Chris Pirillo, of LockerGnome fame, was trying to make a point when he sat his dad down in front of a Windows 8 machine for the first time, and had him try to navigate back to the new Start screen from the traditional Windows desktop. After four minutes, his dad gives up, and Chris makes his point.

“Who put this out?” his dad asks.

“Microsoft,” Pirillo responds.

Windows 8 brings up navigational thumbnails when users hover over invisible hotspots in the corners of the screen.

“They trying to drive me to Mac?” his dad says.

The video highlights the risk that Microsoft is taking as it makes the shift to a dramatically different user interface in Windows 8 — the biggest change since the launch of Windows 95, by the company’s own admission. Since testing the Windows 8 Developer Preview last fall, we’ve been warning that it would be a big adjustment for longtime Windows users, with the new tile-based interface replacing the traditional desktop as the default opening screen.

In the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, released earlier this month, Microsoft went a step further and eliminated the Start button from the traditional desktop view, as well. That’s where Pirillo’s dad runs into problems in the video above. If he had moved his mouse to the lower left or any of the other corners, Windows 8 would have called up different menus and commands to help him navigate, but there were no visual cues to prompt him to do that.

Microsoft’s Jensen Harris, director of program management for the Windows User Experience Team, told me during a recent Windows 8 run-through that the company hadn’t ruled out the possibility of putting navigational cues into the interface to help newbies figure things out when they’re first using the new operating system.

Although Microsoft hasn’t confirmed the timing, Windows 8 is widely expected to be released later this year.


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  • john

    This video brings up a very fair point. Hidden hotspots are nightmares for regular users. However, it is still a bit of a stretch to switch to Mac. There would still be a learning curve for regular users, like the dad in this video. I get called all the time because someone’s Mac “broke,” when really they just didn’t understand how to use it.

    Microsoft needs to implement a sort of tutorial system on the first boot up, to show the user how swipe the panels into view. 

    • Stephen Jemima Driver

      Its almost like Microsoft read your mind! The visual tutorial comes up when you set up a profile. It is about 3 minutes long so covers all a newbie needs. If your reinstalling the PC However its a bumber you cant skip it. The OS takes a few days to get used to but makes up for it by booting faster than any other os out there be it windows, mac or Linux.

      • StillBroke Jones

        It is crap, I switched to a mac, I been using PC’s since DOS4.0 where I typed “format” on its own trying to format a floppy and it nuked my HDD.. that was wow so many years ago.. I am a power user of power users and Win8 had me dumbfounded.. DIE Quick M$ and all you gravy train MSCA’s, AWS will own you alll!

  • Dave

    Unfortunately, the Windows team has never been known for developing intuitive products. Some of this is because they need to be backwards compatible in a way Apple does not even try to be, but much of it is that Windows does not get “intuitive”.  On all Apple devices I’ve tried, I can figure out what I need to do. Sometimes I do not figure out the prettiest or quickest way but I can figure it out. That has never been true with Windows.  Windows 8 looks great but I wonder how easy it will be to use for the average user.

    • SoftwareWorld

       The Average user maybe a lot younger than the person in this video and think is smart enough to use win 8. I have found that windows 8 is more responsive to keyboard. you can merely type the name of the application in METRO and navigate to it immediately instead of scrolling through menu items.

      • PR1ME

        You could do that in DOS.

        But you shouldn’t HAVE to. And you shouldn’t have to “find” that it’s “more responsive” to a different input device. You shouldn’t have to go through the trial and error sessions that you obviously did. Real people don’t have time for that fcking bullsht.

  • Chris Lynch

    “The video highlights the risk that Microsoft is taking as it makes the shift to a dramatically different user interface in Windows 8″

    Actually, I disagree. The video highlights the risk in trying to mesh together two totally different paradigms that don’t go together. The watered down, “Metro and Windows Desktop living together” approach of Windows 8 is a nightmare in real world usage. Two different version of IE, the missing Start menu, not knowing which area your apps will launch into or how to get back, some apps running in windows, others only in full screen, plus hidden hotspots does not equal “intuitive”.

    Metro is great, so make Win8 Metro only. If not, then make it the old Windows. To make it both will only make users suffer.

  • Guest

    Old people are already switching to Mac for an imagined “ease of use” and a large screen.  For some reason, they view Microsoft as frustrating and  Mac as “cool and hip” but can’t work either.

