A List of Problems with Metro, and Redesign Recommendations - Part 2 RRS feed

  • General discussion

  • The original "A List of Problems with Metro, and Redesign Recommendations" thread has been locked due to thread size, and can no longer be changed. If you want to continue the discussion from the last thread, this is the place. Although I started the original thread as simply a list of suggestions and issues with Metro, this has turned into an excellent discussion. If you have thoughts on Metro, Metro-style design, or similar, this would be a good place to post them. I am interested in hearing your opinions on the UI, both good and bad. This thread is the current "A List of Problems with Metro, and Redesign Recommendations" thread, since the old thread can no longer be edited. If you have already read through my comments on the other thread, please read this one as well - some of my opinions have changed since I made the original post and I have updated this thread to reflect them. The start of this thread is an updated version of the post that started "A List of Problems with Metro, and Redesign Recommendations."

    Here is a link to the original thread: http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/windowsdeveloperpreviewgeneral/thread/b822c546-bf05-4cf9-b0a5-9cca3c1b404d

    For anyone who is interested in seeing a picture of what I want Windows 8 to be, I have posted an image here: http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/windowsdeveloperpreviewgeneral/thread/12345671-f635-4b29-a1d5-1fa2a8ca0e99

     As a response to Steven Sinofsky's request that I describe in detail the issues I have been having with Windows 8 in the appropriate forum, I have decided to say exactly what I think of Windows 8, and make a list of usability problems with the new UI that did not exist in the desktop.

    1. Closing programs

    A fundamental new part of the Metro UI design that Microsoft spoke about at the BUILD conference is the fact that Windows 8's new Metro-style applications cannot be closed. Rather than letting users close programs, Microsoft will only let users return to the Start Screen or switch to another Metro app. This means that other Metro apps stay open in the background, in a "suspended" state, but still taking up resources such as memory, and staying in the list of applications switched through swiping. This makes multitasking more difficult, as the only way to switch apps is to scroll through a list of programs I wanted to close hours ago. Users today expect to be able to close programs, and I wonder how Microsoft will justify this design when users ask to be able to close programs, as I have done.

    2. Touch First, Mouse Second

    Metro is a "touch-first" UI, as Microsoft has stated. However, despite the fact that Microsoft claims that the new UI works equally well with mice and keyboards, this has not been my experience. Metro is designed for touch, period. No amount of extra scrollbars, corner menus, or right-click UI's will change the fact that Metro was designed for touch and converted for mice and keyboards. Yes, it works, but it feels awkward compared to using the desktop UI. Many of you who read this will point out that I'm being subjective and that it may work fine for you, but it doesn't work for me, nor does it work for many other Windows 8 desktop users whose reviews I've read. Metro's big, uniform buttons and giant fonts with fullscreen-only applications seem out of place with a mouse, keyboard, and large monitor, all designed for computing that is precise, without effort. The Metro paradigm does not work well with these input methods and displays because it was not designed for them from the ground up. Some of you may point to articles like these (http://billwagner.cloudapp.net/Home/Item/Buildoneweeklater) as evidence of Metro's merits compared to the desktop, but this article and others like it are based on experience with the preview tablet. On desktops, it is Metro that "is clearly a compatibility play." It is Metro where "It’s not the same experience. The performance feels wrong. The crispness is missing. The ease of use is missing." The author of the post I linked to applied the quotes I used above to the desktop experience on a tablet, but I am applying them to the experience of Metro on the desktop. Metro is designed for touchscreen devices, not mice, and no amount of clever marketing will change this. Rather than being an upgrade for desktop users, Metro feels like a reversal in formula. Instead of a desktop UI on tablets, we now have a tablet UI on desktops. In my opinon, Microsoft is repeating the mistakes it made when developing Tablet PC's, except now they affect desktop users as well, with a UI that just wasn't designed for the hardware it runs on.

    Update: After testing the Metro UI again, I have concluded that Metro on the desktop is the exact opposite of what Microsoft wants it to be. Metro is supposed to be fast, fluid, and easy, but on desktop computers, Metro is slow, clunky, and difficult to figure out. Yes, I know what I'm doing, but everything in Metro requires huge mouse gestures and tons of clicks that are not needed on the desktop, as I explain below. While it is true that Metro is better for touch, the desktop is better for mice and keyboards, as most users who sit down in front of a Windows 8 PC will quickly discover. To me, I get the feeling that everything I do in Metro is something I can do faster in the desktop, at least, this is true when using Windows 8 with a real mouse and keyboard.

    Harry McCracken voices the issues surrounding "touch-first" design better than I can:

    "Slapping a touchscreen on a pre-existing PC design won't work anywhere near as well as re-engineering the whole machine to make touch work well. HP, for instance, has put some of its newest TouchSmarts in cases that you can push back to a 60-degree angle that's more conducive to touch input."

