Microsoft discusses Windows 8’s dueling Metro, desktop UIs

Windows 8’s tile-based Metro interface is undoubtedly the operating system’s most controversial new feature. Critics have bashed Microsoft for catering to tablets with the finger-friendly UI, but recent revelations about the new OS make it clear that plenty of enhancements are in store for the traditional Windows interface. In its latest post on the Building Windows 8 blog, Microsoft discusses the rationale behind the Metro UI and how it will coexist with the old-school desktop.

According to the post, the desktop definitely isn’t on its way out. Microsoft knows that droves of users and applications rely on the standard UI, and it’s well aware of the fact that some tasks require the precision of a mouse or the reliable input of a keyboard. But Microsoft also wants Windows 8 to provide a "first-class" option for touch-based input—and to do so with no compromises.

Unlike with Microsoft’s Media Center interface, Metro doesn’t run on top of a standard desktop. When the tile-based interface is in use, Windows 8 doesn’t even load any code associated with the traditional desktop. Indeed, the desktop is referred to as "just another app."

The more I look at the Metro UI, the more I think it’d work well for home-theater PCs in addition to tablets. As the computing ecosystem expands to accommodate different input mechanisms, screen sizes, and even rooms in the house, it seems unlikely that one interface can effectively rule them all. Whether one OS should rule them all is debatable, of course.

Comments closed
    • ronch
    • 8 years ago

    I think you could look at this the same way several desktop environments are available for the same Linux kernel. Windows is evolving beyond merely making everything look prettier and more secure. Go, go, go! 🙂

    • calvindog717
    • 8 years ago

    here’s the problem that I see:

    Let’s admit it, tablets are not mad or purchased for productivity. They are used for entertainment, for socializing, whatever, not for doing spreadsheets, word processing, or video/ graphic design. why would Microsoft ditch the Desktop for this tablet- oriented system, when their main user base is made up of productivity users? using a mouse to navigate these menus on a monitor, made to be touched with fingers on a 10 inch screen, is just going to be clumsy and useless. Even I, who uses a PC for entertainment, wouldn’t like the “metro system” on my PC.

    I wish Microsoft had followed the concept that Google has used with android, and implement their phone OS ( windows phone 7) for tablets. wouldn’t that make more sense?

      • moog
      • 8 years ago

      Win8 is the phone OS too.

        • PeterD
        • 8 years ago

        Will they implement a choice during installation? So you can pick desktop or tablet? Or something like that? Then it could turn out nice. And then it could be sensible. But knowing MS they’re capable of building it in such a way that the one gets in the way of the other.

      • AssBall
      • 8 years ago

      Not to mention the problem of having to replace your 24+” IPS 1080p monitor/s with touch capacitive equivalents. Ouch!!!

        • PeterD
        • 8 years ago

        Or the fact that if those touch screens are broken, it will be quite costly.
        The keyboard is the most often replaced item of my pc’s.

    • PeterD
    • 8 years ago

    Q: (seriously): what’s the use of home-theater PC’s?

      • sweatshopking
      • 8 years ago

      people who don’t have or want tv’s. i don’t own a tv, and do all my video on my pc. i dont have a tiny one, i’ve got my atx tower as my center of entertainment, and it’s a better way to do it than a tv and bluray, imo

        • RickyTick
        • 8 years ago

        I’ve noticed that people that don’t own TV’s, love to TELL people that they don’t own a TV. (Nothing personal SSK, I gave you a thumb up anyway)

          • sweatshopking
          • 8 years ago

          i watch it, i just watch it on a computer. the only difference is that my screen has separate speakers. i’m still a huge fatass that wastes his time watching crappy shows.

          • Anonymous Coward
          • 8 years ago

          I’ve noticed that you like to establish that you’re better than people who talk about how they don’t have TVs.

          As for myself, I don’t own a car [i<]or[/i<] a TV. Beat that.

            • ImSpartacus
            • 8 years ago

            I belong to a Bedouin tribe. I have neither a car nor a TV nor a computer.

            I have only my iPhone. In the lonely desert with only my camels, it really [i<]is[/i<] magical.

            • dpaus
            • 8 years ago

            And if you’re in the Libyan desert, it’s also [i<]really[/i<] revolutionary 🙂

      • BobbinThreadbare
      • 8 years ago

      DVDs, Blurays, and internet content all in one system where you have full control over how it functions.

        • burntham77
        • 8 years ago

        Don’t forget recording directly from cable (and now via CableCard tuners). I have had an HTPC hooked up to a TV since about 2005. They have come a long way. Like Bobbin mentioned, the all in one factor is a huge draw. I love having one little shoebox size PC in the bedroom that handles any and all media duties. The TV sits next to my main PC monitor for plenty of hours of gaming and media consumption fun.

        And when that gets old, the consoles are in the living room hooked to the bigger LCD, ready to deliver even more fun. The fun never ends!

        So to answer PeterD’s question…

        A: Happiness.

          • PeterD
          • 8 years ago

          Ok then.
          What about music?
          I’m quite dissatisified with the audio quality of the average pc. Lots of those little loudspeakers are capable of producing lots of noice, but not nice noise. And I need them when I’m on YouTube watching music video’s. Not to mention the sound track of movies.

