Microsoft talks Windows 8's Metro and desktop UIs

By on September 1, 2011, 1:00 PM

Microsoft has come forward with new details about Windows 8’s user interface on their recently launched Building Windows 8 blog. The latest post reveals that users will have the option to run either the Metro UI or a traditional desktop environment in Microsoft’s next OS.

In the post, Windows President Steven Sinofsky says that planning for Windows 8 began in the summer of 2009 before Window 7 shipped and at that time, the company wanted to reimagine Windows from the ground up. This involved revisiting the most basic elements and assumptions about a PC. The result of this is Metro, a user interface that is heavily influenced by the UI used in Windows Phone 7.

At the same time, Microsoft realized that the familiar desktop environment was too crucial to abandon completely. Hundreds of millions of users rely on this UI and the apps it supports. Not bringing that into the next iteration of Windows would be a huge mistake. Additionally, it’s no secret that some people feel that Metro is only for tablets and touch, and that converting to Metro exclusively would “dumb down” Windows 8.

As such, Microsoft decided to design Windows 8 using both interfaces in what has been described as a balancing act.

“Our design goal was clear: no compromises. If you want to, you can seamlessly switch between Metro style apps and the improved Windows desktop. Existing apps, devices, and tools all remain and are improved in Windows 8. On the other hand, if you prefer to immerse yourself in only Metro style apps (and platform) and the new user experience, you can do that as well! Developers can target the APIs that make sense for the software they wish to deliver. People can debate how much they need or don't need different aspects of the product, but that has always been the case. All of this is made possible by the flexibility of Windows.”

Although it wasn’t made clear in the post, someone reading between the lines could surmise that Windows 8 will boot into Metro upon startup. After that, the user could switch to the classic desktop environment if they so choose.

The next major event for Windows is the BUILD conference which runs from September 13 - 16 in Anaheim, California. More information about Windows 8 will be provided to develpers then.




User Comments: 21

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matrix86 matrix86 said:

Microsoft realized that the familiar desktop environment was too crucial to abandon completely...Not bringing that into the next iteration of Windows would be a huge mistake.

My favorite part of the article, lol.

Additionally, it?s no secret that some people feel that Metro is only for tablets and touch, and that converting to Metro exclusively would ?dumb down? Windows 8.

Consider me one of those people.

Although it wasn?t made clear in the post, someone reading between the lines could surmise that Windows 8 will boot into Metro upon startup. After that, the user could switch to the classic desktop environment if they so choose.

And then they lost me again, lol. I hope it isn't going to be like that. Hopefully they'll make it so you can choose a default UI to boot into, or give you the option when signing in (though i'd rather shoot for the first option I listed).

Chazz said:

so ticking a option has you against windows 8?

ikesmasher said:

I hate it. it was cool at first now its just stupid...

I certaintly hope this UI thing is a side feature and not required.

RH00D RH00D said:

Sometimes I think people just spew their rants just to start some drama. Surely people can't *really* be that stupid as to think Metro UI is in any way at all required, or that it will automatically be default when Windows starts every time.

Guest said:

With Microsoft, you can never tell.

Guest said:

Has anyone noticed that over the years all the way back to very earliest windows, With every generation the UI has been dummed down just a little more. Even if the new interface isn't forced in windows 8, What till happen is they will follow suite and force it in next iteration. M$ has a history of introducing a new interface with one version then forcing it in the next.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

As long as the switching mechanism is reasonable/easy I don't see any issue with it, and in fact, if Win8 Metro UI could incorporate live tiles concept, it may not be a bad thing at all.

Edit:

I don't know how they want to implement it, but if they could tie the horizontal scrolling of Metro UI with touch-pads on notebooks it could become very useful feature.

Cota Cota said:

ikesmasher said:

I hate it. it was cool at first now its just stupid...

I certaintly hope this UI thing is a side feature and not required.

+1

Having an incredibly huge amount of UI's options, is as useless like having none.

paynetrain007 said:

People are completely missing the huge plus to having both of these UI's. Imagine Windows 8 on your desktop with the classic improved UI. All your power using needs. then imagine owning a Asus transformer with windows 8 metro UI. Still being completely windows so you can use it as a netbook, but having a fully functional tablet with a tablet style UI as well. You have some for of the same OS across every iteration of hardware. Think of the possibilities of that! No more stupid half asked apps for Microsoft Office for a tablet... You get the real thing. Seamless integration into a Home network. For those who are not tech savy, Say good-bye to having to really learn more then one OS at once for there multiple devices. The possibilites of this are endless!

matrix86 matrix86 said:

chazz said:

so ticking a option has you against windows 8?

I didn't actually say that. I was just pointing out how annoying it would to have to always switch to the UI of my choice after logging in. What i'm really hoping for is the ability to set a default UI and the option to turn the ribbon feature on and off. I'm all about change, but let me decide if I want it or not. Don't just shove it in my face with no option to get rid of it, and don't make it a pain to switch back and forth. That's all i'm saying.

