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Where Microsoft went wrong with windows 8

    General discussion

  • I Have been using windows 8 for my primary home computer (HP touch smart tm2t convertible laptop) since it was released.  I like the metro look and feel and the ribbon additions to explorer.  I am starting to get used to the new start menu behavior (crashing into the corner to open menu instead of clicking) and it has become less of a pain, but I rarely used the start menu anyhow.  Having said this there are some major issues from both a developer and a user perspective.

    The new Immersive GUI is great on a tablet with some minor issues, but sucks on a desktop.  I know this has been said many times before but let me explain why and how I think it could be fixed. 

    1. First the new WinRT api should have been the one and only standard and should have been Object Oriented From the ground up not just merely tacked on .  Win32 should have been relegated to VMs.  I as a developer don't want to have to write my code to 3 or 4 different api's to target windows phone, Tablet, desktop, and possibly xbox.

    2. One api but 3 GUIs.  The GUIs should scale from phone, to tablet/TV/Car , to Desktop.  When I have my phone it should look like WP7 but with gestures and charms from windows 8,  The Tablet UI should be similar to what it is now but vertical scrolling instead of horizontal (this is more consistent with phone and desktop and the internet in general). When in tablet mode I should never see the desktop except when I launch a legacy application.  When connected to keyboard and mouse it should look similar to the ZUNE client.  The actual desktop would then contain the live tiles in place of the gadgets and I should never see the immersive UI on the Desktop it should be similar but should still be windowed and have visible controls but window chrome should still be minimal.  Visual Studio should contain tools to make the layouts between the 3 GUIs transition as seamless as possible.  All applications in the marketplace should be required to support all 3 screens (with exceptions of programs that don't scale down well like CAD and Photoshop).  And at most I should only have to purchase this once per user not per machine.

    3. Along with .net languages, Native C++, and HTML/Java you should support Power shell in the new environment.  This could bring in a lot of admins as simple programmers and strengthen the position of Powershell.

    4.The biggest reason the immersive UI is a dud on the desktop is the loss of the superbar.  This is huge productivity drop.  So don't get rid of it for desktop users and maybe even make it even superererer. Use the tiles on the desktop in place of the gadgets lessen the chrome, full screen the configuration menus, but don't get rid of the Superbar!

    5. The start menu.  I have gotten used to crashing into the corner to select a charm so that doesn't bother me as much any more but having to mouse all the way over the right hand of the screen is a pain in the but.  Simple solution, put the charm bar on the left side of screen.  People have gotten used to the start button being on the left bottom corner so changing its location would be more of an issue.  Most people have not gotten in the habit of the charm bar being on the right so unless there is some telemetry saying that it works better on the right then it should be less of an issue with swapping the charm bar and app switcher functions.

    6.App switching.  App switching is a bit like shuffling cards it needs a better implementation.  The good news is you already have one with WP7.  Swiping from left (or right if you changed it) Bringing out the whole row of apps at the same time then launching by tapping or flicking upward to manual close would make a world of difference in usability.

    7. Tab switching.  It's ok but could be better.  I was thinking a two finger flick could perform in application document switching like tabs but also like having multiple excel files open.  Two finger flick from the left would slide in a row of open tabs/document + option to create new tab/document and maybe option to open an existing document.

    7. Immersive super bar.  There needs to be an equivalent to the Superbar in the immersive mode.  I'm not sure how this would work maybe it could just simply be an extension to the app switcher in which you can pin often used items for launching or something or it could be separate in its own but there needs to be something and it needs to mirror its desktop counterpart.

    8. More flexibility in Panel layout in immersive mode.  Currently there is a split screen implementation that has what looks like 1 to 3 split ratio between two screens.  I would like the option of having a true 50/50 split and possibly a 1 to 2 to 1 triple split on larger 16x9 screens.  And maybe a 50/50 vertical split in vertical mode.

    Overall, there is a lot to like about windows 8 but there is alot not to like about windows 8 as well and consistency is the main problem as long as there are Two GUIs the experience is going to be lacking.  The key let the programs transition from one gui to the other not throw them around the two (or three).  While I like the look of the immersive mode I believe the future still lies in the desktop mode because future trends point to whole wall computing and surface computing that don't fit with immersive methodology.  So we shouldn't relegate the desktop to the past it should be a strong part of the present and the future.

    Some unrelated thoughts

    Immersive office the Ribbon would work great in the new tool bars coming from above.

    Friday, November 4, 2011 9:15 AM