Not everyone is happy with Windows 8's sweeping design changes, including one former Microsoft employee who thinks the company can do better.
The former employee has launched a website called “Fixing Windows 8” with suggestions on how Microsoft could improve the user interface, particularly for a mouse and keyboard. According to Tom's Hardware, the website's founder is Mike Bibik, a user interface designer.
“During the MWC keynote, Microsoft made it very clear that Windows 8 will work fantastically if you are using touch, mouse or keyboard,” Bibik wrote in his first post. “Unfortunately, that’s not entirely true.”
Among the site's complaints:
- New users won't know how to navigate the interface because so many choices are hidden from view, including the Charms menu, master apps list and Start button
- Metro apps don't have window controls, so users can't minimize or exit an app
- The Charms menu hides vital functions such as searching within an app
“Power users should be able to figure out how the mouse works in Windows 8. Novices and new users will be completely lost,” Bibik wrote. As evidence, he linked to a video posted by tech personality Chris Pirillo, in which Pirillo's father can't find the Windows 8 Start menu because Microsoft removed the Start button from the desktop.
Bibik says he's trying to be informative, not negative. As such, the website includes possible solutions for making Windows 8 easier to use. Those solutions include:
- Combining the desktop task bar with the new Start screen
- Combining Charms and the master apps list into a single menu
- Adding a dedicated Charms bar to the bottom of the screen
- Reinstating a Start button on the desktop
Bibik isn't alone in his criticism of Windows 8's drastic changes. In a PCWorld survey, half of respondents who installed the Windows 8 Consumer Preview said they wouldn't recommend the new operating system to a friend. “Windows 8 straddles the fence between being a touchscreen OS and a desktop OS, and anyone who's straddled a fence before knows it's rather uncomfortable,” one detractor said.
Overall, I like Windows 8 for its ability to do double duty as a tablet or laptop interface, but Bibik's concerns about hidden functions are valid. Many of Windows 8's core commands are hidden from view, which means users will need a tutorial to figure out the new interface. Adding a tutorial presents its own challenges. (Remember Clippy?)
But Bibik's solutions aren't perfect, either. Adding a dedicated Charms bar or task bar take away screen real estate from full-screen Metro-style apps, and the more Windows 8 resembles the old OS, the less appealing it is for tablet users. Bibik suggests leaving the interface as-is when a touchscreen is in use, but that presents problems for touch-enabled laptops or desktops.
Windows 8 could use some fixing. Doing so isn't as easy as it seems.