Analyst slams "disappointing" Windows 8 UI

Posted by Shane McGlaun

Windows 8 has received mixed reviews, with less-than-stellar sales reflecting a lackluster response to Microsoft's latest iteration of its flagship operating system.

To make matters worse for Redmond, an expert user interface (UI) design named Jakob Nielsen recently termed the Windows 8 interface "disappointing" for both novices and power users. 

Nielsen is the principal of the Nielsen Norman Group and apparently reached his conclusion after studying a dozen experienced PC users as they interacted with Windows 8.

"Windows 8 on mobile devices and tablets is akin to Dr. Jekyll: a tortured soul hoping for redemption," Nielsen opined. "On a regular PC, Windows 8 is Mr. Hyde: a monster that terrorizes poor office workers and strangles their productivity."

Despite having only observed 12 users, Nielsen claimes that his analysis actually offers more insight than more in-depth studies which are more focused on metrics. Nielsen's primary complaint? The dual nature of Windows 8, which combines desktop and touch interfaces in a single operating system. According to the analyst, this approach requires users to remember where to go for certain features, all while wasting time switching between interfaces.

Nielsen also complains about the inability to open multiple windows of an application - which effectively creates a "memory overload" for complicated tasks. Meaning, users have no way of seeing all the information they've collected. He notes that while the Windows 8 settings menu features icons for most options, the "change PC settings" is a clickable text label rather than an icon - making it look as though setting is the label for the entire group rather than a link that allows the user to take action.

"[Change PC settings] looks more like the label for the icon group than a clickable command," he added.

Despite the above-mentioned criticism, Nielsen emphasizes that he's not a Microsoft hater. Indeed, Nielsen has slammed a number of operating systems in the past, including OS X.