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Windows 8: Why Jakob Nielsen Gets It Mostly Wrong

Windows 8: Why Jakob Nielsen Gets It Mostly Wrong

Earlier this week I read in a good friend’s Twitter Feed a link to Jakob Nielsen’s Article, “Windows 8 — Disappointing Usability for Both Novice and Power Users”.

I followed the link and was a little surprised by the look and feel of the site, shades of Windows 95 by the look of it. Still I persevered, I was curious to read this.

Screengrab of Jakob Nielsen’s Website on Usability and Design

As I read Nielsen’s review I had to ask myself, had we been given the same OS?

I could turn this into a point by point discourse on where I disagree but the problem here is more fundamental, more pervasive.

My Product Testing Team..

I don’t formally have a team or direct access to Windows 8 / RT touch devices but I was witness to the scores of users who were at Microsoft Discovery 2012 in Tel Aviv.

Admittedly many were in the business of IT and many were there because it was Microsoft; some were even vendors but the crowd of users able to go hands on with the slew of touch devices seemed happy, if not enthralled by the UI, functionality and general look and feel of the devices. I have had some short time hands on with the Surface and came away wishing for more.

Of all the people I viewed there were no frustrated or confused faces. Everyone just got on with it and seemed to be having fun with Windows 8 and RT.

The other segment of my Product testing team are my 2 year old daughter and my 7 year old son who have had a chance to use my no-touch upgraded Windows 8 laptop.

In a nutshell, no problems there. They were incredibly curious about everything, love the colors, adore the lock screen and are fascinated by the Live Tiles. So am I saying that Windows 8 is the OS for small children? No!

Microsoft has dared to boldly go…

Not where no man has gone before however, with Windows 8 they have attempted to rekindle a dormant desire to explore and discover.

Star Trek Into via

There has been a suspension of imagination on the part of computer and tablet users. Anything but the most familiar look and feel are greeted with scorn, derision and disinterest; and this isn’t just consumers. Some of this may be directly attributable to the knee jerk content we are being fed about Microsoft from tech blogs and journalists.

The Windows 8 ecosystem has dared to innovate and encourage users to explore and think a little. Is Windows 8 counterintuitive? Not one bit.

Are hidden features like the Charms bar frustrating and inaccessible to the average user? Only if their ability to slide the mouse/ their finger to the corners of the screen is frozen somewhere in the lower recesses of their medulla oblongata.

Do you even remember the pleasure of finding a really neat feature you hadn’t previously been familiar with when using your computer? There a very little in the way of obstacles to productivity in Windows 8.

As to the accusations of a “two-headed desktop” I dare you, go ahead and open Metro (yeah I’m going to keep calling them that) Apps and Desktop Apps then use the <gasp> ALT-TAB buttons. Sorry Mr Nielsen but for most of what you wrote I’m going to have to disagree.

To sum up, Microsoft has nudged us out of our complacency and dared us to done our virtual safari jackets and pith helmets. Windows 8 is worthy of you.

Image courtesy of clipart

I will offer two pieces of advice for anyone planning to make the jump to Windows 8: –

  • Go see it at a store or on a friend’s computer. Try it yourself and see if you can wrap your head around the differences but don’t fear the change.
  • Live Tile overload: you don’t need to leave every single Live Tile flashing and blinking at you;

Simpsons in Japan via


Windows 8 comes preinstalled with a lot of great Apps on the Metro desktop; right-click those you don’t want and from the bottom menu unpin them. If you do want them all then you can simply rearrange their placing so some of the more active Tiles are off-screen.

I’m going to give Windows 8 a buy recommendation for upgrade on non-touch and a strong buy recommendation if you are buying a new touch tablet/ laptop/ hybrid.

The revolution is here, are you ready to explore its potential?



Is that the new ‘desktop’? I want it so badly already – I think after having my new Android device for a while I enjoying the freedom to be able to see things the way I want to for a change – now, time to start saving….. I do need a new laptop/upgrate quite soon…..

Worth going round and looking at the different ones available. If you do presentations opposite clients in coffee shops etc I recommend looking at the Asus Taichi, in fact look at there whole line.
To get a good idea go to for what’s available in the UK but remember if you buy there you get the UK keyboard layout.

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