Coffeehouse Thread

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So I finally got round to trying Win8 on hardware

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  • Dr Herbie

    Having thought about this overnight, I can see two opportunities for apps:

    1.  Some sort of 'Tip-a-Day' app that shows a single, useful piece of information to the user once every day (e.g. "Press Windows+i" to get to the settings page").

    2. A power switch app that can be added as a tile and just offers the 'Switch Off', 'Sleep', 'Log Out' (and 'Cancel' of course) options to the user for those who have desktops or, like me, prefer to switch things off properly.

     

    Perhaps it's time to download the developer preview and get started ...

     

    Herbie

  • Garulon

    @Dr Herbie:1. People don't read this.  2. You can do this if you want (just create a shortcut to shutdown.exe with relevent parameters but TBH I don't understand the problem.

    In Win7 Start handled shutdown applaunch and search, the "other stuff" (networking, volume etc etc) was in the system notification area.  In Win8, everything other than launching apps is in Settings. Brightness? Settings. Power? Settings.  Windows Update? Settings->PC Settings. Volume? Settings.  I don't see the power button in the settings panel as any less discoverable than an unlabelled arrow next to "Sleep" in Windows 7's unlabelled start orb.

  • Dr Herbie

    @Garulon: "Settings" is not where I would instinctively look for the power switch, setting is where I would instinctively go to change a permanent setting for the system.  In Win7, the power switch is visible as soon as you see the start menu, in Win8 it's a level further down and therefore harder to stumble on then you first use the system.

    I tend to switch my PC on and off at least twice a day (I catch up on web/email first thing in the morning, switch off the machine until I get back from work, and then switch it off again at the end of the evening).  Therefore I would want the power button in a handier place than two levels deep.  Thanks for the tip about shutdown.exe, I'll try it out this evening.

    Herbie

     

    EDIT: I don't want to sound like one of those people who get all worked up about a single feature change, it's not so much about the power button as about the learning curve for new users and the 'discoverability' of features when you're playing with the system in the first few weeks and days.

  • Bas

    I think multiple approaches to this would work. Those single-sentence "tip of the day" type tips during loading (contrary to Garulon I do think people read this, at least some of them do, occasionally, by accident, and that's already a win), that video during the first startup, and maybe something akin to the bouncing start arrow in Windows 95 ("move your mouse into these corners!" "swipe in from the sides!") the first bunch of times Windows has started/gets unlocked. You'd get people up to speed soon enough.

    Also, I think we as geeks vastly underestimate normal people. I've seen plenty of normal people who didn't struggle for a second pulling down Android's notification area thing (whatever that is called) even though there's no visual cue for it whatsoever. Also, everybody and their gran has somehow managed to get to grips with an iPad despite their only experience with computing devices being an outdated version of Windows.

  • Garulon

    @Dr Herbie:Windows' 7 Start menu defaults to the text "Sleep" with a right-pointing arrow for the flyout.  The only reason you "know" that that's where shutdown is is because that's where shutdown has been in Windows since Windows 95.  For Win8 I've set my power button on my PC to "Hibernate" which is crazy fast in Win8 compared to Win7, you can set this in "Power Options" and then it's just hitting the button on your PC and walking away.

  • Dr Herbie

    @Garulon: So my question to you now is :  How did you find out to set the 'Power Options' on your start button?  Did you find it through logical deduction, or did you have to search the web for instruction?

    Herbie

  • Garulon

    @Dr Herbie:I set the hardware power switch settings in the Control Panel under "Power Options" in Win8, it's unchanged from Windows 7, so I didn't look around on the web.  I think I got to it from right-clicking the bottom left corner and hitting "control panel".  The only time I've gone on the web to dig up Win8 functionality was when I was running it mounted as a VHD and it wouldn't hibernate. IIRC Win8 has Help available from the settings menu although if you're there you probably don't need it Smiley

  • evildictait​or

    @Garulon: The fact that you are having to explain how Windows8 works means that Windows8 has failed to be intuitive.

    A good UI is like a good joke - if you need to explain it, it isn't very good.

    Let's not mistake Dr Herbie's failure to find the power-off button as a request by him for help or as an indication of his inexperience at Windows8. The job of the UI is to enable users to find features in the app.

    Since Dr Herbie had to use a different program to find the power-off feature, the Windows8 shell UI team failed on the objective measure that they had a feature that Dr Herbie couldn't find using their interface.

  • contextfree`

    http://www.asktog.com/papers/raskinintuit.html

    One of the most common terms of praise for an interface is to
    say that it is "intuitive" (the word should have been "intuitable" but we will
    bow to convention). Yet the Human Computer Interaction (HCI) literature rarely
    mentions the word, and for good reason. This note attempts to clarify the
    meaning of "intuitive" for non-HCI specialists.

