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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Re: Urg

Dunno who frankinstein is, related to frankincense maybe?

'No, it's pronounced Fronkensteen!'

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Angel

Re: Urg

Actually, I was watching that the other night. The monster = W8, the monster after the prof rebalances his brain would be... W9?!?

btw, ElReg, teh new format for these pages really sucks! All the threading is broken.

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Anonymous Coward

I overheard a guy on the train the other night

who'd installed the Preview into a VM to tinker with. Word got out and he soon had a crowd around his desk wanting to see the shiny.

Not a one of them could work out how to get to or from the Desktop without prompting, let alone switch between apps...

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Re: I overheard a guy on the train the other night

It's alright for him - I installed it oin Virtual Box on my Mac to have a play - I couldn't actually ever work out how to shut it down - presumably I need a Windows key, mousing to the bottom left didn't bring up a start-button equivalent - is it meant to?) In the end I had to issue a shutdown through VB.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I overheard a guy on the train the other night

How does one get a seat with a desk on the train?

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(Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

Re: Re: I overheard a guy on the train the other night

I get a seat with a table every time I go to London. Table / desk - same difference.

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Re: I overheard a guy on the train the other night

The Windows key will indeed work - not sure about in Virtual Box on a Mac though, does it map the Apple key to do the same? As for clicking in the bottom left, with a few tries I can usually get it but you have to be pretty pixel perfect which is harder in a windowed VM as too far and you're out into the window borders so real hardware might work better. Occasionally though it just doesn't do it. Click a few other things, run some other apps and try again in a minute or two.

That does then pop up a little button which hovers a few pixels back towards the screen but don't be tempted to move the mouse onto it or you'll move off the hot-spot and the 'button' will disappear just as you get there. I spent several minutes going back and forth before I cottoned onto their little game.

I think this also only works when not on the Metro screen, as all it does anyway is take you out of whatever app you were in, and back to the Metro screen. No shutdown option there anyway (why would you want to turn off a tablet anyway, just put it to sleep - at least, that seems to be the impression I got). If you can find the user screen (it might be top-right on the Metro screen?) you can logout and get back to the login screen. From there there is an option (bottom right?) where you can shut down (new since the developer release?). I did once get to a slideout screen from the Metro interface that did give me some settings including a way to shut down but can't remember how I found it.

I've been struggling to find where to change the temperature units in the weather app so that it shows C rather than F. I did it once by accident but have lost it again now so if anyone has any ideas on that one, let me know.

I should try it on some real hardware too rather than just in a VM. I want to see whether it makes all the full-screen apps take up the entire surface of multiple monitors, thus preventing me from viewing several documents simultaneously.

I guess though that Microsoft really cannot win. Don't change things and be criticised for churning out the same stuff again. Make things easier and neater and be criticised for clearly copying Apple. Change things dramatically and be criticised for that too.

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Unhappy

Re: I overheard a guy on the train the other night

"Not a one of them could work out how to get to or from the Desktop without prompting, let alone switch between apps..."

And *thousands* of training providers scream "yes" as they know their going to be fully booked next year.

Job done.

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Headmaster

Re: I overheard a guy on the train the other night

Great point ,but "they're" not their.

Now back to annexing Eorpean states....

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Re: I overheard a guy on the train the other night

In order to get a seat with a table it is necessary find an unoccupied seat that was booked from an earlier station. These are the seats that are automatically booked with season tickets even though the users have no intention of traveling every day. The closer your station is to London the more difficult this becomes.

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Re: I overheard a guy on the train the other night

The Windows key on a Mac is the cloverleaf/command/whatevertheballsyoucallit button to the left of the spacebar.

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WTF?

It looks like Windows 8 has caught Shuttleworth disease...

... named after Mark Shuttleworth. Desiring to get Ubuntu into the mobile market (as widely reckoned), he not only introduced a new UI, but forced it onto users, many of whom seem to be indifferent or hate it. Similarly, Microsoft has its own UI for mobiles, Metro, and for some reason thinks that mandating it for its new OS is a goer. It doesn't look like it, going by the screenshots.

