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back to article Windows 8: Sugar coating on Microsoft's hard-to-swallow tablet

How do you bring legacy-encrusted Windows into the mobile era? Microsoft's solution is to take all that baggage and place it into a compartment labeled desktop, while reinventing the Windows user interface in a second compartment called Metro. Metro is primary, and conceptually the old desktop is now an app in the Metro Start …

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3rd attempt?

I recall Windows 3.1 on a touchscreen device.

The Program Manager was reminiscent of Metro.

In fact, Microsoft Bob and Packard Bell Navigator are probably more reminiscent of Metro.

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desktop apps on touchscreen

Microsoft need to take a look at how the Citrix client works. I find that works pretty well on my xoom, it displays the mouse pointer and uses the whole screen as a mouse pad.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: desktop apps on touchscreen

Or Spashtop streaming on the Ipad.

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Anonymous Coward

well the answer to how do Microsoft get into the mobile world is simple they do what Apple did they build a seperate os and interface focused on touch/tablets/phones/etc and they leave their desktop OS to do what desktop OS's do.

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They did…

They called it "Windows CE" and a more phone/PDA-centric version called "Windows Mobile"… both flopped.

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Re: They did…

They didnt flop. MS neglected them, then in the case of Win Mob were criminally slow in updating it with touch, so threw the baby out with the bath water.

CE is in all sorts of things to this day.

WinMob was as good as non-touch symbian.

Unfortuntely M$ have a distressing tendency to re-invent the wheel every few years - especially in the in the non-core windows space and make everyone including themselves have to re-code everything.

If MS actually stuck with a single set of paradigms for a decent span they would save everyone effort.

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Happy

CE 'flopped'?

Not completely. It lasted approx. 10 years, and saw wide deployment across many key vertical markets. Yours truly worked with it for many years, writing C++ apptoids for the utility industry, who - along with POS businesses - by and large found it worked very nicely.

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... And CE is a flop

I did quite a bit of WinCE OS-level work over the years from CE1 to CE6 (device drivers, file systems, etc etc) with a few different customers.

CE got quite a bit of traction because companies hoped they could redeploy their dime-a-dozen Windows application programmers into mobile space. That sometimes worked.

However many of those companies are now looking for an exit path onto a different OS because MS is not painting a clear enough WinCE roadmap for the future.

The old WinCE paradigms are obsolete and are not the way forward. Applications using a max of 32 Mbytes of memory, single CPU,... just not the sort of thing that has legs. Further, Microsoft stopped supporting various CPU architectures and are doing that again. That makes it really hard for anyone to have confidence that they can make CE products.

Linux is feasting on this carcase.

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Happy

@ Mr Manning

...and you are rage-fuelled because? CE filled a purpose, for its time. I'm not claiming it is somehow still relevant. Indeed, it manifestly is not. How can it be after all this time and progress with modern architectures?

But it wasn't a 'flop'. Vinyl wasn't a 'flop', nor even MiniDisc with its much shorter lifetime. They all had a time during which they flourished.

A flop is something that nobody wants or needs, and fails to sell. That's it. To claim otherwise is disengenuous, so I'm moderately surprised by this post. It was a fun platform to code for, as well - the dev tools were quite nice. Vis Stud 6 was solid, though the CE emulation was a wee bit shonky (so one dumped the app to hardware every so often to check - no biggie), yet you seem so... angry. And bitter. Toward a platform you successfully worked on for years!

Ah, well... downvote away. Doesn't change anything!

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Why the fuck does everything have to be referred to as an app these days!!!!

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Windows

Because apps are hip and cool, just like Microsoft...

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Because it's short for computer application. I guess one could also use prog.

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conservation

All those extra letters in "application" are a waste of electrons :)

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Because 'appz' needed sanitising from the old piracy days? (appz, warez, toolz, gamez, etc)

Anyway, thank gods (the coders) for FOSS apps which can also do without the 'z'.

This latest MS toy seems to have the production values of a dog chewed and vomited book released as a new novel - ok, more polish, but it's still the same basic functionality respun as though it's a new product. I believe there's myriad DirectFB / libSDL based frameworks out there just as capable, but without the necessity of a 'fix my PC' button for the underlying crud.

