We all know these now but when it first came out, I thought Microsoft had only rearranged things.
Fair point, although I will say that some of this was well known in advance, just not by users. (Of course Chicago promised a lot more than actually shipped, but when has that not been the case?)
That was not my implication at all.
Oops. Sorry, I really misinterpreted your comment then!
However, Windows 8 isn't just changing the UI, but it also includes many new tricks that are intended to improve efficiency. I forget where I came across that article but it explained in detail all the dozens if not hundreds of innovations that Windows 8 has introduced.
I agree that the intent is to improve efficiency, but I think that the largest changes counterbalance the numerous small improvements. Obviously I'm completely conjecturing based on my experiences with the Windows 8 previews combined with the general sentiment of people I know who have used it. Maybe Microsoft has done extensive usability studies and determined that it will be a massive boost for people.
I tend to think that's not the case though. I remember how much "better" the ribbon was -- but my experience with it and the experience of the (at this point) hundred or so people with whom I've discussed it over the last couple years is that it's a step backwards, albeit one that you can kinda cope with because, well, what other choice do you have? I know that Microsoft had studies that demonstrated it was an improvement in efficiency, but I think there was a fundamental disconnect between the test group and the people that actually use it in day-to-day work.
Since it's Friday afternoon and I'm waiting for my IDE to un-screw itself, permit me a small (but rather related) digression:
One of the hardest things that I've had to come to terms with as a software developer is this: If you work on user-facing software, and if user satisfaction is your primary goal, then you must
make yourself subservient to your users, no matter how painful this is.
If you come up with an improved way of doing things but the vast majority of your users insist on using some old, outdated, less-efficient way that only sorta-kinda-worked because you never fixed it or implemented it "the Right Way" the first time around, then your "new and improved" way is wrong. Yes, it's a humbling experience. Yes, it's frustrating to see people doing something in an inferior way when you know you could tell them to do it more efficiently. But if your goal is to create software that makes users happy, you must suppress these frustrations. You sit there in the UA testing session and you listen to them complain about your new shiny UI feature $foo and you resist the urge to speak out and tell them they're wrong. When you take your notes, you stifle the impulse to write "make use of improved $foo mandatory", and instead write "fix $bug with $old_foo" because *that* is what will make your users love your software.
This is often painful as hell.
Speaking from experience here: when you work hard and put out a great effort to make something that you know is awesome, there is a strong, strong impulse to say "no, don't do *that*, use $my_new_thing instead!". Sometimes it's better and the users like it more. Yes, you should encourage them to try it. But when they try it and, en masse, they say that they prefer the old way, the old way becomes the "Right Way", even if you think otherwise. If you fight this, they will resent you. You may be in a position (due to a monopoly, a captive market, organizational constraints, whatever) to force them to use $my_new_thing. But if you do this, they will resent you for it.
Need help with Linux or FreeBSD? Catch me on IRC: I'm ThinkRob on FreeNode and EFnet.
Current laptop: Lenovo ThinkPad T420 (running Debian Wheezy) - kestrel [pending retirement]
Current workstation: IBM Intellistation 9228 (running FreeBSD 9.1) - blackbird