Meet Julian, a 3-year-old whose family has been running a preview of Windows 8 for the past month on their home computer. Despite relatively limited usage, Julian has no problem using the new Microsoft operating system — navigating to the Start screen from the traditional desktop, opening and closing applications, and more.

In other words, he’s the opposite of Chris Pirillo’s dad, Joe, who struggled so much with Windows 8 on a desktop that he famously asked if Microsoft was trying to drive him to use a Mac.

Julian’s dad, Adam Desrosiers, posted the video on YouTube as a response to people who are skeptical about the Windows 8 experience on traditional computers. (For the record, I’m one of those skeptics, and recent reports by the New York Times and the Associated Press highlight similar issues.)

“I read these tech pundits and journalists discussing how hard it’s gonna be for the general public to learn the new UI of Windows 8. Nonsense,” he writes in the YouTube description. “The long and short of it is: If my 3 years old son can learn Windows 8 through very moderate usage, anybody with half a brain can do so too.”

One thing I immediately noticed: You don’t actually see Julian working the mouse in the video. I was skeptical, as were many people in the YouTube comments, but Desrosiers notes in a follow-up edit: “I’m surprised by the amount of views. If I’d anticipated that I’d have definitely showed the boy moving the mouse. He’s great at it.”

Here’s the bigger issue: I don’t think this proves the point that Julian’s dad is trying to make. Yes, the experience is intuitive for a 3-year-old learning Windows for the first time, in the same way that a foreign language is easier for younger people to pick up. The real challenge will be for everyone else — adults who need to relearn how to interact with their PCs just to get basic stuff done.

Windows 8 launches Friday, so we’ll soon see if the world leans more Julian or Joe Pirillo.

Comments

  • http://www.facebook.com/stevefitzpatrick71 Steve Fitzpatrick

    “But the real challenge is going to be for everyone else — adults who will need to relearn how to interact with their computers just to get basic stuff done.”

    What a stupid remark. Are you wanting Microsoft and others NOT to innovate or change anything?

    A 3 year old just showed you how simple it was to change programs, hide, dock and close. If ‘everyone else’ can’t figure it out, they need to go back to using pen and paper.

    • http://geekwire.com Todd Bishop

      Steve, thanks for kicking off this big week on such a civil note.

      At any rate, ignoring that part, I agree with your general sentiment, but the problem is that “change” does not necessarily equal “innovation.”

      I’m a better-than-average PC user, and I consider myself adaptable. I like using Windows 8 on a tablet, but my experience on the desktop has been frustrating, even after extensive use. It’s no longer an intuitive experience for me. I have to consciously think about how I’m navigating when I’m using Windows 8 on a traditional PC. My “Windows muscle memory” has been developed over the course of decades, and it’s just not that easy to override arbitrarily.

      If it works for you, that’s great, glad to hear it, but I’m still trying to adjust to it.

      • justd80010

        I’ve been using Win8 on my laptop for a few months without any significant issues. There’s a couple things I don’t like, for instance having two iterations of IE that don’t talk to each other, but even that was somewhat alleviated once I discovered I can use the toolbar to open a search on the desktop.

        But my wife’s experience is more instructive for “average” users, after her Vista laptop died I took the liberty to installing Win8 on her device. She hasn’t called me confused, lost, or frustrated, and most importantly she’s never once asked to go back to any other version of Windows. She’s said things like, “this is the first time I’ve been able to tell the difference from version to version,” and “So I can get this for $40 when it comes out?”

        • BlueScreen

          I can’t stand hearing these pseudo-testimonies that always seem to follow the same template: “I have an iPhone/Android/Win7, BUT MY WIFE has Windows 8/Lumia/WP7 and she loves it”. I mean, do you guys think we’re all stupid not to notice the same pattern in statements from paid commenters? We got it, this new Windows 8 thing is for wives. What do we developers and power-users know about computers, right? Win8 will be an epic fail, regardless of how many fake testimonies we’ll continue to see on websites.