  • Guest

    “I love our strategy. The board loves our strategy”

    – Steve Ballmer

    • spiders

      “The [Apple] board loves our strategy”

  • Guest

    If “Real Users” ruled the world, we’d have something like the Linux desktop: clunky, unimaginative, a morass of half-baked concepts. Instead we have companies like Microsoft and Apple who are unafraid to break the mold.

    • Mello

      Yes, because using Linux is so clunky and imaginative…

    • Anonymous

      You have no idea what you’re talking about… Ever even fired up a Linux box?

    • Blueangel

      yep, thats why NASA, uses Linux, and the worlds best Hackers, and even Bill gates himself said he uses it, national defense, where ever you find prgraming needing to be done you will find linux 95 percent of the time. Linux rules! Also your proable unaware you have a product in your home with linux code, prehaps your router.

    • PR1ME

      Unimaginative is GOOD in a UI. Let MS put their ‘imagination’ toward adding useful features and fixing bugs.

  • Greg

    hadn’t ruled out the possibility of putting navigational cues into the interface”,  Yeah, how about a big ol’ start button on a desktop.

    • StillBroke Jones

      YES a Cue that says “Start” ah that would be the bit you click to start something

  • Bob

    I have a mixed Mac/Windows household and since the Windows users will need to learn a new interface anyway, I will be converting the rest of the house to Macs rather than upgrading to Windows 8. I am probably not the majority but I am a real user that will spend my household money with Apple moving forward. 

    • Ball

      I use both as well, and I’m not looking forward to Win8 at all. I’m hoping by the time SP1 comes out Metro will have become truly optional, or wineskin becomes so good I won’t need windows anymore.

  • Glennhkelman

    I haven’t used Windows 8 yet but if Microsoft has to err in one direction or another, I would recommend confusing my dad and appealing to my son.

  • Randall Ainsworth

    Not only is Metro non-intuitive, it’s also ugly and garish.

    This will be a bigger bomb than Vista and ME combined.

  • Guest

    “the company hadn’t ruled out the possibility of putting navigational cues into the interface to help newbies figure things out when they’re first using the new operating system.”

    Newbies? There are things in W8 that experienced users find unintuitive. In MS’s never ending and rarely successful efforts to mimic all that is Apple, rather than having the courage and confidence to set and pursue their own path, they’ve forgotten that Apple gets away with minimalism because in most cases their UIs are so intuitive that even a first-time computer user or toddler can operate them.

    In trying to span tablets and computers, mostly for the sake of revenue considerations versus customer ones, MS has invented an OS that doesn’t work particularly well for either.

    While the quality of this OS will likely be far higher than Vista’s was, the market reception may end up even worse.

  • Ron Olander

    My experience is that mac users cannot use a PC and vice versa

    • Userofboth

      My experience is that isn’t generally true in either direction.

      The problem for MS is that there are more valid choices for OSes these days and increasingly, when given that choice, users prefer the non-MS option (iOS, OS X, Android, etc.). Unless they start turning that around, they’ll continue to take a smaller and smaller piece of a rapidly growing whole.

    • Mafarie

       I use a Mac at home and a PC at work every day.

    • So_hum

      Not true. As a died in the wool mac fan I have often suffered to use a PC at work. The issue with the PC is that it takes 4-5 clicks to do what it only takes 1-2 clicks to do on a mac.  And then you are beholden to trying to think in PCspeak. It’s just less pleasant and takes longer overall than a mac which does the intuitive thing you “wish” it would even as you guess and do it.

  • Franklin

    A big issue that I anticipate for MSFT, which people are talking about, is the new corporate business model for IT. It used to be that you started at a company and they gave you a PC of their choosing and almost always with Windows on it. More and more, companies are adopting a “bring your own device” (BYOD) model whether by their own choosing or because their employees are driving it. This new BYOD world opens up the corporate world to OSX, Linux, iOS, Android, etc. in a world that used to be Windows by default. Part of the reason that MSFT has had great market share is corporations driving Windows to their employees but now consumers have a bigger say. Not to say MSFT can’t win that battle but they are no longer the defacto standard for the corporate world…they will have to compete to win that now too.

    If you don’t believe me, look around your office and see how many iPads, iPhones and Android tablets/phones are in the office. If you have wireless internet in your office, then I can almost guarantee that those devices are on your corporate network!

    This would be a great topic for Geekwire to explore!

    • Guest

      “This would be a great topic for Geekwire to explore!”

