity. People will get the multi-touch gestures because its what they're used to on other touch screen systems. You can't tell me that Windows 7 is intuitive, it's just familiar. People know and understand it (to varying degrees.)

Windows 8's simple dilemma is that of familiarity. They need to do a good job of introducing people to the new concepts and paradigms. Of course, they can go a long way with some form of visual cues, and I believe they are already there (you just don't seem to credit them.)

Its my opinion that because of strong Windows Tablet sales, that the sell of Windows on a Laptop will be much easier. All OEMs are essentially hedging their bets on Windows 8 Tablets as their going forward strategy after the failure of Android tablets to really take off. This strong push, and subsequent sales will get these things into the hands of consumers. That in itself will familiarize people with the UI paradigms, so the transition to a Laptop running Windows 8 will be much alleviated.

You're failing, I think, to account for the fact that Metro is almost everywhere in Microsoft now. People use it on Xbox, Windows Phone, and now on Windows. The effect of all three of these will lead to a strong unified, cohesive look and familiarity.

If Windows 8 fails, it won't be because of Metro.

Another point, I don't think people quite grasp the significance of the Windows Store and how large of a market it opens up to people. It's inevitable Windows will sell. Hell, Vista sold 180 million copies its first year. A market of anything near that size will without question attract hoards of developers.

Reply Parent Score: 2

dragossh Member since:
2008-12-16

Microsoft has been moving into a (in my opinion) right direction with Metro. After you learn an interface, you don't want everything to scream "I'm here look at me!!!!" We're moving into a kind of UI which stays out of your way until you need to do something. Now, the problem is exactly what you say: there is no way for a new user to know how the UI behaves. Nothing a tutorial can't fix.

Because most of Windows' interface is based on muscle memory, they decided to remove the redundant start menu (you have a start button on the keyboard and you move your mouse into the same spot), and replace it with app thumbnails, including the start screen. They also decided to not clutter the start screen with a search box because to search in an app, you bring up the charms bar and tap search. Or just mash the keyboard like in previous versions. The fact that people are clicking stuff in the start menu is their problem, because the default behavior of the Start menu has been the same since Vista: type to search.

Start a Metro app. Now, without touching the keyboard/mouse, can you explain:
- how to resize the app
- how to move the app
- how to close the app
- how to switch back to the Start Screen
- how to switch to another app


- Metro is a full-screen interface, so there is no resizing. Why would you expect resize in a non-windowed interface is beyond me.
- Drag & drop it from the app list. The drag at the top is a bit unusual, but it's pretty much like how Aero Snap behaves.
- Windows 8 memory management makes it so you don't have to close apps, and yes, the OS is better than you at managing memory.
- Start. All actions in Metro are designed with the idea that what can be done can also be reversed. Swiped an item by mistake? Swipe it again. Moved something? Move it back. Switched from an app to the start screen? Press start. Switched to the start screen from an app? Press start.
- Click its tile in the start screen, Alt-Tab, Win-Tab. It's the same as iPad, Android and previous windows versions.

Start a classic app. Now, without touching the keyboard/mouse, can you explain:
- how to get back to the Start screen
- how to switch to a Metro app

- Because Desktop is an app, you do it the same as with any other app. This is called consistency.
- The same as with any other app.

The problem with Metro on the desktop is that you can't just look at the screen, and figure out what you can do.

That's because you're supposed to look at the screen, and KNOW what you can do.

I don't think there's a discoverability problem as much as a training problem. Teach users how to use it, and you won't hear any complaints. Because once you know how to use it, it's the same across all apps. Besides, even in the old versions of Windows you can't expect people to know what will happen without experimenting a bit with it. The classic UI is not intuitive, it has been learned. Just like Metro can be.

Reply Parent Score: 2

phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

That's because you're supposed to look at the screen, and KNOW what you can do.


Wow. Just ... wow. That right there sums up the issue, there's not much else to say. Other than to shake your head in wonderment at the utter stupidity of that sentence.

Reply Parent Score: 2

bassbeast Member since:
2007-11-11

You should get modded +100 as that is EXACTLY what i'm hearing from my customers when they try to use metro on the CP preview box in the shop. its nothing but frustration because they are all "Where is the button? How do I get this out of the way? How do I get back? Where is the documents? How do I get to start over? How do I make this smaller?"

On cell phones people expect to be lost because every one they get is 100% different than the last one unless they stick with a brand like Apple and most don't. But on the desktop they KNOW where things are and some basic "rules" that will let them fumble their way through and all those rules have been thrown under a bus.

Heck I've been building PCs since before there even was a Windows and with metro i tried my usual "Pretend you are one of your customers" and did just like they would and jumped right on in and frankly within 10 minutes I was frustrated too as the whole thing was "click like crazy" with no real logic or form, it was just all over the place.

So this is NOT about being a "new thing" its about being practically assaulted by the OS devs because they refuse to give us even a hint about what they want us to do or how to do it!

Reply Parent Score: 1