December 03, 2012, 2:53 PM — We seem to have entered an age of computing that I didn't see coming: the age of the terrible user interface. Windows 8 is leading the charge with not one, but two awful interfaces. That's what I think, and so does the lord of all interface analysts, Jakob Nielsen. He said Windows 8 is "weak on tablets, terrible for PCs."
I think the problem is that far too many people have forgotten UI 101 -- make it easy -- despite the availability of the handy acronym KISS (keep it simple, stupid).
Since back when Microsoft was still calling its brand-new interface Metro, I saw Windows 8 as a disaster in the making. My biggest complaint was with the cartoonish and annoying tiles. Made for touchscreens, they're fairly usable when you're holding a small device at, say, a 45-degree angle. But when the touchscreen is a monitor sitting on a desktop at something closer to 90 degrees? That results in a phenomenon called gorilla arm, a situation blamed for the failure of touchscreens on the desktop as long ago as the 1980s.
Too bad Microsoft hasn't paid attention.
Nielsen notes an even bigger problem -- one I should have seen myself. "Two environments on a single device is a prescription for usability problems," he writes. Of course it is. It's bad enough that Microsoft wants Windows users to forget everything they ever learned about using the XP and Windows 7 interfaces, but it now wants them to learn two separate interfaces to do the same old things they used to do with one.