I recently did an experiment with people I know. I presented them with my Surface RT tablet and with no instructions asked them to figure out how to use it and tell me if they think it is easy to use.
I first started with my dad. He is not that good with computers, but uses one every day for basic needs. He is a mac user. I sat him down with the Surface RT tablet to see if he could figure out some of the gestures.
When he sat down I started him off on the desktop. I asked him to go to the start screen. At first he tried clicking around where the start button used to be, but using his finger he didn’t activate the corner. He then started to just tap in various places and hit the right hand side of the screen activating the charm bar. He hit the start button and went to the start screen.
From there I asked him to repeat that action, to pull up the charm bar again. He did it and clicked through the different charms like Share, Search, and Settings.
I then asked him to open a few apps. He easily did that. I asked him to figure out how to switch between the apps. He pulled up the charm menu, clicked around, didn’t find anything. He then tried swiping down from the top of the screen, which pulled up some functions for internet explorer. He continued swiping from the edges of the screen and did it from the left side, which let him flip through different apps.
All of this took about 5 minutes for him to figure out. I asked him what he thought, he said it wasn’t hard, but just different. I asked him to use the device for several minutes and at the end of it he said he liked the way it worked. Once he figured it out it felt natural he said.
That was only one experience.
A second experience occurred in a similar fashion. I started it off the same way, on the desktop. The same search for the start button occurred, but this time they hit the corner of the screen which popped up the start box. They click and it send them to the start screen.
From there I told them to open a few apps, close them, and switch between the apps. They opened a few apps. While in Internet Explorer I asked if they could share the web page they were on. They had still not found the charms bar. They tried copying the url, but I told them there was an easier way. Again, by luck they happened upon the charms bar and found the share charm.
After this it took them a while to figure out swiping from the left would flip through apps, but in the end they told me after initially being a little frustrated, they eventually found it easy to use.
These are just two examples of new users to Windows 8 trying to figure things out. After a steep learning curve they both were able to use the device quite well. Switching through apps, and discovering the split screen function. All it took was about 5 or 10 minutes apiece, but after that they both found Windows 8 pretty enjoyable. At least on a tablet.
We should be going into Windows 8 on the desktop in the next couple of weeks so keep checking back with us.