The new Microsoft operating system that all the reviewers called confusing isn't exactly winning over consumers either. Since its launch less than a month ago, Windows 8 has seen weaker sales than its predecessor Windows 7, an NDP Group report via AllThingD's John Packzkowski found. Sources inside Microsoft also say that the company doesn't like the early sales numbers it's seeing either, reports Paul Thurrott who runs a Supersite for Windows. "Microsoft has not met is internal projections for Windows 8 sales," he wrote. Microsoft blames the PC makers, says Thurrott. "My source cited to me the PC makers' 'inability to deliver,' a damning indictment that I think nicely explains why the firm felt it needed to start making its own PC and device hardware," he writes. But we suspect it has more to do with the newfangled tile look, which has users hesitant to switch away from the familiar Windows 7 start screen. Or maybe that's something that just takes getting used to, in which case we should expect a slow build for Windows 8's impending smash success.
If the early reviews didn't scare off perspective users, this Use It rundown -- which asked 12 "experienced PC users" to test the new operating system on both regular computers and the Surface Tablet -- should do the trick. In "Disappointing Usability for Both Novice and Power Users," our experts computer users find plenty of reasons to stay away. Here are the highlights:
- The operating system has a tablet-oriented Start screen and a PC-oriented desktop screen, meaning a lot of remembering for users.
- Users miss the ability to view multiple windows on one screen.
- The tiles are too flat, and therefore it's hard to tell what is active, unlike the shadowing you can see in Windows 7, to the right.
- The screen doesn't show enough information, as you can see in the screen shot below, which can't even fit an entire Los Angeles Times headline.
- And swiping leads to a lot of mistakes.
All of this leads Nielsen to compare Windows 8 to Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. "Windows 8 on mobile devices and tablets is akin to Dr. Jekyll: a tortured soul hoping for redemption. On a regular PC, Windows 8 is Mr. Hyde: a monster that terrorizes poor office workers and strangles their productivity," he write. With an endorsement like that it's no wonder consumers are hesitant to upgrade.
But, maybe learning to love Windows 8 just takes time ... and a particular gadget. Jeff Atwood at Coding Horror bashfully admits that he loves Windows 8 on his Surface tablet. Mostly, he loves to use it as a touch laptop, which is not the way most people use tablets these days nor the only home for Windows 8. He does not have anything to say about Windows 8 on a normal computer, an often used medium that also happens to be a very bad home for the new OS, says Nielsen. So, maybe there is hope for Windows 8 in a far away future where Microsoft Surface tablets replace laptops. In which case: Bravo to Microsoft for innovating. But, even so, that doesn't leave much room for it on PCs, where Microsoft gets a lot of its business.