Why Doesn't Windows 8 Just Look Like THIS?

In the interest of stirring up trouble to no good end, I present a fairly obvious and uninspiring idea for how the desktop should look in Windows 8. That is, yes, please, give us a full-screen Metro-style Start screen with its full-screen apps, and make that the default on tablets and other small devices. But why can't the Windows desktop really be "no compromises" for those of us with big screens and powerful desktop PCs? That is, why can't we run traditional Windows applications and Metro-style apps, but in this environment as floating windows, side by side?

No, seriously. Why not?
 
It could look something like this.
 
win8why
 
Nothing dramatic, nothing world-beating. Just pragmatic, and doable, and entirely in keeping with the Windows team's "no compromises" slogan. That's what a no compromises version of Windows would really look like.
 
Why aren't we getting this?

Update: Far too many people have misunderstood this post. Allow me to clarify. I'm not suggesting that Microsoft should abandon it's Start Screen/Metro stuff. That's ludicrous. What I'm saying is that Windows 8 will have a Start screen and a desktop. And that the desktop will still be the primary UI for people on desktop computers with large displays. Given that, why not bring some Metro goodness to the desktop? Was this really not obvious?  
 

 

 

Discuss this Blog Entry 32

on Jan 13, 2012
Absolutely agreed. The fact that you'll have to switch between metro environment and desktop means that, for me anyway, the metro interface will remain virtually unused. I'm a web developer...working with multiple comps, browser windows, and code at the same time in metro? Not happening. But, as you suggest, if they simply ENHANCED the plain old windows desktop environment with live tiles and metro apps...then they'd be on the right track. I'm primarily a Mac user anyway...most of the software I use is day in and day out is native for Mac and it doesn't look like Windows 8 will give me any reason to rethink my primary OS. My wife's? Maybe.
on Jan 12, 2012
When Microsoft phases out the Desktop (which is more a matter of WHEN, not IF), what will they call their OS? The only "windows" part of "Windows" is on the desktop. Nothing in Metro runs windowed.
on Jan 12, 2012
Paul, for the first time in your coverage of Windows 8, you have said something that I can wholeheartly agree to. But MS is not going to do it because it is technically challenging, it has been going down the wrong road for far too long and because it wants to condition users to Metro. If Metro is not dominating the screen, how would MS sell all of these "Metro" apps? At the end, it is all about manipulating users. But I hope for a change of heart.
on Jan 12, 2012
Because it is a mess of frames and tiles, there is no logic behind that layout. I, personally, can't see an alternative for a current approach with W8, but maybe a more tweaks with classic desktop theming - it should be harmonized with Metro anyway. Plain colors without glow and halo, no round corners, more contrast - would be just fine. Indeed, Mac- and Google- and Bells&Wistles-fans would hate anyway, it is not a quation :-)
on Jan 16, 2012
The Design for Windows 7 is the best for Companies. I do not see from a business use standpoint how Windows 8 will appeal. I have spoken to some users that will not use finger touch gestures when working with word documents or excel spreadsheets. I hope they will consider what the user wants and needs. the mouse is still a very useful tool. They should allow the user to choose between the aeroglass interface or the metro style interface. Just getting back from CES I had a chance to look at some of the features of Windows 8 overall I am not really impressed. the only impressive feature was more app control in task manager where an app in the background would have cpu cycles suspended. However being on the desktop and clicking start and being forced to work with the metro interface was not very appealing. Lets just hope this is not another Me/Vista.
on Apr 27, 2012
For the upteenth time. This isn't about the desktop. It's about seeing live tiles and their updates while doing something else. There's a shot of a full screen Metro app there too. :) People. Come on.
on Jan 12, 2012
Indeed, why is Microsoft going with this radical new Windows 8 "tile-based" interface at all for desktop computing? It appears that in the manner of Apple, Microsoft has decided that there are significant deficiencies in the current way of doing things and that a radical makeover is needed. Now that was true of, say, smartphones in 2006 and indeed a radical makeover was needed, which was something that Apple, not Microsoft, realized. But the desktop computing interface of 2011? I think that most people are pretty happy and satisfied with the folders & files icons + mouse based user interface of modern desktop OS's. As a Mac user I'm not envious of this new OS that Microsoft is planning on forcing on its users. On the contrary, I feel a bit sorry for Windows users. This WIndows 8 interface is NOT an improvement. It's going to make it more difficult and awkward to manage files and to multitask with many different applications. Paul has more of the right idea: The standard tried-and-proven desktop interface, with perhaps a corner of the window devoted to a set of live-updating tiles and/or buttons to frequently used applications. That would make more sense. But, no, Microsoft has decided to go completely over to a tile-based interface. Just sort of the clueless, bizarre behavior that Microsoft seems to exhibit from time to time whenever they try to get creative.
