Gordon Miller over at Kinesismomentum has an interesting article about unboxing a Microsoft Surface table, and the frustrations involved with setting it up. In short, it seems that you get a big-ass table without any clearcut instructions as to how it should be set up.
No doubt it took a lot of very smart people a very long time to bring this machine to market. It’s obvious that this represents the dedicated labor and craft of programmers, artists, designers, engineers and more, and I honor their work. But it’s a shame that Microsoft failed to with even the most basic usability review, which would have turned up the issue of the power cord. Even a simple, final walk-thru of the most common Use Case – that of a customer who buys and receives a new Surface unit – would’ve revealed the fact that there is no instruction, anywhere, to open up the keyboard and mouse and use it to launch the software.
The whole experience was probably best summed up by Amanda who, when asked why it was taking us so long to get the machine up and running, and why we all looked so unhappy, replied “Oh, it’s just so…Microsofty.”
That’s the true cost of a poor approach to usability – it gets you a reputation that’s hard to shake.
The perception of a product encompasses the totality of the user experience, which includes a products’ unboxing and the setup process. It’s a mystery to me why Microsoft still hasn’t learned this lesson. Even more mystifying is that some of its products, like the Zune, take presentation more seriously than others. Would it be that hard for Microsoft to create a more straightforward and consistent consumer experience for its entire product line?
You can check out Miller’s entire unboxing experience and the subsequent tribulations over here.