    Therefore, what reason is there to not let users turn Metro off? If Microsoft is trying to push users into buying touchscreens because Metro doesn't work well enough with the mouse, why? What is so outdated about the destkop? The answer? Nothing. As for the idea that the Metro UI counts as "reimagining the whole machine," it doesn't, in my experience. Microsoft claims that a Windows 8 PC is a new kind of device, but that's simply not true. Installing Windows 8 on my existing computer does not make it a new kind of device. Rather, it's an older kind of device running newer software. Marketing buzzwords have buried real discussion on this topic.

    3. Usability - Measured in Click Counts

    Looking at Windows 8 through classic usability studies, such as click counts and ease of discovery, Metro falls flat on its face in this regard. In my regular usage of Windows 8, many things required far more clicks in Metro than they did on the desktop. If you have any counter-arguments, let me give you an example of a typical task in Windows 8, a typical task performed in the Windows 8 desktop after switching from a Metro app, and a Metro-only experience.

    Case Study: Pausing a Song in Windows Media Player

    These are the steps used in pausing a song in Windows Media Player in Windows 7:

    1. Click on Windows Media Player in taskbar

    2. Press "pause" in Media Player

    These are the steps used in pausing a song in Windows Media Player in Windows 8 when switching from a Metro application:

    1. Click "Start" in Charms menu in left-hand corner

    2. Click "Desktop" on the Start Screen

    3. Click on Windows Media Player in the taskbar

    4. Pause Windows Media Player

    The number of clicks required has increased from two clicks to four. Now, let's see what would happen if Media Player were redesigned as a Metro app:

    1. Drag app in from the side

    2. Drag app in from the side

    3. Drag app in from the side

    4. Drag Windows Media Player in from the side

    5. Right-click in Media Player to bring up the UI

    6. Click on "pause" button

    To be clear, this has gone from two clicks in Windows 7 all the way to six clicks in Windows 8! Some of you may argue that since Windows is being reimagined, usability studies should also be reimagined, but mice, keyboards, and desktop computers will be fundamentally unchanged from those that ran Windows 7, so this usability study is probably more valid than any new usability test, since the increased number of clicks will be quickly noticed by users.

    4. Everything Hidden and "Chromeless" Programs

    One of the new features Microsoft is using to sell Windows 8 is the idea that the UI doesn't "get in the way." It is hidden away until you ask for it, leaving more room for your content. The problem?

    Most computers already have more than enough room to display UI and content.

    Microsoft thinks that people want to experience things like "chromeless browsing," where the entire UI is hidden until the user right-clicks on the app. While it is true that this allows for more space to display web pages, it makes no sense on a desktop. Imagine using this on a 24" monitor. It feels strange enough on only a 19" screen. It also requires many extra steps to access the UI, and only a few options are typically displayed on the top or the bottom of the screen. I run Internet Explorer 9 on my PC with all of the old Internet Explorer 7/8 toolbars turned on, so why would I suddenly want only chromeless browsing with only a few features? Would I really want to use Microsoft Word this way? Of course not.

    5. Multitasking Limitations

    Multitasking in Windows 8 in the default UI is the most limited it's been since the 1980's. Only two Metro apps can be run side-by-side, and their sizes are completely fixed and unchangeable. When most users use Windows, they have multiple windows arranged in whatever locations they want to, and display more than two windows at once. Metro's design works for basic use, but feels intentionally crippled and is not what I expect on a PC with a quad-core processor.

    6. Hiding Everything from the User in Obscure Locations

    This complaint is similar to Complaint #4, but it is not the same thing. Everything in the new UI is hidden, with bland, unclear buttons that say little about what something does. Why is "Shut Down" in an obscure "Settings" pane? Why is there no link between "Settings" and "Control Panel?" This post from Jensen Harris's blog about the Office 2007 UI is one of the most relevant posts I can find on the blog.



    As Harris states in the blog post, "most people are not trained in geology," or in other words, most users don't know where to look for hidden options. Microsoft may understand where all the new, hidden locations for files and other things are, but users don't. Metro is full of the kind of "click here for more" labels that Harris objects to in the blog post. In many ways, Metro is the anti-Office 2007. Office 2007 was about making using Office clearer, while still providing all of the same functionality that users expect. Metro on the desktop feels like it is about hiding everything away from the user, even though it isn't supposed to be. Whenever I use Metro, I always get the feeling that something is wrong. Everything takes more clicks than it did in Windows 7, or even Windows 98.

    7. What's the point?

    Even if Microsoft makes changes to the Metro UI to correct the problems I listed, there is still the point of asking why Metro on the desktop exists at all. Yes, it provides consistency between using Windows 8 on tablets and using Windows 8 on desktops, but for all the Mac users reading my post, would you enjoy navigating the iPad with the mouse and some extra scrollbars? Metro in Windows 8 seems to be designed for tablets only, with a few extras added in to make it work for desktops. Even if this is not the case, it feels like it is, and this is a major problem for Windows 8. When designing Windows 8, the developers should always be asking the question, "How would we design this if we didn't expect this to run on tablets?" Tablets and PC's are fundamentally different in many ways, and it makes sense to have two different operating systems, or at the very least two different user experiences, for each usage model.

