A while back, I bought a copy of MS Office for my kid's computer. The embarrassing part was, though, that I could not get the box open. No how, no way. I was just sure there was a simple obvious way to do so, but I never found it. I finally got a hacksaw and cut open the hard plastic case.
It's a hard plastic case, sealed in two different places by plastic
stickies. It represents a complete failure of industrial design; an
utter F in the school of Donald Norman's Design of Everyday Things.
To be technical about it, it has no true affordances and actually has
some false affordances: visual clues as to how to open it that turn out
to be wrong.
This is the same box that Vista comes in. Nick White over at Microsoft seems proud
of the novel design, but from the comments on the web it seems I'm not
the only one who couldn't figure out how to open it. It seems like even
rudimentary usability testing would have revealed the problem. A box
that many people can't figure out how to open without a Google search
is an unusually pathetic failure of design. As the line goes from Billy Madison: "I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul."
And while we are banging on the box, I am reminded how my daughter called me over last night to help her print out of Word on her Vista computer running the new Office (My many problems with Vista here). I yelled at her first across the room just to go to File-Print. I mean, Microsoft has worked hard to make sure that in every program known to man that runs under Windows, you print by mousing to file-print or else type alt-f-p.
"Where is 'file' dad?"
"In the upper left corner"
"No it's not"
"yes it is"
"No it's not"
And sure enough, upon inspection, after years of developing a standard and training users, MS has abandoned the standard. There is indeed no file menu drop down. Only, it turns out, a circle in the upper left with the Windows logo that has the old file commands. ERRRRRR. Only from installing my wife's Mac this last weekend do I realize that for some reason MS is emulating the little Apple-shaped logo in the Mac OS where they put file commands.
What a total slap in the face to your user base (and don't even get me started on rearranging the control panel and start menus with every succeeding OS). It's like MacDonald's randomly switching around the numbers for their value meals every few weeks.