Earlier this week a video was released that contains teens in 2016 reacting to Windows 95. The experience of interacting with computers has improved tremendously in the past years and we’ve come a long way since the days of 1995. As someone who grew up through these changes, it’s been great to see how the industry has put a lot more emphasis in making sure that users get tools that are intuitive, useful, and pleasant to look and interact with.
While I believe that most of the comments in the video are slightly exaggerated, it’s still interesting to hear the kids’ reactions to the home screen:
“Everything looks so dull and aged”
“It looks almost exactly the same as like the Windows operating systems of nowadays, but they are just not as refined”
“It seems more rough, the edges are more sharp. It’s a little more impersonal”
“It’s very blank, I feel that there’s really nothing going on, just Internet Explorer and Inbox and all this other stuff… like the basic stuff”
They hit some key components of current operating systems, such as refined and delightful experiences, appealing visual interfaces, personal connection through customization, and more.
When asking them to turn off the computer, after a few moments of figuring out how to do it, they go to the start menu and select “Shut down”. Seconds later, the screen displays a message “It’s now safe to turn off your computer”. All kids seem startled by this. Didn’t they just instruct the computer to shut down? With a worried and puzzled face, they try hitting the monitor’s power button and mention things like “do I have to physically turn it off?” or “that actually scares me a little“.
Part of a good UX is making sure that the words used (and their placement both within the layout and in the process flow) don’t create confusion in the users’ minds. “Why does it have to tell me that it’s safe to turn it off? Like, it wasn’t safe before? Something would happen if I tried to do it without that step? Would it blow up?”
I wonder how these same teens would react to an older Apple OS, considering that it also looks quite different than the current one.