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CowboyNeal Weighs In On the Windows 8 "Metro" GUI 671

Posted by samzenpus
from the we-fear-change dept.
With the availability of RTM builds of Windows 8 this past week, it's become clear that at least for the initial release, they won't be providing a way to disable the controversial new "Windows 8 style UI," formerly known as "Metro." While I think this issue is a long way from being fully resolved one way or the other, it will be something that will hound both the release and adoption of Windows 8. Read on for my thoughts.

By far, the most visible new "feature" in Windows 8, is it's new UI, which takes inspiration from smart phone and tablet devices. The old start menu is now full-screened, with large icons for all apps, and apps run in full-screen by default, changing a desktop PC into a very large tablet minus touchscreen with a keyboard and mouse added on.

It's not surprising in the least that many users take issue with this. Early on, people have said something along the lines of, "Oh it's just for the early builds, surely they will allow some way for long-time users to disable it." However, now it would seem that that would be only wishful thinking, at least for the time-being.

This is a sharp turn for Microsoft from their previous UIs. Aero, found in both Windows Vista and Windows 7, allowed users to disable it if they didn't agree with it's aesthetic, or wanted to reallocate the memory from the UI to applications. Moreover, Aero was still functionally the same as older Windows UIs. It may look prettier, but it still fires up a Start Menu like before, still lets one dock things into the taskbar, and still lets the desktop get cluttered up with icons.

It's this difference that's key here. For companies that have Windows deployments with hundreds or thousands of seats, changing the way a Windows UI works is not an option. Regardless of how easy to use the Windows 8 UI may be, it's still not the same as what users have been trained to use since 1995. Sure, Windows 7 isn't Windows 95, but changes have been introduced gradually over time, making new features easier to adjust to. The Windows 8 UI is a fast, jarring change, that is likely to frustrate users as they adjust. With no clear path to turn it off as there is with Aero, it also makes it more likely that administrators around the world are less apt to adopt Windows 8 quickly. After the debacle around initial releases of Windows Vista, one might think that Microsoft had learned their lesson. Even Microsoft wasn't too popular to make an OS that no one wanted, and Windows XP lived on far longer than anyone ever thought it would. Windows 8 has already suffered from its share of bad press even before the official release. The logical thing to do here would be to be proactive in heading off user complaints.

That's why it's rather surprising to see them take a hard stance on the Windows 8 UI. Sure, undoubtedly some third party will create a drop-in shell replacement eventually. That's been done in past versions and will likely be done again for Windows 8. For a home user, it's an acceptable path. Home users of Windows are used to beating it into submission. However, for any company that has deployed hundreds of Windows seats, mandating the use of a third party shell replacement just isn't an option, much like Windows 8 isn't an option at present.

Short of opening the source to Windows, it's reconfigurability has, until now, been rather accommodating for users. Through the use of registry settings, or third party software, users have been able to configure Windows for themselves until they feel it's sufficiently usable. While still not "free" in the GNU sense, the UI has still allowed users this semblance of freedom, to do with the UI as they will. Since a normal user wouldn't hack at the source anyway, giving them the tiny bit of freedom to determine how they interact with their UI is what keeps them as a user. What Windows 8 is looking at here, is backlash not unlike the transition from GNOME 2 to GNOME 3, albeit on a much grander scale.

What will be the final outcome? That's hard to say at this point, as Microsoft could still change their stance and implement a way to bypass the Windows 8 GUI and bring up the legacy desktop. As it is, there are several keyboard shortcuts that allow this, it's just not possible to do so automatically at boot, which would seem to be what legacy users would want most. There's also an opportunity here. If people with large Windows deployments are faced with having to retrain their users, they may think about training them on Macs or Ubuntu or something else instead. The most likely scenario though, is likely the one that we saw with the release of Windows Vista, and that is that Windows 8's predecessor will be around for a lot longer than Microsoft planned.

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CowboyNeal Weighs In On the Windows 8 "Metro" GUI

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  • by kimvette (919543) on Friday August 10, 2012 @01:05PM (#40947875) Homepage Journal

    Thank God for downgrade rights. :-)

    • by jhoegl (638955) on Friday August 10, 2012 @01:23PM (#40948145)
      Yup, I wont be using this polished turd in an office setting anytime soon.
      No one does a full screen "launch apps" except OSes that cannot handle multi-tasking.
      • Re:Downgrade rights (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 10, 2012 @01:40PM (#40948417)

        It takes one click to get to the desktop.

        Have you actually used it, or just spouting off what you read on the internets?

        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 10, 2012 @01:57PM (#40948739)

          It should take 0 clicks. That's the problem.

        • Re:Downgrade rights (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Samalie (1016193) on Friday August 10, 2012 @01:57PM (#40948753)

          I hate arguing with AC's, but while you are 100% factual, you just don't get it.

          The point isn't whether or not you can get to the classic desktop in 1-click. The point is you can't boot to the classic desktop, and every goddamn time you need to go to the "Start" menu you're back in Metro.

          I don't want a PC that acts like its a tablet. If I want a PC that acts like a tablet, I'll BUY A FUCKING TABLET. (disclamer: I do own an iPad and use it regularly. That said, I would NEVER want iOS on my desktop. NEVER)

          I get what Microsoft is trying to do - they're trying to unify the interfaces so that the tablet experience mirrors the desktop experience. The problem is...mouse vs touch as the device input NEED different experiences. Either its designed for touch, which makes everything giant and bulky for mouse use...or its designed for mouse, which makes touch all but impossible.