          PS: apparently the only thing I don’t do with my pc is watching tele. But who would want to watch tele if you have an internet connection?

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 8 years ago

            This is just stupid.

            Why would you use cheap speakers when you require better ones?

            • PeterD
            • 8 years ago

            I just notice that most of the time people use bad speakers connected to their computers. And most computer shops only sell bad speakers.

            • A_Pickle
            • 8 years ago

            Turns out there are some pretty good computer speakers out there, and if you don’t like any of them… what’s stopping you from hooking regular ol’ home theater speakers to a computer?

            • derFunkenstein
            • 8 years ago

            that in and of itself doesn’t make the PC worthless for music. A PC can be connected to any home theater system and sound awesome.

      • SomeOtherGeek
      • 8 years ago

      Why is this guy thumbed down? It is a pretty legitimate question.

      EDIT: I see I responded too soon. Note to self: Read all other comments first.

        • PeterD
        • 8 years ago

        Yeah, I got some answers.
        Nevertheless, I’m becoming to be worried about that W8…
        Home theatre pc’s, games pc’s, desktop pc’s for home use, desktop pc’s for office use, tablets, smartphones… All with ONE system? It’s good there is compatibility amongst those things, but if the OS for all those systems comes in the same package in some or other way, this could mean people will flock to Apple even faster than they’ve been doing for tablets.
        ‘Cause Apple promises simplicity, and W has never been able to do that, being a rather open system.
        If they aren’t carefull, it could be Vista all over again.
        (And now I’m serious, this is not rattle-for-fun post)

          • WarriorProphet
          • 8 years ago

          Well no because Vista was an attempt to sell a half cooked OS, Win8 is more like a new UI on the same old OS, a better analog would be windows 8 is attempting to be to Windows 8 what CP was to Windows 2000, a consumerized version with increased device compatibility for home users…

            • PeterD
            • 8 years ago

            Windowx CP…
            That was a bit the wet dream of computer enthousiasts who want to do everything with their computer, even drawing up shopping lists. (really, some want to do that with their computer).
            If it didn’t succeed, it was because not everybody is a computer enthousiasts and lots of people just think: “Why the hell would I connect a computer to my tv to watch television? And to my dvd too to connect my tv and my dvd with my pc and with my games console and with my fridge and with my printer so that I can print shopping lists based on what’s missing in my fridge while I’m watching tv and preparing the music I will listen to once the tv show is over?”
            That’s why W CP flunked. Nobody needed it.

      • My Johnson
      • 8 years ago

      There’s no sufficient appliance out that can handle the wealth of different media types, browse the web, and that you can update to newer capabilities and standards.

      So far, I can watch Netflix and game on a Wii or most any other console. PS3 is really good too (No XBox experience.) But it’s no match against a well structured Nettop/HTPC.

      Fusion is great but it’s happening too slow. I hope I live long enough.

      • WaltC
      • 8 years ago

      It depends on your point of view, of course, but home-theater PC’s have always been exceedingly popular with blind people.

    • smilingcrow
    • 8 years ago

    It seems likely that as people use more touch screen devices (phones, tablets etc) that demand for touch screen support on PCs will rise which will lead to more laptops gaining touch screen support; where it makes a lot more sense than on desktops. So having an O/S that was built around touch screen support makes a lot of sense for MS as it can run on multiple device types.
    Win8 sounds like a natural evolution but the big question is whether it can also scale down to Tablets at an affordable price point; which is the same issue that Intel has.
    If they can pull that off in a format that is light enough and cheap enough I can see Win8 being a very good mainstream platform for home users across all formats.
    It’s a big IF but I imagine by now that these two titans realise that they need to step up as they are late to the game but they have enough muscle to make it count if they start connecting. E.g. Just think how well Intel has done since AMD humiliated them in the P4 era.

      • PeterD
      • 8 years ago

      and blah blah and blah blah

        • PeterD
        • 8 years ago

        -1?
        that was fast

        • PeterD
        • 8 years ago

        Finally!
        -2!
        Thank you!
        (oh, that’s soo exciting, my fastest -2 ever!)

        ——-
        -3!
        GO for it boys!

        • My Johnson
        • 8 years ago

        Let me help:

        TL;DR

        And a little to much milquetoast.

      • PeterD
      • 8 years ago

      Too much of a “lets be reasonable” style. Maybe smilingcrow is looking for a job at an MS swetshop?

        • smilingcrow
        • 8 years ago

        Would someone please wake me when the troll has gone. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

          • PeterD
          • 8 years ago

          But you did read it, didn’t you?

        • PeterD
        • 8 years ago

        No -2 yet?
        Damn!

          • Meadows
          • 8 years ago

          Patience. It’s coming.

            • PeterD
            • 8 years ago

            Too late. I already got it.

            • PeterD
            • 8 years ago

            And where’s that -4? Eh?
            Now suddenly everybody’s gone to the loo.

            • PeterD
            • 8 years ago

            Ah! Great!