Any idea why the move from a normal flexible interface towards an infokiosk?

Are we so obsessed that every last monkey will be capable to use a GUI, that we'll head to one with four big dribble-proof coloured buttons, like the 'Playschool' windows, for headbutting to get email or whatever? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Gj8bin3vlQ

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"Any idea why the move from a normal flexible interface towards an infokiosk?"

I am so glad someone else said that, because that's exactly what comes to my mind whenever I see Metro, either in action or in screenshots.

Not saying it's bad, it just looks like it's been designed to sell stuff. Which, apparently, it is. Good job then!

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FAIL

Microsoft Bob for the new decade.

I won't be touching anything that's lumbered with the shit MetroUI.

That means no Windows Phone, no XBox360, no Windows 8.

No loss there then....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Microsoft Bob for the new decade.

Good. Now shut up about it.

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This post has been deleted by its author

FAIL

Re: Microsoft Bob for the new decade.

Barry, no one else could have put it better than you yourself...

Even if you didn't realise it....

'I won't be touching anything that's lumbered with the shit MetroUI.

No loss there then....'

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Probably just continuing on the use that began in the 90s...

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No applications

I'll be installing this over weekend but watched the intro video where a gushing product mgr demonstrated the "task mgr" applet and few system utils. Without applications/apps/whatever that are written for Metro this'll be a dead duck.

Apart from demonstrating what Metro looks like I can't understand why a user really should want to open the task mgr.

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Oops!

If they've b0rken the desktop to include Metro, then that's a massive mistake IMHO.

I can't see world + dog (and expecially the corporates) putting touch screens everywhere to make the ruddy thing work and from the sound of it, you're a bit cattle-trucked without one. To many "to get to here you swipe....." etc in that review for my blood.

I reckon "default to traditional desktop" is a "must have" item, unless MS are aiming to make 2013 the actual year of Desktop Linux (as opposed to any other "years of Desktop Linux" you may have noticed mentioned).

If they're smart, they'll fix this in Consumer Preview #2. If they're not quite that smart, it'll be in RTM. If they're dumb it'll be in SP1. If they're suicidally stupid it'll turn up in Win 9, shortly after Win 8 gets its "avoid like Vista" tag and they get to run the Red Queen's Race again......

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Re: Oops!

"to get to here you swipe" sound a lot relevant for talking about new stuff than "to get to here you swipe, or click this button or press these keys"

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Re: Oops!

Yeah, this really does feel like they have stuck a nice enough tablet/touch screen interface on top of Win7. But when you are in the proper desktop the missing start button just seems weird.

There are some nice features, but it just feels like two different things mashed together...

I'm running it on Virtual Box and can't for the life of me figure out how to shut it down (other than from within virtual box itself) so I can mess with the network 'hardware'. The nice type to search feature isn't helping. I'm sure its as obvious as 'wiggle the mouse up and down and then swipe from one corner to the other' type of thing but it's eluding me right now.

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Re: Oops!

Found the power button... top or bottom right of screen, settings, power!

I had resolved to shutting the thing down via powershell when I found it.

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Re: Oops!

Same here - it took me a few minutes to find it, and even then it was by accident. I was about to resort to "shutdown -s -t:1".

I'm assuming it's because it's geared more towards tablets and phones, which typically spend their lives switched on and locked/in standby, (or switched off with a hardware power button).

Seems to me another example - as the article seemingly suggests - that "one size fits all" is a difficult thing to get right, and may not even be possible to get right at all.

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Re: Oops!

I'm a powershell noob, but " shutdown -s -t:1" reminds me of old times, now I just enter "poweroff" ;-)

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FAIL

Re: Oops!

Ahh, that's how they make it "easy to use".

Can't have people using advanced features like turning the computer off.

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Great for tablets and phones

Seriously - if anyone in Redmond thinks the corporate world, which does A LOT OF TYPING, will ever embrace touchscreens for the workaday desktops, they are seriously bananas.

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Re: Great for tablets and phones

Using OSX with an Apple Trackpad works well, even in a development environment. Swiping between full-screen apps is very nice, and feels natural. Not so well with the Windows 8 VM I set-up last night. COuldn't get anything like swiping to work, and what mouse gestures there are feel horribly counter-intuitive.

