If These 5 People Who Tried Windows 8 Are Normal, Microsoft Has A Big Problem On Its Hands

Windows 8 test

Photo: New York Times

Microsoft is launching its new operating system, Windows 8, this week.

Windows 8 is a radical departure for anyone who has used Windows in the past two decades. The new interface is designed primarily for touch-screens. And based on some anecdotal responses from those who have tried it — professional reviewers and normal people alike — it’s not exactly love at first sight.

SAI’s Matt Rosoff reviewed a preview version of Windows 8 a couple of months ago. He found it “needlessly confusing and hard to use.”

The AP said the new OS interface “baffles” consumers.

The New York Times’ David Gallagher invited 5 people to try Windows 8 and filmed them while they did so. One of the five people seemed to like the look of the design (“Awesome.” “This is so cool.”). But figuring out how to actually go about doing things seemed to confuse the hell out of everyone — including the person who liked the design.

The video is embedded below.

Here are some of the quotes:

  • “I don’t like this design.”
  • “I think it’s really confusing.”
  • “Some of it feels intuitive once you’ve already done it, but it doesn’t feel automatically intuitive.”
  • “It should be easier. I shouldn’t have to think about it.”
  • “Beats me.” [In response to a question about how to print something]
  • “I felt like the biggest computer user amateur ever. It made me feel stupid.”

I’ve never used Windows 8, so all I know about it is what I’ve seen in this video and read in a couple of reviews. One thing I can tell you I already hate about it, though, is the apparent need to manipulate it by touching your laptop screen.

Windows 8 touchscreenYuck.

Photo: New York Times

Yes, I’m quite fond of fondling the screen of my iPhone. And I have no problem touching the screen of an iPad. But I never touch my laptop screen, and I hate it when other people touch my laptop screen. I don’t want to have to remove my hands from my keyboard to touch my laptop screen. And I really don’t want to have to touch a button on the screen to send a new email, which is what David Gallagher of the New York Times told one of the people in the video they had to do. I like my mouse-pad, and I don’t want to have to lift my hand up and touch “buttons” on my screen.I gather there’s a “normal view” or something that gets you back to the friendly old Windows 95 start screen again (at least I hope there is). And I gather Windows 8 is really written for tablets and maybe it will be great on those. But…

I’ve already made the jump to Mac, which was painful — every minute I have to spend learning how to use a new tool is a minute I could have spent actually working — so I’m presumably not the target customer for Windows 8.

But one thing I would worry about if I were Microsoft is this:

Now that it will apparently require a lot of effort to learn how to use Windows 8, many Windows users who have always been tempted to try Macs but haven’t because they don’t want to learn a new system now have a perfect excuse to finally make the jump… because even if they stay with Windows, they’re going to have to learn a new system.

In short, it seems like Microsoft’s taking a big risk here.

If people love Windows 8, and Microsoft can stem its loss of share in the PC market and start winning some share of the tablet market, great.

But if they’re confused and befuddled, Microsoft will be in an even tougher position than it already is.

Watch 5 normal people try to figure out Windows 8:

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