Joel Spolsky has written an interesting critique of Windows Vista where he points out that there are up to 15 ways to turn a Windows Vista computer off (I can think of a 16th – don’t license it and Windows will automatically disable your computer!).
He goes on to suggest ways to trim the number of choices down and effectively bring the number of options down to one or two.
However, Joel uses an out of date reference in his article. He says:
The more choices you give people, the harder it is for them to choose, and the unhappier they’ll feel. See, for example, Barry Schwartz’s book, The Paradox of Choice.
What Joel presumably doesn’t realise is that the Paradox of Choice’s findings have since been discredited by the authors of the paper on which Schwartz himself based his book. In their follow-up paper Knowing What You Like versus Discovering What You Want: The Influence of Choice Making Goals on Decision Satisfaction, the authors realised that when choice was ordered in ways which helped the consumer, more choice is better. Hence the success of Amazon, YouTube, Netflix, etc.
However, in the case of Vista, as Joel points out, who knows the difference between Hibernate and Sleep or Lock/Log Off/Switch User? In this case, it does seem Microsoft haven’t gone far enough to explain the differences and therefore only succeed in confusing their users.