“Windows 8 is too hard to turn off”

Did you know the Windows 8 operating system is too hard to shut down? In fact, it’s a “pain-in-the-rump,” according to┬áSteven J. Vaughan-Nichols of ZDNet.com.

I must be honest – when I read those words I just thought to myself, this guy cannot be serious. The gentleman is a technically-savvy author, writing for ZDNet, coming from a background that is replete with relevant experience, and he thinks Windows 8 is too hard to shut down?

In Windows 8, the shutdown button is literally one click from the desktop, or one simple command: WinKey+I. As a Linux user, I would expect Steven to appreciate the brevity of keyboard shortcuts, but in his defense he may not have even known about this shortcut. The other method is simply to navigate to the top-right of your primary screen to reveal the charms, then click the “Settings” icon. (See: Getting around in Windows 8)

While I completely dismiss Steven’s worries about Windows 8 (having used it myself as my primary OS since the developer preview), I do admit that his tone and message could have come across a lot worse. In the end, I think Steven’s article is just a Linux user upset that Windows 8 isn’t Linux – and I don’t mean that in some snarky disrespectful way. We all have our likes and dislikes; he likes Linux, I like usability (okay, that was a bit snarky, hehe).

While I had to fight back the urge to jam pencils into my eye-sockets reading his complaint, I just remind myself, it could have been a lot worse.

2 thoughts on ““Windows 8 is too hard to turn off”

  1. Zimzat

    I can understand where Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is coming from, especially given his references to Gnome 3 (and invariably Unity). When I first tried to use Unity and Gnome 3 I had a similar reaction. To make matters worse lately I’ve seen a lot of interfaces doing this (Apple, Google, etc).

    When it comes to UI design there has to be a visual hint as to how to do things. If you’ve never used a particular system then you don’t know that sliding your finger to the right causes a settings pane to show up, or hovering your mouse over something for two seconds causes extra options to appear, or moving your mouse to a particular part of the screen causes the system menu to appear. Without some point of reference, a tutorial, an easy-access help file, or someone to show you what to do, it may as well not exist.

    Once you know what the options are and they’ve become ingrained you don’t even give it a second thought, and may even make the conclusion that anyone else who doesn’t get it is dumb. Take for example this story a game UI tester had: They tried everything in the book to open the player’s inventory, double clicking, pressing I, going through the menu, etc, until they asked a developer who said “Oh, you just have to triple click your character”. To the developer it made perfect sense because that’s just the way things always were, but to the new-comer (and potential gamer) it was a complete curve ball.

    I tried to use an iPhone once and, through much trial and error, I found what I was looking for by pulling back the corner of the page, swiping this other thing, etc. Even Android does this when you have to long-press on menu items to pull up their options as there is no GUI hint when it’s an option and when it’s not. I’m especially annoyed by Google Contact’s interface, as you have to mouse over text or areas of the interface to make it look like it’s editable. These are real-world examples of common interfaces doing things differently and requiring prior knowledge or trial and error. When you do things differently you have to make it intuitive or educate your users.

    PS: Saying the “shutdown button is literally one-click” is very misleading, and inaccurate (according to the article linked). The steps to shutdown are actually:
    1. Move mouse to the bottom corner.
    2. Wait for menu to appear.
    3. Move mouse over ‘Power’ button.
    5. Click.
    4. Move mouse over ‘Shutdown’ button.
    6. Click.

    PPS: Yes, that’s a minor exaggeration of the amount of effort.

    1. Jonathan Sampson Post author

      I appreciate your feedback. I understand the frustration of coming to a foreign system and not knowing “how it works,” I’ve been there. In fact, I recall my first computer in high school being a bit confusing. I was trying to save a science paper to my floppy disk, so I inserted it, went to File, and clicked “Save”. It asked for a filename, so I provided one. It wasn’t until I tried printing from the disk the next day in class that I learned the file was not saved to the disk. Are these real problems? Absolutely. But they’re not the type of issues we need to be complaining about.

      If engineers and UX designers never deviated from familiar conventions, we wouldn’t have the spin-wheel of the old iPods, or even a mouse. In fact, most of the great interfaces we have today are the result of deviating from that which is familiar. I remember when my old iPod first froze up – how do I shut it off, or restart it? There’s no power button, no tiny pin-hole to jam a needle into, nothing. It took a trip online to figure out how to restart one, but that didn’t damage the device’s reputation. Even today, iPads aren’t super easy to shut off – they require pressing multiple buttons simultaneously and swiping controls – but again, who is complaining? Adam Kinney has more to share on the Windows 8, and the proverbial Mother’s experience: http://adamkinney.com/blog/2012/03/15/my-mom-wont-care-about-the-windows-8-start-button/

      With regards to the “shutdown button” being “one-click,” it is. Granted, once you see that button, you have to select which action you want it to perform, which another click. I’m sorry for any confusion, but I only meant to suggest that this buttons reach isn’t far. I agree though, it’s shrouded in mystery, being hidden in the charms which aren’t immediately visible themselves without knowing which screen region to place your mouse, or knowing which side of the tablet to swipe in from. But I sincerely don’t think this will be a problem – look at the types of people who use iPads, Kindles, and more. It takes one curious question to a friend or child, “How do I turn it off?” In most devices, you won’t need to. But once somebody shows you (especially on a tablet), shutting down Windows 8 will be a breeze.

      Thank you again for writing!

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