Microsoft's Aero interface managed to survive the transition from Windows Vista to Windows 7 mostly unscathed, but it's nearing the end of its run. Just take a look at the latest screenshot of Windows 8's Desktop interface, which Microsoft posted on the Building Windows 8 blog before the weekend. See-through window frames are out, and flat, Metro-styled controls are in:
"Although we wanted the desktop to feel familiar," Microsoft says, "we also wanted to take some ideas from our new design language and apply them where we could." Translation: everything has to adopt the flat, neutral Metro look. Microsoft says we'll see part of the new Desktop UI in the upcoming Windows 8 Release Preview early next month, but the final look won't premiere until Windows 8 actually hits stores later this year.
I'll freely admit I'm a sucker for design consistency. But I don't think the new look works all that well, for the simple reason that starkly contrasting controls are easier to keep track of than flat, monochrome ones. Google made the same mistake when it cleaned up Gmail's interface a while back: buttons in the new design look too much alike, and they're more difficult to identify at a glance. Too bad Microsoft also wants to smother us with abstract gray outlines.