          In conclusion...I see absolutely NO reason to install Windows 8 on either my home PCs OR work PCs. There is no benefit that I can see....I'd rather stay with 7.

          • This.

            Dont really want to change my workflow unless theres a clear benefit, and cramming Metro into the mix isnt a clear benefit-- so far as I can tell its a hindrance.

            • Re:Downgrade rights (Score:5, Informative)

              by lorenlal (164133) on Friday August 10, 2012 @03:32PM (#40950193)

              There are places, including one where I used to work, where any variation on day-to-day work involved a contract item saying they needed "training" on how to do their job. The union portion of the workforce has provisions to prevent major change in job description to make sure there is adequate opportunity to transfer knowledge. A side effect of this was that a critical application launching shortcut had to be placed on users' desktops to launch. If it wasn't there after an upgrade, because it was only located in the start menu, then they would not launch the application and were "unable to do their work" until they received training.

              Now, I don't want to argue the merits of that specific example, but I bring it up because your point is spot on. The Windows 8 UI is a change to the workflow, and what does this change bring in gains? I don't believe there's any gain to be made here for the end users. Because it changes the behavior of the system in general, this *does* greatly increase the implementation cost for that particular former employer, and for others reliant on a workforce with similar protections. The licensing is no issue because it is just part of the EA. The issue is the cost associated with getting the applications up to spec, and for having to retrain the entire workforce who will have to use those applications.

              And how does it make anyone's job any faster or better to have a tile instead of a start menu?

              • Re:Downgrade rights (Score:5, Interesting)

                by scubamage (727538) on Friday August 10, 2012 @04:10PM (#40950687)
                Honestly I agree with you. If I hadn't joined this conversation so late I'd have tried to link this on its own, but it still pertains. Here's a video of an actual user's experience with windows 8 metro: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4boTbv9_nU [youtube.com]. I'm pretty sure your calling it a hindrance is 100% correct. We are looking at a nightmare if average users are ever forced to upgrade simply because it is NOT easy to figure out. The "apple" intuitiveness isn't there. At least before things mostly made sense with windows. That means for organizations like mine where we have several hundred thousand users, that translates to several hundred thousand support calls. Several hundred thousand support tickets opened at the same time. All so microsoft can try and force people to use a new UI. I understand why they're doing it, but I absolutely disagree with how they're doing it. Hopefully there can at least be domain policies to completely remove metro UI.
          • Re:Downgrade rights (Score:5, Interesting)

            by ceoyoyo (59147) on Friday August 10, 2012 @02:26PM (#40949235)

            MS tried the desktop interface on a tablet and it didn't work. Now they're trying the tablet interface on a desktop. Nobody except MS really expects that will work any better, but they're going to try anyway.

            • Re:Downgrade rights (Score:5, Interesting)

              by ILongForDarkness (1134931) on Friday August 10, 2012 @02:36PM (#40949395)

              Brilliant comment +1 vote if I had one.

              This is also a case of the bias MS has towards developers: Metro promises to make building tablet, phone and desktop versions of the same app trivial. Simply right to metro and other than fiddle around to make the UI layout nicely at the different form factors your done. The problem is a desktop user doesn't want to be limited in the ways that someone on a phone is. A phone user probably doesn't want to have to try to navigate a desktop on a tiny phone screen etc. Great for developers sucks for users.

              • by treeves (963993) on Friday August 10, 2012 @03:30PM (#40950161) Homepage Journal

                Well, after all, "Developers, developers, developers, developers... developers, developers, developers, developers!"

            • Re:Downgrade rights (Score:4, Interesting)

              by Curupira (1899458) on Friday August 10, 2012 @03:40PM (#40950311)

              Nobody except MS really expects that will work any better, but they're going to try anyway.

              Nobody except MS and the GNOME Shell (aka GNOME3) interface developers, that is.

          • by Krojack (575051) on Friday August 10, 2012 @02:31PM (#40949327)

            To add to this.

            What MS is trying to do is, they get all the "average" users out there use to the new Win8 interface which so happens to mirror their new mobile OS interface. Once people know an interface they will stick with it as long as they can. So in return they are hoping people will buy their mobile OS based phones. Looking at it from my parents point of view who HATE change on a computer and learning something new. They would buy a phone with a UI they are already familiar with over something else to learn such as Android or iOS.

            I agree with most people here. I won't even consider using Win8 as long as it doesn't offer a way to use the standard desktop with a start button/task bar.

          • by Jerry Atrick (2461566) on Friday August 10, 2012 @02:44PM (#40949535)

            "they're trying to unify the interfaces so that the tablet experience mirrors the desktop experience"

            You have it back to front. They're modifying the desktop to expose PC users to their tablet/phone product UI. Not because it's a good UI for PC. Not because any user ever asked for the same UI on such different devices. Certainly not because anyone wants this shitty UI.

            This is leveraging a monopoly to support a failed product. They cant sell phones so they need to train users on the phone interface so the sheep will all choose Win8 on tablet and phone.

            They also need to ditch the traditional desktop because it's too open, so open MS cant tax users on every app sale like Apple and to a lesser extent Google can.

            This is monopoly abuse as a form of marketing and it has no benefit for users. It remains to be seen if it benefits MS profits or if the backlash sinks Win8 as well as their phone business.

          • I hate arguing with AC's, but while you are 100% factual, you just don't get it.

            The point isn't whether or not you can get to the classic desktop in 1-click. The point is you can't boot to the classic desktop, and every goddamn time you need to go to the "Start" menu you're back in Metro.