          • justd80010

            You’re an epic fail. Power user, I wouldn’t let you replace the battery in a Timex. Paid commenter? LMAO – you exemplify stupidity.
            I would no more waste time endorsing a product that doesn’t work than I would waste time trying to have a discussion with a fool like you.
            For other readers, it would have taken just a few minutes to roll back to Win7 – but I’ve not once wanted to. After using Win8 I don’t want to ever use a OS that starts on the desktop again. Win8 is better than Win7 – if you don’t like it, don’t use it. But the crying and mis-information is a joke.

          • BlueScreen

            LOL. Call me what you want, just please spare us with this “my wife loves it so it must be good for everyone” crap.

          • justd80010

            Not a problem. Just as soon as you pull on your diaper and stop pretending that just because YOU think the OS should start on the desktop everybody else should feel the same way. You’re opinion is no more important, valid or meaningful than anyone else’s. If you don’t like the product, this ain’t Cuba, nobody is forcing you to use it. Why do people like you even visit Windows 8 discussions?

          • BlackScreen

            Yes, you are stupid…since you asked. By the way, did you copy and paste from somewhere else? Because I’ve seen this comment in several other sites, you are a busy bee.

          • BlueScreen

            LOL. No, my very own observation. But if you’ve seen similar comments elsewhere, then you pretty much acknowledge that I’m not the only one who has noticed that all these recent Windows 8 endorsements have “…BUT MY WIFE LOVES IT…” somewhere in them. You see this particularly often in the Lumia comment sections, “my wife switched from IPhone to Lumia, bla bla”. Check for yourselves and tell me it doesn’t smell staged (and paid for). Always the same pattern.

          • BlackScreen

            It doesn’t smell any more than this very “article” by Bishop. Just remember, there are some “Real Housewives of…” out there, not all of them are fake. By the way I still think you are stupid but my wife thinks you are an idiot.

          • BlueScreen

            Exactly my point, why should anyone give a rat’s tail what your wife thinks. :D Still doesn’t change the notion that many resent Win8, i.e. “Metro” and how the OS handles on a desktop. And yet all you guys here can resort to is name calling. Real clever. LOL

          • JohnJubly

            It’s pretty clear you are the one that’s a paid commenter.

          • BlueScreen

            (I wish) … No, and think about it, I never stated what product people should get instead. That’s because I’ve used Windows myself for many years, and Win8 is pretty much the worst incarnation since MS Bob. To my knowledge nobody pays for NOT endorsing a product. Win8 is fugly and impractical on a desktop. And I’m not alone with that observation.

          • JohnJubly

            No, but likely you are being paid to spread baseless FUD. I’ve been using W8 RTM on the desktop since it was released and going back to Windows 7 and its limited start menu is painful.

          • BlueScreen

            And who exactly pays for spreading “baseless FUD”?! Listen to yourself.

          • JohnJubly

            Windows 8 is neither impractical or fugly. It is fast, stable, backwards compatible and the metro interface provides a whole new dimension for getting apps on your PC. In fact if it wasn’t for Tweetro, I would still probably never used twitter, and I’ve made several awesome meals with leftovers in the fridge using Allrecipes. I can’t imagine why someone would be so unreasonably negative on Windows 8 without some ulterior motive.

          • BlueScreen

            OK, it’s fast, stable and backwards compatible, I’ll give you that. BUT WHAT ON EARTH does that have to do with it being fugly? Modern “Metro” UI is horrible to look at, no matter how fast it boots. Aero had nice eye-candy, and they (MS) removed everything and pushed us back into the IT stone age, as it pertains to design. The simple squares and monotone colors remind of freakin’ Windows 3.1! Now, it would definitely be baseless FUD if I stated that it’s not backwards compatible or unstable. But all I’m saying is that a) it is a design disaster and b) it doesn’t work well on desktops .. which by the way the author states himself too, so it’s not just me. And then there’s Win8 RT, which actually isn’t backwards compatible, but I won’t even go there. Let’s face it, they had to make Win8 ugly so it runs on ARM. And then they sell it as new “Swiss Minimalist” design to all the sheeple. What a joke! And heavens forbid you have to develop software on Win8 instead of making meals with leftovers. Hence impractical. Yeah I know, it’s also great for twitter; where is the line so I can get a copy?

