Microsoft: Windows 8 GUI Will Be Just Another App

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News Posted: Thu, Sep 1 2011 7:43 PM
Microsoft's Steven Sinofsky has published an update to the Building Windows 8 blog in which he sheds light on how Windows 8 treats the GUI differently than any previous version of the operating system. One of the concerns surrounding Windows 8 has been whether or not the operating system's new 'Metro' UI would supplant the more conventional GUI and whether or not users would be able to switch between the two. Microsoft has already demonstrated an updated version of Explorer's UI structure, as partial proof that the company is devoted to preserving both the old and new presentation methods.

According to Sinofsky, Windows 8 will treat the desktop as an optional environment. He notes that the company's decision to update the fundamentals of Windows' GUI was "an ambitious undertaking—it involves tools, APIs, languages, UI conventions, and even some of the most basic assumptions about a PC. For example, how do you isolate applications from each other, or prevent applications from stealing all your battery power? How can installing (and removing) apps be as quick and painless as changing the channel on the TV? How do you attract the broadest set of developers possible to a new platform? How do you build a touch-first interface with a unique point of view?"

The classic Windows GUI structure, however, remains critically important.
The things that people do today on PCs don’t suddenly go away just because there are new Metro style apps. The mechanisms that people rely on today (mice, physical keyboards, trackpads) don’t suddenly become less useful or “bad” just because touch is also provided as a first-class option. These tools are quite often the most ergonomic, fast, and powerful ways of getting many things done."

We believe there is room for a more elegant, perhaps a more nuanced, approach. You get a beautiful, fast and fluid, Metro style interface and a huge variety of new apps to use...And if you want to stay permanently immersed in that Metro world, you will never see the desktop—we won’t even load it (literally the code will not be loaded) unless you explicitly choose to go there!

But if you do see value in the desktop experience—in precise control, in powerful windowing and file management, in compatibility with hundreds of thousands of existing programs and devices, in support of your business software, those capabilities are right at your fingertips as well. You don’t need to change to a different device if you want to edit photos or movies professionally, create documents for your job or school, manage a large corpus of media or data, or get done the infinite number of things people do with a PC today. And if you don’t want to do any of those “PC” things, then you don’t have to and you’re not paying for them in memory, battery life, or hardware requirements.  If you do want or need this functionality, then you can switch to it with ease and fluidity because Windows is right there. Essentially, you can think of the Windows desktop as just another app.
Sinofsky's statements raise intriguing questions regarding the future of windows 8 development and application compatibility. As we expected, a full desktop environment and conventional, albeit updated, UI will be available out of the box. What's less clear is whether or not 'classic' Windows apps will be able to interface with Windows 8 Metro without loading the conventional desktop application.

Given that Windows 8 is meant to run on tablet-class hardware, the task of loading the desktop could noticeably slow system performance. This could also be viewed as an incentive to transition to Metro, however, and the company's decision to de-couple the desktop and OS applications is a novel approach--at least for Microsoft. It implies that the company is serious about scaling Windows 8 on a variety of hardware and was willing to make sweeping changes in order to optimize the operating system's performance.
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Um hey Microsoft guess what this has already been done by another OS. It's called Linux!

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CDeeter replied on Thu, Sep 1 2011 11:46 PM

Yep, and after this time they are giving you what you want. Winning lol.

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LauRoman replied on Fri, Sep 2 2011 12:56 AM

As opposed to know when the gui is not an app? just end the process explorer.exe in Task Manager and you'll see...

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VMaharaj replied on Sat, Sep 3 2011 12:38 AM

Sigh... you people are pretty slow... they expanded the explorer shell to incorporate the metro ui, metro and explorer are still one in the same. The reality is now, isntead of dumming down classic windows to make it more idiot proof, they have a different UI environment for the less technologically competent (aka the would be ipad users) and a more feature rich, updated classic explorer part of the shell for the power users and productivity users.

This is extremely smart and keeps both party happy. Also point to note they are not two separate processes, one potentially slowing the other down, the new UI is simply an addition of the old explorer UI. Its still one process u dimwits.

Go back and watch the original building windows 8 video from the original reveal, there is A LOT of info in there that people miss because they only hear and don't listen.

Also despite the similarities windows 8 and 7 share visually, a lot of work has been done under the hood to shrink the legacy windows code and make things less resource intensive. Hence the reason windows 7 ran better on vista era hardware, than vista did!

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TIsmail replied on Thu, Sep 8 2011 10:44 AM

souds like kde, gnome, xfce... maybe explorer2.exe and explorer.exe in pararel is coming?

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realneil replied on Thu, Sep 8 2011 10:55 AM

Sigh... you people are pretty slow...

And what are you? fast?

Give me a break with your condescending BS. Calling people that you don't even know dimwits says a lot about you,......butthead. (you like being called names?)

Consider that you can explain something to others without being such a drag.

Dogs are great judges of character, and if your dog doesn't like somebody being around, you shouldn't trust them.

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