Windows XP: Less efficient than Windows 2000

One usability mantra states: The fewer mouse clicks to get from A to B the better. This is always in front of every usability experts mind. But have anybody told Microsoft?

Fabian von Schéele from the research institute EMPA in Switzerland has in a study concluded that Windows XP is less efficient as a work platform then its predecessor Windows 2000:

The experiment showed that using the most powerful hardware with the newest operating system did not necessarily mean that the given tasks were completed more quickly. In some cases in fact the opposite effect was observed. The file handling task was completed somewhat faster on the 2000 system than on the oldest system (although this difference was not statistically significant). On the newest system, however, this task took significantly longer.

The study also mentions that the test subjects had far more experience working with Windows XP than with Windows 2000. Still they where working faster and more efficient with in that version (Windows 2000).

The amount of mouse clicks required of the user decreased along with the releases of new versions of Windows from 1997 to 2000, but suddenly increased with the release of Windows XP (with the exception of required mouse clicks for word Processing that is).

But not only have the amount of required mouse clicks increased – The load on the CPU has as well:

The increase in computing time – by a factor of more than three for both tasks – is particularly surprising given that the processor clock rates more than doubled over the relevant period. One might expect this hardware improvement to lead to a halving of the processing time.

Fabian von Schéele concludes:

[…] faster processors and the latest operating system does not automatically lead to an increase in productivity. As the study demonstrated, this can in fact be counterproductive, a result which cannot be ascribed to the users’ lack of familiarity with the new software.

The test result can be found on page 41 in the EMPA 2004 Annual Report (PDF).

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