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back to article Metro breakdown! Windows 8 UI is little gain for lots of pain

The public preview of Windows 8 has won "rave reviews" according to the Daily Mail, the newspaper that claims to reflect Middle England and is proudly conservative in every sense of the word. The Mail, it'll have you know, is a feisty opponent of "change for the sake of it". So not only do I fear that somebody has spiked the …

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WTF?

I like the WFT? area. A great feature.

I've played with Win 8 for a couple of days in a VM and the Metro interface looks very nice but it's a half-arsed implementation. Lift up Win 8's skirt and it's a pair of old Win 7 knickers underneath. With holes in.

If you want to see an interface that is both slick and fast just have a look at KDE on openSUSE.

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Re: WTF?

Yep agree with that entirely and as MS has just extended consumer W7 support to the same as commercial then there is absolutely no reason to upgrade (cough) to W8. W7 is the next XP.

As for openSUSE chuck in compiz 0.8.8 ( c++ version is crap and buggy for kde and kwin is still not as slick) add glx-dock and you have a great desktop UI.

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WTF?

Re: WTF?

WTF indeed. The whole of El Reg has morphed itself into Barry Shitpeas.

It's opinion. The article, and the comments. That's awesome. Here's mine: I've been using it since the developer preview was released, and I love all of it.

Shit changes. If you *must* use it, you'll make your life easier by accepting it. If you don't have to use it, use something else.

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as

Embarrassing as that ugly girl your mates caught you kissing.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: WTF?

Well..... at least with Ubuntu 12.04, you can easily change the desktop if you don't like Unity.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: WTF?

Whilst i dont really agree with your KDE Comment and im reluctant to pass judgment over the UI for another couple of weeks, i do see where your coming from.

Ive said this before and ill say it again, with WP7, it took me a good couple of weeks to stop thinking old and adapt to metro but now ive got the hang of it, its a god send, everything else seems so archaic.

Now im going to force myself to use Win8 for a lengthy period of time to see if its the same, after all, not all changes are bad and some times the ones you dont think are great turn out to be amazing. To be clear im on a desktop here and a tablet else where.

Since we all seem to have to hate it without getting down voted ill say this, i dunno yet, and id strongly suggest people really give it ago and not just a couple of hours, my first impressions are that it seems a too dumbed down on my desktop, but perhaps thats because im not using all the shortcuts an what not yet, my tablet on the other hand is playing like a Super sized Windows Phone an its working well, im really impressed so far.

Anyhow, after some forced testing on myself ill make a judgment, id like to think that at least some of the folk on here are mature enough to see things similar without slating it after a couple of hours tinkering.

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Mushroom

Re: WTF?

Yes, but then there's a big difference between Ubuntu (or any Linux or Unix distro; remember, Linux is not Ubuntu) and Windows.

Linux effectively represents an underlying system onto which you put the GUI of your choice, assuming that you want one. I prefer KDE3, but the list goes on, each with their own fans.

With Windows, however, you are stuck with whatever the Beast says you are to have as they insist that the GUI and the system core are the same thing. You can't rip the GUI off and replace it with something else - well, you possibly could, but I doubt that Microsoft would be very happy about that and good luck getting any support!

To be honest, and aside from a couple of niggles regarding Microsoft's almost obsessive concern with security (though after Linus Torvalds' recent paddy about openSUSE's security setup, I suppose I should be a bit careful about this), I don't mind W7 too much, though as with Vista, I am still unimpressed with the memory and disc footprint when compared with XP and W2K. That will probably give you an idea about my thoughts on W8 so far.

What it comes to is that Microsoft are redesigning the front end purely to accommodate the latest fad. This is probably because the previous fad, the netbook, caught them with the pants down, but I'm still not convinced that it has a future. I could be wrong, but the idea of the operating systems that Microsoft bought in were to run general purpose machines, and the touch pad isn't one of those. The obsession over touch and cloud may eventually be their downfall, in fact, since the whole point of the OS moves away from the general purpose system (the standard PC, the monitor, the mouse, the keyboard and such), unless they do something specifically to improve that part of their coverage, there will be a sizeable market that will eventually decide that enough is enough and start looking elsewhere for their services, whether that be Linux, Apple or whatever.

After all, Microsoft ignored their users when they released Vista and Windows ME. Look where that got them!

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Windows 8 Consumer Preview is great!

