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New Windows chief explains why Microsoft redesigned Windows

By Rick ยท 103 replies
Dec 14, 2012
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  1. Taking over after Sinofsky's departure, Julie Larson-Green now heads Microsoft's Windows product development team. In an interview with MIT Technology Review, Larson-Green discusses some of the changes made to Windows and why with the company's latest operating system.

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  2. mevans336

    mevans336 TS Enthusiast Posts: 161   +11

    The main problem is the jarring experience when an app kicks you out to Metro or out of Metro back to the desktop. There is nothing that can be done about this until there are Metro apps for everything you need to do ... which I just don't see happening for years and years.

    On a personal note, I honestly gave Metro a shot. I like new, different things. I used it for much longer than the 6 weeks she mentions but my frustration kept mounting. I eventually paid Stardock $4.99 for Start8 which brings the start button back but more importantly, boots me straight to the desktop and keeps me in desktop mode.
  3. ikesmasher

    ikesmasher TS Evangelist Posts: 3,050   +1,384

    "We didnt want you to have to make a choice." there you go folks, the Windows team thinks you are all complete *****s.
  4. Vrmithrax

    Vrmithrax TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,467   +500

    I like the live tiles... On a touch interface. I have an issue with her comment about not wanting users to have to choose between the interfaces - that should read "but we didn't want to LET users choose." Otherwise, you wouldn't be forced to use the Metro interface since there is no Start button. Sure, it's great to see a bunch of stuff updating on the screen and giving you a "status at a glance" functionality that, quite frankly, is unparalleled at this point. It's just so messy and chaotic at times, trying to hunt through those big honkin tiles and looking for your program. You'll notice that Microsoft NEVER demos a computer with a realistic number of applications, that looks like something a user has been using for a while (6 months to a year). Metro looks mighty sexy and simple when you only have the default applications and a few of your programs on it. When I tried it on my desktop, I ended up with page after page of tiles to wade through to find what I needed to run.

    And, let's be honest... The "touch is the future" mantra has been touted for quite a while now, and there is a reason it's only truly ever gained traction in the smartphone through tablet form factor ranges. If you want to totally rely on touch, you are going to have to redesign about 90% of all business desks and computer terminals, then figure out how to accommodate the extra fatigue resulting from operators constantly having to move their hands away from data entry and far away to the screen, then back. Or eliminate all discrete entry completely, and then enjoy the loss in productivity resulting from poor touch mechanics and accuracy. It will take quite a revolution, and massive reconstruction of the typical efficiency and ergonomics methods of today.
  5. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,402   +5,021

    I don't care how much you explain why. If you can't make it look better, you will never sell it to me. Here I am once again stating function is not always everything. If it wasn't so hideous looking to me, I might would give it a try. And please don't tell me I can use a third party app, I'm already using more third party apps than I should have need to for what I'm paying in an OS. This is where I am drawing a line. If Microsoft can not keep me happy with even the most basic of functionality, then I see no reason to keep sending them my money.

    We've spent the last twenty years making graphics cards, monitors, printers, and scanners capable of handling more than a 8-bit color palette. Why would I want the majority of my screen to look as if my PC is not capable of more than 8-bit color. Why don't we go back to playing games without 3D as well?
    hammer2085 and psycros like this.
  6. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,124   +1,617

    ""We didn't want you to have to make a choice.""

    "Even if you're a desktop user, over time there's a cutover point around six weeks where you start using the new things..." Oh really? So we have to wait six weeks to be able to efficiently manage our computer activities over what we've done previously for years, eh.

    That is some serious, off-the-charts arrogance there. Why didn't she just say, "we're right, the consumers are wrong and they'll take this cake, eat it and love the hell out of it because we say so."

    News alert to MS: Computers and software are all about having choices. That's what makes them so important to our daily lives and why we want to use them.

