I found an illuminating post by journalist Ed Bott recently. Under the title The Metro hater’s guide to customizing Windows 8 Consumer Preview, Bott was scathing not about Microsoft’s latest wunderkind, but of us, the users;
“For me, being productive with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview means accepting a few realities:
You need to learn new ways to accomplish some tasks. In most cases, I think your productivity will increase. Some specific tasks take more steps but are easier once you learn them. I really can’t think of a single common task that is significantly more difficult than using the Start menu in Windows 7.
Keyboard shortcuts really make things simpler. That’s been true of Windows for as long as I can remember, but Windows 8 really takes it to another level.
It’s OK to ruthlessly clear unwanted tiles from Start. If you expect your primary usage to be Windows desktop apps, you can safely remove just about all of those.
The search box is your friend. Seriously.”
Learning new ways goes without saying, Metro is a new interface. However specific tasks taking more steps, for me marks the decline in usability of some of these interfaces. More keyboard shortcuts? Seriously? The power user needs to learn a stack more of these? And the search box is your friend? Really? So I have to do even more typing and guessing what things are called in order just to find where things live in this new world.
My issue with this is just how does a user graduate from novice to experienced? I’m still not convinced that the Metro UI is any improvement over a Start Menu. If it’s not on an existing tile, where are the visual cues to get you going? Does this mean for the last twenty-five years everyone who developed WIMPS (Windows, Icons, Mouse, Pulldown Menus) got it wrong? Deride it as much as you like, the big button labelled Start got a lot of people out of trouble. I don’t like to mention babies and bathwater, but maybe this new generation at Microsoft is a little too keen on re-invention. AJS
For the step-by-step instructions, see The Metro hater’s guide to customizing Windows 8 Consumer Preview.