Good or Bad: Windows 8 for newcomers

June 7, 2011

Colleagues John and Ryan were discussing these early videos showing off Windows 8 features. Specifically, in Building “Windows 8,” by Microsoft’s own admission, their upcoming OS sports a major UI change, drawing inspiration from touch-devices (both phones and tablets). My thoughts:

First, as a long-time PC user myself, having a multitasking, highly powerful PC with a visual contextual “heads-up display” interface to programs/apps is exciting. It’s the stuff power users and PC enthusiasts drool over. I can immediately think, “Wow. Fast, visual access to information like never before.” As an existing user and student of interface concepts, I can quickly adapt my mental model to make sense of the “status” and “access” conventions employed by Microsoft’s “tiles” interface concept.

Second, it occurs to me that as an observer of technology on the behalf of new and confused users, Microsoft has clearly followed Apple into the “new mainstream,” focusing on serving existing users more than newcomers. This partially leaves me wondering who now thinks of the unskilled users and newer adopters. (See Mac vs. Windows for newcomer usability for my historical opinion.) Yet, I certainly won’t be a doomsayer about this. I’m going to hope that some of the trade-offs for easy information access and one-touch selection overcome the additional evolutionary stair steps Microsoft is adding that might otherwise hamper those who haven’t been along for the entire PC ride.

But third, and most importantly, Read the rest of this entry »


The year in review: the state of (explaining) technology

August 17, 2009

As Explain Technology turns one year old, I thought it a great time to give a “State of Explaining Technology” address. What has changed in the technology space that affects the understanding of technology? How can those of us who seek to explain it learn how our models need to change? Where has there been improvement in technology design, allowing for easier adoption? Here’s a look back at several key areas… Read the rest of this entry »