      So would scary parallels between MS and the SS Minnow. Ballmer would be the Skipper, of course. The guy who irresponsibly piloted the ship into a storm and ended up wrecking it and leaving his passengers (shareholders, employees, and partners who bet on MS) stranded. Gilligan is a toss up between the board of Directors, who have supported the Skipper’s decisions no matter how stupid, and executives past and present. I guess you’d have to go with Turner for the latter role currently (though he’s just a yes man but not incompetent), and maybe Bach in the past (who was both). Howell would be Bill Gates, rich but oblivious in all matters relating to the Minnow or rescue. Sinofsky would be the Professor, smart but too cerebral and detailed for most. Not sure where Ginger and Mary Anne fit; Lisa Brummel is an obvious pick for either. Last, we have everyone spending the majority of their time bickering amongst them instead of trying to figure out how it all went wrong, what leadership changes need to occur, and what it’s going to take to get rescued.

      • Guest

        Lisa Brummel is > isn’t.

  • Kdv37

    I’m not Chris’ dad, but probably his age. I’m using the W8 Consumer Review on a Netbook and laptop. Why use ONE example of my generation to point out the bias toward the Start button? I’m 74 and have NO problem using the new CR. Move on, there are more exciting things about the new UI. I know a lot of people my age who wouldn’t touch a Mac, but let’s not go there. I’ve lived through this Mac vs Windows for far too long and I had hoped we move beyond that issue, but I guess the kool aid is powerful enough to last for years.

  • Bill Sleeper

    A 2-yr-old can easily figure out that one should click in a corner to get action!
    Why add clutter?

  • johnnyD

    The Windows UX team should be crapping their collective shorts. But they’re not. Why? Because they already know these problems from usability studies they’ve done. But they will do nothing because they’re committed to Win8 the way it is. You know, be bold, be different, yada yada.Here’s the deal: my 70 yo mom will have the same experience above. As a result, I’ll steer her to an iPad/iMac when her W7 machine breaks in a few years. Here are some simple things MS can do to save W8, which btw I think is amazingly good as a tablet-only experience.

    For the keyboard/mouse experience:
    1. return the Start button to where it was in the Developer’s Preview. I’ve read their rationale, but it’s poorly reasoned and contorted. With their new Windows logo, returning the button is perfectly logical because the logo depicts the Metro interface (clicking it returns them to Metro).
    2. make the Charm bar (hidden, located on the right side of the screen) visible with a small transparent icon or smaller visual cue, for both Desktop and Metro. Maybe like a pull-tab that shows it can be pulled out. (alternatively, make it pinned open by default in Desktop, with the option of unpinning it)
    3. really clean up the Settings/Control Panel/Shut Down workflow mess. Try changing the color of the Metro background. It’s a nightmare. Try shutting the pc down. Nightmare.
    4. Skin the Desktop in a Metro-like fashion, like the current Zune client is designed. It’ll make the OS at least appear to be unified, and ease the transition to full Metro in subsequent releases.
    They’ll have to do all these things in SP1 anyway, so they might as well do it now for RTM.

    • Guest

      Good suggestions.

    • badescu alexandru

      i think there will be a visual guide anyway before late octomber

  • Spyrou10

    Windows 8 looks like a giant pile of horse caca, and I have no intention of ever using this technological garbage. When I use a PC, I want simplicity, functionality, and just enough visual appeal to make the UI pleasant to work with all day long. That’s why I’ve been a hardcore PC guy, and not a Apple freak. I don’t need sleek and flashy gimmicks that make stuff look pretty, but lack substance, like Apple does.

    Windows XP was perfect. It was the best. Windows 7 is almost as good. But this piece of crap is just vomit-inducing. If I was forced to buy a PC that was soiled with this new OS, I’d wipe the HD and install XP on it as soon as I plugged it in.

    If Microsoft wants to fix what’s wrong, they need to do two things. First, stop trying to compete with or copy Apple… the fact that I’m buying a PC should tell you that I DON’T want an Apple, or anything remotely like it. Just be simple, functional, and lose the gimmicks. Second, get the hell rid of IE… just frakking forget about it. Nobody uses that piece of crap malware-ridden browser by choice anymore, unless they’re forced to in school or at work. So stop cluttering up our PC’s with it. Nobody likes IE, and nobody wants it. Nothing will change that.

    • csdev

      Please advise as to how w8 is copying mac?

      • Ted Hu

        metro is trying to ipad the pc, except with multisized grid-tiles.

