I’ve been giving the Windows 8 Consumer Preview a good run through. I thought it best if I tested it on a device that had both a Keyboard and Mouse, but also a Multi-Touch Screen. So I’ve been using a Dell Inspiron Duo Netbook.
There are a lot of things I like about the new OS: Faster boot times (even with Hard drives), Booting Windows off a USB Drive, the New Copy/Paste Dialogue with Graph, and the new Task Manager. But there is also a lot I’m really disappointed with, and in some cases down right frustrated with.
The title of this blog post focuses on a recent issue I’ve had, but helps encompass my problem with Windows 8 on whole: Metro…
Metro is the new UI that started with early roots in the Zune, but became popular and matured in Windows Phone, continued on to Xbox 360 Dash board, and now replaces the Start menu in Windows. Metro on the surface is an interface that emphasizes touch, by employing large Square icons (tiles). Tiles and content such as text also employ the idea that menu are looking at is too big for the screen so you must scroll from side to side to see all of your content or selections. Not a big deal right? Well if it stopped there we probably be fine.
The methodology behind Metro in the desktop OS is this: Bring a simple to use Mobile interface to the Desktop PC. This might be alright if all you want to do is check the Weather, play a game or write a simple email. Which to be fair Tablet Slates’ like the Ipad or Android Tablet do pretty well already.
What’s frustrating is that behind the Metro interface still lies the power house that is the PC. And when Metro applications are merely dumbed down full screen counter parts to their desktop counterparts, why would I want to use them?
Take Internet Explorer my example in the picture; the Metro version features a full screen HTML 5 viewer with no tabs that looks pretty good on a tablet. However, it’s limited, not just because it lacks tabs, but it also lacks Browser Plug-ins like Flash, or even Silver light. I can’t watch Netflix in this browser or even go to a lot of webpages. Probably my favorite feature in the Metro version of IE is the option to send the page you are viewing to the full version of IE that runs on the Desktop. This is IE 9, which does support Plugs-Ins, and is also an HTML 5 viewer as well. So I’m left asking, why did I even start the Metro Version in the first place?
This is true of a lot of Metro Apps, like photos and mail there just simply better desktop tools to get the job done. And in most cases they work just as well when I’m using the Duo as a tablet. Sure they might not be as clean and as polished for touch, but when I can’t do something in the Metro version, it’s frustrating, because I’m left wondering why I even bothered running the Metro version. I’m very fearful what the next version of MS Office will be like, will I start the metro version only to have close it and reopen the doc I’m working on in the full version? Or will I have a button for switching in and out of Metro version of the app.
I really feel strongly that one of two things needs to happen before Windows 8 is ready for Sale:
1) Users should have the ability to turn off Metro and use the traditional desktop UI with Start menu. It’s honestly faster and easier to use in a Desktop environment.
2) Metro Apps need to be able to quickly switch from Metro/Tablet form to their fully functioning desktop counterparts, otherwise why would a user even pin the Metro Version when on a traditional Desktop PC or laptop.
I understand Microsoft’s thinking, they are trying desperately to clone the success of the Ipad’s easy to use OS in to Windows. And let’s face it. Windows isn’t ideal for Tablet use, it was never designed to be.
But that doesn’t mean, the desktop user should use a tablet friendly UI on their computer. It’s frustrating! Much in the same way a Desktop UI is for a Tablet user. These two things shouldn’t be the same, as much as we may desire it. Microsoft by fussing the two isn’t really doing a service to either, and instead is merely making a headache for all of us.
In many ways the Inspiron Duo really is an ideal platform for testing out this OS, it has both the Desktop and Tablet modes to play in, much like Windows 8. But when I’m in the tablet mode I feel like things are lacking in function or usability. And when I go into the Desktop, it’s hard to click on things with my finger.
Microsoft these just aren’t the same thing, please stop acting like they are.
I'll be posting More Windows 8 thoughts as I have time. I just really hope someone listens.