            I don't want a PC that acts like its a tablet. If I want a PC that acts like a tablet, I'll BUY A FUCKING TABLET. (disclamer: I do own an iPad and use it regularly. That said, I would NEVER want iOS on my desktop. NEVER)

            I get what Microsoft is trying to do - they're trying to unify the interfaces so that the tablet experience mirrors the desktop experience. The problem is...mouse vs touch as the device input NEED different experiences. Either its designed for touch, which makes everything giant and bulky for mouse use...or its designed for mouse, which makes touch all but impossible.

            In conclusion...I see absolutely NO reason to install Windows 8 on either my home PCs OR work PCs. There is no benefit that I can see....I'd rather stay with 7.

            I'll add a non-AC to the mix. I've tried the Win8RC quite extensivly on a laptop (non-touch) and do see multiple benefits (speed - this thing is fast, multiscreen capabilities, battery life and a couple of other things - it really is a better Windows 7 than Windows 7. And it has been impressively rock stable). Then you have the metro start screen replacing the old start menu thrown into that picture. Yes, that is, well, jarring. . For me it is a question whether this new full screen start menu replacing the

        • by bluescrn (2120492)
          One click, and hundreds of megabytes of wasted RAM?
        • by LateArthurDent (1403947) on Friday August 10, 2012 @02:34PM (#40949361)

          It takes one click to get to the desktop.

          Have you actually used it, or just spouting off what you read on the internets?

          Have you actually used it? Because when you click that button to get to desktop, you get to see your wallpaper. Woop-de-doo. You don't actually get to use said desktop in any way. There's no start menu. To launch apps, the metro UI will pop up again. If it's a metro app, it'll worked like metro apps do. If it's a desktop app, it'll pop up in the desktop, which really is just an additional problem: not only do I have to deal with the retarded metro apps, but the experience isn't consistent. These apps don't play nice with each other and don't share the same space.

          Why is any app that I launch in my desktop computer trying to be the only app I work with. That rarely applies to me. Hell, even when I'm playing a movie, I usually have it to the side while working on something else.

        • by kheldan (1460303) on Friday August 10, 2012 @03:39PM (#40950297) Journal
          I used it extensively at a job I had until recently, and I am unashamed to continue to call it the "Playskool OS". I wouldn't have a copy of this piece of crap if you gave it to me for free -- unless you gave me the receipt as well so I could return it and use the cash for something actually useful. It's a dumbed-down OS for a dumbed-down world. it treats all users like idiot children, it goes out of it's way to hide anything powerful or really useful from you, it smacks your hand when you try to do anything powerful or useful. I'm actually surprised that they didn't completely erradicate the ability to access a command-line interface, too, that would have completed it's descent into complete idiocy.
      • Re:Downgrade rights (Score:5, Interesting)

        by tgd (2822) on Friday August 10, 2012 @02:10PM (#40948987)

        The Start page is just a full screen start menu with active tiles, nothing more.

        If anyone had actually spent time using it, or if CowboyNeal was attempting anything other than a flamefest to drive ad impressions, perhaps that'd be more clear to people.

        Imagine Windows 7 where the start menu opened at login and took up the whole screen. That's it. If you don't use any modern apps, you won't ever see the WinRT part of the system. Start an application, you're on the desktop. Click the start button, or push the windows key, you'll see the start screen until you launch another app. Hell, you can hit escape to close it *exactly like the start menu*.

        IMO, its worth it just for all the new hotkeys that are available. Win8 is a lot more efficient if you're a keyboard user than Win7 was.

        • by Desler (1608317) on Friday August 10, 2012 @02:24PM (#40949199)

          Imagine Windows 7 where the start menu opened at login and took up the whole screen. That's it.

          And that sounds terrible.

        • by Nadaka (224565) on Friday August 10, 2012 @02:29PM (#40949281)

          The idea that "modern" apps are all going to be fullscreen and tablet optimized (ie, only interacts on click, no cursor hover effects) is asinine.

        • by Krojack (575051) on Friday August 10, 2012 @02:35PM (#40949377)

          The Start page is just a full screen start menu with active tiles, nothing more.

          So in other words, I could just plaster my current desktop with icons and get the same interface? SWEET!

          Sarcasm aside, I don't have a SINGLE icon on my desktop other then the trash bin. Just how I like it. If Microsoft did anything good to their UI in the past few years, it was making it so you can pin apps to the start menu and/or task bar. I love that.

        • by 0123456 (636235) on Friday August 10, 2012 @02:37PM (#40949399)

          Imagine Windows 7 where the start menu opened at login and took up the whole screen.

          I am imagining that. Everyone who saw it would say 'that's fscking retarded'.

        • by RazorSharp (1418697) on Friday August 10, 2012 @04:08PM (#40950663)

          IMO, its worth it just for all the new hotkeys that are available.

          Great. They caught up to Apple in the 90s. Sounds well worth the money.

      • Re:Downgrade rights (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ILongForDarkness (1134931) on Friday August 10, 2012 @02:31PM (#40949325)

        The whole idea of the full screen launch apps thing is that the tiles can show you some info like updates, weather etc without needing to be launched. Similar to the dashboard concept in OS X. This is the biggest reason why I don't like it: privacy. Think about it MS wants people to make line of business apps to use with Metro, Outlook tiles, etc and this is going to be the first screen you go to when you login/go to find something. So customer is looking over your shoulder while you launch word to view their quote, oh wait while you are in the start menu why not show them that your deal with their competitor is going ahead too? I don't like apps deciding what they are going to broadcast everytime someone sees me open another app. if I want to view info from an app I'll open it.

    • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Friday August 10, 2012 @01:38PM (#40948403)

      Yeah but will Windows 7 run on some future Intel i11 machine with the latest 4320p graphics card? It might be missing the required drivers.

      BTW ballmer strikes me as the kind of hardline manager who refuses to listen to criticism. Even in the face of negative Vista and WinPhone and Windows8 reviews, he just keeps pressing forward like a bull in a china shop: "Once they see what's in it, I think they will like it. But first we have to release it so you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of controversy."

      • Yeah but will Windows 7 run on some future Intel i11 machine with the latest 4320p graphics card?

        I suspect that when there is a serious issue with machines Windows 7 won't run on, Windows 9 (or whatever Windows-after-8 is called) will be available.

        Lots of customers -- individuals and institutions -- skipped Vista and stayed with XP until jumping to Win 7. The same can happen with Win 8.

        • Re:Downgrade rights (Score:4, Informative)

          by kimvette (919543) on Friday August 10, 2012 @03:51PM (#40950433) Homepage Journal

          I suspect that when there is a serious issue with machines Windows 7 won't run on, Windows 9 (or whatever Windows-after-8 is called) will be available.

          And thusly, the every-other-release-of-Windows-doesn't-suck pattern will continue. Windows 8 will be the new Vista, and Windows 9 will be the release undoing all the annoying shit Vista/8 introduced to save Microsoft's market share (again).

      • by FilmedInNoir (1392323) on Friday August 10, 2012 @01:59PM (#40948789)
        He's George Lucas without the business acumen.
      • by Bryansix (761547)
        Oh, Windows 7 will run on the latest hardware unless Microsoft does something lame like the DirectX 10 / Windows XP debacle. There was no technical reason XP could not run DirectX 10. Microsoft just prevented it because it forced people to upgrade to their otherwise crappy OS (Vista).
    • by tverbeek (457094)

      I bought my parents (a musician and retired lawyer in their 70s) their current computer a few years back while Windows XP (which they were familiar with) was still available as a build-to-order option for small-business customers, to spare them the retraining and confusion of switching to Vista. Likewise, I've decided to replace that machine with a new one while Windows 7 is still available, because the switch to Windows 8 would be even more frustrating... for them and for me. While I sincerely hope that t

  • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Friday August 10, 2012 @01:07PM (#40947897) Homepage Journal

    At last.

    The Windows 7 perpetuity machine is fully fueled, and ready to roll.

  • by VGPowerlord (621254) on Friday August 10, 2012 @01:08PM (#40947915) Homepage

    I'm beginning to think that Microsoft isn't allowing the new GUI to be disabled in order to purposely have a bad Windows version.

    Then, Windows 9 will come out in a year or two and suddenly have the option of booting to the old Start menu, thus perpetuating the "every other version of Windows is good" trend.

    • by Latentius (2557506) on Friday August 10, 2012 @01:24PM (#40948165)

      I think that's a bit ridiculous, to think that a company like Microsoft would intentionally want one of their products to fail, putting their market share in danger as it might cause long-time Windows users to jump ship to another platform.

      No, I think it's just Microsoft being it's normal, misguided self. They really want Metro to succeed, but know that most people don't like change, so the way to force adoption is to disable any ability to revert to the previous interface. Sometimes, this sort of behavior is for the best--pushing people away from their comfort zone helps drive progress and prevent stagnation. Whether this is one of those times is a matter of opinion, and only time will truly tell whether the gamble will pay off. Personally, I fully expect them to suffer for it and for Windows 7 to become the next Windows XP, which users cling to well past its intended lifespan.

      • by Samantha Wright (1324923) on Friday August 10, 2012 @01:45PM (#40948509) Homepage Journal
        No need to be so general: we can narrow down "Microsoft" to "Sinofsky and Ballmer." Only severely senior management can march into a burning chicken coop and expect to exceed quota.

        In the beginning there was a Plan.
        And then came Assumptions.
        And the Assumptions were without form.
        And the plan was without substance.
        And darkness was on the face of the Workers.
        And they spoke among themselves, saying
        "It is a crock of shit, and it stinks".
        And the Workers went unto their Supervisors and said
        "It is a pale of dung, and none may obide the odor thereof".
        And the Supervisors went unto their Managers, saying
        "It is a container of excrement, and it is very strong, such that none can abide by it".
        And the Managers went unto their Directors saying
        "It is a vessel of fertilizer, and none may abide its strength".
        And the Directors spoke among themselves, saying one to another
        "It contains that which aids plant growth, and it is very strong".
        And the Directors went unto the Vice Presidents, saying unto them
        "It promotes growth, and it is very powerful".
        And the Vice Presidents went unto President saying unto him
        "This new Plan will actively promote growth and vigor of this company, with powerful effects".
        And the President looked upon the Plan and saw it was good.
        And the Plan became Policy.
        This is how shit happens.

      • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Friday August 10, 2012 @01:47PM (#40948559)

        I remember when innovation meant jumping from 16 colors to 4000 colors, from a sound chip that went "beeeeep" to near-CD level music, from single task word processing to multitasking dozens of programs at the same time. While in a live chat online. With a mouse.

        Now "innovation" is just changing the screen from a desktop with icons to a desktop with brightly-colored icons. (Man. Computers have become so boring.) ;-)

      • by Artraze (600366) on Friday August 10, 2012 @01:52PM (#40948661)

        > I think that's a bit ridiculous, to think that a company like Microsoft would intentionally want one of their products to
        > fail, putting their market share in danger as it might cause long-time Windows users to jump ship to another platform.