    I've used Windows 8 and have helped out friends who have bought Windows 8 devices (not because they wanted it, but because they had no option as it came with the hardware), and I can't stand it. Even with an old-school shell it's annoying as hell because as mevans366 pointed out, it's the whole snapping back and forth between desktop and Metro that makes you want to scream. I've never seen a program that has so much "one step forward, two steps backward" built into it.
    St1ckM4n, Burty117, Wendig0 and 3 others like this.
  7. Littleczr

    Littleczr TS Guru Posts: 441   +92

    "We didn?t want you to have to make a choice." Keep that attitude up Microsoft. If I wanted a company to tell me how to use my PC I would have bought an apple. And they do a better job of treating people like saps then you. All you had to do was give the options of installing a start button, in order to keep the casual and power user hapy.
  8. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 2,717   +2,517

    That "editorial" in June was nothing but a whining baby saying, "well *I* like it so if you don't you're a big poo-poo head!" Every point it made was arrogant, deceptive and flat-out wrong. The Cult of the New constantly pushes change for change's sake despite common sense and practical reality. But thanks for dredging up that ridiculous bit of irrational propaganda - we need to be reminded that most journalists and bloggers live in the same elitist bubble as tech executives.
    hammer2085 likes this.
  9. EEatGDL

    EEatGDL TS Evangelist Posts: 693   +376

    I'm on the boat of all those complaining about the "didn't want to let you choose" philosophy. That's exactly what I've been thinking for months now, everything was right to me with Windows 8 until they removed the start button in the CP, in the Developer it convinced me more than how it turned out.

    I mean, for years you've been able to choose a classic Windows GUI or the new ones brought by XP, Vista and 7; but you could choose. Now they want to force you and I'm sorry, I tried using the retail version of 8 for a whole month without getting any happier:

    *Watching a video on Youtube and want to open something that's not at hand and need to access the metro screen... and hey! Lost all visibility of the video you were watching!! Very useful.
    *Someone borrowed you an USB memory and you want to quickly check it for virus before opening it... there's no option for scanning on the contextual menu of the drive!! Good job with the Windows Defender, because you can't install Security Essentials!! [Yes, I've been using MS SE for more than a year now and I'm sticking with it]
    *You logged in your user and after you have turned off Windows 8 you access Messenger from another system and it says your session is opened, you have to log off a session from an already turned off system!!

    In what world using a whole screen just to do an specific task (search something, open a program, etc.) is useful.
    psycros and hammer2085 like this.
  10. You folks talking about moving between Metro and the Desktop being "jarring" and making you want to "scream"; all I can say is that you are in trouble. When you actually move out of mom and dads house and into the real world; the real world where there is change happening constantly... Sad to say but you folks are in for a major awakening.

    Jarring and screaming are things that most people simply do not experience or perform while at a computer. You all should get out more, really...
  11. spydercanopus

    spydercanopus TS Evangelist Posts: 857   +127

    Having your cake and eating it too would have been leaving the Start menu in place and adding Modern UI.
    hammer2085 likes this.
  12. lawfer

    lawfer TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,270   +91

    Here we go again. But watch this though:

    Man: "Windows 8 is a disaster."

    Woman: "Really? I like it."

    Man: "How can you like that garbage? M$ is retarded for giving us a touch interface on a DESKTOP. A DESKTOP?!"

    He continued. "Why, tell me, why would anyone use Windows 8 over 7? Everything is a cluttered mess. No to mention, not even being able to resize those pathetic Metro apps goes against the very philosophy of Windows!"

    Woman: "Well, it's still Windows. If you can't seem to change you--"

    Man: "No! I'm not willing to relearn Windows. And there's no reason for me to upgrade."

    Woman: "Well, I read it's faster and more efficient. I've also read--"

    Man:"No it's not. The whole OS is garbage that's designed for tablets not desktops. It's garbage. Garbage! It might boot up faster but it is the same garbage; just now with a Screen made for kids!"

    Woman: "Ok."

    Man: "Don't "OK" me. There's no reason to be hindered by that disgusting Start Screen. I have no use for it, and so will millions and millions of dissatisfied customers."

    Woman: "Well, you know you can always use StartisBack. It's this nice little program that brings the Start Menu back. You can even boot directly to your desktop. You still have the option to see some of Metro, if you'd like to test the waters or you can avoid it entirely."

    Man: "Wow, really? Then Windows 8 is awesome!"