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No touchscreen, very painful learning curve

I think the big problem is that it is designed around touch, which does not translate brilliantly to mouse. I’m playing with it at the moment, and there is an issue with multiple screens. I like the way I can direct the taskbar buttons to the screen the application is running on, but finding the corner of your “main” screen when there is another next to it is incredibly fiddly. If they insist on this method, it would be better to allow the “hot corners” to be moved to the extreme right or left screen. Unless, that’s simply an option I have yet to find. Oh, and turning it off/restarting is an unnecessary faff. Office must be better integrated, so Outlook as be the “mail app” and “calendar app” showing data through to a locked screen. For all I know Office 15 may do that. As for the lack of a “start” button, after an hour or two of annoyance, I don’t miss it I have a “windows” button on my keyboard. The problem is – that’s an hour or two too long for most users. That way lies another Vista.

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Silver badge

Re: No touchscreen, very painful learning curve

Why on earth can't it just detect its display hardware and default appropriately? Touchscreen hardware, default to touch interface. Non-touch screen plus keyboard, default to desktop mode. (I'd suggest a what-do-you-want screen if it finds touch-screen with a connected keyboard, or non-touch-screen without a keyboard).

And put a visible start button back in the Desktop mode before it's too late and gets damned like Vista. Invisible buttons go with invisible clothes, and we all know about the Emperor's new clothes.

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WTF?

"fast and fluid"

So the usage case for metro on windows stays the same as for metro on WP7 - never mind if it is fugly and garish, never mind if it has any functionality or any decent apps as long as it is "fast and fluid"?

Well, this is shaping even more as good news for KDE and for Android.

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Re: "fast and fluid"

The only way there will EVER be any good news for KDE and its ilk is when they start supporting AD and gaming as well as a myriad other gadgets that have drivers for windows only.

Till then they will remain a fringe faction loved for its eccentricities by the few people that use it.

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Re: "fast and fluid"

Of course with KDE being ported to windows as a shell replacement it can bring the KDE look to windows and replace the evil metro. Once that is the norm at work and people try to replicate it at home it can have cross bleed bonuses for Linux in general as they see the shiny they know and then see it can be gotten for next to nothing to replace the mess of metro and such on a new laptop or desktop.

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Re: "fast and fluid"

So basically what you're saying is that the good news for KDE is that it runs under windows? No doubt about it. KDE rocks. However, I can't see any cross bleed benefits for GNU-Linux OS's until some fundamental things get supported on the platform. No gaming, no AD, no iTunes (before you shoot me, I don't use it but almost everyone in the office does) and no drivers for many popular peripherals then it won't gain traction. If I were Shuttleworth, instead of fornicating all over the shell and UI, I'd just focus on wine as being the best and most viable shortcut to at least run what the masses are used to running. Finally apologies but the mobile version I use now does not somehow use carriage return.

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WTF?

Use of screen space

I don't understand why Microsoft keep doing this. Look at the last image in the review, of the Xbox live games screen. The sign in text has "achievemen..." rather than "achievements". There's enough space there to put the full sentence.

And on the same screen, off to the right is 20+pixels used up by showing you what's on a different 'page' or screen. WHY? They do this on the Windows Phone as well. Why buy a phone with that screen size if you only use 90% of it, and leave 10% for something else that you aren't looking at?

Sorry, pet peeve with Microsoft at the moment.

Oh, Windows 8 Metro - dire.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Use of screen space

It's because Microsoft employees don't have books at home.

I suppose John Waters' maxim can hardly be relevant here though, as they don't breed the same way as human beings.

