"In the quest for simplicity, they sacrificed obviousness," said Sebastiaan de With, an interface designer and the chief creative officer at app developer DoubleTwist in San Francisco.
Technology 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."
Mace, the software CEO, has used every version of Windows since version 2.0, which came out in 1987. 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.
The familiar Windows Desktop is still available through one of the tiles, and most programs will open up in that environment. But since the Start button is gone, users will have to flip back and forth between the desktop and the tile screen.