The first ‘science oven’, launched in 1967, was simple to use but then digital interfaces came along and made things worse. The real problem, according to Charles Arthur, is that microwave ovens live too long.
“In the end, I think there’s a simple reason why these interfaces have not merged more rapidly: life-spans. It’s not unusual for these machines to last 10 or 15 years, their interfaces frozen in time, while designers think of smarter ideas. The “30 seconds” top-power button is becoming increasingly common, but it’ll probably be 10 years before you can go into someone’s kitchen and be confident of seeing it on the microwave. Sometimes, even great user interface ideas are held back by simple problems: the products just don’t wear out fast enough for new stuff to come through.”
Long live planned obsolescence!