    The impression that the phrase "this interface feature is intuitive" leaves is that the interface works the way the user does, that normal human "intuition" suffices to use it, that neither training nor rational thought is necessary, and that it will feel "natural." We are said to "intuit" a concept when we seem to suddenly understand it without any apparent effort or previous exposure to the idea. In common parlance, intuition has the additional flavor of a nearly supernatural ability humans possess in varying degrees. Given these connotations, it is as uncomfortable a term in formal HCI studies as it is a common one in non-technical publications and in informal conversation about interfaces.

    ...

    Many claims of intuitiveness, when examined, fail. It has been claimed that the use of a computer's mouse is intuitive. Yet it is far from that. In one of the Star Trek series of science fiction movies, the space ship's engineer has been brought back into our time, where (when) he walks up to a Macintosh. He picks up the mouse, bringing it to his mouth as if it were a microphone, and says: "Computer, ..." The audience laughs at his mistake.

    ...

    My subject was an intelligent, computer-literate, university-trained teacher visiting from Finland who had not seen a mouse or any advertising or literature about it. With the program running, I pointed to the mouse, said it was "a mouse", and that one used it to operate the program. Her first act was to lift the mouse and move it about in the air. She discovered the ball on the bottom, held the mouse upside down, and proceeded to turn the ball. However, in this position the ball is not riding on the position pick-offs and it does nothing. After shaking it, and making a number of other attempts at finding a way to use it, she gave up and asked me how it worked. She had never seen anything where you moved the whole object rather than some part of it (like the joysticks she had previously used with computers): it was not intuitive. She also did not intuit that the large raised area on top was a button.

    But once I pointed out that the cursor moved when the mouse was moved on the desk's surface and that the raised area on top was a pressable button, she could immediately use the mouse without another word. The directional mapping of the mouse was "intuitive" because in this regard it operated just like joysticks (to say nothing of pencils) with which she was familiar.

    From this and other observations, and a reluctance to accept paranormal claims without repeatable demonstrations thereof, it is clear that a user interface feature is "intuitive" insofar as it resembles or is identical to something the user has already learned. In short, "intuitive" in this context is an almost exact synonym of "familiar."

    ...As an interface designer I am often asked to design a "better" interface to some
    product. Usually one can be designed such that, in terms of learning time,
    eventual speed of operation (productivity), decreased error rates, and ease of
    implementation it is superior to competing or the client's own products. Even
    where my proposals are seen as significant improvements, they are often rejected
    nonetheless on the grounds that they are not intuitive. It is a classic "catch
    22." The client wants something that is significantly superior to the
    competition. But if superior, it cannot be the same, so it must be different
    (typically the greater the improvement, the greater the difference). Therefore
    it cannot be intuitive, that is, familiar. What the client usually wants is an
    interface with at most marginal differences that, somehow, makes a major
    improvement. This can be achieved only on the rare occasions where the original
    interface has some major flaw that is remedied by a minor fix.

    ...I suggest that we replace the word "intuitive" with the word "familiar" (or sometimes "old hat") in informal HCI discourse. HCI professionals might prefer another phrase:

    Intuitive = uses readily transferred, existing skills.

    ...That quality of a new interface paradigm that is commonly titled "intuitive" may well turn out to be one of the worst qualities it can have.

  • contextfree`

    BTW, by posting that link I don't mean to suggest that Win8 is perfect or you can't complain about something being non-obvious in an interface, just that the "haha, it's not intuitive! therefore it's badly designed, this proves it! end of discussion!" "argument" is lame.

  • vesuvius

    , contextfree` wrote

    BTW, by posting that link I don't mean to suggest that Win8 is perfect or you can't complain about something being non-obvious in an interface, just that the "haha, it's not intuitive! therefore it's badly designed, this proves it! end of discussion!" "argument" is lame.

    Windows 8 in corporate environments is already  being received far much worse than Vista. Have a look at the comments http://windowsteamblog.com/windows/b/business/archive/2012/08/01/what-windows-8-rtm-means-for-businesses.aspx

    There is not a single business of any size that would move to Windows 8, because of the "trifles" you are describing.

    If Windows 8 takes off big time in the corporate world, I will eat my shorts.

     

  • ryanb

    Whether or not an interface is intuitive (familiar) is not the key point.  People will quickly adjust to and accept an non-familiar interface as long as it provides real improvements in usability.  If the interface doesn't improve, or worse yet harms usability, the interface change will be rejected, and the user will be even more unhappy at putting effort into learning something different that doesn't work as well.

    The concept of "superior" is a much more difficult, and subjective, concept.  It is also more important for the success of a UI than familiarity.

    The issue raised by Dr. Herbie is discoverability.  People have to be able to figure out how to use your interface, and the majority of people are not going to go through tutorials and tips to figure them out, or memorize a bunch of shortcut keys.  If a user needs to phone a friend or Google to find out how to use your interface, you have a problem and an unhappy user.

    (This is a general comment and makes no implications good or bad about Win 8 in particular.)

  • evildictait​or

    , contextfree` wrote

    BTW, by posting that link I don't mean to suggest that Win8 is perfect or you can't complain about something being non-obvious in an interface, just that the "haha, it's not intuitive! therefore it's badly designed, this proves it! end of discussion!" "argument" is lame.

