Simplicity, Obviousness and Human Factors with Windows

Why take the chance of alienating the faithful? It is possible that Microsoft must take a chance, to reach the new wave of technophiles. After being the masters of obviousness since 1987 “Microsoft Corp.’s net income fell 22 percent in the latest quarter as it deferred revenue from the sale of its upcoming Windows 8 operating system to PC makers”. It also comes at a time PC sales in general took a dive. You could argue taking the chance is about the need to improve the bottom line and the magic metric is the ability to scale beyond its own organisation as we know it. Windows 8 is aimed to be the magic system that will perform better for the company in the long term.

However as well redesigned this system is and planned as truly elegant, indicators are they could be affected by black swan events (improbable happenings – left field whams – disasters). Critics are saying in the quest for simplicity, they sacrificed obviousness for the joy of technophiles. But, alas thus rejoice may be the ultimate human factors conundrum: The relationships among windows users and the machines and processes they operate – lost.

To put this in perspective on June 19, 2012 co2land posted “Culture of sustainability in a cloud” and the story focused on Apple’s ability to use a robust metric to reduce risk and having a communication platform that can be maintained throughout any event. More recently, it is suggested Microsoft is trying too hard to show they can trump the software market with their own niche and make it with Windows 8, make it with simplicity. Interface and form simplicity with the operating system platform that is portable from PC to Tablet to Smart Phone.

So why is it even before the release date, reported to be 26 October 2012, that so many are critical of how they put at risk the most important following of the brand: The obvious relationship loyal users have between the machines and processes they make? They may have underestimated human factors!

A group called REALInnovation network (a voice of the network is www.triz-journal.com), says human factors is an entire arena that has become a major area of focus. As time goes on, we change and our expectation is the changes around us will make it easier to interact with machinery and how we see and interpret information. It is taken for granted that it is the ergonomic and practical need we have to aspire. There is a classical contradiction with this as we have all experienced that providing a new one size fits all is simple and appealing, and yet at the same time we must forgo access to our obvious need to be comfortable with what we currently know and use.

In the context of this discussion, you will know many professionals, stay at home people, students, and tradespeople that are comfortable with the PC and are happy with the tradition of the software – once you know the fundamentals you go from generation to generation as steps to a better place.

In Microsoft’s defence they need the innovation, and shifting to simplicity is improving practices. However, improved practices include a balance of simplicity and obviousness. In this new release they may be pushing the paradigm to simplicity in a way that will leave the traditional Windows PC user alienated and lost!

So when we use our ‘tools to communicate’ is it simplicity we crave or obviousness? “Take this example blogger Chris Pirillo posted a YouTube video of his father using a preview version of Windows 8 for the first time. As the elder Pirillo tours the operating system with no help from his son, he blunders into the old “Desktop” environment and can’t figure out how to get back to the Start tiles. (Hint: Move the mouse cursor into the top right corner of the screen, then swipe down to the “Start” button that appears, and click it. On a touch screen, swipe a finger in from the right edge of the screen to reveal the Start button.) The four-minute video has been viewed more than 1.1 million times since it was posted in March”. “There are many things that are hidden,” said Raluca Budiu, a user experience specialist with Nielsen Norman Group. “Once users discover them, they have to remember where they are. People will have to work hard and use this system on a regular basis.” In defence of obviousness “Michael Mace, the CEO of Silicon Valley software start-up Cera Technology and a former Apple employee, has used every version of Windows since version 2.0. Each one, he said, built upon the previous one. Users didn’t need to toss out their old ways of doing things when new software came along. Windows 8 ditches that tradition of continuity, he said. “Most Windows users don’t view their PCs as being broken to begin with. If you tell them ‘Oh, here’s a new version of Windows, and you have to relearn everything to use it,’ how many normal users are going to want to do that?” he asked. “I am very worried that Microsoft may be about to shoot itself in the foot spectacularly. Windows 8 is so different, he said, that many Windows users who aren’t technophiles will feel lost”. “It was very difficult to get used to,” he said. “I have an 8-year-old and a 10-year-old, and they never got used to it. They decided, and: ‘We’re just going to use Mom’s computer.” – the old one.

CO2Land org extends to Microsoft the wishes that they have made the right decision to change. However, the cold turkey approach appears odd in that they do not plan to cushion the impact of such a radical introduction, and it is further posted that computer companies have no choice but to make Windows 8 standard on practically all PCs that are sold to consumers. If we take this literally, after 26 Oct you have no choice you will go for simplicity (Windows 8).

Co2Land org source for quotes comes from “Early look at Windows 8 baffles consumers”

By PETER SVENSSON

— Oct. 19

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