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Stupid Usability #36

Windows 8 find me not

Written By: High Monkey
Posted: 3/20/2014

From the mind of Virgil Carroll, Principal Human Solutions Architect at High Monkey:

Windows 8 …. Arguably one of Microsoft’s most criticized interface (besides Vista), has many issues that don’t necessarily make sense to the common man.  Where the list of user experience challenges it has have been blogged about at length, I thought I would share the issues I found more stupid than most.

Since Windows 8 was released, one of the number one criticisms has been the removal of the START button.  Instead the Windows 8 interface uses the tile structure, becoming more familiar to us in all Microsoft related products, to show live updates of information and filter through all the programs installed on your computer.  Where the removal of the START button has been an annoyance to me as well, quite some time ago I switched to a more ‘keyboard’ related navigation of my computer.  Most of the time I use keyboard shortcuts and search terms to get where I need to go without using my mouse for this more mundane task … and this is what brings me to my stupid usability issue.  A feature that is part of Windows 8 is to go to the START screen, begin typing to narrow down all the tiles on the page and find the program file you are looking for.  Where this is somewhat of a nice feature, there is a piece that frustrates me all the time.  Like many, sometimes my fingers type faster than my brain tells it to, so misspelling a name is a rather common occurrence.  When I do this on the START screen, I always receive a view similar to the screenshot below.

As you can see I misspelled the word ‘Microsoft’ and received a ‘No apps match your search’ response.  The easy solution to this is for me to delete some characters, spell the word right and select the program I want to launch… My problem is the use of the word ‘SEARCH’.  To me that word indicates there is some kind of intelligence behind this mechanism, much like the modern search engines we all regularly use like Google and Bing.  In reality, the Windows search function has not basically changed for a very long time and where a modern search engine would realize the misspelling and either correct it or show suggested results, the 8th version of Windows does the same as all the previous versions and show us a ‘no results’ screen instead.  With all the technology we use on a regular basis, it is disappointing that Microsoft has not spent more time making some of the Windows interface assist users more like the experience we regularly get online.  If I search for something and misspell, a good website will provide me with feedback and alternatives.  Don’t find what I was looking for?  A good website will provide me suggestions on what else might fit my criteria.  The Windows interface continues to provide an ‘all or none’ experience and has not been modernized since almost the release of Windows 95.

So why am I only picking on Windows 8 in this post?  When in all fairness I just spent a lot of the post saying this issue has been around prior to that?  Well that answer is simple…in previous versions of Windows we had the START menu, which was a cleanly laid-out, hierarchal list of all program files that I could select through to find things.  When search became too frustrating or I was not sure what I was looking for, I could always follow the START menu path and find it some other way.  Now, with the Windows 8 interface I have two options: use the search (which requires you to type EXACTLY) what you want) or scroll through the miles of tiles and hope you can see what you are looking for in the clutter.

It was not an ideal experience in the past, but with Windows 8 it has just got plain stupid!

Chad's Bio Coming Soon!

More About Virgil

Virgil Carroll is the owner and president of High Monkey – based in Minneapolis Minnesota. Virgil also wears the multiple ‘hats’ of Principle Human Solutions Architect and SharePoint Architect.

Virgil is one of those rare individuals who can dive deep into technical topics while speaking clearly to the business owners of a project and never forgetting that the end user experience has the highest priority. He calls it using both sides of his brain. Virgil is passionate about leveraging technologies ‘out of the box’ as much as possible with a focus on the strategic use of content to create websites that deliver the right content to the right audience on the right device at the right time. Virgil brings high energy, an ironic wit, and a sense of grounded perspective whenever he speaks to an audience. Virgil regularly speaks at conferences and user groups throughout the United States and occasionally in Europe.

Posted: 3/20/2014 12:00:00 AM by Brian Haukos | with 0 comments