    A UI's key purpose is to expose internal functionality to the user. If the user knows that there is a feature in the product and cannot find out how to invoke it, the UI has failed.

    It is all very well to say that the UI has other jobs as well - it's important to be consistent, to look good, to localize well and to avoid unexpected transitions. But fundamentally the first job of the UI is to expose functionality.

    If the UI makes critical functionality less discoverable and requires users (like Dr Herbie) to have to read a manual or a search engine to use your UI, then as a UI designer you have failed.

    This isn't a subjective measure. Dr Herbie wanted to do something, and Windows8's UI got in the way of him doing it compared with Windows7, because I presume that Dr Herbie had no real difficulty discovering how to turn off his Windows7 machine several years ago when he first got one of those.

    That is an entirely objective measure by which Windows8's UI is worse than Windows7's.

  • contextfree`

    , evildictait​or wrote

    *snip*

    A UI's key purpose is to expose internal functionality to the user. If the user knows that there is a feature in the product and cannot find out how to invoke it, the UI has failed.

    It is all very well to say that the UI has other jobs as well - it's important to be consistent, to look good, to localize well and to avoid unexpected transitions. But fundamentally the first job of the UI is to expose functionality.

    You've got it backwards. The purpose of a UI isn't to expose internal functionality, rather the purpose of the internal functionality is to enable a user experience and user goals. Note "shutdown the computer" is not really a goal in itself, but a means to some other goal.

  • evildictait​or

    , contextfree` wrote

    *snip*

    You've got it backwards. The purpose of a UI isn't to expose internal functionality, rather the purpose of the internal functionality is to enable a user experience and user goals. Note "shutdown the computer" is not really a goal in itself, but a means to some other goal.

    Regardless of whether you think purpose of the shutdown functionality is to implement the shutdown button or you think the purpose of the shutdown button is to invoke the shutdown feature, the fact is that Dr Herbie wanted to shutdown his machine and was unable to do this using the Windows8 UI.

    The job of the Windows8 shell team is to translate user intentions into feature invocations. In this case they failed to do their job. This isn't a failure of the "ACPI power management team" - they still expose shutdown through the same API that they did in Windows7. The change that Dr Herbie is complaining about isn't a change of this API, or what happens behind this API, but the ability to get the shell to invoke the API through the user interface.

    This is why I phrased it as the UI failed, and not the feature team failed - because the feature team didn't have anything to do with the feature's lack of discoverability. Discoverability is the sole domain of the UI (or more precisely the Shell) team.

    So I stand by my assertion that in this specific instance, based on Dr Herbie's specific example where he tried and failed to get Windows8 to power down, that the Windows8 UI objectively failed compared to Windows7.

  • contextfree`

    I think you are aggressively missing the point, but I am getting tired of this argument and will leave you here to enjoy your certitude in your absolute rightness.

  • Garulon

    @evildictaitor:"So I stand by my assertion that in this specific instance, based on Dr Herbie's specific example where he tried and failed to get Windows8 to power down, that the Windows8 UI objectively failed compared to Windows7."

    Hmm, I'm thinking if he'd never seen a Windows machine before he wouldn't do much better on Windows 7 - it's shutdown is on an unlabelled popup menu that you access through an unlabelled orb that's normally used to launch apps. 

    The shutdown option in Win8 is exposed (IIRC) on the sign-in screen and the SAS screen as well as the settings menu so at one point it was directly in Herbie's face and he missed it. This doesn't sound like "discoverability" this sounds like mental muscle memory.

    For contrast, here's how to turn off an iPad:

    http://ipod.about.com/od/ipad/qt/turn-off-ipad.htm

    "Begin by locating the iPad's hold button. This button is on the top right-hand corner of the iPad.Press the hold button for a few seconds, until a red slider appears at the top of the screen that says "slide to power off."Slide it to the right. (If you don't want to shut it down, tap the "cancel" button at the bottom of the screen.)

    You'll see a small wheel and then the screen will go dim. The iPad is now shut off."

    Yeaaaaah, really discoverable, I bet users are going to abandon that in droves Tongue Out

  • Dr Herbie

    @Garulon:

    1. When my PC came with Win7 pre-installed, the start menu showed 'Shutdown' as the default, only changing to 'Sleep' after I had used the sleep functionality for the first time.  It was easer to find because it was only one level deep on the only visible control on the taskbar and therefore drew attention.

    2.  I did notice the power button on the Win8 log-on screen, but I was logged in when I wanted to shut down. I knew there had to be a power button somewhere without logging off, but I couldn't find it; it was not discoverable.

    3. The iPad is a tablet that is designed to be left in sleep mode and not powered down -- I am using Win8 on a small laptop which is designed to be switched off when not in use. My main PC is a desktop which is definitely going to get shut down when not in use. If I were to buy a Win8 Tablet, I wouldn't worry about the power switch because I would expect a tablet device to sleep. Win8 seems to be a tablet designed OS which is being marketed as a desktop OS.  

    Herbie

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