What is multitasking? Different people seem to mean different things when they use the word multitasking. The definition chosen has implications for accepting or rejecting the prevailing design choices of modern user interfaces. I have been a vocal critic of Windows 8's Metro interface. My chief complaint is that it does not …
MS Multitasking is like Chevy Volt...
in that both have technology equivalent to that which existed at the start of their respective "ages". For Chevy, that means the Baker Electric, circa 1914. For Microsoft, that means Quarterdeck's DESQView, circa 1985.
Most learning is informal and results from interpreting feedback on routine tasks
From original article. "Outside of academia – and a handful of other professions – the day is taken up with implementing what we already know."
Not sure I agree with that. Processing the feedback from the implementation of what you already know may well lead to learning. Feedback can be the 'thermostat' kind (too hot?, switch off radiator, too cold? turn on radiator) or the kind that causes a process change. The second kind is harder to do and therefore your brain resists it more.
What did you expect from a mutated CP/M ?
You can split the desktop with a metro app giving access to the normal multi tasking we are used to. Or you can just use the desktop mode and forget metro for most things. And if you have more than one monitor it gets even less like what this author is saying.
Its a crap article that tries to draw a nuff-said hard line and say it can't be done. It should however focus on things such as how frustrating it might be splitting the desktop with a metro app. There are gripes to be had in win 8 but the one outlined in this article doesn't exist.
Re: Total Crap
Thank you for your comments. You'll notice that the article talked about Metro, and not Windows 8's desktop at all.
Your attempt to defend Metro by claiming that you can still use the desktop is quaint, but irrelevant. Your argument does not address the topic at hand and is nothing more than a sad attempt to justify a UI change that has seen a significant negative response. Furthermore, you leave out issues like "Metro screen splitting only goes 33/66," something that seriously impinges upon the ability to use large productivity apps at the same time as the desktop.
Additionally, it is not my job to publicise your concerns about Windows 8. Write your own damned articles, if you have your own beefs with the product. But don't you dare denigrate the concerns of others simply because you don't feel they apply to you.
I talked about the issues I, personally have with Metro. I talked about the issues my clients and users have with Metro. I talk about Metro, specifically because it is the future of Microsoft’s design, and Microsoft has very much so made it the favoured child.
So you can take your “the desktop is still there” and your “if you don’t like it, just stick with Windows 7” arguments and shove them. I've been over that territory many times times in this thread.
Your solution to what I call multitasking is to rely on the traditional desktop. It is a solution that isn't available in all versions of Windows 8. It is a solution that isn't relevant if the application you are trying to use is a large Metro app that requires more than 33% of your screen. And most damning of all, it is a solution that has every possibility of simply not being available forever.
So I’ll be very blunt with you here: if you believe any of the following:
1) Microsoft is a company that you can bet your business on for client OS continuity
2) The legacy desktop in “pinned” mode is the solution to my multitasking woes
Then just don’t bother reading any article by me regarding Windows 8. The man you want to be reading is Peter Bright at Ars Technica. Those are the beliefs he espouses with fervor. You will find my analysis far more cynical, and significantly less attached to the idea of blind faith.
If you want to convert me, derision and ad homs aren't going to do it. You need to prove to me that Microsoft have earned my trust. You are going to have to show not only that what is on the table now will do everything I need it to do, but that there is a firm commitment to preserving that capability for 5, 10, 15 and 20 year timeframes.
You need to show me that continuing to invest in the Microsoft ecosystem, developing applications for Windows and supporting developers who choose this proprietary route is a sound investment.
Because as it stands, right now, Metro does not allow me to do mutltiasking as I have described it in my article. The legacy desktop does, (though even that has been nerfed somewhat,) but having Metro apps and desktop apps coexist and and participate in a multi-viewable environment is broken to the point of “completely fucking useless.”
Worse, “the legacy desktop” can absolutely no longer be counted upon to exist past the (Hopefully brief) shelf life of Windows 8. We’re back to “trust” here. You obviously have it. I don’t.
No, I’ve heard the argument from the fanboys at this point: “why worry about something that hasn’t been announced? Microsoft haven’t said they are getting rid of the desktop, so that’s not a valid concern.” Bullshit. I still have systems running NT4 built into machines that are the size of a bus, cost over $1M and have been running for 15 years. I have similar machines with Windows 2000 and Windows 7.