on Jan 16, 2012
It would seem to be a simple thing. We have had desktop widgets for a while. This could just be an extension of that feature.
on Jan 12, 2012
Great idea and could be accomplished by a simple "Pin to desktop" command on the Metro tile.
on Jan 12, 2012
"I will always be one of those people who prefer the standard "windows" desktop, but I am in love with the metro design..." I don't think that you realize how damning your praise is. You "love" the Metro design but at the same time your prefer the standard Windows desktop? See, that's the problem with this Metro design on a desktop. It's nice eye-candy but from a functional standpoint it's really no advance at all. Sure Apple creates a lot of eye-candy in their devices and UI's too, but the difference is that they don't surrender themselves to it. For Apple, style and function go together, with both being important. The problem with this Metro thing is that the style is there, but the function is not. There is no advance in function or usability. In fact, to the contrary, I would argue that the use of a Metro-type interface on a desktop is a step backwards in functionality. It actually makes it more awkward and difficult to get things done as opposed to the standard interface. Yes, you may "love" the Metro design, but when it's time to get things done and write up a long report involving integration of data from multiple files or something like that, you're going to turn Metro off and go back to the standard interface.
on Jan 12, 2012
As long as we are making suggestions and pointing out things that are being overlooked, how about ignoring any improvements to the way I can access recorded TV. I have a great setup with a Ceton CableCard tuner that allows me basically unlimited DVR capabilities. And yet the best way Microsoft gives me to access this content is through the 6 year old Media Center interface. All these XBox updates seem to be about pushing pay content and ignoring the challenges associated with accessing the content I've already paid for. I have to use Xbox in Media Center Extender mode to access it. Same tired interface, and why not make is available in the Video hub in an elegant Zune like interface.
on Jan 12, 2012
I ask people this basic question, "What does your operating system do for you?" The answer should be transparent immediate access to my applications....So I agree with your approach...Microsoft seems to not agree and wonders why they are going to miss with Windows 8
on Jan 12, 2012
Wow! You make it look so simple. Users can 're-imagine' their workflow, one window at a time. This is too easy!
on Jan 12, 2012
I couldn't agree more. I would think as Microsoft goes full metro with most of their consumer products, that metro should be heavily integrated into all aspects of windows. I will always be one of those people who prefer the standard "windows" desktop, but I am in love with the metro design and would kill from exactly what your pictures shows. Hopefully at some point they realize that.
on Apr 27, 2012
Not exactly. I'm saying that live tiles are only useful if you stare at the Start screen all day. That may make sense on a phone, but no one uses a computer like that.
on Jan 13, 2012
I gotta agree with Paul 100%. Genius. Brilliant. Why can't Microsoft figure it out? I'd like to make side comment related to Windows Metro. Why does the fall 2011 Xbox 360 dashboard "Metro"-ish style look about 1,000 times better than the tablet Windows Metro or Windows Phone 7 UI? Now if Microsoft married the look & feel of what the Xbox 360 dashboard to Windows? That would be pretty interesting. At least until Microsoft completely kills the "Win-95" style desktop.
on Jan 12, 2012
OK, here's a really crazy idea. Instead of mixing apps from the two modes, how about just combining them into one? Apologies for the massive comment, but this has been welling up for a while and it just came to a head! - By default, Metro-style apps would start full-screen -- where you could use all of Windows 8's gestures for multi-tasking -- but the apps would each have a set of the existing "minimize" and "maximize"/"restore" buttons that would bring them onto the desktop like Paul shows. And if you didn't want Metro-style apps to open full-screen by default, you could change this in PC Settings. - The Metro Start Screen would take the place of the current desktop -- with Live Tiles instead of shortcuts, and power-user support for parking files there. - The Taskbar would live on, though perhaps in an auto-hide mode. There's been a bit of fuss as to how the Windows 8 preview doesn't let you see a list of all your open apps unless you use Task Manager -- and if you want to switch to a particular one, you have to swipe through the others first in order to get there. Showing Metro-style apps on the taskbar -- and showing the taskbar while using Metro-style apps -- might be a good way to solve this. (Caveat: on the Building Windows 8 blog (http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2011/10/03/evolving-the-start-menu.aspx), Microsoft hinted that there's more to reveal about app switching, so this might not be necessary.) I mean, you would lose a bit of screen real-estate by showing the taskbar, but hardly a significant amount. It irritates me that so many necessary UI functions in the Windows 8 preview are non-discoverable: you need to know how to swipe a certain way in order to get it to show the Charms or switch apps, and on the desktop, you need to know which corner to move the mouse to. By showing the taskbar and [what's left of] the Start button, both functions would be more apparent. What do you think? Please don't let this be just a giant ego trip on my part.