    Recommendatins for Changing Windows 8 for Beta and RTM

    My post is not just a list of problems in Metro. I also want to recommend some changes to the software to make it work better for the average consumer.

    1. If nothing else, please let users close Metro apps. It's a natural feature that users expect to see, and Windows feels broken without it. A high number of PC's being returned to the store will not help an economy that is aready struggling.

    2. Make Metro Optional for Desktops and Laptops

    Metro is designed for touch, and as I said above, it just doesn't work right on desktops. Why replace a perfectly good user experience with one that is designed for touch and inferior on the desktop? Before Windows 8 is even finished installing, users should have the option to run Metro as an application launched from the Start menu that runs either full-screen or in a fixed-size window. This way, Windows 8 would still be compatible with new Metro apps, while giving users all the power and flexibility that they love, expect, and has been removed in Windows 8's Metro UI.

    3. Add a Metro Taskbar in the Metro UI

    This suggestion would only apply if you do not let users turn Metro off. When users are in the Metro UI, there needs to be some kind of Metro taskbar used to switch programs quickly. Of course, if Metro were running in a window, all Metro apps would appear in the regular taskbar. Swipe and snap may work well with touch, but it feels out of place on a desktop. Why require more clicks and motions than were required in Windows 7?

    A Response to the Idea of Changing, Not Disabling, Metro

    Some of you may argue that it is better to change Metro than to let users disable it, and I disagree with this viewpoint. Metro is designed for touch from the ground up, so it makes no sense to keep changing it in order to make it work on the desktop. The desktop UI is here today, so it makes more sense to just disable Metro and run it in a window, rather than make changes to Metro that could potentially damage its usability with touch screens. Yes, some changes should be made, but I recommend only making a few small changes, such as adding a taskbar and letting users close programs, and then letting users use the desktop as the default UI.

    A Response to the Idea that "Windows 8 Still Includes the Desktop, so It Doesn't Matter if Metro Doesn't Work"

    True, Windows 8 still includes the desktop, but Microsoft primarily expects users to use it as a backward compatibility layer and do all of their real work in Metro. This will not work in the real world. The desktop, in its current implementation, feels like a broken version of what we are used to. The Start Menu is disabled, which means that accessing programs quickly is suddenly harder than it was before because there is no MFU list or quick access to folders. Worse, the only way to add shortcuts to the desktop is by browing to the executable file or typing the path in the address bar, the first time this is true since Windows 95, and a major step backwards. Yes, Microsoft could bring the Start Menu back and leave Metro in its current state, but Windows 8 will eventually force me back to Metro, if only when I restart the computer, and this is a problem. True, Windows could "remember" that I was in the desktop the last time I used Windows and load it when I start up the PC, but at this point, it makes more sense to let users disable Metro before the first boot, considering the problems that this "session saving" could cause.

    An Example of What I Want Metro to Be

    On Steven Sinofsky's blog, he said this: "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! This is Windows reimagined."

    In my own opinion, this should be Windows 8 on the desktop:

    'And if you want to stay permanently immersed in that desktop world, you will never see Metro—we won’t even load it (literally the code will not be loaded) unless you explicitly choose to go there! This is Windows, made to work the way you want.'

    An Example of the Opinion of the Popular News

    This is what the popluar press thinks of Windows 8. Specifically, this article is from USA Today:


    A Response to the Idea that People Want Metro, And Like It Better than the Desktop

    This is not necessarily true. Steven Sinofsky said on his blog that some people have reported that "it feels jarring" to go to the desktop, but I have had the exact opposite experience. To me, the most jarring part of Windows 8 is the part where Metro needs to be opened just to start a program. As for what people in general want, I can't say for sure, but I doubt that the general public's opinion will be that Metro is better than the desktop once they actually try to use it on a desktop. Despite the reviews of Windows 8 based on the developer tablet that claim the desktop is old and outdated, many reviewers who review Windows 8 on a laptop or desktop agree that the UI just isn't ready for prime time or as good as the desktop during regular usage. Most people either use Windows because it came with their computer or because they like it better than competing platforms. Usually, people who want a cell phone or tablet UI buy a cell phone or tablet, and people who want a desktop UI buy a desktop or laptop. While keeping the desktop as a compatibility option may make sense for tablets, the desktop is still the center of my Windows usage, even in Windows 8. For me, and for many other people who buy Windows for what it is and not for what it will be, booting up with Metro displayed by default has no advantages, and neither do Metro-style apps.


