Microsoft co-founder blasts "confusing" Windows 8

Windows 8

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has admitted to finding aspects of the software giant's new Windows 8 operating system puzzling.

Allen co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975, but scaled back his involvement in the firm during the early 1980s after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma.

In a personal blog post, Allen flagged up the Windows 8 bimodal user experience - whereby the system selects the best view for applications and documents accessed on tablet and desktop devices.

The split personality of old-style desktop and modern user interface is a killer.

"I'm impressed with its clever integration of a bimodal interface to simultaneously support both desktop and tablet use in the same operating system," said Allen.

"I did encounter some puzzling aspects of Windows 8 [and] the bimodal user experience can introduce confusion, especially when two versions of the same application can be opened and run simultaneously."

Allen also expressed concern that the bimodal feature can result in users being unexpectedly switched between desktop and tablet views without warning.

"If using Outlook running in desktop mode, when I click a link from an email to a website, I clearly intend Internet Explorer to open in desktop mode as well," explained Allen.

"But Windows may instead associate URLs with the Windows 8-style version of Internet Explorer."

He then goes on to describe the fact users cannot set the desktop as their default view as a mistake.

"The goal must have been to encourage people to acclimatise to Windows 8 style immediately," he added.

Despite these niggles, Allen said users should be able to get to grips with Windows 8 with ease.

"I am sure most of the minor issues I pointed out will be addressed in the next release of the operating system," he added.

Speaking to IT Pro, Clive Longbottom, service director at market watcher Quocirca, backed Allen's view about the bimodal design of Windows 8.

"The split personality of old-style desktop and modern user interface is a killer as far as organisations are concerned," he said.

"It will require a complete knowledge refresh for the help desk, and the lack of a Start globe on the old desktop will just confuse users who are used to Vista or Windows 7."

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.