Microsoft (MSFT) should brace for a user backlash against Windows 8 that will make the company pine for the days of Clippy, according to usability expert Raluca Budiu of the Nielsen Norman Group. During an interview with Laptop Magazine, Budiu said that the billion-plus users around the world who have become accustomed to Windows will experience massive difficulties adjusting to the new Windows 8 user interface, going so far as to call the new UI “a cognitive burden.”
Budiu’s criticisms of Windows 8 are ones that have been often cited in the past: That Microsoft produced an interface that works very well for smartphones and tablets but that performs poorly as a desktop OS.
“Windows 8 is optimized for content consumption rather than content production and multitasking,” she said. “Whereas content consumption can easily be done on other media… production and multitasking are still best suited for PCs. Windows 8 appears to ignore that.”
Budiu thinks that the biggest pain will come when users switch between the standard desktop mode on the OS and the User Interface Formerly Known as Metro, which is designed for touchscreen use more so than for operation with a keyboard and mouse.
“Users will need to remember two different interfaces,” she explained. “They will learn Windows 8, but won’t be able to forget Windows 7. And they will need to keep track of which app goes with each framework. [It’s] definitely a cognitive burden, but not an insurmountable one.”