        Sure, it you put it like that in black and white. But if we add some particulars... ... A company like Microsoft would intentionally want one of their products to fail on the desktop, because otherwise they'd be putting their market share on the tablet in danger as it might cause long-time Windows users to jump ship to another platform.

        See where the suggestion isn't so unreasonable? Given that most people and companies probably upgraded to 7 from XP about 2 years ago (if even!), a Win 8 at this time was never going to be very appealing. Most would probably just as soon wait for Win 9 which would mean a more comfortable ~6 year cycle. I think Microsoft realized this, and that they were already losing hard in an increasingly relevant market (tablets), and figured that the only thing that mattered about Win 8 on the desktop was that it worked at all. It can fail, hard, as long as it gets them into the tablet market.

      • by DragonWriter (970822) on Friday August 10, 2012 @02:24PM (#40949207)

        They really want Metro to succeed

        I don't think that's all that important to them, directly.

        But they definitely want the Windows Store to succeed, and the leverage they are using to get people to distribute apps through the Windows Store, rather than through the mechanisms used for Windows desktop apps previously, is that Metro-style apps can only be delivered:
        1. Via the Windows store, or
        2. To "enterprise side-loading enabled" versions of Windows (Windows 8 Enterprise and Windows 8 Server, but none of the consumer-targeted editions), or
        3. By acquiring a special product key to sideload Metro-style apps on to a non-"enterprise sideloading enabled" version of Windows 8.

         

      • by kimvette (919543) on Friday August 10, 2012 @03:58PM (#40950527) Homepage Journal

        most people don't like change,

        It's not that people do not like change - they do not like change for the sake of change, and they don't want their workflow to be a pain in the ass. To this day I STILL get people complaining about the Office ribbon, because it obfuscates features in office and requires more (not fewer) clicks to do what they want. For others at that same client site, employees deal with it by using LibreOffice or OpenOffice instead.

    • by future assassin (639396) on Friday August 10, 2012 @01:29PM (#40948257) Homepage

      I'm beginning to think that Microsoft isn't allowing the new GUI to be disabled in order to purposely have a bad Windows version.

      Then, Windows 9 will come out in a year or two and suddenly have the option of booting to the old Start menu, thus perpetuating the "every other version of Windows is good" trend.

      And they'll have tv commercial with peoples stating "It was my idea" and they'll call it a new improved feature.

    • by c (8461) <beauregardcp@gmail.com> on Friday August 10, 2012 @01:31PM (#40948313)

      > I'm beginning to think that Microsoft isn't allowing the new GUI to be disabled
      > in order to purposely have a bad Windows version.

      My working theory is that Microsoft is following the path Gates set in his retirement and has decided to become a non-profit corporation, but nobody is quite sure how to tell the shareholders.

  • Death rattle (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drdread66 (1063396) on Friday August 10, 2012 @01:08PM (#40947931)
    It's clear that Microsoft is terrified of Apple and feels the need to do "something, anything" to be seen as innovative. Of course, being innovative is not easy, and in my opinion MS lost their ability to innovate quite a while back. Metro is new, so MS is grabbing on to it like a shipwreck survivor grabs onto anything that floats.

    Of course, "new" is not necessarily "good," and in this case I think the jury is definitely out on whether Metro is good.

    All in all, this feels like a death rattle to me.
    • Re:Death rattle (Score:5, Interesting)

      by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Friday August 10, 2012 @01:56PM (#40948727) Homepage

      I suspect it's a little more subtle than this. Essentially, Microsoft has been unable to compete with Apple in terms of "innovation" because they're supporting so much legacy crap, and they're always relying on 3rd party vendors to supply the hardware. So even if they come up with some innovative cool new thing, if it requires hardware support, they're dependent on Dell and HP to build in the right hardware to make it cool.

      So yes, I think this is an attempt to compete with Apple, who has been making some big gains in market share. If you include tablets, notebooks, and desktops as the same market, then Apple's recent growth has been astounding. In response, I think Microsoft has done a series of things, which I would all connect as part of a coherent strategy:

      1. Focus on developing tablets rather than conventional desktops/laptops
      2. Differentiate the MS tablets from Apple by making a tablet that's also capable of acting as a fully-functional PC
      3. Create MS-brand tablets according to this vision, bypassing the need to compromise with HP, Dell, etc.
      4. Try to remove legacy cruft from the tablet OS to keep battery life up and allow more agile development

      The problem here is that a couple of these goals conflict with each other. Trying to strip out legacy stuff runs afoul of the goal of making it a "fully-functional PC". The way to resolve that issue is to push legacy stuff out of your fully-functional PCs as well, and market your tablet OS as a desktop OS. Unfortunately, that seems to have resulted in having a desktop OS with a GUI that's only suitable for tablets.

    • Re:Death rattle (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gig (78408) on Friday August 10, 2012 @02:11PM (#40949015)

      It is not that Microsoft feels the pressure to be innovative because of Apple. For the first time in 20 years, the best-selling low-end PC (iPad 3) does not run Windows. Further, for the first time ever, the cheapest Internet terminal (iPad 2) does not run Windows. People bought a lot of Windows solely because it was cheapest. It's not the cheapest anymore.

