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Microsoft Has Been Watching, and It Says You're Getting Used To Windows 8 675

Posted by samzenpus
from the how-I-learned-to-love-windows dept.
Dupple writes "Microsoft's user data shows that users are getting used to dealing with the Windows 8 user interface, reports this article at MIT Technology Review. Despite some of the more scathing reviews of Windows 8, ordinary users are getting along with it just fine, according to Julie Larson-Green, the Microsoft executive who leads Windows product development. Data collected automatically from some Windows users, she says, show they are adjusting to some of the new operating system's controversial features without problems 'So far we're seeing very encouraging things,' Larson-Green says of the large volume of data that Microsoft receives every day from people using Windows 8 who have chosen to join the company's 'customer experience improvement program.' All users are invited to enroll in that program when they first log into the new operating system. If they do so, anonymized information about how they are using the operating system is sent to Microsoft. Referring to complaints from some quarters, Larson-Green says: 'Even with the rumblings, we feel confident that it's a moment in time more than an actual problem.'"
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Microsoft Has Been Watching, and It Says You're Getting Used To Windows 8

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  • by WolfgangPG (827468) on Monday December 17, 2012 @10:45AM (#42313703)
    We have already deployed several Windows 8 Touch laptops and most of our IT staff is using Windows 8. We don't currently have plans to roll it out to the general population -- but we will be buying more surface Pros, etc...
  • Mold-breaking (Score:5, Interesting)

    by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Monday December 17, 2012 @10:48AM (#42313723)
    I've found that I use the mouse less for launching apps when using Windows 8 which I didn't in Windows 7, despite the functionality being the same. Press the Windows key, start typing an app / file name, and hit Return to launch. While the Start Menu existed, I was using the mouse, because we navigate WIMP UIs with a mouse. The Start Screen took that away; It was a full-screen interface all of its own, without menus, and that broke the psychological boundary between me pointing-and-clicking and moving over fully to the keyboard for launching apps.

    So, now I've learned that behaviour instead, I've swapped back to Windows 7 with its sensible desktop UI :) Thanks again, Microsoft!
  • It's not terrible (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cuppett (706711) on Monday December 17, 2012 @10:48AM (#42313729)

    I've noticed a couple different things:

    1) It makes me a lot more selective about putting things on the taskbar and desktop.
        a) I put things I really do use out there, so things are highly geared to my workflow
        b) Things I find I'm not using get punted
    2) The windows button finally has purpose. You can hit that button, start typing an app name and then space/enter to launch. I find I'm mousing less actually.

    In addition, Windows 8 hasn't come with the alternating-release-something-new instability problems we've gotten used to. It's every bit as solid as 7 and has better integrated security features. Win, win in my book.

  • Re:"Good, Good... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nozzo (851371) on Monday December 17, 2012 @10:54AM (#42313779) Homepage
    love to hate them but as long as they're putting out OS's it's keeping a large slice of us employed! You could say it is our destiny.
  • by Rgb465 (325668) <gbk AT insightbb DOT com> on Monday December 17, 2012 @10:57AM (#42313803) Homepage

    Many moons ago we got a new intern in the office. He was young, naive and hopelessly clueless about the corporate world. We took a liking to him immediately.
    Of course, this meant that we had to play pranks on him. Because that's what you do to people you like, right?

    Our best prank was what we did to his computer. We wrote a small program that ran in the background and drew a dot in the center of the screen on top of whatever was running. This dot grew bigger over time; at first it was just one pixel wide, but after a week it was over twenty.

    One morning, just over a week after we'd secretly installed it onto the intern's computer, he called me into his cubicle and asked me if I had ever heard of "dead pixels on a CRT". I said no, holding back the laughter, and politely suggested that he try reinstalling his graphics card drivers. He declined, and said that was too much effort and he would just live with it.

    The intern was fully prepared to live with this large, expanding, black dot in the center of his monitor. It was nothing but sheer annoyance, but he was willing to ignore it.
    At this point we caved and uninstalled the software.

    That experience taught me that users will put up with just about anything. As long as it doesn't outright prevent them from doing their job (eg, the network card has died), they will find some way to soldier on.