        • Sample

          Wow, that means INDEED ms is copying Apple… *facepalm! Think bout it: iPad design which remplaces the iPads design cause it is basically NOT the iPads ( or should I rather say, iOS ) UI but its own! Oh yeah, AND it is for PC which means its a full OS, but still… Apple did it first? ! GET A FUCKIN BRAIN !!!

      • Dale Fletcher

        It’s not, but he’s oblivious to it, because he can’t afford a Mac so has no idea that 0S X or iOS looks NOTHING Windows 8.

    • Dale Fletcher

      Apple products are for the more sophisticated who appreciate styling and function. Clearly not for you.

  • SoftwareWorld

    There is a learning curve with Win 8 but I have found it to be quite slick and stable compared to Vista.

    • astigmatik

      That’s the crux of the problem. Windows has been around for a very long time and it has a very large number of users. Therefore, the learning curve should not very steep; otherwise, everyone who’s used to it will hate it. I haven’t seen it or tried it, but personally, if I have to re-learn how to use a computer, I’ll just forget it and stick to Windows 7.

      Also, I think Microsoft should stick to one basic GUI principle: make things INTUITIVE. From what I see, there’s a lot of guess work that new users to Windows 8 would need.

      And finally, I agree with the others who say that they should not try to put out a tablet interface on a desktop and vice-versa.

  • Tony Camilli

    Microsoft’s user interface team needs to go back and reread about affordances.  An object can’t be intuitive if it’s invisible.

  • JimH

    I don’t a Windows phone, but that Metro interface looks pretty clear. I downloaded the Consumer Preview, and I’m finding it a bear. I usually am pretty good at new interfaces. Mind you, I’m running it on a Mac with Parallels, but I get no vertical stack of window previews. Metro on top of Windows? Not good.

  • Anonymous

    He should use a gesture. Oh wait! It’s the demo version on a desktop pc. From IDC “Windows 8 will be largely irrelevant to the users of traditional PCs, and we expect effectively no upgrade activity from Windows 7 to Windows 8 in that form factor,” the report said. This video is pointless.


    • astigmatik

      we expect effectively no upgrade activity from Windows 7 to Windows 8 in that form factor”

      ..well, that’s just stupid from a business point-of-view.. why would they not want their existing users to upgrade to my new product?

  • Dan Sullivan

    At my house:

    Dad: “How to I go back?”Me: “I have no idea.  I use a Mac.” (pause) “I’ll experiment and figure it out.”Me: “Dad, look here, you gotta do this.”Dad: “Hand me a sticky note.” (looking for pen)Me: (Cringe.  Imagining sticky notes everywhere.)Me: “Still think my Mac is expensive?”Dad: Dirty look.Me: “When I need help I go to the Apple store. I did that once, it was awesome.”Dad: “But I already know Windows, I don’t want to learn something brand new.”Me: (Blank stare.)

    Both: Look at Windows 8.  Blank Stare.

    • csdev

      It just seems like both you and your dad are morons…

      • PR1ME

        Or you are. Real people don’t have time for masturbatory UI coding from Microsoft. If this obvious fact goes over your head, that’s nobody’s fault but yours.

  • SoftwareWorld

    Except for the metro interface Windows 8 has a lot going for it. They do need to upgrade the OpenGL functionality and support for older printer drivers though.

  • Wasantha Wijayaratna

    Windows 8 will catchup the market like a fire, I also had the same impression before I realy used it, the important part is in the usability perspective Windows 8 is perfectly working on both desktop and tabs, I have tried this now for 2 days and now I’m expert of using Windows 8. I have never seen a product with such a flexibility. Microsoft has do the right thing at the right time, please release it ASAP.

  • Isaiah

    This is going to be a big failure like Microsoft Bob, Windows Vista, and Windows ME. If I wanted to have a mobile phone interface I would have bought a tablet or smartphone not a desktop or laptop. I think Microsoft will ultimately drive some people over to apple. 

  • Mike

    This is dumb. My parents are about the same age and would have the same problem trying to decipher the interface on a Mac. Nevertheless, the Mac pushers will try to use this as propaganda.

    • Dale Fletcher

      I’ve been using Windows since 3.11 and Windows 8 pushed me to a new iMac. I love it and see no reason to go back. OS X is intuitive enough there was no need to crack open a manual. I don’t know what Windows 8 is. Looks like a kindergarten class project.

  • Wizard11m

    Tried Win 8…hate it…on all counts.

  • Bluenangel

    You know I saw the new design, I cant stand it, I wont even buy theres no way. I absoulutly hate it.

