Last weekend, I purchased a Samsung Series 5 all-in-one PC which happened to be running Window 8. Up till that point, my experience with Windows 8 had been dissatisfying, but I was willing to give it a go on a proper touch screen device that it is touted to be great for.
In my first week of using it, I have concluded that it is OK for a touch screen device, but there is no way in hell I would use it on a keyboard+mouse only system. All of the touch centric UI features making the traditional interaction very cumbersome. More clicks, further mousing, illogical placement and/or removal of configuration settings.
My intention with this post is to highlight some of these… deficiencies that I have… discovered while using Win8 on a touch screen device.
Let the list begin!
Context switching… this is a big one. Everytime you switch between the desktop, the “start menu” and a metro app, you get a full context change. It is pretty similar to the location-updating effect which is the phenomenon of why people tend to forget what they are doing when walking through doorways or similar spacial transitions. This causes a mental tax on the user to keep track of what they were doing. Universally known as bad UI design.
Hidden controls, another fundamentally bad UI design. In this case, it is fairly short learning curve, but it is still hidden and can take quite a while for someone to discover it.
Searching for apps/settings is annoying. They have segmented Apps, settings and files in the search results. Where as in Win7, you searched from the start menu, all of those were included in the results. In Win8, you have to change between the options. They are NOT unified anymore. Now, to search settings, I have to do Charm bar -> Search -> Settings -> then type.
Devices.. From the charm bar, you select devices and it shows my monitor. Go to settings devices and it shows all of the devices. Why the distinction?
Missing BlueTooth connect options, a serious WTF. I have my system paired to some speakers. If you have ever used a BT device, you know that sometimes things don’t pair up automatically like they should and you have to go click the connect button. If you view the device in the above mentioned Charm bar -> settings -> devices list. There is no option to connect or disconnect. Only add, remove, rename. How did they not think this little detail was important? After poking around for 30 minutes, I finally found a way to force a connect. Right-click the volume -> playback devices -> right-click on the speakers -> connect. Why would you hide the connect button so far down? Your typical user would never find that. I seriously hope I am missing something here that makes reconnecting much simpler.
Forced full screen apps… The interaction between metro and desktop apps is appalling. I hope you didn’t start in a metro app and then need to look at something on a desktop app at the same time. Sure you can put up 2 apps on the same screen, but one of them is 1/5th or 1/6th of the screen width and cannot be adjusted. If you can’t picture that, it basically amounts to a notification and control area for a running app. Very limited space to read, view, interact.
At this point, I am going to try some other distros like Ubuntu 12.10, Android x86, and Win7. I am beginning to think something like ChromeOS would be ideal for this thing.