  • by Strudelkugel (594414) on Friday August 10, 2012 @01:11PM (#40947969)
    I have no way of knowing, but I would guess Microsoft expects Windows 8 to be adopted by Surface/tablet users first. Windows 7 will be the enterprise desktop of choice for some time. If things go according to Microsoft's plan, a few years from now users will be comfortable with the UI formerly known as Metro. Then the enterprise will migrate to Windows 9+ with whatever refinements it has. Whether this works or not, we shall see.
    • by Dan667 (564390)
      or with Valve building out Steam to work on Linux, Windows 7 may be the last microsoft OS for many in the consumer market. The rest may go Apple.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 10, 2012 @01:15PM (#40948031)

    We all learned this as kids.
    Out right hiding dad's tools was unthinkable.
    With Microsoft hiding the tools and forcing them to stay hidden... what are they thinking?!
    When they forced the removal of "classic" view in Windows 2K8 it was insane.
    I say it is insane because of the financial loss incurred by world business in lost man hours and down time just looking for the "new" way to do things you have been doing for more than a decade.
    In man hours it is a simple salami attack taking small slices here and there from every user and admin.
    In down time it gets scary. You have a site that is losing 100K per minute because it is down. The old way takes 2-3 min to fix the issue. once your tools are hidden you are on a 30 minute google session to find out how to do what you have been doing forever. 3 million dollars out the window for a single admin on a single outage. I had a site that cost that when it went down.
    World wide, I would not be at all shocked if this causes more than a trillion dollars in hidden and obvious losses. I'm sure the R2 removal of classic did.
    It maybe that in the future we just have to change the windows UI from explorer to Powershell so our tools stop getting hidden every new version of Windows.

    • by cayenne8 (626475) on Friday August 10, 2012 @01:23PM (#40948155) Homepage Journal
      Microsoft started really sucking for me, when they came out with the "ribbon" interface.

      I still can't find half the shit I want for simple things quickly on word and excel....

    • by gig (78408)

      Honestly, you should buy a dependable computer if you need dependability. There are writers who have been using Word for Mac since 1985, same workflow the whole way. Mac OS X is the same for 10 years, only refined. You can upgrade a system to a new OS X and not be sure it took because it looks the same. However, everything just got better all the time the whole way. Not different, but better.

      Microsoft has had 10 different arch enemies over the past 10 years. They shipped a Windows that looked like Mac OS 6

  • by Dan667 (564390) on Friday August 10, 2012 @01:17PM (#40948063)
    but everyone will love this new GUI eventually though, right?
  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday August 10, 2012 @01:17PM (#40948065) Homepage

    Which commentator has the most accurate view of Windows 8:
      * Steve Ballmer
      * Steve Wozniak
    ...
      * CowboyNeal

  • by zifn4b (1040588) on Friday August 10, 2012 @01:20PM (#40948103)
    No company in their right mind is going to adopt Windows 8 for their business workstations if Microsoft forces the Metro interface on everyone. It simply is not productive. Visual Studio Touch Edition? Microsoft Word and Excel from a tablet? Right. I have no idea what they are thinking. It seems like in their effort to pursue the tablet market they are alienating other significant revenue streams. I'm not following the marketing strategy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      No company in their right mind is going to adopt Windows 8 for their business workstations if Microsoft forces the Metro interface on everyone. It simply is not productive. Visual Studio Touch Edition? Microsoft Word and Excel from a tablet? Right.

      The good thing, then, is that Metro interface is not forced on anyone. About the only thing that is actually forced is the Metro home screen as a replacement for Start menu, and even that can be overridden by third party offerings like ViStart or Start8. Certainly, there's no "VS Touch Edition", nor such a thing for Office.

      This, in fact, is where this review is incredibly confusing. It states certain things which are only partially correct, and outside of the context, plain wrong. For example:

      The old start menu is now full-screened, with large icons for all apps, and apps run in full-screen by default

      Only Metro app

  • by CharlieG (34950) on Friday August 10, 2012 @01:25PM (#40948199) Homepage

    Unlike most folks here on /., I've been a windows guy forever (Hint, I still have my windows 286 floppies!). I have my own copy of MSDN, and therefore Win8 (any version) is 'free' for me. This will be the first version of Windows I don't load. (I don't count ME - I was running NT...) Sorry Microsoft. I MIGHT stick it on some secondary box somewhere, so I can test code against it, but I'll keep coding for Win7/HTML/CSS,JQuery etc. I played with an early beta on a tablet, THAT was nice, but the desktop? RIGHT, and the last 2 places I consulted at all have the same opinion, that dog doesn't hunt, and will NOT be installed

  • "Bypass" Metro (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 10, 2012 @01:25PM (#40948201)

    You can "bypass" Metro -- http://www.sepier.com/bypassing-metro-on-windows-8-rtm/

  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Friday August 10, 2012 @01:32PM (#40948325)

    I have an old 98 laptop with AMD k5(?) processor and Kflex 48k modem. The software looks diffferent but acts basically the same as Seven. There's a start menu, control panel, built-in explorer window to navigate files. Windows key benefit is (or was) the constantcy across 17 years of usage.

  • this will backfire. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Simulant (528590) on Friday August 10, 2012 @01:33PM (#40948339) Journal
    I just posted this on reddit yesterday:

    I think that Windows 8 is going to backfire on Microsoft.