Forrtunately for consumers, upgrades aren't compulsory. I still use Ubuntu 10.04, because GNOME 2 works for me; while my wife uses Windows 7. Hopefully the firms will come to their senses in the interim.

I had my own WTF moment with this sentence:

"Bear in mind that Microsoft specifies a minimum screen width of 1366 pixels for Windows 8."

Isn't 1024 x 768 good enough for them?

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Re: Isn't 1024 x 768 good enough for them?

Apparently not, and neither is 1280x960. This is odd, because elsewhere in the article our author makes the very pertinent point that *upgrades*, not OEM installations, are where the money is. If MS wanted a version of Windows to put on new machines, they've wasted their time. They already have that. The only *business* reason to develop (at great expense) a new version of Windows is so that you can sell upgrades. (Think of it as selling the same product twice.)

But ... by ruling out all the machines with 1280 resolution or less, they've just ruled themselves out of a large chunk of that upgrade market.

And whilst we are on the subject, have another look at that "what Microsoft want you to see" image of the Metro Start screen. It's clear even from *that* screenshot that the new Start menu doesn't fit on a single screen anymore. If even Microsoft's marketing department can't afford the hardware upgrades that are necessary, ghod help the rest of us.

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Silver badge

Re: It looks like Windows 8 has caught Shuttleworth disease...

Well… In the Linux world, you can completely change your environment at will.

Not happy with (dis)Unity? apt-get install kubuntu-desktop or apt-get install xubuntu-desktop. Job done. That's how it is on Ubuntu.

Other distributions similarly can be changed at will. I presently use KDE on Gentoo, but a quick log-out, tweak my .xinitrc, then startx, and I'm in FVWM, which is one window manager I still have a soft spot for after some 16 years of using Linux. I'm considering what other desktops are out there, awesome is one I might try later.

The good news is that this is a platform that I can choose the desktop that suits *me* and *my* device (presently, a 2008-model MacBook). I think Microsoft is pushing the one-size-fits-all mantra way too far now. They have been for years, but this has taken it even further.

As for screen size; I remember when designing web pages, the standards were to assume 800×600 pixel resolution, and a 28.8kbps PSTN modem — if your site couldn't be viewed without too much waiting or side-scroll on such a set-up, it needed a re-design.

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Devil

Re: Isn't 1024 x 768 good enough for them?

Who cares ? I have had develper's preview running on a 1024x600 netbook with a touch screen since last fall, using strictly the desktop interface. It's still there, if you know where to look. The start menu may be gone from the lower left, but all the start menu shortcuts are in the usual place in the file system. Same for control panel. Just put some desktop shortcuts to 'em, and F microsoft.

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Re: It looks like Windows 8 has caught Shuttleworth disease...

Maybe they are expecting phenomenal increases in phone screen resolution.

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Linux

Re: It looks like Windows 8 has caught Shuttleworth disease...

@Stuart Longland

"Well… In the Linux world, you can completely change your environment at will."

And you still can in Windows as well. The OS and GUI are still separate, regardless of what MS marketing would like people to think. :) I used to run alternate shells on Win3.x since Program Manager was crap. :) With Win95 that requirement went away, as Win95 looked pretty much like the alternate GUI shells (like Norton Desktop, etc)

I've been running KDE on top of Win8. It runs *OK*, and the apps run and everything, but there is no system tray currently, which limits its usefulness currently. That's a relatively small fix though. If it works, I could easily see corporations deploying Win8 with KDE as the GUI in order to maintain UI compatibility with previous versions of Windows.

Here's the FAQ for doing it: http://techbase.kde.org/Projects/KDE_on_Windows/FAQ

Here's the systray bug: https://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=180122

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Trollface

Metro and Unity,

Hand in hand, disappearing into the sunset. That would be a great thing to see.