Microsoft - please, please, please launch this exactly as it is now. Don't change a thing. Don't listen to the moaners - we all know users don't really know what they really want until you tell them. Put more marketing into it than you did Vista. Make it simple for users, i.e. ensure they can't go back. Hurry up end-of-lifeing XP and 7 too - clearly they are history now and users will rush to upgrade their hardware once they see the marvels you've come up with this time.

Do this and all the recent uncertainty surrounding your future will be cleared up once and for all!

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Re: Windows 8 Consumer Preview is great!

"Do this and all the recent uncertainty surrounding your future will be cleared up once and for all!"

Well, that's one way of putting it....

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KDE FTW!!!

I agree - KDE is coded so intelligently to allow user interfaces to be very customisable and adaptable to meet many needs. It avoids all the nonsense that Windows 8, GNOME Shell and Unity bring, precisely because the Plasma Desktop means you can essentially make KDE look and work like any of Windows XP, Windows 7, GNOME Shell, Mac OS, Unity, and if you are a masochist in the future then likely Windows 8 too. However, I believe KDE's default to be best, and its default taskbar config IMO works better than Windows 7's taskbar - wastes less space and allows quick access to programs without placing large distracting icons all over the place.

I have also been trying OpenSUSE on USB and the direction Microsoft are moving are seriously making me considering switching across to it as my main OS.

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Happy

Re: Windows 8 Consumer Preview is great!

LOL Indeed! Here's to the last version of Windows!

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fzz

Re: WTF?

Linux is about choice (BSD too, to be fair). Windows is about lock-in, and choice is inconsistent with that goal.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: WTF?

Agreed. Apple shoves it's terrible UI down people's throats all the time and people bless it as "innovation". But how dare Microsoft do that! There are always going to be some problems with a beta and I doubt all of the things pointed out in the article will go out with the official release, but from what I understood the main gripe is the UI. I haven't used Windows 8 yet, but since I'm not totally stupid I doubt it will take me more than a few minutes to get used to. And it should be a breeze for people that are even smarter than "not totally stupid"!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: WTF?

"Apple shoves it's terrible UI down people's throats all the time and people bless it as "innovation". But how dare Microsoft do that! "

Different market and inappropriate unless the aim is to make Windows non-ubiquitous.

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Re: KDE FTW!!!

Couldn't agree more. KDE might not be (by default) the prettiest or slickest UI in the world, and people looking at a fresh install might just think "Windows clone", but to me it's a well established system with a great app suite, and every single corner of it just bristles with config options.

How big do you want your panel? Should it be translucent? What should it contain, and do you need more than one? What widgets do you want on which screen at what size with what options? Do you want to ditch the whole thing and just have an icon-based launcher on the desktop? Should this window be solo, part of a group, sit on top, or drop its surround altogether?

If you're the kind of person who wants things to work your way, KDE is brilliant. It doesn't take long to config, as pretty much everything is GUI controlled, and once it's kitted out, everything you need is exactly where you want it. Been using it for years, and having played with GNOME/Unity from time to time, I can't see myself going back. (That is, on a desktop. Tried Ubuntu TV at the MWC and it looks fantastic.)

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Trollface

Re: WTF?

I think the best comment I heard was on a video, where an IT technician's desktop had been replaced by one running Windows 8.

"Don't they do a version for professionals? Come on guys, give me back a real PC"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: WTF?

Interesting perspective, but what you're therefore saying is, if a company changes something, then don't criticise it.

Microsoft still has some amazing techies, but it's been taken over by marketing types who have somehow convinced senior management that the solution to Apple is to copy everything.

It's a case of, Techie suggests something, and marketing type responds with "An up arrow? An up arrow to navigate a hierarchical structure? I've given powerpoint presentations for ten years, and I've never used it. Why would anyone want an up arrow.?"

It's like the techies have given up, because people with IQs a hundred points below them, have got the management's ear as to what's useful. The company should be split in two, and the engineers can do the linq, SQL, language and tool development, and the marketing types can sit in meetings discussing colours over a line or two, with the business analysts.

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Re: KDE FTW!!!

I suppose that depends on what you want to use it for, but I've been using openSUSE for quite a few years now and I've seldom regretted it.

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Re: Windows 8 Consumer Preview is great!

Whoosh.......

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FTW!

how about using windows 8 on a 3d hdtv with kinect!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: WTF?