          • JohnJubly

            Please let us know how the workflow for developing software has changed with Windows 8. That sounds like FUD to me. And how does it not work well on the desktop? How is there any change at all on the desktop from Windows 7? As far as metro apps go scrolling with the mouse wheel actually takes less effort than touch swiping. True, I wouldn’t want to do any real work in the metro ui (Although OneNote MX shows some tantalizing possibilities), but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any use for content consumption, watching movies, browsing the web, mixing drinks etc. In the end your objection entirely boils down to being unhappy with the metro aesthetic. Fine. I personally can’t stand the faux brushed metal/wood paneling/jelly bean transparency that Apple has used over the years either.

          • BlueScreen

            “True, I wouldn’t want to do any real work in the metro ui, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any use for content consumption, watching movies, browsing the web, mixing drinks etc.” OK, so metro is not for doing any real work. Hallelujah! Beyond that I guess we simply have very different uses for a stationary PC. See, I do mostly real work on my desktop PC and occasionally use a tablet for light content consumption. Btw, I personally don’t like Apple products, but it’s not because of their overall design. IMO MS has intentionally abandoned the desktop user to become a player in the tablet market. I doubt that their strategy will work out in the end. They will just drive more PC users to Macs, Linux or make them to stick with Windows 7.

          • http://twitter.com/MediaCastleX Mike E. Delta

            Man, this is the best, funniest b*+# fight I’ve ever read… Do you actually get ANY work done? =P

          • http://twitter.com/MediaCastleX Mike E. Delta

            Really…I could get paid to do that?!? Tell me how!!! =D

      • Tedd Cardinal

        Todd, I totally get your message: Pirillo’s dad’s slow, this kid’s smart.

      • http://www.facebook.com/stevefitzpatrick71 Steve Fitzpatrick

        Todd – the real success of W8 will be when users have a phone and tablet all using the same interface. That will make things more intuitive for everyone.

        W8 on it’s own as a desktop OS might not be as friendly. But in time, if you migrate to the other devices you’ll find things work seamlessly. The learning curve will be reduced to nil.

        My guess is, many users will start with a Windows phone or a Surface, and those devices will help users fall in love with W8.

        It’s how many people migrated to Macs. First the iPhone, then the iPad – then switching to a Mac instead of a PC.

  • http://chris.pirillo.com/ Chris Pirillo

    A child with weeks of USAGE and TRAINING is likely always going to fare better than an adult in an initial walk-through. You’re making a flawed comparison, Todd.

    Should’ve reached out to Jakob Nielsen first. There’s a qualified UX expert who can speak to this better than I ever could. ;)

    • justd80010

      The same Chris Pirillo that is shoving a new product in people’s hands with no instruction, guidance or tutoring and then concluding they are “bewildered” because they attempt to use it like they did before calling someone else’s comparison flawed is truly the pot calling the kettle black.

      • http://chris.pirillo.com/ Chris Pirillo

        You should see those same people using other devices / OSes (like Ubuntu or iOS) for the first time.
        The difference is dramatic, I assure you.

        • http://twitter.com/mcgiggity69 Joshua Coy

          that’s because iOS has pretty much had the same exact GUI for years, so of course people are going to figure it out a lot easier.

          • http://chris.pirillo.com/ Chris Pirillo

            Hence my “for the first time” qualifier. ;)

            The Windows 8 / RT Modern UX is rather awesome on a touchscreen, PC – which is why I ordered my Surface RT minutes before launch.
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPMlfyQQsug

        • justd80010

          Is it because the devices themselves aren’t dramatic. I mean they start on a desktop with static icons correct, so they are familiar to how we’ve all been using computers for almost 20 years.
          My wife (28) and son (11) picked up Windows 8 on old equipment with a simple 5 minute tutorial. Neither has asked to go back to Win7.