But wait... they o have a place: Tablets for Todlers!

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I'd rather F Microsoft...

...by not giving them money.

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Nya
FAIL

Well said Andrew!

It's a blended together mess of different interfaces and completely different control systems. It's a complete and utter disaster waiting to happen. MS may of thought Vista was bad for them, if they release this than it'll make Vista look like a minor "oops".

Metro itself isn't bad, it's just that it shouldn't be forced on users unless it's on a tablet....then fine, make it the only option and remove the classical desktop as it makes perfect sense than. But as it stands its an utter failure.

The other concern at the moment has to be Office. We've all heard the rumours it's also been hit with the Metro sledge hammer, probably pretty much confirmed how MS are busy hiding any sign of it currently.

This all seems like MS is deliberately trying to destroy itself by chasing a new market and destroying the immense market it already has. It's nuts!

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Re: Well said Andrew!

But Microsoft are pretty confident your next laptop or pc will ship with Win8 whether you want it or not. Unless pigs suddenly sprout wings they'll be right, especially with Shuttleworth crippling the most visible Linux alternative with the same madness.

If Apple could bring themselves to sell cheap pcs and laptops they could wipe out Win8 before the insane dumbing down inevitably gets reverted. But they wont.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Just a thought, but...

Do you think it's a grand publicity stunt?

To make sure everyone hears about Metro. And runs around for a year thinking it's really the future of Windows.

And at the last minute the product team go, "Oh yeah, it's a widget layer like Dashboard after all."

I'd be tempted to do so myself if I was Microsoft, and had a good mobile UI that nobody was interested in.

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Re: Well said Andrew!

"unless it's on a tablet....then fine, make it the only option and remove the classical desktop" How about No.

I've been tinkering with this most of the morning on my tablet but a little over two and half hours in I've rebooted to Win7 because it's simple easier and quicker to do everything I want and need to do - even with Win7 apparently horrible for touch UI that I've never had a problem with.

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Facepalm

Re: Well said Andrew! (Paul Shirley)

I misread

"Microsoft are pretty confident your next laptop or pc will ship with Win8"

as

"Microsoft are pretty confident your next laptop or pc will ship with Wine"

Which might not be a bad idea!

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FAIL

Re: Just a thought, but...

It's "new coke", you mean. Around just long enough to

1. Scare people Into buying huge stockpiles of "old coke"

2. And then consume all of said stockpiles,

3 so that "coke classic" could be released, and no one had any "old coke" to compare it to and realize that it was different

The problem with MS's business plan here is that people who are happy with win XP or 7 will have no reason to upgrade to "windows classic" when it ships. In fact, i anticipate that the only party who will benefit here will be the sons and daughters of Linus... Imagine how quickly people will snatch up a copy of Ubuntu with fvwm configured to look like Win 95/xp. (assuming wine is properly installed)

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Anonymous Coward

Agreed on Apple

Or even if they sold their OS for non-Apple hardware they'd start to hurt microsoft's monopoly. Especially if they could get it pre-installed on a PC with the windows taxes already in place. The option to even sell the OS to run as a VM is out there now. Unfortunately, I don't see it happening. They don't need it. Just look at the company's stock value. They'd have to deal with drivers for everything an end user might use. In the end, if they took any of those routes, it'd tarnish the official Apple hardware. And microsoft will continue to squander their monopoly leaving room for Apple and Linux to eat at it's share. Vista did this, and it's looking like Win8 will do it as well.

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Re: Microsoft are pretty confident your next laptop or pc will ship with Win8

In my case they're wrong. My next PC will arrive in a multitude of separate boxes containing my exact choice of components, which I'll then assemble and install whatever OS I feel like at the time. I'm pretty sure it won't be Windows 8.

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Re: Well said Andrew!

"This all seems like MS is deliberately trying to destroy itself by chasing a new market and destroying the immense market it already has. It's nuts!"

