Crippled Experience in 8.1

Alright. It's 3:30 in the morning and I just finished installing 8.1 on my both Surfaces, Pro and RT. As a UX student myself and a Microsoft Student Partner, I found it is very frustrating how they crippled their unified UX after countless of hours I spent on praising the Search Charm and their efforts to unify experiences through apps and environments. But 8.1 ruined Search Charms. Or at least that is a very early, subjective, and conservative thought.

Search Charms Crippled

In original Windows 8, Search Charms is the portal to search at the current screen. We students are strictly taught to implement Search Charms for search, otherwise, implementing a search button, is a bad idea and the apps which do that, are likely to be denied from being published on the store. But we've seen those magnifiers button on apps, though, even in Microsoft's apps, the email. Certainly the idea of app bar and charms staying hidden all the time created a learning curve, and people are complaining about 'not-able-to-search" or 'not able to print'. Those buttons are nice for being a pointer to the Search Charm. But what important is, the Search Charm creates a unifying, unchanging experience from application to application. That changes in 8.1.

In 8.1, Search Charm are meant for Bing. It does a universal search, and results are first-pulled from everywhere. It's not app-centric anymore. Not only it lose the unifying experience, It goes agaisnt the Microsoft Design Language and created chrome (The ugly, unnecessary search bar is everywhere). But what worse is some apps, like Mail or Music Info, or even eBay, are searched through the Charm, while other, like Video is presented with an unacceptably ugly search experience.

Clumsy Start Screen Customisation

Slight-swipe is for select. It stood there in the Microsoft's guidelines. Hell, it exists in the Mail app, the Pictures app and so on. It exists in Windows 8 Start Screen. But for no apparent reason, they removed it from 8.1 Start Screen in favour of the generic Tap+hold gesture. While the greater damage is not talked here (obviously, it's the crippled experience from the apps and the Start Screen), the resize is very clumsy (in my opinion, in comparison to Windows Phone), require a great finger movement just to resize the tiles.

Downgraded Picture app, Still no RT SkyDrive sync, Many applications are not ready. Beta drama.

To me, the Picture app is severely downgraded: No more Facebook/SkyDrive/Tumblr integration. It's quite plain and ugly to me as well. RT syncs are upload only, I still haven't discovered how to download or making my SkyDrive available offline yet. Snap is very flexible now but except for Microsoft-built app, they are incomplete and have letter-boxed presentation when snapped. But those are the beta dramas.

UX is not something to change so rapidly.

Especially when it is not exactly intuitive. Charms aren't intuitive as iOS controls, since it sacrifices discoverability for chrome-free experience. When it has a learning curve, as steep as the modern environment that is introduced in Windows 8, we can't afford to let it change so rapidly that it will confuse customers. We can only afford to do it when we shift paradigm, and it's a hard change enough with Windows 8. As easy as it could be operated, Windows 8 have been seen as 'difficult'. Don't make it more difficult.

But, hey, this is not final isn't it? But I'm not staying silent to see thorns in my eyes. All of these are subjects to change, only if they are voiced.

4:30 now. Maybe a quick nap.