    • Pris Chirillo

      You dad needs help, would you give it to him please? Or just let him “switch to a Mac” altogether, that way you’ll shut up already and have more time to do some gangnam style. ;)

      • http://chris.pirillo.com/ Chris Pirillo

        He already has a Mac and happens to use iOS more frequently than either of his Windows (XP & 7) PCs.
        The consumer doesn’t need the PC nearly as much as the PC needs the consumer. #hailmary

        • justd80010

          You’re not saying anything profound – that’s true about any and every non-essential product in the world.

          Your videos are flawed. Why don’t you go back to those same people, take 2 minutes to show them the corners, show them how to search for almost anything from the start screen and then see how they feel about Win8. Because if you know those things Win8 almost instantly becomes superior to Win7 or any other PC that boots to a desktop.

          • http://chris.pirillo.com/ Chris Pirillo

            How about I talk to UX experts, instead? Let’s just see what they have to say…

          • justd80010

            I’m fine with that. I imagine that just like everything else you will find some “experts” that will say it’s brilliant and others that will say it’s a disaster. Users, given some degree of foundational guidance, a place to start, will largely avoid the frustration depicted in your videos. All your videos show is that most people, trying to learn something new without any guidance, become frustrated or even discouraged. Slapping a Nikon DSLR camera into the hands of a novice with no instruction will demonstrate the very same thing.
            I’d just like to see a before and after comparison. Here’s a video of a kid, with some basic guidance, navigating the same OS the adult and professionals in your video couldn’t. What’s the glaring difference in these two results? Is the child just that much brighter than the adults?

        • Pris Chirillo

          So, he got a Mac so he can use iOS…that makes sense. “The consumer doesn’t need…” Did you read that in a fortune cookie?

    • http://twitter.com/bitcrazed Richard Turner

      In other news …
      A teenager was sat in a car for the first time and told to drive to the end of the road. The teenager, given no instruction or guidance, proceeded to take 3 mins to start the car. 5 mins to learn how to get it in gear and then move and then 6 months in hospital after driving the car at speed into a nearby wall.
      A number of pundits have proclaimed the end of the auto industry since people clearly aren’t able to learn how to do something as complicated as drive a car.

      • http://chris.pirillo.com/ Chris Pirillo

        Right. Tablets have the potential to kill their users if operated incorrectly. Nice leap of logic there. ;)

        • Pris Chirillo

          Yes, gadgets can kill you, they are evil!!. “In August, 2009, in Death Valley National Park in California, an 11-year-old boy died of dehydration and exposure after the GPS navigator his mother was following stranded them on a rough country road.”

    • http://geekwire.com Todd Bishop

      Thanks, Chris — the difference in usage is a good point, although “training” might be a bit of a stretch to describe Julian’s experience. :)

      The bigger difference in my mind is that Julian was learning from scratch, whereas your dad was having to relearn something that had otherwise become familiar, which can be tougher because past assumptions are no longer valid.

      • http://chris.pirillo.com/ Chris Pirillo

        I’m just going by the video’s description RE: training and guidance. We have no idea what was taught, mirrored, or assumed in the boy’s experience – which makes it really difficult to accommodate this video as anything other than “a kid can use a computer.”
        But, yes, it’s that larger (almost unwieldy) discussion around perception / past assumptions which is going to trip up most adults (read: those with money) who have an idea of what Windows is to them, and what it should be.
        Windows RT / 8 make more sense when touched:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zALHdzDNig0

        • justd80010

          What people generally need when confronted with a significant change to how they work is a starting point from which to build, and that’s the very thing you deny them to make a rather silly point.

          • http://chris.pirillo.com/ Chris Pirillo

            Right. Blame me – the guy who had nothing to do with development and design decisions. Makes sense.

