Is Windows 8’s hybrid desktop and tablet user interface a “strategic mistake”?

Many critics can argue that Windows 8 is a huge mistake on Microsoft’s end and many proponents may argue that Windows 8 is the best thing since sliced bread, but one thing is for sure, Windows 8 is here and Microsoft wants it to sell. But is Microsoft’s attempt at creating a hybrid tablet and desktop operating system a “strategic mistake”? One critic thinks so.

“That was the true strategic mistake, that they could do ‘one Windows’ on both tablets and PCs. Windows 8 has low usability, amazingly low usability,” said a critic by the name of Jakob Nielsen, who likes to refer to himself as a “usability expert.” He adds that the main problem is having the same user interface for two very different classes of hardware devices. “The underlying problem is the idea of recycling a single software UI for two very different classes of hardware devices. It would have been much better to have two different designs: one for mobile and tablets, and one for the PC. I understand why Microsoft likes the marketing message of “One Windows, Everywhere.” But this strategy is wrong for users,” Nielsen adds. On top of that, he believes that Windows 8 is a “user interface mess” and it confuses users. “Windows 8 on mobile devices and tablets is akin to Dr. Jekyll: a tortured soul hoping for redemption. On a regular PC, Windows 8 is Mr. Hyde: a monster that terrorizes poor office workers and strangles their productivity,” Nielsen adds.

While many proponents for Windows 8 will disagree with Nielsen, I think he makes a great point. Having the same user interface for two different classes of hardware is a bit much. Regardless of what anyone things, one thing is for sure. Windows 8 is here and Microsoft wants it to succeed. The world has yet to hear from Microsoft as to how well Windows 8 has succeeded in the market since its launch on October 26th. Microsoft has already mentioned that four million Windows 8 upgrade licenses were sold within a few days of its launch, but we have no other data to add or back up Microsoft’s claims. As Nielsen says, Windows 7 was “Vista done right” and Windows 9 could possibly be “Metro done right.”

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