Windows 8 Needs Crucial Interface Tweaks to Win Over Users, Boost Sales

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2013-01-02 Print this article Print

To accomplish it, you have to hover your mouse over the bottom right corner of your screen, wait for the Charms to appear, navigate to the search Charm, click it so that all of the apps appear and then probably start typing the name. The problem with this approach is that it's not obvious to the gazillions of Windows users out there how you do this. Furthermore without a touch-screen, navigating the Charm Bar is problematic, since every time your mouse pointer slips a little, the Charms disappear and you have to start all over again. Yes, you can install Start8 to get the start button back, but how many users know this and how many administrators will allow it.

Next make it possible for users to boot directly into the desktop. Despite the fact that the tiled interface is really nice, especially for touch-screen users, people stuck with a mouse and keyboard seem to prefer the classic desktop. Yes, the desktop is always available by clicking on a tile on the lower left side of the tile collection, but again, not everyone knows this. They just know that they don't understand the tiles.

I realize that this may seem like a step backward to Microsoft, but there are some good reasons for the company to make these changes. First, nearly everyone out there with a Windows 7 or earlier computer has a mouse and keyboard. Touch-screen computers are very rare in the installed base. While you can retrofit an existing computer with a touch-screen monitor, it's expensive and the selection is limited.

I did an informal survey shortly before Christmas visiting stores that sell desktop, laptop and tablet computers just to see how easy it might be to buy a computer with Windows 8 and a touch-screen. What I discovered is that virtually none of the desktop machines I could find came with a touch-screen monitor. Neither did most laptop computers, although a few were available and many more had multi-touch pads—but some had neither. Tablets, as you would expect, had touch-screens. But Windows 8 tablets are fairly rare outside of Microsoft stores, and they're expensive.

Until Microsoft's marketing folks figure out that people aren't buying Windows 8 because they don't understand how to make it work on their computer, whether it's an existing device or a new one they're thinking about purchasing, then sales will be slow. And that's a shame, because Windows 8 really is a nice OS, once you learn how to use it, but you shouldn't have to work that hard to learn it.


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