Building Windows 8 with Metro in Mind
Steven Sinofsky and the Windows development team recently launched their development blog, Building Windows 8. Every entry has proven to be interesting reading, but today’s entry touched on the new element that most interests me as an HTPC enthusiast: the new Metro-inspired Start screen. The tile-based Start screen is being designed to work with touch, mouse, or keyboard and immediately stood out to me as a potentially exciting 10-foot user interface.
Some of the early peeks at the new Start screen have revealed that this new user interface is going to be a radical departure and take precedent over the traditional desktop UI, but Microsoft has been somewhat coy about how the Start screen works. Today’s blog has provided the most concrete explanation to date of the relationship and differences between the Metro UI and the desktop UI. Speculation has been that the Start screen would float above the desktop, similar to way that Windows Media Center does. Sinofsky’s blog post makes clear that instead the Metro UI is truly a separate platform from the traditional Windows desktop.
If developers get on board with Microsoft’s app-centric ideal, I think that HTPC enthusiasts have a lot to look forward to. On the other hand, I suspect it might be rocky going early on if the transition from the Metro UI to the desktop applications we currently rely on proves difficult to navigate or is bogged down by the overhead of launching the desktop with every new interaction.
We believe there is room for a more elegant, perhaps a more nuanced, approach. You get a beautiful, fast and fluid, Metro style interface and a huge variety of new apps to use. These applications have new attributes (a platform) that go well beyond the graphical styling (much to come on this at Build). As we showed, you get an amazing touch experience, and also one that works with mouse, trackpad, and keyboard. 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.