    True story.
  13. Rick

    Rick TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 4,512   +65


    Personally, I think a clearly defined, user-electable choice between a "touchscreen" experience and a "normal" experience would have been the best way to go, especially at this stage.

    The amalgamation of the two seems confused.

    It's weird to use an up/down scroll wheel to move left/right in the Metro Start Screen.. it's weird that the fonts are all smoothed differently than desktop applications... it's weird that right clicking either doesn't apply or just works differently (I.e. inefficiently for mouse users) in the Start replacement...

    There are many things like this which essentially break that cohesiveness others talk about. It's like using two different operating systems, which is certainly not a good thing.

    I'm not a fan, but when it comes to opening programs though, the Metro Start Screen works well enough, as the "propaganda piece" we did explains.
  14. tekman42

    tekman42 TS Enthusiast Posts: 26   +8

    I've been dual-booting win7 pro x64 and windows 8 consumer preview since it was first released for consumers.

    During that time...I've used the desktop almost exclusively and one of the FIRST things I did was bring back the start button with vistart. http://lee-soft.com/vistart/

    It's one hundred percent "FREE" and I mean free. This brings back start menu functionality, control panel, my computer, All programs, documents, network and such into the windows 7 format and all are functional as shortcuts as well as allowing one to place a shortcut on the desktop to "MY COMPUTER".

    No cost, very lightweight, starts with windows when configured to do so, and I have NO issues using windows 8 without seeing METRO GUI unless I choose to!

    So this choice you folks are complaining about doesn't make sense to me...I choose the desktop tile upon start and do not look back....nothing has forced me to use the tiles in the metro gui...yes sometimes things open with the metro interface...but once that happens...I just right click and choose the "Open With" menu to change the default to whatever I want it to be!

    Otherwise this O/S IS quicker than windows 7, restarts quicker, resumes from sleep "immensely quicker", and is all around better at recovering ram from the closing of used programs. The O/S is also better at security, and performs with a "snappier" response time on menus and such.

    It's just windows 7 with excellent Value Features added and a tweaked, streamlined system that feels great. I have a hard time going back to Win 7 Pro because I end up becoming impatient when resuming from sleep, or clicking and then waiting for a response or waiting for menus to open! That seems ridiculous but it's true...there IS a measureable and "FELT" response time differential that gets wider and wider as one uses W8 vs W7. All my O/Ses have been 64 bit since vista and the Pro version of xp and win 7.

    I haven't really found a LOT to complain about at all....admittedly...drivers ARE slowly getting there, but sometimes video is a bit washed out or grey scale isn't all that accurate...I'm on a laptop "Dell Vostro 1520" and the screen res is 1200X800 so some things like swipe and gestures doesn't work for me but that's alright too!

    From an IT point...all this really doesn't matter all that much because most big business...read...corporate...is still using Windows NT or 2000 or XP. I see XP at sonic, banks, ALL grocery stores, Walmart, and so on...the cost of upgrading to new Software for the O/S is prohibitive due to licensing and required personnel training!

    So it's gonna take time for the mainstream Industrial and commercial fields to move forward significantly on the O/S upgrading required and the associated required training curve that is inevitably coming...this of course ALWAYS means all associated costs will be passed on to...wait for it...the consumer...sigh...is there any other way?

    So, with global markets becoming reality, the competition being so high for pricing...the upgrading and training will take a long time to catch up with what mainstream consumers already are using now...since XP no longer will have ANY support after 2014, expect our economy to get hit big time from needed infrastructure upgrades and training!


  15. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,547   +432

    This is what I've been bitching about since the CP (the first 8 I used). It didn't get fixed in the RTM either. What they should have done here is make a left mouse button press work as if you touched the screen with your finger. That way you can click and swipe just like you would on a tablet and move the screen that way. The current way is absolutely horrible to use, try to use the scroll wheel to go to the other pages in the Weather app.. once that first screen gets about half way off the screen, your cursor is likely in a spot where there is a vertical scrolling pane, so suddenly, rolling the mouse wheel quits moving the screen to the left. It currently is such a horrible implementation, and it could be fixed so simply by letting a left click act just like a finger pushing on the screen.
    psycros likes this.
  16. ikesmasher

    ikesmasher TS Evangelist Posts: 3,050   +1,384

    What you people dont seem to realize is that many people (like me) dont like having other apps running constantly in the background. the ONLY application I have running in the background EVER is steam. I shouldnt HAVE to use any other party software. I dont WANT to.

