With a new update to an operating system, consumers are introduced to new workflows as well as the addition or removal of features. Typically, updates build upon a foundation consumers already know and are comfortable with. Updates tend to be like buckets of ice cubes falling off an iceberg, small shifts in a much larger design. However, there are times when massive amounts of the ‘upgrade iceberg’ break off and slide into the water forever changing the user’s interactions with the operating system. Windows 8 was that massive break in the Windows iceberg that left many users struggling to cling to the remaining surface for familiarity. iOS users recently experienced a similar shift with iOS 7, while Android users witness the shift from Tron-like lines and grids in Android 3.2 Honeycomb to a more welcoming interface with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
Unfortunately, for Microsoft, the changes in Windows 8 were not built onto a large enough install base to ride out the initial shock that came with its new operating system. Windows 8 lacked an install base that could help train or tutor newer users on the ‘swipe’, ‘charms’ and ‘Start Screen’ options. Instead of flocking to the new elements of Windows 8, novice Windows 8 users fiddled around looking for ‘hot corners’, swatted at their touch screens to close apps and searched for ‘hidden’ and familiar Windows 7 features buried in Windows 8.
It remains to be seen how Microsoft plans to help Windows 10 users along the, once again, re-tooled interface, but judging by a new Windows Blog post discussing Windows 10, it seems Microsoft’s keyword for this Windows release is ‘familiarity’. Particularly, Microsoft is highlighting the combined efforts of the past two Windows releases in Windows 8 and Windows 7, to help better familiarize Windows users.
“You’ll notice a lot of familiarity in Windows 10. It’s the best combination of the Windows you already know, plus lots of great improvements you’ll love having. The familiar Start menu is back in a more robust and expanded format that provides one-click access to the functions and files you use most. You can quickly reach your most frequently used apps, PC settings, and there is plenty of space to add your favorite Live Tiles.”
For most Windows 10 Insiders, this ‘new’ information may seem redundant. However, confused Windows 8 users and Windows 7 holdouts might find the combined Live Tile and reintroduced Start menu comforting. Microsoft is highlighting some specific use cases for potential Windows 10 users, such as organizing the redesigned Start menu.
- Most used — the apps that you use every day, front and center.
- Suggested/recently added — the place to discover new apps based off of your current collection. You’ll also find any new apps you install from Windows Store so that they’re easy to access or pin to Start right away.
- Places — the fastest way to access File Explorer, Settings, and Power.
- All apps — a list of all your installed apps, arranged for easy alphabetical browsing.
Hopefully this time around, Microsoft and its marketing teams do a better job of reintroducing useful concepts from previous Windows releases. Microsoft is also reintroducing the concept of ‘pinning’ items, which is a feature long utilized by ‘power users’ but can be useful to every user. As for Live Tiles, love it or hate it, Microsoft is still pushing the usefulness of Live Tiles, however, the company is making another attempt to try and explain them. “New email, your next appointment, or the weekend weather: Live Tiles deliver updates from your apps right on your Start screen so you can easily see what’s happening in your world and jump right into an app when you need to.”
However Microsoft chooses to ‘educate’ consumers on the benefits of Windows 10, the job remains an uphill battle.
Lastly, Microsoft is also offering a bit of help with Windows users who tend to have a bit more ‘clutter’ than others. “If your Start menu starts to feel cluttered, try moving some of your pinned apps into a group of similar items. Just move a tile to an open space, and when a gray divider bar appears, release the tile. Then move more tiles in or out of the group to suit your needs. You can also remove a tile by right clicking on the tile and selecting Unpin from Start.”
While Microsoft’s tips and tricks are indeed useful, it should be noted that Windows 8 also had accompanying blog posts. While The Windows Blog is chalked full of similar useful tricks, tips and tutorials, the post tend only to help the individuals who know where and how to look for them. Microsoft will need to get the information from its blogs right into the faces of Windows 10 users somehow. Perhaps video tutorials baked in, or cleverly designed TV and internet ads. However Microsoft chooses to ‘educate’ consumers on the benefits of Windows 10, the job remains an uphill battle.