          • justd80010

            I’m blaming your for your flawed videos, you did indeed produce those videos correct.

        • Tedd Cardinal

          Moral of the story: Don’t ever make your own father look stupid all over the internet just to “prove a point” no matter how “good” your intentions.

          • http://chris.pirillo.com/ Chris Pirillo

            Actually, I believe the moral would be: don’t create a schizophrenic operating system.

          • Tedd Cardinal

            Like father, like son

          • http://chris.pirillo.com/ Chris Pirillo

            Yeah, that explains everything, Tedd.

    • JohnJubly

      “Weeks of training”? lol? There are far fewer discoverability cues granted, but once you realize what the hot corners do and how context menus work the windows 8 metro workflow is great. And Ubuntu? Are you serious? Grandpa is going to do a kernel compile to get his wifi working without any help from you?

      • http://chris.pirillo.com/ Chris Pirillo

        Ubuntu doesn’t need a “kernel compile.”

        Sorry to burst your bubble. ;) Welcome to 2012.

  • mazamorac

    I’ve relearned UIs several times in the last 30 years, and I’ve seen my non-technologically inclined friends and family do so in the last 20.

    I’ve been using Win8 for some months now, and it took me about three weeks to retrain my “muscle memory;” Whenever I change my environment I actually make a mindful effort to practice using the gestures, mouse spots, keyboard shortcuts, etc. Somebody who doesn’t, and just practices what he needs when bumping against what doesn’t work anymore, will probably take longer. A couple of months of use, some minutes a day, maybe?
    My take: will the new UI make people not switch to Windows 8? I doubt it; the UI changes are actually a lot less jarring than other’s in the past.

    The question is whether people have internalized the iOS UI limitations enough to embrace Metro as the more flexible tablet UI design. If Metro had appeared by itself, with no iOS to compare against, it would have been a failure. As an IOs competitor, it stands a chance to overtake it if the Windows ecosystem delivers on its multiplatform, cloud-centric go-anywhere promise.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p0120a5509de8970c ミッコ

    Windows 8 is made for 3 year old children

  • http://www.facebook.com/kaylenthorpe Kaylen Thorpe

    I don’t want or need big dumb-dumb icons on my start menu; the hierarchical list of the current start menu is organized, intuitive (to me), and allows me to pin my most often used programs to the top. The 11 programs I use most (including notepad and calculator) are pinned to my taskbar.

    It’s fast, it’s efficient, and it works. I don’t need a glitzy UI that is inconvenient to use. Windows 8 may be good for a tablet, but sucks on a PC.

  • http://twitter.com/s_molgaard Sune Mølgaard

    Assignment for today: Find out who said “Anyone can learn LISP in a day, except if they already know FORTRAN”.
    Tl;Dr: both agreeing *and* disagreeing with the implied message is moot, since the premise is fallacious.

  • ColJackboot

    i guess it helps that daddy spent some time training him for this video just so he could say ‘anyone can use it’. i see through propaganda like you people see through air. want to impress me? put me, an unabashed XP fanboy in front of it, and we’ll see how straightforward it is.

  • R. Scott Kimsey

    I agree with the basic premise of the article. Windows 8 is easy to use. I’ve been able to use it, my elderly father has been able to use it, my seventeen year-old daughter has been able to use it, and my eight year-old nephew can use it. That’s a pretty good cross-section. People will have a wide range of subjective reactions to Windows 8, based on their preferences, but it is not at all a hard OS to learn. If you don’t like the way it works out of the box, you can take a couple of minutes to make it work more or less like Windows 7 (Classic Shell, default to legacy desktops apps).

    The main reason I’ve upgraded both computers to the Preview and will be upgrading to the full version is the speed. I don’t spend a lot of time outside of the legacy desktop, personally, but having a machine boot up in 15 seconds rather than a minute, and having the increased responsiveness of applications once booted up, is enough for me to make the switch. If you like Windows 7 there is really no reason not to upgrade. Windows 8 performs better, and you can either learn the new UI or set it up so you don’t even have to use the new UI except when you explicitly decide to do so. If you opt for the latter, you’ve basically got the Windows 7 experience in a much faster, more responsive environment. It’s a no-brainer, in my view.