The difference is... Apple's UI is not "terrible" in fact I'd go as far to say that it's probably as good as it gets for usability and simplicity across all the operating systems. I've seen many expert and novice users alike take to OS X without any training or difficulty. The same cannot be said for the hodge-podge of mess that is Windows. Their is no consistency of user experience in Windows. Each new UI fad seems to just badly wrap up the previous generations dialogues and windows, this has been happening from as far back as windows 3 and shows no sign of stopping any time soon.

I'd just like to say that I use Windows 7, OS X and Linux on a daily basis and I'm well aware of their relative limits and benefits. I don't think any of them are perfect but in the absence of perfection I'll settle for "least surprising" and this is certainly OS X

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Re: KDE FTW!!!

You belief that its the best is the exact same belief that the designers at microsoft have. They too believe they know best. Don't hate them for doing what comes naturally.

I prefer xfce :)

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Re: WTF?

Want to eject that CD? Drag it to the recycle bin.

Yes..... thats unsupprising ¬_¬.

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IT Angle

Huh?

Yeah, very funny, now where's the real screenshots from WIn 8?

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ejecting

As soon as you start dragging a removable volume (CD/USB storage/.dmg) the trash can (not recycle bin!) turns into an eject button.

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FAIL

Re: WTF?

The WTF? area is even more sensible on WP7, because as microsofts extensive research into usability has shown, on a small screen like a mobile phone, every pixel counts. So its best to waste a full quarter of it with a great big black column, and then be forced to cut off words half way because there's no space to fit them all in. On the home screen. Before you even run anything. Then feature this prominently in all the ads, and wonder why the sales figures are what Android would dismiss as the floor noise level.

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FAIL

The 'we know best' crowd have been in charge at Microsoft for several years now. It started - for me - with sub-pixel addressing. It has become gradually harder and harder to avoid it. I've posted to blogs, forums and even spoken to a couple of guys in Reading. I've explained that it makes me feel nauseous but nothing has ever changed. They just keep insisting that it's wonderful technology and completely failing to address my complaint.

Fail, Microsoft.

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Re: sub-pixel addressing

Have you considered rehashing you complaint in terms of its impact on users with less than 20:20 vision? Then you could speak to a lawyer (Microsoft listens to them) about a possible case with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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Re: sub-pixel addressing

Very well, I'll meet your anecdata and raise with an "I don't see why a legal approach would work any better. I have myopia and strong astigmatism and am perfectly fine with Windows 7's fonts."

People who are having issues with this may form such a tiny minority that Microsoft simply doesn't feel the need to worry about losing their custom. There's a limit to how far you can go to accommodate edge cases before the money you're spending becomes greater than the likely benefit.

Besides, if even computer display resolutions increase to "retina"-style levels—which appears to be a distinct possibility over the next year or so—this becomes a moot point anyway.

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Boffin

Have you checked the typical retina?

"if even computer display resolutions increase to "retina"-style levels—which appears to be a distinct possibility over the next year or so"

So, we're going to get computer displays which:

i) Have almost all the colour and resolution concentrated in one area

ii) The rest is washed-out and blocky, but good at fast motion and fine grayscales

iii) There's a big hole, about the size of the full moon, off to the side of the detailed bit

Don't worry, your brain will fill-in the details!

Yep, I will need those goggles!

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WTF?

If you mean sub-pixel (font) rendering, aka ClearType, you do know you can turn it off, right?

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Anonymous Coward

I have similarly complained to Apple about their UI looking like it was produced by Fisher-Price and is U G L Y! Nothing happened, FAIL, APPLE!

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Joke

But the upsides are great...

Like Fisher-Price, it's designed for diapered users with drool problems!

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Not always you can't. IE9 forces sub-pixel rendering on as does Office 2007 unless you know about the undocumented registry setting 'RespectSystemFontSetting'. Dunno about Office 2010 but I think I read that that setting no longer worked.

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FAIL

I really hate Metro

In particular hiding the tiles. When you install a program all the short cuts it would have created in the start menu (help files, un-installer, link to vendor's website) all appear as tiles on the Metro screen. To hide you have to select the tile, right click, which produces a menu bar at the bottom of the screen. You then move down to the menu bar and select hide. This has to be repeated for every tile. Far too much unnecessary cursor movement, especially with a laptop touch pad. Context menus work well.

If Metro, as presented in the W8 CPE, is how it is going to work in the release edition, then I don't see myself ever upgrading. I'd rather stay with Windows 7.