I have a massive XP embedded estate that probably won’t be replaced until 2018. We have point of sales apps that are based on code that largely hasn’t changed in 20 years. There is industry specific software from companies that have gone out of business, or who maintain some 10 year old Frankenapp with 3 devs and have zero competition, thus zero reason to improve upon things.
Eventually, all of this will be replaced. With what? How long will whatever I replace it will be supported? If I invest in some application today that has a Windows desktop client software bit, will users 5, 10, 15 years form now be able to use that software and use it in a remotely reasonably and efficient fashion?
How well will it work in a world where an unknown number of other applications are Metro only? What will context switching be like? Multitasking? How does it all fit?
No, I will not wait for the final product. No, I will not wait for Microsoft to slowly reveal to me the roadmap for Windows 9 and 10 one goddmaned morsel at a time over the course of the next decade.
Microsoft have just engaged in a massive paradigm shift in how computers are used. On the one hand they are periodically trying to ease concerns about the future role of the desktop, and then in the very next sentence talk about how Metro – and very clearly only Metro – is the future.
You trust them if you want. You bet your business on them. You invest thousands of your personal dollars into their new OS, and apps to go on it.
I’m done. Metro doesn’t do what I need it to do. Metro/Desktop interaction is pants. Worst of all, Microsoft have basically told everyone who raises concerns about this to go to hell.
So, Metro is okay? Dragging the desktop around on life support is the solution? Microsoft can be trusted with my future?
Convince me, sir.
for hanging in there with Microsoft for so long. I'm obliged to run Windows 7 at work, but I've reached the point where, to bypass its sluggish response and limited capabilities, I do all of my work under Linux running inside a full-screen VM.
Re: Total Crap
Love your article if only for the amount of discussion it has started.
I work for a large systems integrator and had similar concerns for Windows 8 after the success of Windows 7. Speaking with Microsoft last week they relieved my concern. Their position is that tablet use is growing faster than desktops, and they don't have an OS that works on tablets particularly well. The Metro interface is their answer, and WindowsRT on ARM the direct competitor for iOS and iPad. Metro isn't replacing the desktop, it's complimenting it.
It's horses for courses. You wouldn't commute from Brighton to London on a bike, and you wouldn't catch a train from Southwark to London Waterloo. But that doesn't mean those forms of transport aren't valid.
Take the fact that you can run apps on your phone, your tablet and your desktop, which one are you going to run lots of full screen apps on? The Metro interface on Windows 8 is there to bring the experience of the phone/tablet to the desktop, not to replace it. Your argument about Metro taking over the desktop seems to be unfounded, do you have any evidence of this?
I use and like using iPads, but don't know how you can multitask on one at all, but I can on my MacBook. Were Apple wrong to change part of their interface in Lion to match iOS? Using an earlier poster's comparison, Launchpad is to Lion as Metro is to Windows 8. It brings the OS experience together across the different form factors.
Re: Total Crap
I never said that Metro was useless. In fact, as I have stated elsewhere in this thread I think certain elements of Metro are absolutely brilliant, and I would pay cash money to be able to use them in a different manner. (That's another article for next week, I think.)
To further elucidate that point: Metro is fantastic for tablets, and it is potentially usable, with some tweaks on an ultrabook. I do not believe that the current incarnation has any place on a real notebook or a desktop at all. For all the reasons I have stated in this article and in this thread.
It is never black-and-white. And Metro contains some truly revolutionary (in the old, non-Apple-mangled sense of the world) technologies.
But the implementation (on any productivity-based device) sucks. The lack of customisability sucks. And it gets in the way of doing real work…especially once the things becomes mandatory for various critical day-to-day apps. Spectacular consumption interface though.
Re: Total Crap
Also: Launchpad in Lion isn't the equivalent to Metro. Launchpad doesn't promise a future of fullscreen-only or 33/66-only applications. Apple has made very strong commitments to preserving the ability to window all applications on the platform and pursue a multi-view-based-multitasking environment for the foreseeable future. What's more, they've made these commitments in a way that I can believe them.