    In concluson, Windows 8 has its positive side, such as the redesigned Windows Explorer and new Windows Aero style, but Metro needs improvement. While the idea of clean, chromeless apps has a place on desktops, it does not belong in Windows as the primary UI. I'd like to end my post on a positive note, so congratulations to the Windows 8 team on the job you've done! Windows 8 looks like a promising OS, one that could be highly beneficial and important in the future of computing.

    Update 12/5/11:

    Some other ideas:

    Although I previously suggested creating a Start Screen that appers overtop of a blurred, darkened desktop, I suspect that this may be a bad idea in the long run. There may be a few benefits in keeping this as an option, but I would rather use a real Start Menu with all of the features found in the current Windows UI.

    Although some users have suggested redesigning the Desktop to fit in better with Metro, this is a bad idea, in my opinion. For desktop users, Metro-style UI needs to become more Aero-style, not the other way around. Aero was one of my biggest reasons for buying Windows Vista back in 2007, and I think that Flip 3D, which is strangely absent in Windows 8, needs to make a return. It is one of the best ways of regaining control of a PC that isn't working properly.

    Of course, all of the suggestions I have made would only apply to Windows 8 running on desktops and laptops. On tablets, Metro works fine in its current format.

    Update 11/5/11:

    A Response to the Idea that People Will Like Metro Once There Are Good Apps

    Frankly, I don't see how this could be true. I consider the Metro experience to be flawed in all of the ways seen above, and these flaws cannot be suddenly corrected by developing good apps. Metro's problems are found in the platform and the Visual Studio templates that Microsoft wants everyone to use, so how can developing a good app suddenly fix Windows 8's problems?

    Wednesday, October 26, 2011 10:12 PM

All replies

  • <Removed Desktop Image>

    Here is how I use Windows: The Start Menu on my computer is taller than it is by default. This means that I still use it more than I use some other UI mechanisms. I disabed the Windows 7-style taskbar because, as it turns out, I wasn't using it any differently than I used it in Windows Vista. The idea of users using the taskbar instead of the Start Menu for many tasks described in some of the blog posts does not apply to me, evidently. The only applications I have pinned to the Taskbar are the three default programs, which are Internet Explorer, Windows Explorer, and Windows Media Player. I also keep a series of gadgets along the side of the screen in the format of Windows Sidebar, and I use Internet Explorer 9 (the version pictured) with all of the old toolbars turned on. I pinned Internet Explorer and Windows Live Mail to the Start Menu, just like Windows XP and Windows Vista.

    Evidently, I still use Windows the Vista way. Many of the changes introduced in Windows 7 are ones that I have simply ignored, and Windows Vista does things better than Windows 7 in more than one area. As for Jump Lists, I can't remember ever actually using one.

    Also, I keep three rows of icons on my desktop at all times, with the Recycle Bin in the opposite corner. This is very organized and uniform, the polar opposite of the Start Screen. If I do ever paste a file on my desktop, it's usually as a reminder to delete it. I never clutter my desktop with rows upon rows of icons like many other users do.

    This usage pattern is light-years away from "Metro-style design."

    • Edited by WindowsVista567 Monday, December 5, 2011 9:05 PM Removed desktop image
    Wednesday, October 26, 2011 10:13 PM
  • Great idea to post your desktop - a picture being worth a thousand words and all that.

    I'd post mine but all I have is the 6 or 7 main apps I use pinned to the taskbar and the only icons I have on the desktop are files downloaded from our reporting package or the internet as a temporary holding area before I email them out (then delete them).

    Question: Why don't people use IE full screen (general question about any application really), I can understand running 'windowed' if you have multiple applications windows open but it seems like a waste of screen space to limit yourself to a scrolling window. Note: no criticism implied by this question just genuine desire to understand why people do certain things, part of my reason for asking is that I've developed a number of Intranet systems and it amazes me the number of people who run them with umpteen IE toolbars and default launch window sizes an my beautifully designed content ;) is reduced to a letterbox slot that they have to scroll like mad to see it all.

    Back on topic... 'Aero' style Start Screen - Yes please, by all means introduce new things in an OS but do them gradually. An aero style start screen would be less visually jarring (especially for desktop users) and probably would have cut down on some of the resistance to the 'new' way. 

    Acer W500 tablet & dock, New 'works' Lenovo laptop Too much apple stuff. Remember: A Developer Preview is just that, a preview for developers - not everything will work 'just right' on day 1.
    Thursday, October 27, 2011 11:01 PM
  • @postPCera

    I usually run Internet Explorer maximized (different from "full-screen"). I just restored it so that the desktop would still be visible. The difference between full-screen and maximized is that the maximized version still allows access to the Taskbar, other programs, etc. while full-screen is more like Metro in that only Internet Explorer will be viewed.


