Talking about the Start Menu and Start Screen of Windows 8.1

Few days ago, Microsoft released it’s new OS – Windows 8.1 Preview version, it has many improvement, the following, I’ll tell you my opinion about Start Menu and Start Screen of Windows 8.1.

Windows 8.1

Gestures:

Gestures is totally other problem from the start menu.

The basic rule in GUI is that every possible action what user can do, is visually pointed to user in manner what user knows “I can do that” just by looking at the graphical user interface.

Gestures problem is that they don’t give any kind information what are user possibilities and user is forced to try and search around, meaning the graphical user interface design has FAILED.

Example if you look Android or iOS 7, you have visual elements in most situations to inform user “Touch here” or “Drag from here”. But with Metro you don’t have those, but they exist in Zune interface.

Start button vs Start Screen

The start button now solve only one problem in Windows 8 design flaws what is that it adds a visual element to show hide metro. Still there is a multitasking list what is wrong, charms bar what is wrong and so on. You don’t get any visual information when you can use them and how. Example gesture to close Metro application is done by clicking top of the application and dragging it down. That is so flawed idea (same can be said about Android multitasking list gestures to slide apps away etc).

The metro (modern) vs start menu is totally different thing from start button.
As by usability reasons, when you suddenly slap a complex information to full screen hiding what user is doing at that moment, you disturb the workflow, the user thinking.

Example user is using application 1 and 2 and noticed now he needs a applications 3 (and 4), launching a metro disturbs the work as it forces user to focus whole screen, scan trough the whole display and spots there changed elements (live tiles) what presents new irrelevant data to user at that moment (relevant data is just to give fast way to launch applications 3 and 4) by showing new emails, social network updates, pictures, videos, news, weather, calender meetings, new apps in store etc. User is forced to re-think “What I were doing” what means user workflow suffers. Even the default bright colored different sized blocks cause problems.

You can not reject the usability studies results from tests what have been done last 30 years for graphical user interfaces.
Nor you can reject studies what have been done for way longer about readability of text, shapes, colors and locations effects to user.

Animations (even when short perioded) about how metro is pulled and pushed, apps loading and so on are disturbing as well the workflow. Not to even forget the lags in Metro (phone, tablet, laptop and workstation) where you launch a application and you need to wait few seconds to even minute staring a colorful fullscreen and wondering does it start or not.

Metro vs Start Menu is like comparing a different front pages for different audience:

Start Menu: http://venetianred.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/nytimes1.jpg

Metro: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-LcG6DFo54VU/TrrXsce9-PI/AAAAAAAAADE/br3fBgDE9uk/s1600/2.jpg

Metro would work if it would be “Information center” in Windows 8 or Windows Phone, instead the launcher.

User using start menu maintains all the time the context and link what was doing before opening start menu.

Start Menu:

Windows 8.1 start button

Start Screen:

Windows 8.1 start screen

Start screen hides the content and cuts user off from the original task what was doing before opening start screen.

People are not good to do multitasking (only < 2% of people can do it by tests) and they complete their tasks faster and more efficient when they don’t try to do multitasking.

Metro forces person to do multitasking. Even that when you have only one screen open at time, you are forced to focus to new data, a random data (depending do you have such tiles) every time you open start screen. You can not learn and get custom to the start screen because its content changes all the time (new emails, calender meetings, weather, news etc) and you easily focus to new content what is open at that time, forgetting what you were doing at that moment before opening start screen.

Start screen keeps you connected to your main task (window what you used before opening start menu) but gives you focus to complete the task why you opened the start menu in first place and return to work with your main task.

Start menu is “quick in and out” without user wasting time thinking other things.
Start screen is “quick in and focus to other stuff” with user wasting time to think other things and less what was needed to do.

Start menu is like a current cars dashboard, you can adjust radio, air conditioner etc but still keep eyes on road (multitasking a bad thing but it still is possible).
Start screen is like new car dashboard where cars whindshield is blocked by sensors following your eyes and when you look the dashboard it blocks the view for two seconds every time, forcing you to stop the car to do any adjust for security reasons.

People can listen and write same time in good condition (not in horry, easily distracted etc) like in situation where you listen/watch video and you type text to search box if you already know what you need to type instead thinking “What was it?”

Example I am writing this and listening video (continually listening) because I can priorize the focus between writing and video in same manner as you can when you are sitting in coffee house with your friend listening her and notice when something weird happens behind him or around you. You are not totally blocked from surrounding when you focus to someone. But you can have hard time to focus 100% to something/someone if there is lots of distraction around you, like you are in library reading and two people quietly talks and giggles now and then.

User using start menu maintains all the time the context and link what was doing before opening start menu.

Start screen hides the content and cuts user off from the original task what was doing before opening start screen.

People are not good to do multitasking (only < 2% of people can do it by tests) and they complete their tasks faster and more efficient when they don’t try to do multitasking.

Metro forces person to do multitasking. Even that when you have only one screen open at time, you are forced to focus to new data, a random data (depending do you have such tiles) every time you open start screen. You can not learn and get custom to the start screen because its content changes all the time (new emails, calender meetings, weather, news etc) and you easily focus to new content what is open at that time, forgetting what you were doing at that moment before opening start screen.

Start screen keeps you connected to your main task (window what you used before opening start menu) but gives you focus to complete the task why you opened the start menu in first place and return to work with your main task.

Start menu is “quick in and out” without user wasting time thinking other things.
Start screen is “quick in and focus to other stuff” with user wasting time to think other things and less what was needed to do.

Start menu is like a current cars dashboard, you can adjust radio, air conditioner etc but still keep eyes on road (multitasking a bad thing but it still is possible).
Start screen is like new car dashboard where cars whindshield is blocked by sensors following your eyes and when you look the dashboard it blocks the view for two seconds every time, forcing you to stop the car to do any adjust for security reasons.

People can listen and write same time in good condition (not in horry, easily distracted etc) like in situation where you listen/watch video and you type text to search box if you already know what you need to type instead thinking “What was it?”

Example I am writing this and listening video (continually listening) because I can priorize the focus between writing and video in same manner as you can when you are sitting in coffee house with your friend listening her and notice when something weird happens behind him or around you. You are not totally blocked from surrounding when you focus to someone. But you can have hard time to focus 100% to something/someone if there is lots of distraction around you, like you are in library reading and two people quietly talks and giggles now and then.

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