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What does Metro UI mean for Microsoft's tablet strategy?

Written by Rich Fiscus (Google+) @ 01 Sep 2011 17:27 User comments (4)

What does Metro UI mean for Microsoft's tablet strategy? With Windows 8, Microsoft is attempting to walk a fine line between making the OS more tablet friendly and retaining all the standard functionality Windows users expect.
In the latest installment of the Building Windows 8 blog, Microsoft's Steven Sinofsky tackles the question of how the new tile based Metro interface will co-exist with the traditional Windows desktop.

Metro borrows heavily from Windows Media Center and Windows Phone 7. Rather than replacing the standard Windows desktop, the two will co-exist side by side, allowing the user to use both.

This fits with Microsoft's goal of making Windows 8 a viable competitor in the tablet market. The bigger question is whether that objective is realistic and what, if any, Windows 8's UI changes make.

If you want to use Windows on a tablet, Metro is certainly an improvement over the traditional Windows desktop. A focus on simple apps with simple interfaces fits what mobile users have become accustomed to from the iPhone, Android, and even Windows Phone 7.



On top of that, Windows Explorer is getting a ribbon interface, putting options front and center which currently require right-clicking or selecting an option from a menu.

But making Windows suitable for a tablet will require more than just adding a good touch interface and making some changes to Windows Explorer. The advantage for Windows is compatibility with more software, but how much will that figure into a tablet purchase?

How many programs from your desktop will actually work well in a touch environment? Which ones would you even care about using on a tablet?

Will the Metro interface add more confusion for traditional desktop and laptop users than convenience for tablet buyers?

And the questions don't end there.

What kind of hardware will Windows 8 require to run reasonably quickly and how much power will it have to consume? A tablet that's hot, heavy, and expensive with a suboptimal battery life isn't very appealing.

What about process management? For desktop users, speed and stability are the most important things. With a tablet, battery life frequently trumps performance.

Will licensing costs be a problem? Aside from patent claims from the likes of Microsoft, there is no licensing cost for Android. With Windows 8, there will be an implicit requirement to either make less money on each tablet or raise prices.

Finally, will adding the new Metro interface win over desktop users, or will they feel like they're being asked to sacrifice so Microsoft can sell tablets?

For that matter, will tablet buyers find the Metro interface compelling enough to measure up to iOS or Android?

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4 user comments

11.9.2011 19:56

Am I the only one that thinks that the METRO interface is ugly as hell?
I mean, it's kinda ok, until you put in those blocky, ugly tiles using random colors.



Oh, Im sorry... Did the middle of my sentence interrupt the beginning of yours?

21.9.2011 20:25

I'd assume you'd be able to configure the tiles and the background in the final build.

31.9.2011 22:50

So...it is like running Windows 7 and Windows 7 Mobile at the same time...just when you thought windows was getting more efficient with Windows 7, they make a version of windows that runs two different versions of itself at once!

This is going to be a disaster on so many fronts...it is going to hurt PC sales across the board because no one is going to be buying new PCs unless they have to. Plus the tablet itself will fail miserably with consumers...there is some demand for certain applications on the go; but if there was enough demand to justify making a tablet for these things, there is enough demand to justify making ports of these things instead.



42.9.2011 15:57
MerlinZero
Unverified new user

Originally posted by KillerBug:
So...it is like running Windows 7 and Windows 7 Mobile at the same time...just when you thought windows was getting more efficient with Windows 7, they make a version of windows that runs two different versions of itself at once!

This is going to be a disaster on so many fronts...it is going to hurt PC sales across the board because no one is going to be buying new PCs unless they have to. Plus the tablet itself will fail miserably with consumers...there is some demand for certain applications on the go; but if there was enough demand to justify making a tablet for these things, there is enough demand to justify making ports of these things instead.
You do realize that with most instances of Windows 7, Media Center is always running underneath, and well it looks almost identicle to Metro. so I guess they're just reversing the priority and adding app support in Media Center.

I like it.

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