    Friday, October 28, 2011 12:24 AM
  • Sorry I meant 'maximised' rather than the full screen F11 thing.
    Acer W500 tablet & dock, New 'works' Lenovo laptop Too much apple stuff. Remember: A Developer Preview is just that, a preview for developers - not everything will work 'just right' on day 1.
    Friday, October 28, 2011 12:46 AM
  • <This post originally contained an example of Metro-style design with large letters in the "Segoe UI Light" font as an example of Metro-style design. This has since been removed.>

    • Edited by WindowsVista567 Saturday, October 29, 2011 11:15 AM Removed "Segoe UI Light" font
    Friday, October 28, 2011 10:16 PM
  • WindowsVista567

      I've viewed this thread on Metro IE, Desktop IE and Firefox (all on a W8 machine if that makes a difference) and apart from the size I find it an ok font to read. Personal preference I guess.

    Acer W500 tablet & dock, New 'works' Lenovo laptop Too much apple stuff. Remember: A Developer Preview is just that, a preview for developers - not everything will work 'just right' on day 1.
    Friday, October 28, 2011 11:29 PM
  • @postPCera

    That's interesting. Did my latest post show up in Segoe UI Light or Times New Roman? It should be Segoe UI Light, but it only rendered properly in Internet Explorer on my computer. The size is the big point of the post, though, as I'm trying to illustrate how Microsoft is creating problems to solve with the Metro UI that never existed to begin with (not enough room to display the HUGE Metro fonts). The font in the above post should be the same as the font used in the thread title, Segoe UI Light. You should not see Times New Roman excpet for the start of the post.

    "Apart from the size I find it an ok font to read."

    The idea is to show how disruptive the design is. It is intentionally annoying and distracting in the same way that Metro is. Actually, the low weight of the font does make up for the size a little bit, but not enough for me to favor a Metro-style design.

    Saturday, October 29, 2011 2:15 AM
  • @WindowsVista567

    Segoe font even in firefox ( but it looked lighter) the only TNR was 'the @postPCera'. I'd post a screenshot but for some reason i'm not seeing the browse button on the upload screen.

    I think i'm missing the problem here, is it the font itself, the default sizes used in metro or the combination of that and a deliberately 'sparse' layout in metro that's bugging you? I have to admit i think the metro examples in the wdp make poor use of screen space and the information density is poor.

    I'm not a fan of mixing fonts on a page, I find that disruptive and annoying but i realise you've done it here to demonstrate a point. If MS are reading this - metro ie is really slow (on my machine) at rendering threads with multiple fonts. 

    Acer W500 tablet & dock, New 'works' Lenovo laptop Too much apple stuff. Remember: A Developer Preview is just that, a preview for developers - not everything will work 'just right' on day 1.
    Saturday, October 29, 2011 11:05 AM
  • It's probably a combination of the font and the sparse layout that bothers me. As for the font as viewed in Firefox, it's possible that there is some configuration error on my computer preventing it from being displayed. The main point was to show how disruptive the "Metro style" of that post was compared to everything else, just like the "Metro style" of the new UI. My post is probably not the best example of how I see Metro, but I wanted to get the point across.
    Saturday, October 29, 2011 11:12 AM
  • Windows 8 needs a slide gesture from the left to bring up a task list, Windows 7 style.  Then you can tap the app you choose to bring it full screen, or touch-and-drag the app to put it into snap view.

    For mouse, the current corner gesture can bring it up along with the charms (which could stay at the bottom).

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011 3:48 PM
  • I have what I think would be a really great way to improve the app-switching mechanisms in Windows 8.  It doesnt look like anyone in any other blogs/threads have had any ideas quite like this one, and I really think it would solve many (not all, of course) of the current issues that seem to be plaguing everyone.  I have started a thread to suggest my idea to a few people, and if people think it is any good, I would love for Microsoft to consider it.  Here's the link to my post:


    Any feedback would be great!  I'm just curious to know what everyone's thoughts are!

    Thursday, November 3, 2011 9:17 AM
  • @uniquedisplayname123

    My list of problems with Metro is based solely on the experience of using it with a mouse. Touch suggestions are great, but I would prefer to see your ideas about how to accomplish this with a mouse.

    Thursday, November 3, 2011 7:07 PM
  • I'm sorry, but Metro isn't even a good touch UI, let alone suitable for the desktop.  Its precisely the opposite of what people expect on their PC - straightforward, powerful, accessible, customizable.  Google is laughing up their sleeve at the clueless boobs in Redmond trying to shove this second-rate tablet experience onto a desktop.  If Ballmer goes forward with this debacle it will make Microsoft Bob seem like a reasonable success.
    Wednesday, November 9, 2011 4:57 AM
  • Note: This post originally contained a screenshot of Windows ME, which has been removed.


    I know something worse. It could make Windows Millennium Edition look good.

    I used Windows Millennium to post parts of this message (on real hardware) just to prove that I could. Despite this, I still think that Windows ME is one of the worst operating systems ever made. I don't think that even Windows 8 could be this bad. I had do a lot to make it work.

