Microsoft never seems to fully “get” user interfaces, and this, in combination with its lack of vision, may doom the company’s new OS.
Apple is doing it and Microsoft will be doing it too. What is “it?” Killing the normal way we navigate a web page. The trend is clearly to the hand-grab motion rather than the scroll-bar motion.
It won’t be a complete disaster since we’ve been used to the hand-grab motion for year. This, traditionally, consists of a little hand that shows up on the screen. When you want to scroll down a page, you grab the page with the hand and push upwards. In some version of the interface, you can “throw” the page or display up at high velocities. Google Maps and Google Earth do this.
But this is far different than grabbing a scroll bar as if it is a cord to some venetian blinds. You pull the scroll bar downwards and the page then goes up.
This new way is, of course, the way tablets and smartphones work, and so now everything is going to be like that. There will obviously have to be some changes to other aspects of the traditional scroll-bar interface, like copy-and-paste procedures. Right now, if your cursor is on a webpage, it can be used to cut or copy text. Now that same action will be scrolling the text instead. So something has to be worked out.
I think we can all get used to the newer way to do this simple chore. The curious aspect to this is that it will make computers more popular, since anything that brings the user in closer contact with a tactile connection between human and machine, the more the person will feel connected and attracted to the machine.
This all began with a joystick and then gravitated to the mouse with drag and drop. This is the next step in the evolution of the human computer interface, and it makes people feel good. It’s all part of the addictive mechanism of the computer interface, which I have discussed over the years.
Windows 8 will be going in this direction, but the fear I and others have regarding Windows 8 is that Microsoft never seems to understand modern interfaces and constantly gets things wrong to the point that people react poorly.
That and the fact that Microsoft does not seem to understand that many inventions and great ideas need time to soak in. People have to become accustomed to them. The company suffers from a focus group mentality that Apple does not seem to have. In other words, Microsoft can actually invent something new that people will dislike because they simply have not gotten used to it and because the focus group results are bad the company bails out instantly.
Two examples of this are Microsoft Bob, which was ridiculous, but never fully allowed to mature and create a market niche. The other was the little Microsoft Kin phone that was pulled off the market within weeks of its release.
The key to doing it right was Apple and the 1984 rollout of the Macintosh. It took months and months before 100,000 machines were even sold. Nowadays, that would be a week’s sale for any new Apple product. The entire industry had to be coaxed into changing to the GUI and it took a while. If Microsoft had invented the Mac, the company would have killed it in 60 days because of some bad feedback. We’d all still be typing DIR to this day to look at our files.
This is the difference between a company run by a visionary and a company run by functional businessmen with no vision or self-confidence. It explains why Microsoft cannot really innovate. It’s like a blind painter. There is no way the company would know if it painted a masterpiece unless someone told them. And some things, like art, cannot be fully appreciated for decades after its creation. So, all the feedback is classic, conservative, and typical of the public. They praise what they know and understand, then they hate what they have never seen before.
So, we know that we can expect to see Apple give its ideas a long leash and Microsoft to show its good ideas the door ASAP.
This is my roundabout way of saying that anything genuinely unique in Widows 8 will never make it into the final product unless Apple (or Google) does it first. Perfect example: killing the scroll bar.
Copyright © 2010 Ziff Davis Publishing Holdings Inc.
Source: Why Windows 8 Might Fail