No, it's Christmas come early!

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Re: Just a thought, but...

@Andrew Orlowski

Publicity stunt? Interesting thought. Metro == New Coke? Reinvigorate the desktop Windows brand while simultaneously getting the word out about a cool new mobile GUI? Neat trick if it works, and if that was planned. :)

Its a risky stunt, since right now there is already a alternative shell that corps could deploy (KDE) and that could be the gateway drug to later drop the windows licensing for the workstations that don't specifically need Windows.

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Re: Agreed on Apple

"The option to even sell the OS to run as a VM is out there now."

An interesting thought, since a VM would be about as clean an environment as Apple's own hardware and therefore wouldn't result in the pain of a million drivers for broken hardware.

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Re: Just a thought, but...

Time to bite. I think that's the third KDE reference I've seen in the last five minutes. I'd just like to point out that the FAQ for the desktop in question has "Is it stable?" as one of the questions and "No." as the answer. Even Wine feels able to give itself a better write-up and corps aren't rushing to deploy that.

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Re: Just a thought, but...

@Ken Hagan - Yes, I know the FAQ says it isn't stable, although that part of the FAQ was written when it sure wasn't stable and hasn't been updated. :) I keep messing around with KDE/Win periodically, and it is improving FAST. 4.8 is doing fine now on Win7 for running KDE/QT applications, and it wasn't last year.

As someone who's used KDE on Win8, the only thing noticeably missing was the systray, and the apps all worked. Other than the missing systray, KDE was more stable than Metro on Win8. If KDE finishes the KDE/Windows effort prior to Win8's release, then it could be THE standard corporate UI for Win8. Otherwise, Win8 won't likely be adopted in the corp space.

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FAIL

If only Gates were around...

Your article is a bit flawed. Because by default you do /not/ get to see all those system programs in Metro, these are hidden by default. Only if you opt-in to have them displayed do they show up. Please don't start mixing up the facts. Do note: I'm talking about the customer preview, so the latest release.

Also: compmgmt.msc is still there in Win8, this also shows you all your hardware components. So its not as if this has suddenly been moved into Metro. What has changed is that "My computer" has become much harder to access (otherwise you could have more easily right clicked, then selected "properties" and found the hardware devices). But the hardware management location hasn't changed. It can still be accessed from the control panel as well.

What has changed though is consistency. At first I didn't want apps to be able and access my location settings, so right after installation I had this turned off. I found my way into the Metro "control panel" only to discover that I couldn't change this setting from there. "Go to control panel and use the "Location manager"". Eventually I discovered that it was sitting under the "Hardware" item. Why the split up? Why didn't they tell me to go to the "hardware section" instead of mentioning an option which could have been located in /any/ of those sections (well, apart from accessibility I suppose, but I did go through the rest and of course first totally overlooking this in 'hardware').

When it comes to first new releases then MS is losing their grip. Windows phone 1st release? It didn't even support tasks (todo schedules)! This feature has become very trivial for (small) businesses, but not available on the first Windows phone release (it has been added in the Mango update!). That is poor. I learned that people eventually resorted to /purchase/ schedule apps from the store because they couldn't miss out on not having their tasks with them as they were accustomed to on their previous phone.

Speculating here but I somehow get more and more convinced that Gates wouldn't have let this monstrosity being enforced upon the market. Not saying he was perfect, /far/ from it, but Ballmer is a business guy who has very little feeling for tech. As such it wouldn't surprise me /one bit/ if this had all been calculated:

"The number of people staying on Windows 7 will mean a cut in revenue but they might warm up to the idea when Win9 comes out. So when Win9 comes out these will upgrade eventually as well (maybe we can raise prices by then or disable upgrading fee's). The loss of revenue in the mean time will be compensated by not having to support several different platforms but only 1 main core. And eventually this will turn into a profit because we can now also cut back on development costs for trivial accesoires apps (clock, notepad, calculator) because those will be supplied by Metro developers who even pay us to have them released!"