    Update: I'm using my Windows 7 PC again. I have also made some other edits with my Windows 7 PC. Wow. Windows has evolved a lot more than some people think. Windows ME may look normal in the screenshot, but it was hard to post that message - VERY hard. I'm impressed that I was able to do that at all.

    Friday, November 11, 2011 2:19 AM
  • 1) Traditional start menu is needed in windows 8 traditional - My first concern is user training.  Microsoft seems to hate menus and wants to impose its will.  Look at the office ribbon in 2007/2010.  Many of my clients do not want to update office because of this -- open office/office libre is then recommended.  If they do go with office 2010, they often never regain their former competency.  One click through metro to windows 8 traditional is no big deal, but it needs the traditional start menus once they get there without resorting to a registry toggle or copying the menus into a folder. 

    2) Metro sizing.  Metro should be automatically adjustable to the size of the screen (so the letters are readable instead of HUGE ).  Motorola does not simply increase the size of their Photon 4G Android screens when connected to a 24" 1080p monitor with their HD dock or Lapdock for obvious reasons, instead the android phone is placed on 20% of the left side of the screen and firefox is opened for the remainder.  Metro cell sizes should be much smaller on notebooks, and even smaller on larger monitors.  This would have the benefit of being more mouse friendly.

    3) Apps never closing - apps are simply not reliable enough.  The usual recommendation for smart phones is to reboot every 24 hours.  Most of my windows 7 machines are left on 24 hour per day 7 days per week until the monthly patches cause a reboot.  This could put us back to windows 3.1 reliability levels.

    4) Network and antivirus icons should remain visible at all times.  You need to know that they are working.

    5) If the real goal of windows 8 with metro is to draw a line to delineate arm/x64/x86 apps from the older windows7 apps, why not be even more aggressive and call it "Doors" or something else?

    Friday, November 11, 2011 5:09 PM
  • These are the steps used in pausing a song in Windows Media Player in Windows 8 when switching from a Metro application:

    1. Press Alt-Tab and Click on (or touch) the WMP icon in the Alt-Tab list.
    2. Pause Windows Media Player


    Now, let's see what would happen if Media Player were redesigned as a Metro app:

    1. Press Alt-Tab and Click on the WMP icon in the Alt-Tab list.
    2. Right-click in Media Player to bring up the UI  (if necessary)
    3. Click on "pause" button


    When users are in the full-screen version of the Metro UI, there needs to be some kind of Metro taskbar used to switch programs quickly.

    Agree.  The "poke your pointer through the wall (but not too far) and see what comes out" is silly, even if we can use our wheel once one comes out.   I suggest a generalization of  Win-T.   It would seem perfectly natural to see a vertical list of my Metro apps on the edge of the screen which happened to own the Start Screen button.   However, as I have already indicated,  Alt-Tab  already works for metro apps too.   Also, I will be very surprised and disappointed if the current Task Manager is not enhanced to restore its conventional Go To function.

    BTW for my really terse synopsis of the essential differences I see between the two OS as far as Start menu versus Start Screen see


    The unknowns (at least for me) are how easy it is going to be to customize the Start Screen (apart from drag and drop) and what all we will be able to do there.   I suppose there is an API I should be looking for...  ; )


    Robert Aldwinckle

    Saturday, November 12, 2011 5:10 AM
  • @Robert Aldwinckle

    Your Windows 7 vs. Windows 8 analysis assumes that someone is using Windows primarily with the keyboard. I am a mouse user.

     Here is your list:

    • W7: Press Win- (or Ctrl-Esc); see the Start menu.
    • W8: Press Win- (or Ctrl-Esc); see the Start screen.
    • W7: in the Start menu when you don't see what you want, start typing.
    • W8: in the Start screen when you don't see what you want, start typing.
    • W7: I want to switch tasks. Press Alt-Tab to see where to go or press Win-Tab if you think you'll be lucky. (Etc.)
    • W8: I want to switch tasks. Press Alt-Tab to see where to go or press Win-Tab if you think you'll be lucky. (Etc.)
    • W7: I want to customize my Start menu. Right-click, on the Start button, and... Not enough? Too bad.
    • W8: I want to customize my Start screen. Go ahead!


    This is how I see it:

    • Windows 7: Click in the corner to see the Start menu, which allows you to use it while using information from something else.
    • Windows 8: Click in the corner to see the Start screen, which covers up eveything on your screen and makes it impossible to use the Start Screen based on information from a website or another help document that you're currently looking at.
    • Windows 7: If you don't see what you want, start typing.
    • Windows 8; If you don't see what you want, start typing. The results will be somewhat confusing and require extra clicks, though (files vs. apps confusion).
    • Windows 7: If you want to switch tasks, click a button on the taskbar.
    • Windows 8: If you want to switch tasks, keep dragging apps in from the side until you find the one you want.
    • Windows 7: I want to customize my Start Menu. Right click on the taskbar and browse through a long list of options to personalize it, or pin programs to the Start Menu.
    • Windows 8: I want to customize my Start Screen. How do I do that? It looks like I have to use a needlessly large app bar to select "pin," and then wonder if the app will show up where I want it to. No more drag-and-drop. No more adding folders to the Start Menu. No more list of most-frequently used programs. In short, even though it can technically be customized, it is clunky, awkward, and incomplete.

