I have finally convinced my mother to buy a new laptop to replace her ageing XP system.
You would think that the setup of a modern laptop should be so simple that the supplied instructions should be enough. This needs some serious work as it is currently not useful.
Partway through the setup it asked my mother to sign in with a windows live account (which of course she does not have). Then she was prompted to create an account with a maximum password length of 16 characters (I was recommending the modern style three words plus punctuation but this was not going to work).
Eventually she got the machine up and I helped her to install “start is back” to make the machine usable (I can’t explain the metro interface over the phone).
The next step was to install office 365. This again required the creation of a windows live account (why the product has a licence key number that should be all that is required).
The windows live account is asking for a lot of personal details that are frankly none of the business of the installation process. As long as the user has a valid email address is all that is required – why do they need to know DOB and gender. It would even be possible to make sensible guesses as to language and country from the browser data used.
Partway through the process it asked you to check your email – which my mum did on her android tablet (not having set up the email on the new laptop yet). There was no way to get the user interface on the laptop to accept that the newly created username was valid. It required a full restart of the registration process (including re-entry of the 16 digit code) and this time to sign in with the now validated windows live account.
My mother now has a new laptop with office installed, but there is no way that she could have got this working without help. Microsoft need to invest in usability studies for various age groups. This is after firing whichever team thinks that the metro UI is in any way usable.