    Most current Windows PC users are going to be instantly put off by "metro" on the desktop. It serves no immediate purpose and just makes it harder and less convenient to do many common things you already know how to do. There is a learning curve there and the interface only becomes efficient with some help or google searches and some practice. There is simply no reason (at this time, anyway) for it to exist on my desktop PC and it's annoying me. No other version of Windows has made me jump through quite this many hoops to do basic tasks

    On a tablet it might work and it might work well. However.... I doubt MS can make a $200 windows tablet any time soon and that's the price point they will need to hit. Besides nearly everyone who wanted an iPad or iPhone probably has one by now, even if they normally use a PC. I think Windows 8 will drive millions of PC owning, happy iPad/iPhone users into the arms of Apple rather than entice them them to ditch their iPads and buy a Windows 8 Tablet. They are already tempted and if they have to learn something new, it may as well be Apples OS. When it comes time for a new PC, i think Apple can get a lot of sales, especially if they drop their PC/Laptop prices a bit. Also... I think most people running Windows 7 will not need new hardware for quite some time. The crop of PCs from the last 3 or 4 years are already overpowered for most home users. I don't see many of us buying just an OS upgrade either.

    It's pretty obvious that Microsoft's ultimate goal here is to create an Apple-like walled garden. Initially, the wall won't be as high but there will be a wall. Don't forget this. They desperately want a successful iTunes/Apps Store/Google Play, etc...

    Apart from "metro" There's little in Windows 8 that couldn't have been included in a Win 7 SP2. And nothing important that you can't already do in Windows 7 with a few downloads. While the core OS is solid, I still think we have another WinMe/Vista on our hands. Nobody asked for this.
  • by HerculesMO (693085) on Friday August 10, 2012 @01:40PM (#40948429)

    No, nobody is going to move to Macs or Linux on an enterprise desktop. They will stick with Windows. Windows 7 will not sunset on support for quite some time, and in the interim people will wait and see what Microsoft is going to do; either Windows 9 will be a better benefit to them, or they will figure out how to make Windows 8 work for them.

    The one thing people know about Apple is that they do NOT support enterprises in any meaningful way. Look at XServe, which was pulled from its product line, and OSX Server which is basically an equivalent of Windows Home Server. And Linux? Comon... the arguments for retraining users apply for Linux and Mac TOO. The amount of investments made around the Windows platform are for many companies, quite large, and nobody's going to throw them away because despite the new interface, its enterprise pinnings are still pretty good on the client desktop.

    I'm in the "wait and see" crowd. I don't particularly think the new interface is appealing, especially as a keyboard/mouse user, but given how little I use my start menu as it is, maybe it's not such a bad change... I really don't know. I do know that when we got preview copies running on PCs, all the Mac users came running by and told the IT teams how much they liked it. Go figure, eh?

    Technology changes. And for many non-IT users of computers, Windows 8 is going to be great, simple, and straightforward to use. Viruses won't happen as easily because of the App Store, IE can't have any plugins/addons in its metro form, so all in all, it will be a boon to those folks. The IT folks who resist change will be the same people crying about the MS Office ribbon, or whatever else they got stuck on and didn't want to adapt. You're IT people -- you're supposed to adapt and change. Granted this change may not be the best, but you use it as a tool rather than a religion and you may find it better. Or not. In either case I don't think Metro is going anywhere, and the Surface tablet, if it does as well as people think it might, will just reinforce the fact MS made the right decision.

    I on the other hand, will just wait and see.

    • by neminem (561346)

      -Why- are we supposed to "adapt and change"? I'm quite happy adapting to new interfaces that are provably more intuitive or faster or more powerful than the interfaces they replaced. There is no frelling reason on earth that we should be expected to adapt to new interfaces solely because the company in question felt that they needed to look like they were accomplishing something, even if their new interface is less useful than the old one. (Rather, as IT people, I feel it's our duty, when companies pull tha

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by HerculesMO (693085)

        The next generation of monitors, laptops, etc... will all have touchscreens. So to say it's "worse" is premature, and my guess is that the majority of people who hate the new UI haven't even used it for a prolonged amount of time. I used it for a bit, and while things are awkward, they certainly haven't slowed me down any in getting anything done. But that's because I'm very familiar with Windows 7, and not at all with Windows 8.

        When "companies pull that crap" there are not just one set of outcomes from IT.

        • by 0123456 (636235) on Friday August 10, 2012 @02:30PM (#40949297)

          The next generation of monitors, laptops, etc... will all have touchscreens.

          Ha-ha. You think people are going to sit at their desk all day holding their arms out to press big icons on a screen two feet in front of them.

          I already have a laptop with a touch screen. I can tell you right now that it fscking sucks as a user interface.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Clearly businesses are not moving to Macs, and deeply distrust Apple equipment. Oh wait... http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-57355159-37/look-out-microsoft-apple-is-grabbing-more-it-dollars/ [cnet.com]

      Nobody's using Linux either. http://www.aaxnet.com/design/linux2.html [aaxnet.com]

  • by dstyle5 (702493) on Friday August 10, 2012 @01:42PM (#40948459)
    As Cowboy said above, full screen apps all the time is ridiculous. Sorry, I don't need my email app taking up my entire 24" display, thanks.

    What I also found really annoying about apps is you can't easily close them. Esc does nothing, there is no "X" in the corners, nothing intuitive how to do it. I thought by time they hit the Release preview there would be some changes to this. The only way I found you can close them is my hiding/minimizing them, then bringing them up in app list in the top left corner thing-a-ma-jig, then right-click to bring up a "close" dialog.

    App configuration is also a chore, the only way I found to bring up an apps options is to mouse over the "hot" top right corner of screen. Too bad this "corner" is about 1 pixel x 1 pixel. I'm not a GUI or usability designer, but the current app implementation is a chore to use. Perhaps there will be come big changes in the release, but as it stands right now there is no chance I would pay for an "App", let alone use a free one given the current design choices.
  • by Ami Ganguli (921) on Friday August 10, 2012 @01:42PM (#40948465) Homepage

    The MS strategy (which will probably have some success), is pretty clear...

