I understand the reason but I don't like it. RRS feed

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  • I played with Windows 8 last night and my first impression with Metro UI was very negative. I looked at it from the laptop / desktop perspective. The whole Metro idea does not work for mouse / keyboard / content creation machine. How do you effectively copy and paste between applications in Metro ? How do you switch between applications effectively ? Switching in Metro between applications is at least cumbersome and not being able to display multiple windows of various applications next to each other for copy / paste impossible. It seems clearly that Metro is designed for (how should I put it nicely ?) inexperienced users. When I installed Visual Studio preview it created zillion tiles on the Metro desktop. Hello. This suppose to be interface for inexperienced users. If every software vendor will follow Microsoft lead shown with Studio 11 then we will have millions tiles on the Start desktop that are practically unreadable since they will take dozens of screens to be scrolled to reach one that is needed. The problem is that users with no computer knowledge are the least likely people to discover how to organize them nicely. Sure one can position them or unpin them from the screen and even rearrange them but it take knowledge how to do it and incredible amount of time when doing it one by one. I see many users that leave their Start menu exactly as is when they install software. This should teach Microsoft a lesson that identical situation will be with Metro, except in Metro even less will be visible on the screen than it is with traditional start menu. The the whole idea of searching for unpinned applications using typing. Keeping applications sorted alphabetically is nonsense. They should be organized by context. If I unpin zillion Visual Studio tiles from desktop just to keep it size in check, then searching for unpinned applications alphabetically will be a challenge instead of looking into "Visual Studio" folder that is on the traditional Start menu but only shows it's content when I need it. Now, some users talk about switching metro off. That is all and great, but then why bother with Windows 8 ? I prefer to stay with Windows 7. I was hoping that native C++ will be much improved in Visual Studio to match C# in intellisense and being able to run .NET components. It does not look like for traditional Windows code. I might be wrong but it seems than C++ native code will be limited to Metro and intellisense will be only improved for C++/CLI. So much for expectations. If I want to program for CLI I will do in in C#.  Why bother with C++ for CLI with all the pain that is needed to make C++ work ? Native C++ is where the true power is. But native seems to be second class citizen for traditional business Windows. WPF not accesible in a reasonable manner. Poor intellisense. If Windows Forms is outdated, what one can say about MFC which must be still used to write business applications in C++.

    Now, I might be old, conservative guy who is not ready for modern change. I did an experiment and showed the interface to my teenager daughter who is heavy computer user, gamer but not programmer. She was horrified with the Metro. The comments included words like "crap". I'm not the only one.


    Sunday, September 18, 2011 6:04 PM

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  • I must admit that I’ve spent quite some time to organize “Start” screen, which is supposed to be a replacement for “Start” menu. While Windows “8” Developer Preview has “face lift”, the user interface is NOT the only thing that changes. In my perspective, I especially like the fact that the memory management and allocation of CPU/ GPU resources are now much improved, which impresses me a lot. This kind of underlying improvement allows Windows “8” Developer Preview to be run at the same hardware but at better performance.

    Speaking of User Interface, the “Start Screen” may have different impact to different group of people. For casual users, they are very unlikely to install a couple of resource-demanding desktop applications. I supposed that they may only need a few desktop applications for productivity purposes but more “Metro Style” applications for media consumption. You are right on the fact that casual users are less likely to spend much effort and time for customization of system setting and organization of files and folders. That’s why they are more likely to use more “Metro Style” applications and use less desktop applications. Because they only limited set of desktop applications, they also have less need to do the organization of “Start” screen.

    For power users/ enthusiasts, the situation is actually very different. They want more control over the resources and are more likely to use more resource-demanding desktop applications. Because of the skills they have, organization of files and folders and customization of system setting are somewhat “normal” or “routine”. Personally, I make the first “page” of “Start” screen full of tiles of desktop applications, which I admit is very handy and useful. When we installed a desktop application, shortcuts to executable files (.exe) will be pinned at the “Start” screen. In fact, only desktop application that has shortcut to an executable file (for desktop applications found in both “Start” folders (one is for ALL user and the other is for the current user) can be pinned to “Start” screen. Traditionally, the list of programs is actually based on the shortcuts found in both “Start” folders. Not every .exe files are actually supposed to be run. For example, “Uninstall …”, “xxx configurations…”, etc. , they are all being pinned as well. This does expose the weakness of the design of “Start” screen. Furthermore, there is no option to pin/ unpin several applications at once, which makes customization more time-consuming.

    Once I’ve unpinned “Uninstall…”, and “xxx configurations”, and so on, I actually found “Start” screen pretty useful and good-looking. Having said that, this “xxx configurations” or alike is useful when you need to change the settings of desktop applications. If you’ve unpinned them, how do you do the customization on the desktop applications? It turns out that unpinning them does not remove them from “Start” folders; you can pin them back if you want but there is no need to do so. If you’ve paid attention to the Build Conference (2011) keynotes and relevant sessions, you may already see that the pinned ‘tile’ on the “Start” screen actually allows certain level of customization.

    When you right click on a ‘tile’ of a desktop application or slightly drag it down with your finger, you will see two buttons show up; they are “advanced” and “unpin”. Click or tap “advanced” will open a menu. In that menu, you can click or tap “open file location”, bring you to the “Start” folder. Because I less often to customize the desktop applications compared with just running them, I unpin all of the “xxx configurations” and so on. When I do need to do the customization or even uninstall the desktop application, I can have additional option in the “classic” “Start” folder.

    What happen when you right click on a ‘tile’ of ‘Metro Style’ application? Depending on the ‘Metro Style’ application, ‘unpin’ or ‘uninstall’ may be the only options. ‘Metro Style’ application is supposed to be eye-candy, fun, and media consumption, which makes sense in tablet form factor or even in a desktop. I do not expect that you actually do your mission-critical work in ‘Metro Style’ application. You can always do the multi-tasking with the desktop applications.

    To be honest, once I make only relevant ‘tiles’ being pinned, ‘Start’ screen in actually better-looking then the ‘Start’ menu. I can have 30+ tiles of different desktop applications in one view; even though they are not ‘live tiles’ like ‘Metro Style’ applications, it definitely looks better than icons of tiny font size. Frankly, I can launch the application I want pretty quickly in this new design; I do not like my desktop full of icons, which is so Windows-98. Because I’m using ‘Start’ screen but not menu, I do not even need to search, which I often do in Windows 7. My ‘Start’ menu of Windows 7 has 17 of my most-used applications/ settings, in addition to pinned shortcut on the taskbar. What about others? The quickest way is to do the search on ‘Start’ menu. Because I’m now dealing with a screen of ‘tiles’ of applications, I do not even need to search as often I did before. Entire screen, larger text and icon are definitely better.

    I hope that Microsoft will allow me to pin/ unpin multiple applications at once.

    Sonic the Hedgehog
    Sunday, September 18, 2011 7:17 PM