on Jan 12, 2012
Paul, I think this is a great idea. if you have a huge display, kind of like the 24" LCD's you can get in cereal boxes, droping live tiles in the space where desktop widgets went in Vista & Win7 is perfect. Even though it won't happen, you can still sign me up for this.
on Jan 12, 2012
Look, many people weren't happy with the Apple Lisa, and then slowly moved to Mac. DOS users didn't like GEM, TopView or Windows 1.x, etc, but now we can't live without the GUI that Xerox Parc pioneered decades ago. the windows (lowercase) GUI expanded the way we use applications and our computers. Now the mobile platforms are changing the way ALL future programs are designed and a new model, I believe, is required to take the next leap on the way we use our computers, phones, televisions, it. Let's not fight this change and waste more time and R&D trying to push against this forward moving interface and embrace it. (and then boycott at&t for not offering Visual Voice Mail on Windows Phone devices) :-)
on Jan 12, 2012
I'm afraid the goal is not to provide a "full" experience as is so often outlined by PC users of the last decades. In seeing normal people use computers, it's very obvious that many things we hold dear to are as pointless to the good majority of users as is the command line Linux administrators hold so dearly to. I think Metro is a step in a new computing era: it's frustrating for people like us who are used to these complex but powerful UI, but ultimately these are relegated to the same fate as the command line. It will always exist, but it will become an increasingly exclusive interface used only by professionals. As for the prevalence of fullscreen apps, yes, perhaps that will change, but I don't really know what to assume of this. Perhaps devices are getting too big and we can expect screens to be smaller and more portable with larger screens relegated to TVs and external displays for entertainment?
on Jan 12, 2012
I now see your point. I was unaware of where you were coming from. I would say that MS is moving Windows to 99% Metro is so that ALL users have a consistent UI. All manufactures can write to ONE UI and not have a huge gray area for companies to broadly paint across the canvas that is Metro. Phone, tablet, laptop, desktop, server, game console, IPTV and possibibly even a music player for the "too round for phone demographic - which is a huge missed opportunity.) The movie states, "There can be only one," and I agree 100%, MS has never had one vision and now that that do - they should follow through on that Vision. Wasn't is just 2 years ago that everyone was say how MS's right hand didn't know what it's left hand was doing? Now that they do - let's ride it out.
on Jan 14, 2012
MS has in the past admitted that with Vista they were competing with themselves - Windows XP's popularity. If they don't get Windows 8 right they will be left again competing against a preference for Windows 7.
on Jan 12, 2012
first, I'd bet money that this will be an upcoming topic on Building Windows 8 as for the question: why aren't we getting this? because that UI doesn't work for tablets. it'd be a nice option for desktops, similar to Apple's approach of full screen apps that can be changed to a "windowed" view when a user wants, but I imagine MS believes that neither consumers nor developers would be as excited by such a "half-way" approach as they would be about a major overhaul btw. there are a thousand similar mock-ups of Windows 8 on deviantart. (not that you're saying this is a novel idea, but some commenters seem to think it is)
on Jan 13, 2012
I don't know if this is what Microsoft is planning, but if I were them I would be thinking: - Plan for a multi-screen future - Minimise and simplify window management - Align Interapp communication with internet style connections rather than desktop style drag and drop There may even be some influence from the Application Posture ideas outlined by Alan Cooper in his About Face book. I think Metro is optimised for the following scenario: - The Active Sovereign Application occupies the entirety of the primary screen, typically tablet sized. - Transient Applications are invoked via contracts, overlay the Active Sovereign, and disappear when the task is complete. - Parasitic and Informational Applications interact via the Start Screen, or are docked on secondary screens to provide at-a-glance updates. - Inactive Sovereign Applications may step down to an Informational Posture. If we take the FullScreen and Filled layouts as intended for the Sovereign Posture, then the Snapped posture is for Parasitic and Informational Apps primarily. What I'll be looking for in the Beta as confirmation of Posture thinking in the Win 8 design is the ability to have 4 or more Apps in a Snapped layout on secondary screens. On the hardware side, I'll be looking for a "Designed for" requirement to support multiple monitors. Possibly not in Win8, by the time of Win9 I'd expect the ability to subdivide 4K and similar screens into multiple tablet sized virtual screens.
