Here’s something you don’t often see: more than a half-million views for a user-research video. But it’s well deserved. In How Real People Will Use Windows 8, tech blogger Chris Pirillo shows his father (60-or-70-something) using the release version of Microsoft Windows 8. It makes for gripping video. Like any good listening lab, we’re seeing a real live user experience: a person honestly try to derive some value from the product. We feel the dad’s frustration as he can’t figure out how to navigate away from a confusing display of app icons.
The irony is that the father is a longtime Windows user, and at the end of the video, he asks whether Microsoft is trying to get him to switch to Mac. (!) Given the trajectory of the iPad’s growth and people’s delight with it, versus Microsoft’s stagnation in the consumer market due to people’s continued frustration with Windows, his joking comment is partially true: Microsoft, despite itself, is launching a new product that will likely drive more consumers to buy a Mac.
Speaking of Microsoft, I have to wonder how (or whether) this video is making any changes there in the mindset of the Windows product managers. Did the company conduct non-directed listening labs on the product, see this utter failure of the UX, and still approve the launch of such an obviously problematic interface? Or did lower-level product managers know about this problem all along but were outvoted by higher-up execs who just needed to ship something, anything, to meet a launch deadline?