Windows 8 Release Preview – improvements but lacking

I’ve finally upgraded my version of Windows 8 and I wanted to see if has become a useful edition for the desktop user.

First off, it’s “preddy”. There have been a couple of subtle eye candy changes that are nice, not enough to recommend buying it but it’s nice. Once opened your are faced with the tablet UI, I mean Metro. Felt a little better, so I tried out the Weather application.

Annoyance #1 – Poor Feedback

I opened the Weather app and nothing happened. Actually since I am a developer I know what just happened. The initialisation of the application had taken too long and Windows had closed it. Now this will be new to desktop users as again we see the tablet UI in action. Phone/Tablet apps expect snappy responses to starting up. Mobile OS’ enforce this expectation by timing how long it takes the app to become responsive, too long and it simply kills it off. The problems here are a) no feedback, if at least said, “sorry that app was unresponsive, please try again” but no, just nothing b) Windows is expected to work on older kit that may not respond as fast as a dedicated mobile platform would.

Annoyance #2 – No .net 3

After witnessing the lack of feedback I felt I should blog about it. So off to install Live Writer. The first message I received was that I needed to install .net 3. Now whilst I understand that for a tablet you want to keep the software footprint as small as possible and that Metro is only .net 4 but in reality most desktop users will be using .net <4. So making me wait for it to be installing is a) annoying b) an example of Microsoft ignore the desktop user.

Annoyance #3 – corners vs. mouse

Back to Metro, and I’m purposely still using the mouse (my PC does support touch). Scrolling left I kept accidently bringing up the Start/Desktop menu in the bottom left corner. The reason is because I quickly “throw” the mouse pointer to the bottom left to scroll left (since Metro is heavily biased to horizontal scrolling). However, it’s quite hard to do that quickly and accurately enough to hit the scrollbar and not the start menu. Again, I feel MS have ignore the mouse user in the UX.

Annoyance #4 – vanishing scrollbar

Now this one is REALLY annoying. For example, I launched the People app which results in a large amount of horizontal scrolling. So I move my mouse to the bottom scrollbar and start reading and clicking to scroll through the list. Except I pause too long on a set of people and the scrollbar vanishes. But I’m reading the people so I just carry on clicking but nothing happens. I have to jiggle the mouse to get the scrollbar back. Come on MS this is terrible UX. Again, ignoring the desktop/mouse user.

Annoyance #5 – hotmail is better than mail

Next over to the mail tool. Hurray they’ve made it easier to see the different folders. Well done. Oh dear still cannot request to view the content of junk mal, how annoying. But the most annoying problem is the trickle feeding of items into the list. Normally when you open email tools all the mail arrives in one neat bundle. With Metro the emails trickle in as they’re observed by the system. From a UX point of view I’m trying to read the title of the latest item as it vanished off the bottom of the screen…but at a choppy rate, every time I catch up with it, it moves again. Terrible UX.

Annoyance #6 – metro, should promote clarity not noise

Still far too noisy with desktop apps. After installing Visual Studio 2010RC my Metro home looked like this;


So not only is it full of noise, I have not opened 90% of them, they were apps that were presumably launched by the installer. Come on MS, if you believe in Metro (as I do) then go back to the goals and give us what we need…please.

So in summary I’m still annoyed by Windows 8. To be fair I have seen some incremental improvements especially in the built in applications. However, MS really need to improve the core desktop UX as currently it is frustrating to use. I certainly would not recommend moving from Windows 7. There is still time to change, come on MS.

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