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Re: Use of screen space

I thought IE looked a bit odd. I think it's cause the Navigation and address bar is huge. The sort of thing you would see on a mobile with a tiny screen... doesn't make much sense on a big monitor.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Use of screen space

why, because it brings forward the ability to swipe sideways, its not always apparent what is side ways swipable, but with the extended title bars it makes it so stupidly simple to understand id have thought even the most stupid people could pick it up with little to no understanding of what its for

look, ive not used this version of windows yet, it should be downloaded by the time i get back tonight so i cant comment too much about all this. But what i can tell you is this, when i moved to WP7 i found it very odd to start with, and after using it for a few weeks everything feels so natural, when i use other phones now it all seems backwards and less efficient, what im saying is, people need to give it a chance, use this preview for a few weeks, work with it, learn it and understand it and if you dont like it still, then bin it, but if its anything like my experience with WP7, once i pick it up, ill still be using it by the time RTM is out

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FAIL

Re: Use of screen space

I'm glad I'm not the only one with this problem. The few WP7 phones I have played with I really like except for the weird running off of the page "feature" you mention. It really annoys me, I can't figure it out either.

My plan is to avoid Windows 8, I figure I will like Metro (aside from the half cut off next page thing) but I'd rather it allow for a complete Windows 7 desktop and Metro. Combining them will mostly likely annoy me to death. I really like Windows 7 UI, while I know it can be improved from what I have heard Metro seems to causing issues. My only thought is this is like the UAC in Vista where they are trying to force people on to Metro, but it seems a bit of a blunder to me.

Why do all the companies (Canical, Gnome, MS, Apple) seem to think we want touch screen UI's everywhere? I think KDE have gotten it right with a different desktop depending on the environment it is running on.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Use of screen space

@Dazzza

They've got these great things called full stops now. They help break paragraphs up into sentences. Word is it makes them read less like a saliva-drenched stream of consciousness.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Use of screen space @ Madra

yeah, congratulations on becoming an pedantic arse, the human mind is able to understand some of the most extreme perversions of our language and yet you have a problem with full stops.

Oops, you have my apologies, i had forgotten that this is after all a Microsoft story, kind of explains a lot.

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Re: Use of screen space

'what im saying is, people need to give it a chance, use this preview for a few weeks, work with it, learn it and understand it'

why? cos Ballmer or you tell me to? kindly p.o. and play with your pissapps and leave me to my 10K gaming rig...

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Re: Use of screen space @ Madra

i had forgotten that this is after all a Microsoft story

so had I, did u 2?

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Re: Use of screen space

"use this preview for a few weeks" ??? A few days, maybe. Maybe even 5 days, but a few weeks ?

Why ??? If Ballmer was too arrogant to understand that I would still hate it after a few days, then I certainly am not going to give that jerk much more of my time.

With Bill Gates he probably worked well. Gates provided the common sense, and Ballmer was the arrogant jerk that demanded the best. The unbearable boss that got results.

But without Gates, Ballmer is free to reveal what a total buffoon he is. There's nobody around to show him the right direction.

Look at this... last year the smart people that could bail out, they did:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/01/20/microsoft_windows_consumer_boss_goes_to_juniper/

January 2011, that was probably around the time that this mess started to come into focus, for people working there.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Use of screen space @ Madra

That doesnt make any sense, that or my point flew over you.

as for someone telling me to try it? lol

Oh dear, folks, you are aware that its a beta and you did sign up to test it? thats why a lot of the feedback options cant be turned off, because your supposed to test it and you know, give them feedback, which is usually done by actually using it over a period of time. Their not handing out free joy rides on a new OS, this is all for a purpose.

and finally, your wonderful 10K gaming rig? good for you, you want a medal? i could make you a wee certificate if youd rather. But i dont understand what that has to do with this in the slightest.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Use of screen space

David, i agree with everything your saying, and dispite the bombing of downvotes im getting ive not actually ever said that Win 8 is any good.

But i am going to try it, and im going to put it through its paces, an do my best with it because this is a large scale beta test that i signed up for.

I wouldnt have bothered going to the hassle doing all this, twice, if i was just looking for things to slag off.

It may well turn out to be poor, and i have already mentioned a few things that concern me, but im still going to keep trying it and provide as much feedback as i can. If we all did this from within Win 8 then perhaps MS "might" listen, rather than people just going off on one on various forums.

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Linux

Re: Use of screen space

I'm pretty sure no one at MS knows who John Waters is, (but I bet Bill does), and few there get much sex, anyways. They're all geeks, remember?

Hey Register. You need a Flamingo icon. Penguins just don't fly.

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