Having problems with Windows 8 – You’re not alone!

There are many reports of new users of Windows 8 experiencing problems with the recently introduced operating system. Many claim that their experience of the latest incarnation of Windows is less than satisfactory. While some say that this is just part of getting used to another Windows upgrade, others are finding the learning curve to be a bit too steep.

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 Guest Blogger for Imaginet

A central issue is that new version of Windows is in some ways a radical departure for the past as it has been designed essentially  for touch screens, which many Windows aficionados  are finding difficult to get used to. Many people are also baffled by the new interface which complicates common functions. For example, the traditional start button is not there .To read email one has to physically click on a top button in the right hands corner of the screen, and this new approach is frustrating many Windows users.

It is clear that Windows 8 has been designed to make Microsoft more competitive in the burgeoning tablet market – but in the process it may be frustrating many faithful Windows fans. To add to the growing dissatisfaction there are numerous reports of bugs and glitches that have put a severe dent in the public acceptance of this version. For instance, complaints on the Microsoft Answers website state that users are facing an error in the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant that displays the message, “The download task did not complete. Access is denied.”1

windows8-2Respected online usability expert Jakob Nielsen summarises these difficulties and refers to hidden features, reduced discoverability, cognitive overhead from dual environments, and reduced power from a single-window UI and low information density2. What this in effect means is that, in the attempt to compete with the tablet and smartphone style of computing, many established and needed features are hidden or initially difficult to access. Windows now also sports a dual design or approach in that the product provides the user with two views; a tablet-oriented Start screen and a PC-oriented desktop screen. This has led to what Nielson terms ‘cognitive overload” – which in plain terms means too much to learn and remember when navigating the interface. As Nielson sites…”Users have to learn and remember where to go for which features”.

Another factor that has upset many users is the lack of one of the most popular aspect of the Windows environment; namely, multiple windows. The main user interface restricts users to a single window. The reason for this is the single window design strategy in Windows 8 is well suited to the tablet interface and of course to the smartphone’s limited screen space. Neilson’s description of this problem will probably resonate with many people who are disappointed in the new interface:

…a high-end PC user definitely benefits from the ability to see multiple windows at the same time. Indeed, the most important web use cases involve collecting, comparing, and choosing among several web pages, and such tasks are much easier with several windows when you have the screen space to see many things at once.

This also leads to further “cognitive overload” as the inability to view several windows at the same time means that one has to remember information about one window while another is activated.  There are also complaints about the “flat” style of the interface and the low level of information provided by the applications, compared to previous Windows versions.

As one Windows fan suggests, “The writing is on the wall, this is the way things are going and we simply have to adapt”. While this is certainly true to as great extent and one has to appreciate that Microsoft has to keep pace with the growing popularity of tablets and increasingly sophisticated smartphones, this is of little comfort to the user who is struggling to get up to speed Windows 8. However, there are some quick workarounds and tips that can help those who are finding the new interface and functions a bit baffling.  Our next blog post will deal the ways in which one can return as sense of normalcy to the Windows screen.

1 http://tech2.in.com/news/windows/users-facing-issues-with-windows-8-upgrade-assistant/539082
2 http://www.useit.com/alertbox/windows-8.html

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