    My biggest complaint is that the change was UNNECESSARY. You can argue that it DOESN'T make things worse, but it doesn't do ANYTHING that it couldn't do before. It only SLOWS you down while you have to relearn.

  17. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,402   +5,021

    Doesn't make since to you!! Let me ask a question. Why am I paying for a Windows License, if I'm disabling or ignoring just about every aspect of the OS? Why should I pay the full amount when I am compelled to use alternative solutions. I never have used Explorer, and just recently stopped using Internet Explorer, never have really cared for Windows Media Player, Disk Management is hardly worth using. Now I'm being asked to find something else to load my applications with if I'm not happy with the start screen. Why am I paying for all this BS, if I'm not willing to use it? I was happy when MSSE came out, give me a sense of getting some of my money back. I don't know about you but I'm tired of paying some incompetent programmer to create applications I never use, just so I can have an OS that will remain updated.
    psycros likes this.
  18. Anyone still remember MS redesigned Windows back in mid-90's(Windows 3.X to 95)?

    We're undergoing another major change in 2013(Windows 7 to Windows 8)
  19. lawfer

    lawfer TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,270   +91

    You mean aspects of the OS that you are purposely ignoring because you won't like them? Why, in such scenario, would you then complain you paid for features you knew you wouldn't like?

    Ah, because you want the benefits of Windows 8.

    People who hate Windows 8 hate Metro. Not the OS. And yet, they are still being offered an alternative, as opposed to previously rumored, so I still don't understand all the yapping.

    Folks have the option to install the Start Menu back through third-parties and never even glance at anything Metro-related again. It's only logical to assume that if you choose this path (keeping in mind that, surprise, you <I>are</I> in the minority) you will have to manually associate certain file types to your legacy applications. You will do this, of course, because you want the benefits of Windows 8 without the idiosyncrasies of Metro.

    P.S. StartisBack is completely <b>native</b>. It's not a program that boots up alongside your other programs. It's the Windows 7 Start Menu code brought back into Windows 8's Explorer. There's no excuse.
  20. gamoniac

    gamoniac TS Evangelist Posts: 358   +102

    I have two copies of Windows 8 upgrade in front of me right now, and they have been sitting on my desk for two+ weeks. I got them for a good deal on Black Friday. I also have tried out W8 developer preview and consumer preview for months. In general, Windows 8 MetroUI is not a problem for me, it's the little things that make my computing experience inconvenient that are holding me back. For example, trying to hit the lower corner on the seam of dual-screens is cumbersome, and it takes several steps just to shut down/sleep. That is my experience -- Microsoft needs to improve some basic stuff, soon.
  21. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,402   +5,021

    You obviously didn't understand my comment. And for the record Microsoft couldn't get me to install their new OS if they give it to me. I've had several opportunities to try it for free and never felt a desire so why would I spend money on it now.
    psycros likes this.
  22. The real reason why they redesigned Windows (or replace start button with Metro-style) is to make their Windows ready for touchscreen-display.. with some changes of course.. :D
  23. Vrmithrax

    Vrmithrax TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,467   +500

    Just curious, because I'm looking for a proper mod that works for me... Does StartisBack fix the absolutely horrendous multi-screen behavior of Window 8? Or do you know of any other method to get a true productive multi-screen setup out of Windows 8? That has been my single biggest issue - and why I find I really like W8 on a tablet (since I don't have to worry about multi-screen), but experience major disappointment on my desktop...
  24. Just when I thought Windows took a step forward with Windows 7, Windows 8 puts them 3 steps back.
  25. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 2,717   +2,517

    No excuse to not install a <I>third party app</I> to make your OS functional? Did you hit your head or something? But then you also say that those who despise Metro are a minority despite all the facts proving otherwise, so keep on drinking that Kool-Aid, bro - nobody cared when Windows 8 debuted and nobody cares now.
    cliffordcooley likes this.

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