Windows 8 Power Struggle: Metro vs Desktop

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We've been looking forward to Windows 8's Consumer Preview for months. This, after all, is Microsoft's big chance to show what they've been working on and unveiling bit by bit for the past year; a chance to evaluate the sum total of changes and advancements baked into the next-generation operating system. We'll discuss some of the features of Metro and Desktop (aka Classic) separately, but our overall focus will be on how the two environments interact with each other.

Understanding Metro:

Metro, Microsoft's new UI, is bold, a dramatic departure from anything the company has previously done in the desktop/laptop space, and absolutely great. It's tangible proof that Redmond really can design and build its own unique products and experiences. Metro's design heavily emphasizes text and uses brightly-colored background tiles as a means of differentiating programs. It uses very little chrome (in this context, the term "chrome" refers to the use of buttons and icons to represent specific functions). Minimize, Maximize, the X "close window" button and the taskbar itself are all examples of chrome.


The new Metro Start Screen

Also, there are no "windows" in Windows 8 Metro; all applications run full screen, regardless of whether that's the most efficient way to display the data or program in use. For a tablet in landscape mode, this structure works well; a number of Microsoft's preview apps are attractive and easy to use.


Metro's Movie app puts the entire screen to good use

At present, however, not everything translates well.  There is no Metro version of Windows Explorer yet, but Ashampoo's ImageFX photo utility gives us a look at an early version of a Metro-style Explorer window.




The above images show Metro's directory contents display, and the sub-folder selection options.


ImageFX Photo Utility

Here's how Ashampoo handles a full directory. All contents are laid out horizontally by default; scrolling downwards moves to the right. This layout works well if you simply want to view content but is much less effective for sorting files by name or date taken.

Now, let's consider Desktop mode and then look at how they mesh, or don't.

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After playing around with Windows 8 for a while and viewing innumerable videos and reviews, I agree that Metro just isn't suited to desktop use. Phone and tablet, absolutely. Although there appears to be an awful lot of gesturing to sort through all the irregularly sized tiles.

And while I can see the usefulness of the Charms bar, whoever came up with the name should be expelled to the same seventh ring as those who came up with Me and Clippy.

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I don't see any reason to "upgrade" to Win 8. I like the Win 7 desktop. The Metro desktop looks like a throwback to WFWG 3.1 substituting icons for folders.

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> Metro, Microsoft's new UI, is bold, a dramatic departure
> from anything the company has previously done in the
> desktop/laptop space, and absolutely great.

Says who?

Do you know *anything* about usability?
Have you *ever* used (or just seen) Linux desktop?

One word: bullshit.
Microsoft is dead in the desktop market for years.

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Munk,

"Says who? Do you know *anything* about usability? Have you *ever* used (or just seen) Linux desktop? One word: bullshit. Microsoft is dead in the desktop market for years."

Two glaring flaws in your argument.

1) Linux's market share in laptop/desktop.

2) The Linux community's reaction to Unity.

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With all 9 different version of Win 8 scheduled why not listen to desktop users that want a total non Metro version, with some of the Win 8 features like the updated task manager, refresh, reset and a others and roll out a Service Pack for Win 7.being able to turn off the Metro [cr^p ] gui is one thing, not even having having it there on the install is another.

Plenty of choice out that work a heck of a lot better like Mint 11 and many other spins, that are much easier to navigate ,maintain ,and get things done.

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rrplay:
why not listen to desktop users that want a total non Metro version

I agree, but I think that you're preaching to the choir here. Doesn't seem to be a lot of love for Metro around. Probably good on a Tablet PC like some have said, but my tablet already has IOS on it and works great. On a desktop, it would probably just be an exercise in frustration.

I also agree about Linux,....if more good shooters were ported to it, I'd leave Windows behind for good. It's only a matter of time before that happens, and then, just watch out.

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RealNeil,

You said: "I also agree about Linux,....if more good shooters were ported to it, I'd leave Windows behind for good. It's only a matter of time before that happens, and then, just watch out."

I'm genuinely curious as to why you think this. Linux's share of the desktop market has scarcely budged in years. The utilities that exist for providing cross-platform compatibility, like Wine, are in much better shape than they were 10 years ago, while the OSS utilities that provide equivalent functionality are equally improved -- yet as far as gaming is concerned, Linux ports remain a rare occurrence.

What is it that makes you think we're going to see greater support in the future -- or that greater support would matter? As a PC gamer myself, I can tell you that gaming is a barrier to me moving to Linux, but even if Linux supported PC gaming perfectly, I'd take Windows 7 64-bit over Linux any day. I'd only move to Linux if I literally couldn't stand whatever version of Windows was prominent *and* W7 was literally no longer supported by any current software.

That seems unlikely.

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My Linux Mint and Zorin Linux are full featured OS's that are free. I can do just about anything I need to do with them. (even make them look just like Windows does)  Honestly, if I could game on them as well as I can on my Win-7 OS, I would use them instead of buying the latest flavor that MS needs us to want every few years. When you're retired and on a fixed income, ~free~ speaks much louder to you and sounds a lot sweeter too.

I like the security of these two Linux distributions and the fact that they just work without issue. I surf the web and those pesky exploits don't bother me. There are ports of some games on Linux now and people are working on more of them too. We'll see what the future holds for Linux gaming.If it works out, then fine. If not, I'll get over it too. Just like you, I still have my Win-7 to game with.

Linux is a viable OS for home use. I have it on two PC's now and they both are totally predictable. There is a lot of software available for them too. (also free)

Do I honestly think that Linux will surpass Windows in the gaming arena? (any arena?) Nope,.....but I'd love to see it happen. Do I see this whole Metro interface idea as a steaming turd? Yep!

The world is firmly rooted in MS software, we all realize this, but market share just doesn't matter to some of us.

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realneil,

Linux is hardly a viable OS for home use. Not only I have printer issues with Linux, but a lot of the software I run is only available on Windows (To name a few: Adobe Photoshop Elements 10, SnagIt, PowerDirector 10 Ultra, and PowerArchiver 2012) and using Wine severely diminishes the performance any software that I use. The quality of the Linux software (including frees) are a joke compared to their Windows counterparts, especially the proprietary commercial ones. Not to mention that gaming support on Linux is abysmal and it is a poor platform for HTPC (Linux shot itself in the foot by not implementing HDCP support).

Linux is not without its uses (works great on servers), but for a box I use for both work purposes and entertainment, Linux just isn't a credible replacement and many Linux users, including zealots would agree with my sentiment.

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Zorin OS Linux and Linux Mint are two distros that come very close to a windows experience for Linux newbies. Linux is not the answer for many people, but cramming Metro down our throats isn't either.

I really like Zorin and I installed it onto the 6 PCs that I donated to a local battered woman's shelter for their use.  (I formatted the drives and trashed the copy of XP that was on them first) They write resumes, search for new jobs, and try to contact relatives that can help them help themselves. They're very happy with them. I have Zorin installed onto one of my own PCs as well.

I have Win-7 installed on three PCs here and It does what I want it to, and I already own it. So I have to ask, what is Win-8 gonna bring to the table to make it worth my while to discontinue using the already owned copies of Win-7 (remember that they work great and without problems) and ~spend money~ to buy into an interface that I do not like?

Microsoft is suffering from an ~Anal-Cranial Inversion~ on this subject.

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