The problem: There’s no central place for launching programs and changing settings. Windows 8 features a new start page that takes over the entire screen. The page is filled with boxes, or tiles, for accessing your favorite programs. But to get to programs you use less often, you need to slide up a menu from the bottom, click on “All apps” and find the one you want. When you’re already using a program, such as a Web browser, you have to switch back to this start page to launch a different one. By contrast, past versions of Windows have a “start” button on the lower left corner, which allowed quick access to programs and settings without interrupting your workflow.
The solution: Restore the “start” button. Don’t make people figure out where everything is. Make it easy for them to see where to “start.”
The problem: Microsoft is encouraging people to use a tablet-style layout filled with tiles, but many programs are designed for an older, desktop mode. That’s the case even with Microsoft’s Office, despite the fact the latest version was released months after Windows 8 came out. As a result, using Windows 8 feels like running two different computers on the same machine, as the tile and desktop modes don’t communicate with each other.
The solution: Allow people to enter the desktop mode automatically when they start their machines.
The problem: Those charms on the right are useful for restarting your machine, configuring your wireless connection and changing other settings. But you’re left to figure out how to access them. On touch screens, you have to know to swipe a menu from the right, like opening a sock drawer. If you’re using a mouse, you need to drag the cursor to the top or bottom right of the screen, then drag it to the appropriate charm.
The solution: Besides restoring the “start” button and having those settings instantly accessible, offer an option to have that sock drawer continually appear. It’s similar to how the Taskbar is always present on older versions of Windows. It’s also similar to how the Dock is always there on Mac computers (though once you’re used to it, you can hide the Dock until you move your cursor there).
The problem: There’s no obvious way to close programs, the way you can by hitting an “x” at the corner of the program in older versions of Windows. You need to figure out how to drag the app to the bottom of the screen, and the way you do it depends on whether you are using touch or a mouse. Stray too far to the left or the right, and your computer will enter a multiwindow mode instead.
The solution: Restore the “x.” Don’t force people to do gestures that don’t seem intuitive to the task at hand.