  • Re:Poor Sample Pool (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 17, 2012 @11:17AM (#42314039)

    I would suspect that the tech savvy will have more trouble with the new interface simply because there is so much for us to relearn about it. I've gotten about 15 minutes of use with it so far, and I'm extremely bewildered by it. I'm actually kind of embarrassed by the new operating system, and it might be a couple of years before I'm willing to recommend it to someone who has used a computer before.

    It would actually be nice if there were some kind of tutorial that ships with the OS, or if they included some visible cue when there was some completely hidden functionality that would be incredibly useful. I went over to a user to help them with something on their new laptop, and they had to show me how to operate their computer before I could get any work done. A good user interface should be something where fumbling around like an idiot reveals 99% of its functionality in a safe manner. Mac OS X does a fantastic job of this.

    The total lack of visual cues about hidden functionality is the absolute worst aspect of the new interface, and I would likely find it less daunting to learn it if there was something that simply indicated that "hey, if you're looking for the Control Panel it's over here!" At least with Mac OS and Unity there isn't anything that's completely hidden from view unless you know about the secret part of the screen that you have to move your mouse over to make it appear. All of the basic functionality is out in plain view right from the start.

    Although Microsoft got the memo about touchability, and they're intelligent enough to gather data about things, they seem to have completely missed the point of a tutorial. Tutorials are useful because they expose functionality that is otherwise non-obvious. Nobody walks away from a tutorial with 100% or even 10% of the actual skill learned, but they probably retain enough information that they know how to ask intelligent questions when the material that they were tutored on comes up later, and that's what's comforting. I'm not surprised at all that Microsoft doesn't care about comforting their users though. I've been yelled at by Microsoft support on the phone before.

    When I started to work with Android, there was nothing about the interface that wasn't easy to intuit about it. You could see what zones of the screen were for touching, and the OS responds very quickly with feedback: it tells you when you are able to do what you think you can do. Windows 8 is very confusing for me and all of the other developers at work. We spent half a month setting up a demo system with a Windows 8 laptop, and our engineers had a lot of trouble locating simple things like the Control Panel. It wasn't nearly that difficult for us to learn Mac OS or Android or iOS.

    I'm not going to deride it as a piece of crap UI because I haven't used it very much, but I certainly find it to be the most frustrating thing I've ever encountered in my entire career. I will say that if the VP in charge of this project decided that their interface shouldn't be comforting, then she's either stupid or deluded.

  • by Serk (17156) on Monday December 17, 2012 @11:19AM (#42314055) Homepage

    The sheer number of friends and relatives bringing their shiny new computers to me (The resident geek) begging me to upgrade them from Windows 8 to Windows 7 says otherwise...

    I suspect most of these people did not voluntary opt into Microsoft's "Track Me" program either.

  • by JediJorgie (700217) on Monday December 17, 2012 @11:24AM (#42314103)

    I work for a University and we manage about 9,000 Windows desktops, mostly Win7 at this point. We are looking to roll out Windows 8 on all new deployments beginning in January or February. All of our early-adopters have been running Win8E for months now and the only issues we have seen have been related to IE10. Most of these issues have been dealt with by using group policy to set compatibility mode for specific sites.

  • by RivenAleem (1590553) on Monday December 17, 2012 @11:38AM (#42314229)
    Well, then why do people complain about the quality of the product when they don't participate in such a program? That's like non-voters complaining about the state of the nation. If, instead, all these people opted in and the first thing they did was buy and install Start8, then Microsoft might have more realistic results, we might even get an option on first boot to choose between MetroUI and Desktop as our default option.

    Unfortunately the people who I want most of all taking part in the improvement program are too anti-MS to want to do anything that might improve it.