Welcome to the future!

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Re: If only Gates were around...

"Because by default you do /not/ get to see all those system programs in Metro, these are hidden by default. Only if you opt-in to have them displayed do they show up. Please don't start mixing up the facts"

Agreed, you can choose to show the system programs, but that's not just these - turning that option on gives you icons for notepad, command prompt and the various tools usually found in the system tools folder.

It does look as though this option has been turned on as well given things like Services and the ODBC one, but the other icons shown in that screenshot are for apps (putty, Adobe reader, iSCSI initiator etc). All other icons for apps in the usual start->programs menu do all get dumped on the metro screen as a big cluster of ugly icons with no folder hierarchy to organise them.

Obviously this will get better as application developers start producing things with W8 in mind as I'm sure there'll be some options in MSI files to suppress the various unwanted icons. (or to ensure that big tiles are dumped into view to promote and link to their websites)

Steve.

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Silver badge

Talkin' 'bout De-g-g-g-generation

Although I have not tried Windows 8, judging by the article, it will most likely serve as proof that the most difficult thing to design is a useful UI. The Vista and WIn 7 UI's were so bad, as far as I am concerned, that I am still using XP. To be fair, however, my major complaints were not addressed in the article (bizarre desktop clicking behavior, unusable Windows Explorer, unusable search function, etc.)

But again to be fair, nearly every app I use has undergone what their developers would call "evolution" but what I consider "degeneration": oversimplification and abandoning of important UI elements, eccentric window designs, concealment of essential icons, fields, and functions. And all this seems to be done for the sake of the mere appearance of the app, and is being done, quite happily as far as the developers are concerned, at the expense of usability.

If my "user experience" ends up frozen in, let's say, 2006, well that's just how it goes. I use a very expensive piece of software as my main app, and it has also been stricken with "interface degeneration". I realize that its latest iteration, like this latest iteration of Windows, is more powerful than what I am currently using, but I refuse to cope with the jagged edges, or having some coder's incompetence thrust in my face every time that I look at my monitor.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Talkin' 'bout De-g-g-g-generation

Ah - so everyone is out of step except our Johnny, then?

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Try using it with remote desktop or VM

In particular, with a desktop size that is slightly smaller than the monitor you are using, so that the remote machine appears in a window, rather than being full-screen. This is not an unreasonable configuration, since it lets you access the host system as well.

The Windows 8 UI depends on the fact that it is easy to drag the mouse to the corners of the desktop, so only the exact corner pixel is actually sensitive. Try hitting *that* now that the sensitive pixel is in the corner of a window, rather than the screen.

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Re: Try using it with remote desktop or VM

Or VirtualBox via Remote Desktop. Aside from the mouse not being recognized and having to click twice or use tab to change fields, it is a bad way to test. And a poor test methodology because it influences your impression when you encounter frustration that is caused by the VM software combined with the lower fidelity shit connection.

I am just going to go buy something to test it properly. Something with a touch screen, because I am seriously not convinced with the mouse so far...but not testing a native installation is not fair. And of my three phones (iPhone, Android, and WP7) I like using my WP7 the most. So my expectations were high. And I tested on VM and realized what was wrong when I started getting a bit pissy about how the test drive.

Is everyone testing on VMs and then making these comments? Really? Is that the way it is going to be rolled out in your org? No.

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Re: Try using it with remote desktop or VM

" Is everyone testing on VMs and then making these comments? Really? Is that the way it is going to be rolled out in your org?"

Yes. Nearly everyone is testing in VM's and its a valid test case as it allows QUICK testing on basic virtual hardware without anything crazy/proprietary thrown in. That's the EASY test case. If it passes the VM testcases for basic functionality, then it moves onto physical hardware for further testing. If it fails the VM testcase (which is an EASY one to pass, sure was for Win7 which beat XP hands down in a VM environment) then how do I know if its worth my time to continue testing?

