Warning: Windows 8 Has a Learning Curve

News surrounding the upcoming launch of Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows 8 and its Surface tablet continues to grow. The platform and device are slated for release on October 26, three days after a scheduled Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) event rumored to be the launch of the iPad Mini.

The device will run on an Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) chip designed by ARM Holdings (NASDAQ:ARMH). The tablet is 9.3 millimeters thick, weighs 1.5 pounds, and will rock a built-in kickstand and magnetic cover that also acts as a touch keyboard.

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A recent Reddit AMA with members of the Surface team revealed that a 32 GB Surface with Windows RT installed will leave users with “more than 20 GB” to play around with. The comment by Surface test manager Ricardo Lopez suggests that Windows RT is about 12 times as beefy as the iOS on the iPad.

That beefiness may be put to good use, though. “I think it’s the best operating system we’ve seen out of Microsoft for a long time,” says Joe Simon, CTO at Condé Nast. Component suppliers in Asia are reporting that Microsoft has placed orders for 3 to 5 million devices for the fourth quarter.

However, changes to the way users navigate Windows 8 have sparked concern in at least one information officer. According to The Wall Street Journal, Adam Noble, CIO for building-materials company GAF, said, “The interface for a tablet is very nice. On a laptop, it’s more difficult to use.”

According to PC WorldRaluca Budiu, a user experience specialist at Nielsen Norman Group, reports that keyboard-and-mouse users have some difficulty adjusting to Windows 8. One of the main difficulties is replicating intuitive touch-screen gestures with a mouse.

“So far, in our testing, discovering and remembering the different gestures was a big issue, because these gestures lack affordance and people just don’t click randomly on the screen hoping for something to happen,” says Budiu.

“This is going to be the first time in a decade and half that [companies are] actually going to have to teach someone to use Windows,” adds Gartner analyst Stephen Kleynhans.

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