    They figure they've got a few years of desktop monopoly left, and they want leverage this to protect their core business from iOS and Android. The plan is to get home users used to the Metro UI so that they'll be more likely to buy Windows-powered phones and tablets. Home users are far less conservative than enterprise users, and most of them will just go with whatever is loaded on their machines.

    Within a three years the vast majority will be comfortable with Metro. That's about the time enterprise customers will be looking to upgrade from Windows 7, and in the meantime, everybody will be familiar enough with Metro to be immediately comfortable when they pick up a Windows Phone/Tablet.

    It's really not a bad strategy. I don't think it will crush iOS and Android by a long shot, but it might just prevent MS from becoming totally irrelevant.

  • by vinn (4370) on Friday August 10, 2012 @02:11PM (#40949019) Homepage Journal

    Microsoft is betting the style and usability of their new interface is a vast improvement over the UI they've developed over the past 17 years using QA and focus groups. Given their past track record in style and their repeated mistakes at usability changes (Microsoft Bob, anyone?) I predict Win8 will be DOA.

    I'm not switching, you're not switching, none of us are switching until we're not completely freaked out about having to handle multiple calls from Laura in Accounting because she can't figure out how to get a picture of her cat as her screensaver. I'm already weeping for the day I have to support my wife's coworker's deranged uncle's brand new Acer laptop with Win8 and can't figure out how to get his multifunction printer to scan a document directly to his iLoveAccordiansAndUnicorns.blogspot.com web page.

  • When... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by miltonw (892065) on Friday August 10, 2012 @02:40PM (#40949457)
    When did GUI designers decide that they know best and that users should have no control?
    More and more browsers, programs and O/Ses are hiding or completely eliminating the controls to customize their user interfaces.
    THIS ISN'T PROGRESS!
    If designers, instead, created highly customizable user interfaces with MORE options instead of less, they would inevitably have satisfied users.
    Who the hell had the idea that giving all users a simplified, static, unchangeable interface was the right way to go? Was it Apple or did it start earlier?
  • by AdmV0rl0n (98366) on Friday August 10, 2012 @03:03PM (#40949833) Homepage Journal

    I've tested it, and been testing it for a long time. I've had back and forth with Sinofsky over email on the subject. Here is my take on it.

    'Metro' or whatever its name is now, is not really a full screen start menu replacement. Thats too simple a take on this. For a start, it doesn't really work the same way in terms of being a start button and start menu replacement at all. I'd go so far as to say its a pretty poor replacement for what was the start button.

    How about this though. It *is* a desktop replacement, and in that, with its interactive applications and notifications means that perhaps the ideal here is to create a modern day real world interactive desktop that is a 2012 variation on previous widgets and gadgets and web based interactive stuff we have seen on the older desktop under Win32. It would seem to me that it works better in a context of embedding the start menu directly into a living desktop. Maybe it might have been better to make the pitch this way and to say that its a more evolved idea. And I think.. vaguely, for me - Metro might well work better if I context it that way. It really doesn't work for me personally in any way at all as a Start button / menu equivelent, replacement, or anything. But if we were going to actually talk about starting on a new footing and have an interactive desktop, where what was a start menu was actually in the desktop - maybe I'd take something of a longer, more sympathetic view. Except.. The Applications are now brain dead fullscreen horrors. You can't easily actually close them. Multitasking now is suddenly much more like some horrid 2012 throwback to OS9, or even Win3.11. Oh the system does multitask, but now the OS just feels like it doesn't. And there are serious and significant problems in Metro and WinRT when you try to apply your ideas of multi-tasking as you did in Win32. Its fortunate that you can still leap to a Win32 desk and environment. If you are used to havig a desktop, and a lot of applications around - which frankly is my home, then perhaps like me you'll find metro is just a horrible place to be stuck, and it gets worse as its used on big res screens. A lot of wasted space, and a serious lack of multiapplication access.

    Its also a front end, desktop, UI and framework for new APIs - WinRT. And it has allowed a framework across to the ARM processor family with an entry point into mobility. And this is the part that is generally missed in most overviews about 'Metro'. Its very important to understand that While in 8, The old frameworks and API's remain, I would say that it seems to me that these are really really being left in with a very very firm view of being an end game and a legacy support structure. 'Your old apps will work'. And its Windows. If you break that, a fundamental stop occurs for many buyers. So thats got to stay

    WinRT is a deathknell (or its at least supposed to be) for Win32 longterm. Its now going in theory to be at least the ground MS builds its consumer base on. The Start/Desktop will be based around it. The applications and development models will hinge off it. The Microsoft equivelent of the Apple 'App' and 'Media' Stores and Distribution model are going to be based round it, and the application base, and cloud MS brick by brick put together are going to be built on it. At least thats the idea.

    Now, as far as I can see, there has been something of a bloodbath inside MS over this. Metro and WinRT has, at least for now, won. Win32 is either dead, or on a very back foot. There are lots of groupings who are still entirely Win32 based in all their stuff and when you run Metro, its pretty painfully obvious how Thin Metro actually is in real terms. 99% of everything I do flips to that Win32 desktop, and by run I mean all my consumer level stuff *and* all the MS stuff I run professionally, Including the bulk of the server side based stuff. If Metro is the victor, that victor has yet to fully own areas like server, exchange and a lot of groups and teams in MS. When I gave 2012 a test run, a heap of stuff i

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