1. mdmk's Avatar
    I like Windows 8 as a concept, though it is not very well polished and implemented, in comparison to Windows Phone and Xbox. Windows 8.1 attempts to right a few wrongs, but IMHO it makes the OS even more inconsistent than it already was.

    The problem of the Windows 8 UI is the lack of discoverability of important UI elements, and it shouldn't be hard to fix with a few consistent solutions. However, as a result of a lack of faith in Metro by various app teams, the problem of Windows 8.1 UI is extreme inconsistency, with each team pitching their own solution to the same problem of discoverability.

    I did a little bit of UI analysis on this issue. This is a technical diagram, so it may take you a bit to comprehend, but bear with me here.

    windows-8-ui-comparison-2-01.jpg
    An analysis of the navigation and search touch zones of 12 major apps on Windows 8 vs 8.1. Green indicate areas one can touch or click to navigate. Red indicate areas one can touch or click to search. Arrows indicate the Windows 8 "swipe from edge" gesture.

    As you can see, while Windows 8 isn't exactly the most consistent, 8.1 takes it to another level. While the implementation of Metro on Windows Phone does not result in this drop of consistency in its transition from 7 to 8 but instead resulted in a few prestigious design awards, we can see that each app team working Windows 8 in Microsoft is trying extremely hard at solving the usage problems of its apps, and are throwing everything and the kitchen sink at the wall, in attempt to right the wrongs, such as:

    • Retreating to the Explorer-like old UI. (e.g. Xbox Music)
    • Grafting an obvious search bar of some sort, always at a different spot in a different size.
    • Haphazardly add a more obvious navigation bar, sometimes at the top, sometimes at the bottom.


    In comparison, Windows Phone 7/8 has a highly consistent, iconic and understandable navigation layout pattern: Pivot and Panorama, while Windows 8 never had one, i.e. a somewhat of a Panoroma, a navigation bar from top, or Semantic Zoom, though it looks like Semantic Zoom is going into deadpool in 8.1, unfortunately. On Xbox, all apps also have the same panorama layout to ease joypad navigation.

    While Windows Phone 7 did backtrack on the search button just like Windows 8, its solution is a lot more elegant: All apps gain a Search button in the app bar all at the same position, with the Search textbox always at the top when the button is tapped. Meanwhile, in Windows 8.1, some apps implemented the search bar at the top right, some apps have a search button at a different position (e.g. Skype, Maps), some apps have a contextual position (e.g. Mail, Xbox Music), while some apps still use the old Search charm but much harder to be accessed as a result of the new Search hero (e.g. Photos).

    Due to lack of concretely measurable analytics, it is easy to blame the UI first when the usage numbers do not meet expectations, and then make all sorts of incongruent changes as a result, especially after a drastic UI redesign had just happened. It's a shame that Windows 8 was rushed out of the door without being carefully designed and implemented - it would have been a rather elegant solution.

    As users, developers and designers, we should urge Microsoft to create a more consistent solution to the problem it is attempting to fix. We need a clearer navigation layout that works for most apps, so it makes it easier for users to adapt, and easier for devs and designers to create for.
    Last edited by Madelena Mak; 09-11-2013 at 01:29 AM.
    09-10-2013 04:36 PM
  2. crash1989's Avatar
    I just cannot understand that image, the image is more of a mess than what 8.1 actually is.

    There is another article on an expert's take on the changes in 8.1

    Jerry Nixon: Windows 8.1 says, “Forget all that Design Stuff from Windows 8.0”
    09-10-2013 05:18 PM
  3. mdmk's Avatar
    I notice that it's probably a UI analysis that most who aren't UI-designers would not be able to read.

    Nice link, btw.
    crash1989 likes this.
    09-10-2013 10:29 PM
  4. bawboh86's Avatar
    The problem with that image is that it picks a bunch of different apps to compare, instead of a side-by-side of the same apps. Also, I'm using 8.1 Preview on my Surface, and I find it just as consistent as 8.0.

    Edit: I see that the only differences are Skype versus Messages. I need to pay more attention. My other comment still stands. 8.1 is just as consistent. Also, a swipe up is the same as a swipe down is the same as a right-click on your mouse.
    09-11-2013 07:10 AM
  5. stephen_az's Avatar
    No offense but this is a classic example of Microsoft responding to feedback and now having someone say they made things inconsistent. They can never win in this game. I run the legal version of the RTM and find the UI to be very efficient and elegant. In fact, while I prefer my Windows Phone go any other Phone OS, I find it rather inefficient in comparison to the Windows UI since it is not fully swipe enabled and requires use of an intermediary home button to do some things.(can't swipe down to close apps nor can you swipe in to show and select recent apps). Windows Phone gestures tend to be very two dimensional in comparison to those in the Windows OS. While partly due to available real estate I still hope that, if anything, Windows Phone will move towards Windows in 8.1, not vice versa. Quite frankly, while I respect your opinion, and the graphics look like a technical analysis, they are just being used to present what really is your opinion. BTW, Microsoft has made gestures even clearer in 8.1 since the OS now displays huge arrows and help explanations the first time you tap or swipe in relevant locations along the bezel....
    09-11-2013 08:38 AM
  6. theefman's Avatar
    Design your own OS then.
    fatclue_98 likes this.
    09-11-2013 08:42 AM
  7. FearL0rd's Avatar
    No more swipe left to search inside the app.

    No more global search in the apps
    spaulagain likes this.
    09-16-2013 10:29 PM
  8. spaulagain's Avatar
    No more swipe left to search inside the app.

    No more global search in the apps
    This

    My biggest complaint is the new search functionality. The old search relative to the current app was beautiful. I know it wasn't easily discoverable, but once you do, its brilliant.

    Overall 8.1 is solid,but I agree some of the changes are for the worse.
    09-16-2013 10:37 PM
  9. 12Danny123's Avatar
    I think the reason is because they did this for the best of the user and because the design should be more like Windows phone. This is what Windows 8.1 is doing becoming simple as Windows phone
    09-16-2013 10:53 PM
  10. fatclue_98's Avatar
    As Bawboh86 mentioned, swiping gestures can't be uniform. Fact of the matter is that Windows 8.x is designed to work on tablets (ARM & x86), desktops and laptops. Some will have touchscreens whereas others won't. For those who know my posts and know I'm a webOS aficionado, close your eyes for a little bit. webOS on the Pre/Pixi line was not the same as the webOS introduced on the TouchPad. Gone was the gesture area we had grown to know and love and replaced with an iPad-esque home button. The gestures themselves were different with the Enyo Framework employed with the TP. Sliding panes were simply not a choice on the phones due to the screen real estate, even the Pre 3. It was still webOS and the design language was the same. Even on the phones, there were incremental changes between 1.4.5 and 2.0 and again in 2.2.4.

    Honestly, your post doesn't hold any water. Especially coming from someone with your credentials.
    09-16-2013 10:59 PM
  11. FearL0rd's Avatar
    This

    My biggest complaint is the new search functionality. The old search relative to the current app was beautiful. I know it wasn't easily discoverable, but once you do, its brilliant.

    Overall 8.1 is solid,but I agree some of the changes are for the worse.
    Now I felt myself lost with the new search :(
    09-16-2013 11:45 PM

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