Usability Study: Microsoft Windows XP


Microsoft Windows XP Operating System: Usability Study


David Worthington
BetaNews, Inc.

Professor James E. Tomlinson
Department of Communication Studies
Bloomsburg University


October 8, 2001


In the Study

Bloomsburg University students were recruited for this research from communication classes. Student volunteers were randomly divided into

two groups: Group 1 was asked to complete a series of 30 tasks using the Windows 98 Operating System. Group 2 was asked to complete the

same series of tasks using the new Windows XP Operating System. Students were assembled in a Bloomsburg University Computer Lab, the

Windows 98 Group separately from Windows XP Group. This research was conducted between September 27 and October 4, 2001.


As instructions for each item were given to participants, words were carefully selected so as to not 'tip off' research subjects

as to how they might do each task. For example, rather than tell participants to 'shut down the computer,' they were told 'you are done

using your computer for the day and don’t want to leave it on overnight. Please do what is
necessary to do so.'


Participants were asked to 'rate’ each assigned item as to
its 'ease of use,’ on a scale from 1 to 7 (where 1 means 'very difficult’
and 7 means 'very easy’). Thus,
for the purposes of this study, 'ease of usability’ is defined as a higher
number in the scores reported by the research participants. Data reported below are organized by task and
provides the following information:

  • the Mean (average) responses for each group
  • the Range of responses for each group
  • the Mode (the most frequent responses) for each group
  • any demonstrated 'Advantage’ for either of the Operating Systems

A brief narrative evaluation of the data follows the presentation of data for each item.

This report is divides the 30 task items used in the study
into five sections:

I. Functionality

II. Management of Audio Files

III. Management of Digital Photography




IV. Networking



V. Conclusions

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