First Thoughts

With under a day to see, play with, and write about the Windows 8 pre-beta it’s hard to fully digest what we’ve seen and to come up with a meaningful opinion. With Microsoft it’s a safe bet that there’s more to be seen when they’re still this far away from shipping the final product.

For a tablet-focused event I don’t think you will find much disagreement that Microsoft has hit the mark with Metro. Metro feels like it belongs when used with a tablet – it’s smooth, it’s easy to use, it’s gesture-driven, and it’s finger-friendly. Virtually everything Windows Phone 7 did well as a touch screen OS has been ported over to Metro and it shows.

The converse of that is that Metro feels awkward and out of place when used with a mouse and keyboard as a laptop/desktop. It fails to take advantage of the precision of the mouse or the fact that not everything needs to be in size 28 font when sitting down to use a computer. At this moment it feels like trying to use a tablet with a mouse and keyboard, which isn’t far off from what it really is in the first place.

The underpinnings look interesting, but there’s still a great deal left to see such as DirectX 11.1 and WDDM 1.2. I believe that in the long run the class driver additions will help further simplify using Windows, and integrating Microsoft Security Essentials into the OS is a long overdue change. At the same time if nothing else Metro will go even farther to improve security thanks to the fine grained permissions system.

Ultimately this is just the beginning, in fact it’s the beginning of a beginning. Windows 8 is still at least a year off – Microsoft isn’t even close to committing to a date – and the pre-beta is pre-beta in every sense of the word. The real fight starts today when Microsoft pitches it to developers. Because so much rides on Metro, Microsoft needs to convince developers to start writing Metro applications, otherwise most of the work Microsoft has put into Windows 8 will languish. Microsoft looks to have the tools their developers need, but will it be enough? Perhaps this is what BUILD is meant to find out.

Stay tuned as we’ll have more from BUILD this week, including coverage of today’s opening keynote.

The Desktop User Experience & Business Use


View All Comments

  • martin5000 - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    I'm try to like metro, but I can't. I just hate it. Reply
  • futurepastnow - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    Sadly, I agree. I hate this. I look at the Metro tiles, and imagine them on my 24" non-touchscreen desktop display, and it makes me sick to imagine using my computer that way. People described the more colorful Windows XP theme as "Fisher Price" when it was new, but this really is like a computer for toddlers.

    I like almost everything I've read about Windows 8- the new file copy window, the technical improvements. But I want the desktop and only the desktop. If I can't disable Metro- and I mean 100% never-have-to-see-it disabled- then I'm not using this on a desktop or laptop PC. It makes sense on tablets. Nowhere else.
  • crispbp04 - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    Live tiles are 1000x more useful than static windows 3.1 style icons. You're resisting progression. And as stated below it's just a shell. Microsoft always supports those who resist change, hence being able to upgrade from windows 1.0 through windows 7 and run the same 25 year old applications. You'll love and embrace windows 8. Reply
  • Ratman6161 - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    If you multitask heavily (I currently have 13 different windows open) those tiles are going to spend the entire day hidden behind other windows aren't they? I don't even bother with background images on my system since I rarely see my desktop anyway.

    I think the task bar at the bottom of the screen showing all my open applications is far more useful than having to go back to the desktop for things.

    In the past, Microsoft came under a lot of fire on mobile devices because people said they were trying to cram a desktop interface into a phone or PDA. Now they are making the same mistake in reverse - trying to make a desktop look like a phone.

    I'm with futurepastnow - this will simply not work for me for the work that I do.
  • Alexvrb - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    Then don't use it. Windows 8 still has Explorer. Turn Metro off. Reply
  • DeciusStrabo - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    That's just it. You can't. It's starts Metro, and Metro in turn is your Start Menu and Launcher. Metro _is_ the Explorer. Literally. Metro resides in explorer.exe.

    I love the Metro UI. For mobile devices. For a desktop? It's more harm than use.
  • piiman - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    According to MS you can turn it off. Reply
  • BenDTU - Thursday, September 15, 2011 - link

    At least in the developer preview you can't. There's no option to do so. Metro is your start menu. Reply
  • Wraith404 - Thursday, September 15, 2011 - link

    To Disable the wretched Metro failure, I mean feature:

    run regedit from the developer command prompt.

    set the key RPEnabled to 0
  • LoneWolf15 - Thursday, September 15, 2011 - link


    (I never use all caps, but this time, emphasis was necessary)

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