Expert on Windows 8 Interface: Confusing, Burden on User’s Memory

A user experience specialist shares some insight on pros and cons of the Modern UI

  Windows 8 Modern UI interface
The Modern UI (formerly known as Metro) implemented by Microsoft in Windows 8 is certainly eye candy for many users. But what happens when it comes down to how practical it is?

The Modern UI (formerly known as Metro) implemented by Microsoft in Windows 8 is certainly eye candy for many users. But what happens when it comes down to how practical it is?

In an interview with Laptop Magazin, User Experience Specialist Raluca Badiu has explained the advantages and the disadvantages of the combination between classic desktop and the Modern UI on PCs.

The Nielsen Norman Group expert says that, while it may be easier to share things via email and social media websites, there are some downsides to it that are hard to disregard.

“Windows 8 is optimized for content consumption rather than content production and multitasking. Whereas content consumption can easily be done on other media (tablets and phones), production and multitasking are still best suited for PCs. Windows 8 appears to ignore that,” she explained.

As far as the switching between the two interfaces is concerned, Badiu claims that it’s a “cognitive burden” because users will need to remember which application is present on each of them.

Furthermore, she highlights the fact that the sudden change from the classic desktop to an interface originally designed for tablets and other mobile devices might be confusing to many customers, especially since the learning curve is very steep.

Another downside to this combination of environments, according to the expert, is the fact that some apps waste a lot of space for images. This is not as efficient on PCs as it is on mobile devices.

The new Switcher is different than the old one and the fact that all the desktop apps are clustered under a single thumbnail isn't such a good thing for PC users.

“It is confusing because users have to remember what they’re running in the desktop and go back to that app to resume editing a document in Word, for instance, or creating a chart in Excel,” Badiu added.

“In general, switching between apps is costly for the users – you have to go to the start page, then select the app, and then, for those apps running in the desktop, go to desktop and select it from there. Compare that with older versions of Windows – just one click was needed to choose the running app from the task bar.”

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