Windows 8 Power Struggle: Metro vs Desktop - HotHardware

Windows 8 Power Struggle: Metro vs Desktop

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The reason Metro and the Desktop interface don't work well together -- maybe the reason they can't work well together -- is that they take two fundamentally different approaches to displaying content. From the dawn of Windows up through Windows 7, Microsoft treated the operating system as a neutral framework designed to facilitate the navigation and display of whatever software the user saw fit to install. Take a look at the Start Screen again, this time from a "most common tasks" perspective.


Most common tasks, looking pretty and ready to fire up.

The programs listed above cover the vast majority of what computers are used for on a day-to-day basis, and the only programmed called out by name is Internet Explorer. Everything else is listed by task, not application name. This is Microsoft's new approach to computing and their formula for reinventing Windows. When it comes to consuming content, Metro is beautiful.


Music and Videos app, also nicely presented...

The Music and Video apps presents a seamless method of viewing TV shows, movies, and albums, with gorgeous screenshots and easily accessed controls.

Unfortunately, things rapidly fall apart when you install multiple programs or need to produce content of your own. Here's the Start Menu after we've installed a few test programs.


Metro's complete mess of an eye chart with a few program's installed.

The layout that works extremely well when working with a small number of tasks but falls apart completely when dealing with large numbers of programs and icons. There's only a handful of test software installed on the system shown above. What you're seeing is the translation of options normally embedded within sub-folders in the Start Menu when they're instead flattened and displayed in a single tree. It's a wretched excuse for icon layout, and zooming out doesn't exactly help.


Let's zoom out to get more screen real estate... oh, that's not good.

In these screenshots, we've purposely preserved the wasted space on a 1900x1200 monitor to demonstrate just how much of the screen goes unused. Holding down Control and scrolling backwards once, while in the Start Menu, creates the above.


Find the app needle in this haystack.

The more you need to edit content, the less time it takes for Metro to become useless. That's fine -- Microsoft left Desktop mode in for precisely this reason -- but forcing users to adopt the Smart Screen fractures the idea of shared OS functionality. In Desktop mode, the mouse is a sophisticated tool used for selecting options and moving content. In Metro, the mouse is your finger. There's no more double-clicking, while sub-menu functionality varies considerably from program to program.

This thing still needs work...

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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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