What was the point of making screens bigger, just so some daft sod can tell us all we only need to be able to see one app at a time? 24 inches of screen filled withe one horribly coloured green app.
i dont think thi guy has used the previews
You can do both kinds of multi tasking and you have to have the 66/34 split. If you get the arm consumer version then you can't do any of the normal multiple task viewing things.
Buy an x86 platform and you can do pretty much anything.
If you still can't understand the difference no one is forcing you to use it, Linux works just fine.
I didn't know Sheldon Cooper wrote articles for The Reg.
I regularly run multiple apps in multiple windows on multiple monitors. The more screen real estate the better. When want to be able to see multipls database views, text editor views, web page views on screen at the same time.
For me metro makes absolutely no sense. If I can't disable it, I'm not going to switch from Windows 7. Even if I can, there would have to be some compelling benefits which I just don't see. If I switch any where it will be to Linux.
We have the successor to DESQview. I've been waiting 20 odd years for that.
thou shall use the browser as UI.
You are frog marched to use the likes of Office 365.
Local applications? God forbid, it's pay per click.
Multitasking was a fad, now use that other browser tab.
Personal computers are so dead, think of the enterprise instead.
Don't cry for a replacement aloud, bring your own and use the cloud.
I got as far as "monotasking" and gave up. Inventing new words for the sake of it is fun, but the people who do it just to be clixby have nothing of interest to communicate.
I got to "dualtasking" and thought the same.
So we have had multitasking since 1986
In MS DOS, you has terminate and stay resident. This allowed you multitask an large number of apps. The Apple Mac was actually more powerful at the time with control panel devices. These allowed amazingly useful utilities like talking moose to pop up randomly and remind you of important things, like pizza time and the love that the computer felt for the user.
I am glad we are making such progress. And remember, just because Apple does it(launchpad) does not mean it is a good idea. That is why so many of the new Apple stuff is optional.
Another "Real World"
Well - this whole thread seems to consider only what you all call "Multi-tasking" in an office (Perhaps Software-development) environment.
To me, Multi-tasking involves a real-time set of software processes controlling some sort of industrial process.
(Say, loading a ship with liquid gas ?)
Each hardware process carries on simultaneously, and continuously, (in real time) whilst the software processes monitoring or controlling it run intermittently, controlled by a scheduler module.
Real time computers are ALL Analogue computers.
The CPU Multi-tasks (Now called Multi-Threading, I think), running each software process in sequence.
This sequence varies, as the needs of the Industrial processes dictate.
Multi-tasking occurs (seen simplistically) at two levels:
1/ The CPU runs multiple tasks cyclically.
2/ The operator views various "Windows" on the screen, each of which may be updated either continuously, or intermittently. He "Multi-tasks" between windows, viewing display changes.
He also may be called on to use judgement and change the changes imposed by the software processes.
A MS Windows PC lacks an in-built task scheduler which is able to be used adequately by the Systems Developer. Ergo - Windows cannot properly be made to Multi-Task in a way which permits any one program (process) to promote itself in the Task Table.......
Well, I'm rattlin' on too long.
If you want to make Windows Multi-Task, you have to first write a Task Scheduler module, I thought.
Or am I out of date ?
Re: Another "Real World"
I think you are talking about thread scheduling. Or at least, that's the closest that Windows comes to what you are talking about; scheduling granularity occurs at the thread level. Threads can be assigned differing priorities, and mapped to specific cores, but that's as far as it goes. (The introduction of multiple cores combined with core affinity and priority allows Windows to "fake" being a real time OS "good enough" for a lot of industrial processes.)
Now, I will be 100% up front and honest with you here by saying I am quite simply am not remotely qualified to have a debate with anyone over whether or not Windows’ scheduling is "adequate" for a given use. We’re off into the weeds there where people who program kernels for a living lie. There be dragons in those woods. Also; people who haven’t seen the sun in 15 years.
From what I understand, however, all modern Windows implementations use a Multilevel feedback queue for scheduling, which according to some at least, can be considered as a "Real Time Operating System."
However, the debate over exactly what kind of scheduling algorithms are truly real time, and what level of granularity is required to qualify for that seems to have armed camps with differing viewpoints, and I try to stay away from kernel programmers with pointy things.
Hope that can provide you a starting point for further research!