            • Meadows
            • 8 years ago

            Where does this desire to be hated spring from? You’re a disturbed little man.

            • PeterD
            • 8 years ago

            Ah, well…

            But it was fun, wasn’t it? 😉

            • Meadows
            • 8 years ago

            Answer it.

            • PeterD
            • 8 years ago

            -6!
            That must be an all time high… eurh.. low.

            • PeterD
            • 8 years ago

            -8
            Where are those guys from Guiness Book of Records when you need them?
            I want this registered!

            • sweatshopking
            • 8 years ago

            -8? that’s not even close to the lowest score. i’ve got -50, and neely has had like -75

            • PeterD
            • 8 years ago

            See; we need a scorekeeper.

            • ronch
            • 8 years ago

            Haha!

    • Helmore
    • 8 years ago

    It’s not so strange that the Metro UI would work well for a home-theater PC as the Metro UI is an evolution of the Windows Media Center UI.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 8 years ago

    after vista it seems microsoft has learned alot about how to make a good and relevant OS.

      • sweatshopking
      • 8 years ago

      this os is shaping up to be a good buy! biggest changes to the os in a decade!

      • PeterD
      • 8 years ago

      we haven’t used it yet
      as long as we haven’t used it, we don’t know

        • smilingcrow
        • 8 years ago

        Hence sweatshopking’s use of the phrase ‘shaping up’. Troll Off.

          • PeterD
          • 8 years ago

          yeah, but kamikaziechameleon didn’t use that phrase

            • PeterD
            • 8 years ago

            btw: odd name, kamikaziechameleon
            he’s a bit shy, i think

            • sweatshopking
            • 8 years ago

            who the f is this guy? and why is he answering EVERY post. that’s MY thing.

            • smilingcrow
            • 8 years ago

            He’s not a guy he’s just something to ignore.

            • PeterD
            • 8 years ago

            Then why don’t you answer my posts?

            • destroy.all.monsters
            • 8 years ago

            I thought this was your alt actually. I love the rage-inducing intentional misspellings.

            Every day this place gets closer to K5.

            • sweatshopking
            • 8 years ago

            people often think i have ult accounts, and one time i got in trouble over an account that admins thought was alt, but i’ve never alted on this site. what fun would that be?

      • burntham77
      • 8 years ago

      If the interface starts right up showing all of the programs installed on my system as a bunch of icons in boxes (similar to the boxes on Windows Phone 7), that might actually be cool. I just wonder how the actual software will run. Will those boxes move to the background and kind of become the desktop?

    • Arclight
    • 8 years ago

    Maybe Microsoft could understand that they can make 2 versions of Windows, 1 that caters to mobile devices which relies heavily on touch input and another version for traditional desktops that use mouse and keyboard. It’s beyond me why they want to do a single product with half assed features that won’t fully satisfy either camp.

      • ImSpartacus
      • 8 years ago

      Nah, they don’t want a million versions. They want a consistent experience.

      • Farting Bob
      • 8 years ago

      The 2 interfaces are basically seperate it would seem, rather than just a skin over the top of the other one. So it simplifies things and allows users to change from one to the other without having to have 2 seperate installs. Also, it allows desktop users to sample the new interface so that they may be more familiar with it when it appears as the main choice on tablets/laptops/phones.

        • PeterD
        • 8 years ago

        i don’t get it
        why don’t they just have a W8 Destkop and a W8 Tablet model?

          • PeterD
          • 8 years ago

          woow
          somebody’s shooting at me!

      • sweatshopking
      • 8 years ago

      because of the asus transformer. this is the future. tablet/laptop on the go, and a desktop experience when needed.

        • PeterD
        • 8 years ago

        Be carefull about that tablet thingy.
        For INVESTERS tablets are interesting, because on the SE the hope to get eg $100 for every invested dollar. If you want that, you put your money in tablets.
        But the question is: where is the interest of the user?
        With tablets? Not necessarily.
        Not for me.
        If I need a computer thingy, I’m at home. I don’t need computing power when I’m on the move. Primarely sales people need that.
        But investers are acting as if the future will exist only of tablets and the like.

          • WarriorProphet
          • 8 years ago

          INVESTORS

      • jstern
      • 8 years ago

      Personally I think that’s a horrible idea.

    • dashbarron
    • 8 years ago

    Maybe Microsoft can finally have their dream of ubiquitous touch-based PCs alive and living. Have a system running Windows 8 on a table at a restaurant (advertised years ago) or have a huge screen-TV in the living room that kids or adults can just tap to play the movie or DVD they want. Streamless interaction with the same OS they have on their laptops, desktop computer, office machine, ect. If Microsoft published a swanky remote (some funky Kinect off-shoot or something) that was “Windows 8 approved,” they could have a useful product and bag extra cash.

      • lilbuddhaman
      • 8 years ago

      Sadly, it’ll cost $150, have zero support outside of the canned features, and no one will buy it.

        • PeterD
        • 8 years ago

        You won’t see it in restaurants. Not flashy enough. Apple, yes. MS, no.

          • PeterD
          • 8 years ago

          -1?
          Okay, maybe at McDonalds.

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