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Re: I really hate Metro

You can select multiple tiles at once, just right-click on each one you want to unpin and then unpin them all at once. And i'm pretty certain all the tiles appearing on the Start Screen is down to how software creators have decided to add items to the start menu by creating a folder and then also dumping all the items into the list that you find when you first click on Start in Win 7.

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Re: I really hate Metro

Where's the right mouse button on a tablet again?

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Re: I really hate Metro

"Where's the right mouse button on a tablet again?"

You just drag each icon down slightly and then release it. You can select multiple icons on a table just as quickly as you could with a mouse and Ctrl-click on a Win7 PC.

It's one of those features that wasn't there in the Dev Preview and has been greatly improved in the Consumer Preview.

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FAIL

Re: I really hate Metro

You could probably take a MASSIVE leap of logic and right-click multiple instances... and hey! whaddya know. that works! Jesus, think before you complain. Do you also pen half a letter to the manufacturer of your shoes, before you realise that you're not trapped, and if you were to undo the laces... hey! you're free.

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Easy

Just choose Ubuntu Classic from the login menu,

Oh, wait

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Unhappy

Re: Easy

Ubuntu Classic disappeared with the switch to Gnome 3 in 11.10 I'm afraid. Replaced instead with 'Unity 2D', it's far less polished, Metacity based brother.

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Re: Easy

1) Select XFCE from the login menu

2) Pretend Gnome 3 and Unity never existed

3) Get some actual work done

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If you can't turn it off,

then I'll be sticking with Win7. What's the use of having multiple large monitors if all they show is a handful of tiles? I can see instances of carpal tunnel syndrome spiking as people are forced to move their mouse cursor back and forth across vast distances just to select something.

It looks great on a phone. Leave it there.

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Re: If you can't turn it off,

Correction: If Microsoft don't provide a way to turn it off, others will, and the worst of those other methods will become the industry standard way to configure Win8. (Gresham's Law as applied to software.)

Now go and read several years of Raymond Chen's blog and think about the possible consequences of /that/. --> Windows 9 will need to be backwards compatible with "somebody else's hack around the Windows 8 UI".

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Pint

Re: If you can't turn it off,

thats actually a very good negative point, one of very few that i can agree with at this stage until i play a bit longer with it.

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Re: If you can't turn it off,

To follow up on Ken's statement - enterprises are where Windows gets the most use/backing/lock-in and I cannot see them for the life of me standing for the productivity draining shite that is Metro on a desktop. Ergo they will be the ones pioneering the hack that will become standard and need to be backwards compatible with.

Even then I still cannot see them wanting 8 though. After the Vista debacle most just went from XP to 7 and I see them going from 7 to 9 or 10 depending on how soon they come about. Seems like MS follow a tick-tock process of usable-shite variations.

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fzz

Re: If you can't turn it off,

There are registry keys under HKCU and HKLM which has been around since Windows 95 which allow users to choose different Windows shells. This raises the question whether those keys are still effective, meaning whether Metro will honor it, or whether Metro is unavoidable. If Metro can't be bypassed in this way, then it may take ugly hacks to disable it, and only MSFT would be to blame for that.

After 20+ years Windows users have a reasonable expectation of customizing much of Windows including the program launching UI. Maybe phone, tablet and game console users don't have that expectation, but there's too much PC history/inertia for MSFT to expect all users meekly to fall into line.

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Re: If you can't turn it off,

@fzz

I've already done this to run KDE as the default GUI environment for Win8 as a proof of concept since I might have to do this later for continuity purposes. There are a couple of small things to get ironed out on the KDE side, but if I were doing a Corporate IT rollout of Win8 (for its other benefits), I'd be deploying that Win8 image with KDE Desktop on top of it in order to minimize disruption and keep compatibility. It also nicely paves the way later to switch out the underlying OS on the corp desktop with even less disruption. :)

Desktop GUI /= to Operating System. This holds true for Windows/Mac(BSD)/Linux/BSD.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If you can't turn it off......

…….the administrator will when configuring your "work" desktop when you log in.

Maybe metro is aimed more at the consumer (and ever growing tablet market), and enterprise will be able to tinker in the exact same way they do now!

Though MS has got to get this right or dreaded iOS lovingly created by Fisher-Price, may take a larger slice and we'll all be doomed!

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Urg

I assumed there would be completely separate shells, with maybe a shared bit of common design language where the metro ui is also useful for the desktop and something like an uber-CSS that reskins and changes the ui of shared touch enabled apps like office.

This sounds like a frankinsteins monster.

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