Wagan8r Wagan8r said:

paynetrain007 said:

People are completely missing the huge plus to having both of these UI's. Imagine Windows 8 on your desktop with the classic improved UI. All your power using needs. then imagine owning a Asus transformer with windows 8 metro UI. Still being completely windows so you can use it as a netbook, but having a fully functional tablet with a tablet style UI as well. You have some for of the same OS across every iteration of hardware. Think of the possibilities of that! No more stupid half asked apps for Microsoft Office for a tablet... You get the real thing. Seamless integration into a Home network. For those who are not tech savy, Say good-bye to having to really learn more then one OS at once for there multiple devices. The possibilites of this are endless!

Finally! Somebody who gets it!

Imagine, you're using your tablet but you wish that you had an app that could to XYZ, so you whip out your keyboard, switch over to your Windows desktop, start up Visual Studio, crank out your awesome app, unplug your keyboard, and then run it natively on your tablet interface! You do it all on one machince!

It's media consumption meets media creation. Why can't people see the awesome possibilities of this? Btw, I plan on (if possible) to have a dual booting (Android/Win8) ASUS Transformer.

Guest said:

Indeed, well said!

RH00D RH00D said:

wagan8r said:

paynetrain007 said:

People are completely missing the huge plus to having both of these UI's. Imagine Windows 8 on your desktop with the classic improved UI. All your power using needs. then imagine owning a Asus transformer with windows 8 metro UI. Still being completely windows so you can use it as a netbook, but having a fully functional tablet with a tablet style UI as well. You have some for of the same OS across every iteration of hardware. Think of the possibilities of that! No more stupid half asked apps for Microsoft Office for a tablet... You get the real thing. Seamless integration into a Home network. For those who are not tech savy, Say good-bye to having to really learn more then one OS at once for there multiple devices. The possibilites of this are endless!

Finally! Somebody who gets it!

Imagine, you're using your tablet but you wish that you had an app that could to XYZ, so you whip out your keyboard, switch over to your Windows desktop, start up Visual Studio, crank out your awesome app, unplug your keyboard, and then run it natively on your tablet interface! You do it all on one machince!

It's media consumption meets media creation. Why can't people see the awesome possibilities of this? Btw, I plan on (if possible) to have a dual booting (Android/Win8) ASUS Transformer.

I also agree heavily with the both of you. :3

Chazz said:

matrix86 said:

chazz said:

so ticking a option has you against windows 8?

I didn't actually say that. I was just pointing out how annoying it would to have to always switch to the UI of my choice after logging in. What i'm really hoping for is the ability to set a default UI and the option to turn the ribbon feature on and off. I'm all about change, but let me decide if I want it or not. Don't just shove it in my face with no option to get rid of it, and don't make it a pain to switch back and forth. That's all i'm saying.

Ahh, the way I took it is metro may be the default theme, but you can change your default theme to the classic look. I'm not aware of any setting in windows that I need to change everytime I log in, so I'd rest easy if I were you. This should be the same.

aj_the_kidd said:

Take the finger off the panic button people.

The very first time you start win8, you will have to deal with the Metro UI, which maybe be 1 too many for some users but from then on you should be able to choose. Its a very new UI concept which will undoubtedly be meet with an insane amount of resistance, to not have this option could very well be a death sentence, of which MS knows and will make the necessary adjustments.

SammyJames said:

What I'm still most curious about with Win8 is just how much processor overhead the OS will need. It appears, from the videos that we've seen so far, that Microsoft may have finally begun to figure out how to streamline their software. If that proves to be true, then I'll be a Windows fan.

As it is, I have fewer problems wtih Microsoft than I used to. I've also a Mac-to-PC convert -- which is saying a lot. Most artists -- both visual and auditory (like me) go the OTHER way -- giving up a PC and buying only Apple products.

I simply hate Apple. And I'm beginning to LIKE Microsoft.

Maybe it has something to do with Mr. Gates being gone...

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Somehow, whenever I see Ballmer I immediately think of him as some big fat retired wrestler.

fpsgamerJR62 said:

Yay, colorful giant shortcuts on my desktop. I can get used to this .

ikesmasher said:

Guest said:

With Microsoft, you can never tell.

this.

Guest said:

Don't own a tablet. Don't want a tablet. Just give me a pure Windows desktop OS. This is just the start. Next distro will actually remove the classic desktop and move to a touch based UI.

TJGeezer said:

Guest said:

Don't own a tablet. Don't want a tablet. Just give me a pure Windows desktop OS. This is just the start. Next distro will actually remove the classic desktop and move to a touch based UI.

...and then it'll be voice control, a computer that talks back and mutters ads when you're trying to think, and you'll have to wear a Star Trek-like computerized suit that flashes Microsoft ads when using a Windows 18 voice-controlled laptop on the commuter train. Have those Microsoft people no conscience?!

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