    I'm holding off on upgrading my PC to Windows 8 until near the end of the promotional period, because I'm holding out hope that MS will listen to reviews, or user stats and announce a patch or service pack that gives start8 functionality natively. But if the only people providing feedback are those 'happy' to learn to use metroUI, then that's not going to happen.
  • Re:Poor Sample Pool (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Monday December 17, 2012 @12:29PM (#42314709)
    Works out great for me. There are keyboard shortcuts for everything. I can navigate the entire UI from keyboard.
  • by war4peace (1628283) on Monday December 17, 2012 @12:52PM (#42314923)

    Taskbar. Does it have a taskbar readily available at the bottom or side of the screen at all times? Right now, on Windows 7, I have 9 active applications and one-click access to about 40 others. The System Tray holds some more 15 icons out of which 11 allow double-click access to software (the other ones are informative-only). I like this, it helps me quickly get to this or that software without having to perform a few extra steps which take my focus away from what I need to do.

  • by Ravaldy (2621787) on Monday December 17, 2012 @01:03PM (#42315027)

    You're right. Windows XP users have proved that by still holdind a high percentage of the OS market. If you don't change the tools you run on your OS you don't need to upgrade. Eventually time catches up and you have no choice.

    In our line of business we deal with AutoCAD a lot. We have been forced to upgrade our AutoCAD only because our customers use a newer version and if we don't upgrade we simply can't do our work.

  • by Githaron (2462596) on Monday December 17, 2012 @01:36PM (#42315317)

    So put them on the metro page.

    Why would anyone want to completely change their view so that they can click on a saved app when they don't have to? I installed Windows 8 on my main machine because I heard about some of the non-metro updates/improvements and I knew there were several free/cheap third-party applications that I could install to bring back the start menu.

    For two days, I tried to give the metro start menu a chance. At first, I tried to pin everything I use often to my taskbar and metro start page. Unfortunately, I found the task bar was too cluttered for my tastes and I hated having to go back and forth between the desktop and metro for basic things.

    I hated how many extra steps they made you go through to shutdown the computer. Of course, later I found out you can just hit Alt + F4 from the desktop to bring up a shutdown menu.

    The search in metro was also a huge peeve. In Windows 7, the search was all inclusive. It didn't matter if I was looking for an app, settings, or files. Everything was there. In Windows 8, you have to click a category for anything but applications. Don't get me wrong, I understand having categories. What I don't get is why they don't have an "All" category and why it is not default. When I search for things I go from general to more specific, no the reverse.

    The last thing I found immensely annoying was the metro split screen. I have a 23 inch monitor on my desktop. With that much real estate, you have room for two applications side by side. Unfortunately, Windows 8 does not let you do a 50/50 split between two metro apps. Only one-third/two-thirds or two-thirds/one-third. It doesn't make sense on a large screen.

    In the end, I got fed up and finally purchased a copy of Start 8. It looks and acts almost exactly like Windows 7's start menu and lets me boot directly into the desktop app. If I actually want to get into the metro start, I just hold down the Windows key for a couple of seconds. I have my top four/five application pinned to my taskbar and the next five/six pinned to my Start 8 menu. If Microsoft added a "desktop mode" for those of us that are using it as a desktop OS and polished their metro interface to remove the mentioned usability nightmares, the OS would probably be widely accepted. without the need to purchase third-party interface apps.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday December 17, 2012 @01:42PM (#42315361) Journal

    Personally I keep a list of the top 10 applications I launch (Chrome, Visual Studio, a screen capture utility, etc) right at the very top level of the "Start" menu so I can get to them quickly

    Isn't that precisely what the "pin this program" feature on the taskbar is for in Win7?

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday December 17, 2012 @01:59PM (#42315559) Journal

    Out of curiosity, what do you expect to gain from replacing Win7 with Win8?

  • by sjames (1099) on Monday December 17, 2012 @02:12PM (#42315703) Homepage

    Several potentially good reasons:

    Perhaps they don't actually care if MS produces a quality product or not. If it does, great, if not they'll just buy something else. Why do MS's homework for them?

    Perhaps they feel it would be casting pearls before swine? No matter how many times they participate, they'll get the same old crap in return.

    Perhaps they fear the data might be too invasive and they'd just rather not.

    The second option there is, BTW, a commonly cited reason for not voting. If you abstain from an election because you see no candidates you actually support, you remain perfectly entitled to complain about the state of the nation.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 17, 2012 @03:01PM (#42316251)
    Really? I work for a fortune 100 company. We still have a lot of XP machines. Until last year, we had a lot of NT machines.

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