  • Jim Davis

    Windows 8: The interface designed for a 3 year old.

  • Bugs Bunny

    t’s Cheaper to Assassinate Them

    Microsoft ceo Steve Ballmer has found a new instrument to obtain and hold intellectual rights. Original invented by Walt Disney, Steve Ballmer quickly realised that patents are only valid for 20 years, however what would be the case if Steve would simply assassinate a programmer for his ideas or code?

    The Walt Disney Construction

    After the death of an author, the 70 years of intellectual rights, resulting from death of the author, have more value than a patent duration of 20 years. Patents are expensive, hiring a Death Squat is cheap.

    Steve Ballmer betrayed Israel

    As an Askerbenazi Jew himself, Steve Ballmer should have known it was wrong to assassinate among other jews. The world is allready so full of hatred against fellow Jews, what will happen if the people find out that Windows is made for company espionage? The people will blame all the Jews for the crime of a single Jew named Steve Ballmer.

    The latest outbreak of the Flame malware made us all aware, Microsoft Windows users are spied on, it’s a Trojan Horse. For years Flame came in with Windows Update, and Steve Ballmer still controls all Master Control Servers.

  • Abyss

    From a
    business perspective, Microsoft blew it.

    Businesses
    will lose productivity when all their people will have to learn the new interface.
    IT departments will thus be strained. CIO’s will likely hold off on buying the
    upgrade as long as they can.

    If people
    want a new easy to learn interface, they’ll buy a Mac. People stick with a PC
    because that’s what they know and they’re comfortable with. Microsoft is
    shooting themselves in the foot, by not giving people the option of the old
    interface during installation.

    The company
    is being run into the ground with these stupid decisions.

  • http://twitter.com/lcashdol Larry W. Cashdollar

    The way this was filmed, anyone could be manipulating the mouse. I should film one of my 15 year old dog doing the same thing.

  • xxx

    windows 8 an abomination

    – gill M bates

  • gyrfalcon

    You’re a Microsoft shill. A 3 year old being able to perform a certain number of limited functions proves nothing. Why don’t you post a video of your 3 year old taking a picture with a camera and transferring it onto a thumb-drive?

    http://www.eugenecomputergeeks.com/Computer-and-Technology-Blog/2012/07/29/my-3-year-old-son-uses-linux-and-loves-it/

  • Joeman1

    Oh goodie!!! My 75 year old Mom and 2 yr old niece also use Kubuntu Linux like a champ… That must mean that Kubuntu Linux is going to take over the world and that everyone can use it and that its the best!!!! (Well, it is, actually…)

    That’s what is being said here… So it must be true!!! Wow, the interweb said it, so it must be gospel!!!!

    /Sarcasm

    When are people going to get a real life and realise that children and old people are not the most productive people in the world… Windows 8 WILL flop – well, maybe kindergartens and Senior Citizens clubs will get some use out of it!

  • Steve

    So if adapting to a new way of finding and running programs is SOOO difficult, then how did all the Windows and Mac users that bought iPhones and iPads manage to adapt?

  • Frank Jorgensen

    If you guys want to hear something funny. Then the new UI actually works better on Windows Server 2012. Servers are usually minimalistic in look anyway, so the new minimalistic view doesn’t hurt at all, its pretty beneficial

  • Disappointing strawman

    This is a dumb comparison. You can easily train a child, an adult or your dad who has trouble on his own (the old Windows 8 demo) to use something new.

    The problem is with the hotkeys and other shortcuts people who actually work on computers are used to using.

    There appears to be no fast alternative, either.

  • capo

    Stupid life for the stupids! Engaging and Experimental life for the living! thanks!

  • ScrewBot

    SO! Windows 8 is great for 3 year olds.
    But what about when you grow up?

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