Experience design agency Foolproof carried out research with real users to find out what they think of the new Windows 8 interface and the feedback from the tests has revealed Microsoft is going to have to do a lot to convince businesses to take up Windows 8.
The tests, took 14 first-time Windows 8 users through the final release of Windows 8, on a mid-range conventional Sony laptop, and asked them to work on a range of standard tasks, including browsing websites, using social media, sending emails and viewing photos.
Windows 8 doesn't inspire confidence in users
While the OS testers found the new Windows 8 Modern UI to be fresh and attractive, they also found the new UI introduced significant problems, and at the end of the session none of the participants felt confident using the new interface.
Some unhappy quotes from the users testing Windows 8 included:
"I feel like a baby again. I can't do anything, not even my very simple list of things like launch Internet Explorer…"
"That wasn't a natural place to go look for search…."
"I was going to move onto keyboard shortcuts next, but the last thing I was going to think of would have been the right click to bring that up."
"Where is my X in the corner?"
Speaking to TechRadar Senior Practitioner at Foolproof, John Waterworth said "What we have seen with the previous upgrades, is there will be a few things that people will trip over, and it will just take a few minutes, to figure out that things have changed. However after 20 minutes of testing we were still having to help people a lot. That for us (as a user testing business) would be a real concern, particular for something that is an upgrade and that is completely new."
Sources of problems for the users included the app bar, the charms bar, finding apps, and switching between full-screen apps, and the inability to restrict their work choice to the modern UI or the old Windows desktop.
As Waterworth explains "There's not a choice to either use the new Windows 8 style or the old desktop. For example if you want to look at photos on a USB key, it will take you from the modern UI into the desktop. So even for the basic things, you have to move between the two, and that is very disconcerting for people." Adding; "They effectively have to have two ways of doing things in their head at the same time. And I think people will struggle with that."
More than 300,000 man-years of lost productivity
By Foolproofs calculations, based on their research, the result of this inability to grasp the new OS could cause more than 300,000 man-years of lost productivity worldwide and could herald a backlash from disgruntled Windows 8 users that could last as long as 2-3 years.
Waterworth also thinks the mixture of new and old Windows applications and devices, particularly in businesses that encourage Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is going to be a real problem. "Although it will take time – to get used to – the users did make positive comments on the way it looks, and one of the comments was it makes their windows XP applications look tired, dated and old fashioned. And that is going be an issue for businesses."
To read more of the user-testing results see the report on the Foolproof blog
So what's your opinion of Windows 8? Did you get confused over the interface? Are you still confused?