Bytes and Beats: A Strumming Engineer

Engineering and Jamming

Why Everyone Was Disappointed By Windows 8 (Or At Least Seemed To Be)

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At the end of the first semester of my senior year, I received my current laptop as a gift, to be used primarily as needed for college. I was understandably excited to turn on and set up my new machine, and got right to it. Everything was going fine as I set up preliminary preferences and the like, until the computer finally came upon the “desktop”. I was utterly confused and appalled by what I saw.

For anyone who has not seen Windows 8, I will explain that this is because it does not boot immediately to the desktop as normal Windows, Mac, and most Linux operating systems do. Windows decided that it would be a great idea (for reasons that completely escaped my comprehension) replace this traditional desktop that has been used for more than 20 years with a new interface which some call Metro. It is a little like taking out the taskbar and other useful things from the desktop and just having shortcuts, very much like an iPad. This was much to my chagrin, as I intended to use my laptop for more than Netflix and browsing an app store. Thankfully you can secondarily choose to use the regular desktop from this Metro, but only after booting up (this was changed in the 8.1 update).

Since then I have been a little mad at Microsoft for such a change, until reading a certain article on the internet that references an interview with one of the Windows 8 GUI designers:

This article explains that the new interface was designed, unsurprisingly, for “casual” computer users, people who are not interested in much more than internet surfing and picture-browsing. In truth, it is a very easy interface to use if you are my grandma or baby cousin. The angry camp is described as “power users”, people who are interested in creating content in conjunction with viewing it. The desktop is for these people. The developer explains that trying to please both groups was very hard, especially because of the huge bulk of casual users on the market. In the end the casuals won out as the Metro became default. This was mad default so that casual users would not immediately go back to the desktop they were used to, never to return to the interface that was made for them.

So everyone did not hate it, in fact it seems that maybe most people liked it. But the people who were loudest were computer geeks and people who have used computers for a decade or so. Thankfully, there is hope for people who love to create computers. Supposedly, Windows 9 will try to cater to both groups of users, with ways for both to have there own place to work and play. I wonder, though, will the old desktop then become obsolete? What is next for general computer interfaces?

Johns, Steven. “Windows 8 UX Designer on Metro: “It Is the Antithesis of a Power User””Neowin. Neowin LLC, 18 Feb. 2014. Web. 19 Feb. 2014.


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