  • MrBippies

    Why should Microsoft care about old people? They’ll be dead soon. Turn the kids into fanboys and you have them hooked for life.

    W8 is fantastic if you take the time to learn it instead of throwing a hissy fit 10 minutes in.

    • Ldm911t

       Well “I” am throwing my hissy fit! So there!!!

      • Windows8hater


    • uninformedLuddite

       You do realise that your aging right?

  • matt

    I’m still on the fence with windows 8, it is very fast, but the navigation between metro and explorer is annoying. I’m hoping not to use it to be honest… I already have an xbox. If they could make transitioning between the explorer and metro more intuitive, it would be a huge plus. I would still never go to Mac. Too flashy and not as versatile.

  • Agn2au

    So t for those of us who use computers for business like creating documents, spreadsheets,and keeping america alive — we will be thrown to the dogs of glitz, glam and apps that waste time, “connect to the social media”     we are going to hell in a microsoft hand basket   or is it a conspiracy to kill all of us who work to make a living and pay taxes?

  • RHO

    For 15 years I’ve used linux, but always bought PCs with Doze installed “just in case” – and booted it maybe once each 6 months. Doze 8 is the pain of ripping off of the bandage – from now I’ll buy tailor built PCs from local tech shops and cease paying the M$ tax. If I need Doze twice a year I’ll go to the town library.

  • Sean

    Oh my god this is crap there gonna fail big time for sure!

  • PR1ME

    Absolutely INEXCUSABLE of MS to do this. Real people use computers to
    get things done. We do not need or want to be set back days or weeks
    learning a new OS just because the MS development team wanted to code a
    billion lines of masturbation. Technology exists to serve us, we do not exist to serve it.

    If they had any sense of reality, they would release a modular OS where
    new capabilities could be added as needed WITHOUT yanking the whole
    damned rug out from under us every couple of years. They could charge for each module. Do you
    know why they still have so much market share? It’s because so many
    people and companies have rightly refused to move ‘beyond’ XP.

    “Taking risks”, my ass. Risk your own productivity, Microsoft, not ours.

    Linux, here I come.

    • badescu alexandru

      about XP migration:

      more than 50% of the business PC’s are now on Win7. I have worked with major companies and to change an OS in 1000+ PCs isn’t a easy task (Intune wasn’t present at that time) + it’s not cheap. If they don’t need an upgrade that badly why should anyone upgrade?!

      As for normal consumers, i don’t know the percentage, but rest ashore that there are (much) more win7 than XP with 300+ M new Win7 licenses sold in the last 12 mo.

  • simple

    Just use the “Windows” button on your keyboad to get back to the Metro interface. Windows 8 is extremely fast. Ran it in a Virtual machine and was blown away by how fast it is.

  • jaini

    This looks soo.. (badly) scripted! so much for trying to ‘prove’ the point. Not even once did his dad try to do a real thing by himself than to find ‘lost’ tiles. So many times his son told this is windows8 and wants to prove the point to Microsoft. Still they had to finish with that stupid (no offense to his dad) question and comment.. fail.!

  • applestalks

    Macs, PCs, zealots for the interfaces. There is nothing more pathetic than men who have know only peacetime.

  • LukeB

    I tried the developers preview – I don’t get it. On a desktop I buy big screens so I can see multiple things at once. What’s this fill up the whole screen on launch, and have no visual navigation cues? Heck, the brains visual processing section it the largest area there is – how is making you process the interface with other tools going to be better. The other thing about the desktop market – I buy big screens. I don’t want to sit close enough to touch them.

  • Ron Olander

    looks like all comments are from the appholes……..

  • Karnie

    Mac toolbar is so moronic..childish is a kind description and that is why I switched to Windows,the Mac is just one step above creepy.

  • Ben Calvert

    I was deeply offended that I was trying out a buggy, beta version of Windows 8 and Microsoft trapped me and prevented me from going back to Windows 7. I know it is buried in the T&Cs, but WTF? Am delighted with my 27in iMac now. Idiots.

  • Bob Markovich

    I don’t understand the comments on this is going to be a failure. So if a device does not have a screen filled with app icons like Windows, Apple, and Android, the it will fail? Treat each Windows 8 tile as a app icon then if you need to think that way. Although, that tile can provide usefull information at a glance – sort of a dashboard of your personal life or business life. It can show how many VMs I have, emails, next meeting, # of purchase orders need to approve, alerts from a server monitor SW, etc. Get creative. It’s only complicated it you want it to be,

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