Folks don't keep a lot of hardware around anymore. Years of recession means LEAN business and more is virtualized. I know in the last position I was under a LOT of pressure to get rid of EVERYTHING that wasn't being used to get it off the books. And yes it is going to "virtually" roll out in the org 2-4 years from now (or more, XP is just now being replaced by Win7, many times using VMWare VDI ala PCoIP). Desktop computing is shifting to the internal cloud, and that shift has already begun. By the time Win8 rolls out in the corp space, it will be standard. A side benefit is better security for one thing. No desktops, and the no more sensitive data on laptops, they have to connect to the corp network to get to their work desktop.

Where the VM test isn't valid would be for the home use test case where games are involved.

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Played with it yesterday

I played with it yesterday and I think on the whole it's unspeakably completely and utterly awful in too many ways to list.

It might be a good slate or smartphone OS, but it's not for the desktop.

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Unhappy

Re: Played with it yesterday

MS has forced users of the Xbox360 to use this Metro interface for a while now. It doesn't even work that well on a console. Force it on the deskop and you have the OS equivalent of a bad console-to-PC game port of a bad console game.

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Meh

Re: Played with it yesterday

Yeah the 360 is now a nightmare to use with a controller or the DVD media remote. Just doesnt work. So slow too.

A big step backwards. The UI just doesnt let you move around the mass of (let's be honest here) junk that takes up most of the features of the 360 setup.

MS meeds to junk a lot of the so called features and streamline it big time.

I cant imagine a lot of folks using the Zune movies now so thats one item that can go.

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jai
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aww heck

so our office never moved to Vista, and we're still a long way away from moving to win7, so from the looks of this, we'll just stay using XP until either the company goes out of business or us users die of old age....

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N2

Re: aww heck

Nothing fundamentally wrong with that, XP & '2000 are perfectly adequate and worked very well for the company whos network & infrastructure I managed for the last 8 or so years.

After all most business models havnt really changed, they buy or make stuff, sell it at a profit then run the gauntlet of the tax man & companies house who do their very best to shaft small businesses.

Dicking around with fanciful operating systems, neither wins more orders or satisfies customers when some courier dosn't deliver their order so change just isnt on the agenda.

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Re: aww heck

staying on XP increases your vulnerability to known exploits. While you may fault Microsoft for a lot of things, the changes they keep making to stay one step ahead mean that the criminals focus on known exploits. Why should the criminals learn the new stuff? Plenty of victims in the pool...running IE6 and XP.

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Anonymous Coward

Corporare fail

Installed this yesterday, it lasted 20mins - right after we realised the reg hack to put the start menu back no longer works!

Great for phones & tablets it is, but where 90% of their sales are, laptops and desktops, in particular those sat on a corporate desk, it's a major fail & I can't see it ever being rolled out in this environment as it is.

Maybe Microsoft was just testing the water with this preview & will quickly go stick at least a GP setting to enable 'classic Windows'. They need to.

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Linux

Here Is The Permanent Windows Fix

http://www.shivanjaikaran.com/uploads/ce.d0f9eae7ab3be82a9f3a6e199dac118a.screenshot,p.png

Gorgeous, ain't it ?

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Trollface

Re: Here Is The Permanent Windows Fix

I dunno, that icon beside the "Applications" menu looks fugly to me.

A tad dated now, but I prefer this: http://dev.gentoo.org/~redhatter/misc/portege-fvwm-desktop.png

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Problems with Metro do not mean Metro is bad

This article does a great job of addressing the problems that the Metro UI has... but it never quite makes an argument for getting rid of Metro altogether.

Windows 8 is going to be the first version of a UI that's likely to carry on for years, especially as touch-based systems become the standard. So while Metro may be not quite there yet, that does not mean it's not a step in the right direction. They just need to fix the various problems, make better usage of screen real estate, and Metro will be fine.

Besides, Metro is basically just a replacement for the start menu. It's really not that big of a deal.

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