    Saturday, November 12, 2011 12:25 PM
  • Windows 8: If you want to switch tasks, keep dragging apps in from the side until you find the one you want.

    Windows 8: I want to customize my Start Screen. How do I do that? It looks like I have to use a needlessly large app bar to select "pin," and then wonder if the app will show up where I want it to. No more drag-and-drop. No more adding folders to the Start Menu. No more list of most-frequently used programs. In short, even though it can technically be customized, it is clunky, awkward, and incomplete.

    Yes.  Those are two shortcomings in the current design, both of which I referred to.  Notice though, as I mentioned, that once you have poked up one thumbnail you can spin through the rest with your wheel.   Also, I'm seeing "drag-and-drop" but horribly awkward because typically new items get added at the bottom of the list, so then to move them into place you have to wait for them to traverse much of it, assuming there is not going to be any way of grouping items in a "sub Start Screen app", which I suspect will be seen as necessary and made available, thus implementing the Metro analog to Start menu sub menus, which in W7 is not easily accomplished or easy to use.   For example, see Ed Nahuey's Taskbar Toolbar in the thread I pointed to.   In fact, FWIW what I actually do to supplement the W7 Start menu is use Win-R F4 and put up with the occasional loss of items because I haven't bothered to figure out how to make its MRU list any bigger.   So, you as a mouse user, could have Run... in your Start menu, click it there and then click the Down arrow in its dialog.  There is a Win-R function in W8 but I don't know how to give you a Run... tile.   Maybe that's one of the metro apps MS are hoping that developers will create with the WP?   <eg>


    Saturday, November 12, 2011 2:43 PM
  • Another thing I want to say about Windows 8: The "no compromises" statements that the Windows 8 team have made are incorrect. I posted this as a new thread, but threads with replies cannot be deleted, and I want to be able to delete this if I need to, so I quickly deleted the other thread before anyone could reply. Here is my original post:

    One of the major marketing phrases that Microsoft is using to describe Windows 8 is "no compromses."

    Oh, how I wish it was true. It's true, I really do want an OS that is "no compromises," but Windows 8 is as far from "no compromises" as it can be. Here's how:

    I am a desktop user. When I run Windows 8, I want to boot directly to the desktop, with an Aero-style design throughout the UI. However, in Windows 8, the Metro-style experience is forced on all users, and cannot be turned off without editing the Registry. Other Metro-style design elements are integrated throughout the UI. It is impossible to use Windows 8 without seeing Metro because I am forced back into the Metro UX every time I want to open a program.

    What is this? You guessed it - a compromise. Becasue I cannot turn Metro off, I am forced to compromise between a tablet UI and a desktop UI - exactly what Microsoft claims Windows 8 does not do. I cannot use the desktop as much as I want to, and there is no way to restore the Start Menu without editing the Registry.

    Let's look at a tablet usage scenario:

    A user is browsing through the Metro-style UI, which I believe is a good tablet (and tablet only) UI, based on video demonstrations. They click on a button in the Control Panel for settings, want to view history in Internet Explorer, or something similar. The desktop opens, and it is just as hard to use on a tablet as Metro is on desktops.

    What is this? You guessed it - another compromise. Like the desktop user forced to use the Metro UI and design, tablet users are forced into the desktop experience whenever they want to go in-depth with their PC. Thus, if they really want to manage their PC properly, they are practically forced into the desktop.

    In my opinion, using Windows 8 is nothing but compromises the whole way through. Parts of the OS are Metro, parts of the OS are in the desktop, and a user of one kind of device has to use a UI designed for another kind of device from time to time (and on desktops, it happens every time the PC is turned on). This is a big mistake with Windows 8 - Windows Developer Preview is an OS which tries to please everyone, which, in the long run, may please no one unless serious changes are made. The "no compromises" statement that Microsoft has been using is pure fiction; I have yet to see any evidence that suggests that it is true.

    Thursday, November 17, 2011 9:48 PM
  • I am a desktop user. When I run Windows 8, I want to boot directly to the desktop, with an Aero-style design throughout the UI. However, in Windows 8, the Metro-style experience is forced on all users, and cannot be turned off without editing the Registry. Other Metro-style design elements are integrated throughout the UI. It is impossible to use Windows 8 without seeing Metro because I am forced back into the Metro UX every time I want to open a program.

