In Office 2013 when you click the Home menu one gets the most basic common tasks in the ribbon band menu just below. By clicking on the File menu just to its left one gets a vertical side bar that pushes your entire document to the right.
If Windows 7, when searching for applications, settings, and documents, one would press the Windows key and start typing. In Windows 8, one does the same thing but it only searches Applications not files or even settings.
Are these bad designs or simply someone’s attempt at adding a cool effect here and there? Are these the whims of engineers thinking that someone would never want to search for files and applications at the same time?
I will not re-hash the discussion if the new Office and Windows 8 user interfaces are good or bad, or weather its a question of time to get used to them – it is very subjective and personal. Personally I have been using it now for a month and had to get rid of the “tile” screen as I find it only useful on a tablet but utterly useless for a those of us with a mouse.
I am finding my user experience not necessarily different, let’s face it, many of the screens and options are still the same as Windows 7 and Office 2010, but more challenging to repeat that with Windows 7.
Ever since WordPerfect and Lotus 123 went away I made an effort not to remember any keyboard shortcuts and I am finding myself having to use them more often with Windows 8. WinKey + D for desktop, WinKey+X for a Start Menu equivalent, Alt-F4 to shutdown or Power Button (if programmed to do so), and the list goes on. The mouse has taken a back seat to touch and the keyboard despite the fact that many still use it.
I also find the new side bars in Office taking more space and continuously shifting my document’s position and size, which although has a very cool animation effect, it distracts me since the thing I wanted to change is no longer in the same spot on the screen.
Unlike OSX where changes are progressive and always build upon the previous version, Windows’ upgrades are large or even full UI refreshes. Microsoft relies on user panel experiences to do these revamps which to me is equating to TV ratings viewer groups or going to Somalia to get feedback on snow ski equipment.
Are these really user feedback and usability requests or are these software engineers starting a design session with “wouldn’t it be cool if we had tiles instead of desktop icons…” and “what if instead of the usual menu we give them a new menu that animates from the side…”
Was there a purpose in hiding the start menu Windows 8? Is this something so evil or counter productive that they simply had to disable it completely not giving the users the choice? If there is a greater purpose such as leading users towards a new way of doing things ? I am sure with the 6 billion+ dollars of research and development at Microsoft they could have figured out a better learning and upgrade path for the mass users to adopt a better approach to the start menu…
(To be continued in Part 2)