Navigating Product Support on Windows 8

Plenty has already been written about the pros and cons of Windows 8’s new Metro interface and Start screen. We don’t plan to rehash that here, but we are starting to think about how we will support it.

Prior to Windows 8, the users have had access to the Start menu, and we’ve made good use of it. There are multiple subfolders under the JNBridgePro folder in the Start menu that point to files like demos, documentation, and Java EE configuration guides. It’s not uncommon for us to refer a user to something like Start->JNBridge v6.0 ->Using JNBridgePro with Java EE->Using JNBridgePro with IBM Websphere. However, that’s not an option with Windows 8, Metro, and the Start screen. The menu is no longer available.

So what are our options?  The Start screen only shows the top level items that the installer would have added to the menu, so the document in question wouldn’t appear on the Start screen anyway. Even if it did, what would we tell the user? “Scan the Start screen until you find ‘Using JNBridgePro with IBM Websphere”? That would be very inefficient.

I suppose there are two options.  One would be for the user to do a search (using the right-side Search charm) for “Using JNBridgePro with IBM Websphere” or some substring. Another method would be to tell the user to go to the desktop and then to look for <JNBridge installation folder>\demos\J2EE Examples\WebSphere6ExampleInstructions.pdf. Neither of these approaches seem particularly user-friendly.

If you’re a software developer preparing a release targeted toward Windows 8, what are you planning to do?  And if you’re a potential Windows 8 user, what would you expect to see in a situation like this?