    If you think objectively about this scenario all it really is analogous to is the fact that a Desktop user is "forced" to click on the Start menu button (or press Win- or Ctrl-Esc) in order to see the Start menu.   So, W8, does that for you automatically.   Then, just as in W7 (and every other version of Windows) you can press Win-  again to make the Start menu/screen go away, leaving you back at your beloved Desktop.   From there, just as with the any other version of Windows you don't need to use the Start menu or even the Taskbar if you really don't want to.   No registry hacks required, just dogged determination not to go there.   ; }



    Friday, November 18, 2011 5:08 AM
  • Windows 7 doesn't make me scroll through multiple screens to find what I want OR make me rearrange everything, so this negates any advantages of booting to the Start Screen instead of the desktop. Besides, I use Desktop Gadgets, which, unlike Live Tiles, can be placed on the screen without taking up space where a link to a useful program could be used instead (okay, so this isn't true for users who rely on the desktop to launch everything, but look at the picture I posted of my desktop and you will see what I mean).

    Your descirption of similar usage might be true if I were a heavy keyboard user, but the mouse has been my primary way of using computers for as long as I can remember. I do not use the Windows key. A Start Screen, in its current form, has the inherent flaw that it covers up everything on the screen when it is opened, making it impossible to read something else on the screen while navigating the Start Menu.

    Friday, November 18, 2011 8:11 PM
  • A quick update:

    In retrospect, I do not believe that any kind of Start Screen for the desktop would ever be a good idea. The Start Screen is designed for touch from the ground up and has an inherent nature of covering up everything else on the screen, and I believe that this is a bad idea for desktops and laptops. The desktop should retain the regular Start Menu as the method of accessing programs. If you see anything on the forums or blogs indicating that a Start Screen for the desktop is a good idea, please ignore it as I do not believe that a Start Screen is a good way of opening programs or folders on a PC.

    However, I am not saying that everything "Metro-style" should be cut out of the desktop experience entirely. I do believe that there needs to be a way to run WinRT apps in the desktop, with both Aero-style and Metro-style apps supported (just let the taskbar appear when the Metro apps are running and let Metro apps be resizable in a window). I am not going to say that everything the team has done in the Metro UX should be removed entirely from the desktop product - the WinRT platform is a good idea, but the UI in both the Metro Start Screen and Metro-style apps is completely wrong for mouse users, and so is the idea of chromeless, full-screen programs. WinRT apps should run in the desktop.

    If you read this post, please keep in mind that I do update it from time to time. My opinions now are not exactly the same as they were back in October, and this thread will be updated to reflect the changes for as long as possible.

    Saturday, December 3, 2011 9:16 PM
  • I for one am awaiting the beta and I hope to see some of the cristisms listed here addressed (and there are a lot of valid critisms).  Now is a good time to speak up as things are still in the works.  I hope, that Microsoft addresses the usability issues when it comes to using a desktop computer.  Tablet's maybe a growing market but one would not want to lose market share it's previously held onto and it can happen (case: IE).  In this day and age, I don't see why the OS cannot be device aware and provide an experience appropriate to the given device.  Tablet versions of Windows in the past have under achieved in part because a desktop metaphor was used for them and they were difficult to use (I don't want to see the same mistake in reverse here).

    I'm using both Windows 7 and Windows 8 and from a desktop experience Windows 8 is difficult to navigate for what I do on a daily basis (it becomes very frustrating).  That said, I love my Windows Phone 7 and I can imagine Metro is going to be excellent on tablets as the environment is very similiar (and that is exciting). 

    Don't forget to dance with the one that brung ya.

    Tuesday, January 24, 2012 7:14 PM
  • The original version of my post was posted to this forum on September 30, 2011, just two weeks after BUILD. I gave that feedback about as early as I could, but I still fear it may not have been soon enough.
    Tuesday, January 24, 2012 8:06 PM
  • I for one am excited to write Metro style apps.  I have an iPad, but I would give it to my son and get a Windows Tablet if it works as well as Windows Phone 7 (which, I can and do write apps for and really like it).  Hopefully Windows 8 tablets won't be as locked down as Windows Phone 7 (I understand why they locked it down though I'd rather it be the other way).

    If they don't address the desktop experience we'll see another Windows Vista where enterprises (and users) don't adopt it and are forced to wait for the next version where the issues have been addressed.  Some people take the "post PC" era too literal.  There's still no device on the market that replaces my desktop/laptop, only those that compliment them (currently).  I'm waiting until the Beta before I get worried though.  The Beta will be telling on whether their listening.

    Wednesday, January 25, 2012 3:45 PM
  • I'm surprised that Microsoft sees a need to change the desktop user experience. I have suggested to Microsoft before that they allow developers to use WinRT to create Aero-style desktop apps, which would, in my opinion, be the best possible solution to Windows 8's problems.
    Wednesday, January 25, 2012 8:01 PM