Paul Gregory | 13 March 2012
There is a lot of talk about Windows 8, the new Metro user interface. I think it is important to say right at the beginning you cannot make the changes Microsoft are looking at without breaking a few eggs. These changes are going to affect more people than maybe any other single change in the history of the world. Will people like it? ‘YES’ some will. Will people hate it? ‘YES’ some will. There will also be a majority that will sit in the middle because the OS is not important it is their applications they care about.
The loudest shouters on the Internet are talking about Metro and how it is designed for touch and not mouse and therefore makes it unusable on computers without a touch interface. I find this view very interesting for several reasons:
- This view is either been produce from people that used the developer preview version (which was not user optimized)
- It has been tested by IT Pros and they do not use computers the same way as users
- The sheep are all back again and are just repeating what somebody else has said
- We have forgotten what users do
It seems people have forgotten the primary functions for operating systems and how standard users (who are the very significant majority) use and interact with said operating system. For most users they need a platform that allows them to launch and use the applications. Metro does this as well if not better than a standard Windows desktop. When a user logs into an OS all they really want to do next is launch their application(s) to start working. Under a traditional Windows desktop that means either multiple clicks to navigate a menu or two or searching for those tiny, boring, unanimated, non-configurable icons on the desktop. With Windows 8 the 'Desktop' is clean bright and big so the user once signed in will just click the icon to launch the application(s) they require, much simpler. In time extra value will become available as the users applications become Metro apps, the icons will start to become active and this then might change the order the user chooses to start their applications, because the icons can alert them to what needs to be looked at first. This is an alternative to today as the user has to start each application in turn to work out what is needed to be done first.
Will the UI evolve, I am sure it will and new navigation features will be added. For system administrators there is a learning curve but again the Consumer Preview version has moved the navigation on a long way and to be honest the key element with Windows 8 navigation for IT Pros will be search. I have been telling people since the release of Windows 7 use search do not navigate, and Windows 8 will confirm that view even more. But today for users the interface works really well and reduces what the user has to do for everyday operations with both touch and mouse.