'This is the most ambitious thing we've done since Windows 95'

Tami Reller and Gabriel Aul talk Windows 8 and usability

"So you get a video, it's a short animated – it's elegant in the background, it's not in your face. There's a great story behind that video where we did a lot of usability testing with customers where we tested out different videos. So we went from just [letting people just use it] to intensive training where we pointed out every feature. "

Windows 8
Windows 8 features new charms and other controls for touch and desktop use alike

"It's meant to be consumer friendly. I fact, the customers that got heavy training, it felt like they were at school, it was [a bit much]. "

Reller says she has been impressed at how quickly users have become used to the new UI, saying people get used to it "in rapid fashion actually. You become more immersed in the new UI, that's where you spend your time.

That's what we're finding with Windows 8 [users], they can always go back to what they're familiar with, with the desktop, but as they become used to more apps, as they become more familiar they spend more and more time on the Start Screen (using Windows 8-style apps). Our telemetry tells us that."

Personalisation is the key

"Where we see people first start to 'get it' and enjoy it is with hat first bit of personalisation, which happens fast," adds Reller. "Whether it's a photo you put in the lock screen or you do picture password or you see your Facebook pictures flow into the People app, that makes it come alive. And so that's the enjoyment side of it. That's a big deal. There's always that 'a-ha' moment when you go to another PC and everything appears – it's a magical moment for people."

Aul believes Windows 8 touch devices will take off simply because people are just used to touch devices now. "Yeah, you start touching everything when you use a touch device for any length of time, you touch big monitors, everything. There were a lot of questions about would a touch laptop work. When you're hands are here [gestures as if using a keyboard], would you touch the screen, was it something you would do and enjoy?

"We really kind of had to build one, make it up, because there wasn't one in existence, but when we ran people through using it, they enjoyed it, there's just something basic about touching something.

"But it's about making everything work with mouse and keyboard as well. We're expecting a great many traditional laptops [to launch with Windows 8] as well and as you said the hot corners and charms are designed to work with both."