on Jan 12, 2012
Great idea, Paul (kind of reminds me of running Windows Media Center in a window, instead of full screen). You exercise far more pull with Microsoft than we do - make it so!
on Jan 12, 2012
You are right Paul!! But more, Windows 8 desktop don't just have to have some Metro gadget in it but the desktop should be all in Merto style ... I mean they should drop Aero and replace this theme by a Full Metro theme...
on Jan 13, 2012
Paul, I've thought it should look like something along your lines since the beginning, but actually I do like the clean, modern look of the start screen, it's just the switching between start screen/desktop which seems to be a really poor UI. I've been thinking that why not keep the Metro layout, but allow legacy apps to run in this environment? Like a big tile that can be maximised or resized, something like this: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/21192203/Windows8_Concept.jpg I'd like tabs/links along the top similar to the new Xbox dashboard, I think this would be a better place to put the app store than in a tile, then it's always visible, also it would allow a specific link for "Search", because the average user isn't going to know they can just start typing on the start screen. It also allows a place for "Files" to go, because it's too big a jump to just get rid of the concept of a place for documents in one OS. I think the taskbar can be got rid of for a modern OS - in this environment, pressing the start button (or maybe a floating start logo in the corner when using a keyboard/mouse) would zoom out to the start screen (perhaps in a "running apps" tab) in a similar way to how Exposé works on OSX. I think it's a much better way of switching between tasks than the old taskbar, once you've got used to it. This concept would work equally well on tablets or large monitors, which could simply fit more/bigger tiles on.
on Jan 13, 2012
I don't know if this is what Microsoft is planning, but if I were them I would be thinking: - Plan for a multi-screen future - Minimise and simplify window management - Align Interapp communication with internet style connections rather than desktop style drag and drop There may even be some influence from the Application Posture ideas outlined by Alan Cooper in his About Face book. I think Metro is optimised for the following scenario: - The Active Sovereign Application occupies the entirety of the primary screen, typically tablet sized. - Transient Applications are invoked via contracts, overlay the Active Sovereign, and disappear when the task is complete. - Parasitic and Informational Applications interact via the Start Screen, or are docked on secondary screens to provide at-a-glance updates. - Inactive Sovereign Applications may step down to an Informational Posture. If we take the FullScreen and Filled layouts as intended for the Sovereign Posture, then the Snapped posture is for Parasitic and Informational Apps primarily. What I'll be looking for in the Beta as confirmation of Posture thinking in the Win 8 design is the ability to have 4 or more Apps in a Snapped layout on secondary screens. On the hardware side, I'll be looking for a "Designed for" requirement to support multiple monitors. Possibly not in Win8, by the time of Win9 I'd expect the ability to subdivide 4K and similar screens into multiple tablet sized virtual screens.
on Jan 14, 2012
"Why Doesn't Windows 8 Just Look Like THIS?" Becasue that's what Windows 9 looks like!
BXP
on Jan 12, 2012
Why aren't we getting this? Because enabling this would undermine the effort to shift users to a different UI interaction paradigm. In fact, let's take it a step further: the sidebar on the right really could be a retractable overlay that can extended to the left for full-screen interaction. If you need the desktop, just slide it to the right and it collapses to a narrow column. If you don't, you can live in this full-screen overlay mode. This would beg the question of the need for the whole Metro Start screen and the subsequent "jarring effect" of switching between environments. The problem is, if they provide this "no-compromises" hybrid UI, people will stay in this hybrid UI even when they don't "need" to. While MS recognizes that there will be plenty of use-cases that dictate the need for the traditional input devices and desktop UIs, it will invest increasingly more of its resources in the Metro model. Having a hybrid model would only increase the risk of never reaching a point where they can phase out the traditional model. I'm not arguing whether they should or not want to do this, but just offering a rationale.
Johnny Wild (not verified)
on Jan 13, 2012
Great suggestion Paul, I hope someone from MS is listening. I think that changing or pushing the Metro style will enhance Windows Phone sales. How many people use Windows that do not use Windows Phone?! Millions, I imagine. Just think what influence this will have when people get used to this interface and start to really like it. Window Phone sales will go through the roof!!
on Jan 12, 2012
Even better, with the tiles on the right hand side. Have them exactly like wp7, have them move up and down to show all the tiles. When you don't need them they can slide out of view on the right hand side.

Please or Register to post comments.

What's Windows IT Pro Archived Blogs?

Blog entries from the past

Blog Archive

Sponsored Introduction Continue on to (or wait seconds) ×