Windows 8 Metroholm Syndrome kicked in late last night.

Like 1million of you out there, yesterday I downloaded and installed Windows 8 onto get this – my 27” iMac – yes, I’m that guy.

image

Here are my love/hate notes and a YouTube video to match.

What I like

  • Color Choice. I like the vibrant colors, I was skeptical from the initial //BUILD preview we saw that this would work as that iteration of Win8 came off very flat and really shallow baked. This iteration I am noticing some subtle differences and I am growing to accept its existence.
  • Start Menu replacement. I am surprised at how much I do actually like the Start Menu vs. the traditional one; I am always a fan of enabling users to break out of their chrome and into a more contextually driven experience for at times when specific tasks need to occur. I like this approach, it’s still a bit hard to break a lot of habitual usage and muscle memory, but it’s something I can see the Operating System will chisel away at over time.
  • AppStore. I like the AppStore, I think this is long overdue and am looking forward to seeing more about how this can increase the size of my own wallet (or decrement it). I still am skeptical of a try vs. buy approach to selling your apps, to me try kind of pushes prices further down then they need to be (AppStore anti-pattern).

    I like the almost seamless integration between apps, and how you can pin/unpin them to suite your hearts’ content.

What I dislike.

  • Tile Balance. The balance between typography and glyphs irritated me immediately. I found myself ignoring the glyphs and instead searching the text, but found that the text size itself is excessively small. The reason I think this is occurring is the shapes (glyphs) aren’t familiar outlines of entities I’m used to seeing, so my brain flips the concept around, ignores them given they are foreign and instead retreats back to typography for the answer. I think these needs more balancing between proportion and closer to home shape design(s).
  • Grouping. The grouping seemed did not seem to follow a consistent pattern (prolong usage may alter this opinion). That is to say, how it allocates proportional sizes when you start moving tiles around does not immediately offer up a sense of consistency as I found myself at times wanting a particular tile to be bigger than the rest.
  • Whitespace is amazingly wasted. I’m assuming the main driver for this UI is tablet / slate PC’s so I’m willing to cave a little on this opinion. That being said, if it is to go desktop then the reality around monitor sizes (I know Microsoft has this usage data, I’ve seen it myself) is quite alarmingly large. I mean sure I’m using 27” iMac monitor to view Windows 8 so my whitespace is going to be significantly high, but the thing is Microsoft needs to factor this into their designs (whether it by a pyramid of layout states etc.).

    For instance, when you install an application you pretty much have the upper left locked as being the only elements of UI? To me the far right is a huge wasted opportunity as you can still utilise the AppStore upsell here by feeding in one or two apps that are similar to the one you are installing, give the user the opportunity to read reviews of the application and so on. Point is you can still uphold minimalism but do so in a much smarter contextually driven manner.

  • Internet Explorer is terrible experience. I found the address bar being down the bottom to be frustrating at times, furthermore it often would get in the way of websites like Facebook who use the “Confirm/Cancel” buttons in the bottom right. I found when that occurred the address bar got in the way and left I playing a game of hide/seek until I could get to the said button(s). I am not sure what the science is behind moving it from a traditional top placement now to a bottom placement. I think they went a little too far on the “re-imagined” in this case.
  • Movement without touchscreen. Its clear this OS release is primarily optimized for iPad compete, but again if it’s a desktop release then having smarter keyboard control over how you interact with the OS needs optimizing.

    For instance, I found myself wanting to use START + LEFT/RIGHT Arrow to pan the screen left and right vs having to use the mouse and a scrollbar down the bottom (hit zone that alone was frustrating – fits law anyone?)

Summary.

Look, this OS is a consumer release that much is clear and it is also clear that this isn’t a desktop driven focused experience but instead the anti-iPad release. I can see a having legs on tablet devices, and can see the direction they appear to be heading down that path and can get on board with that.

If this however is to reside as being the replacement for our desktop computers accessing Windows etc., then they really need to think beyond the tablet devices here specifically around how not just consumers but workplaces etc. are going to handle this release?

The design was done an ok at reducing clutter and their marketing “content-first” thinking rather comes of still as being somewhat lazy. I think they can still increase more feature density here whilst retaining a minimalist design (web apps etc. do it daily so it is not really a pioneering effort).

I can’t see pre-existing Windows users who aren’t part of the 6million .NET Horde racing out to their local PC dealer to buy Windows 8 and use it, I think the whole operating system has moved a lot of things around, specifically the removal of the Start Bar Icon itself is going to irritate initially.

This Operating system will require a lot of users having to re-learn there way around the operating system and things they have built up over 15+ years of habitual usage has now been removed – that alone is going to send a polarizing shockwave.

I’m keen to see what the next release will look like and how they plan to market this operating system to the world without tablet device as its primary delivery platform. I think that will be the challenge for them in terms of separating the tablet focused way in which computers are to be used from traditional dell driven workplace(s) / at home laptops and pc’s.

Windows 8 is the primary flagship for Microsoft, its got billions of dollars riding on its success and fail so I personally don’t think this company can afford another Windows Vista moment.

I still think Steve Sinofsky has probably cut to much out in order to make the shipping dates when he probably should have pushed the dates back (screw the shareholders) a little more to give this OS more time in the creative oven.

I am however growing to like it more and more, I can see potential in how I could make a buck or two with it (despite the developer SDK story being a hodge podge of PR “how not to succeed” strategies).

Going forward I bleed metro; its really thin blood and made up of two primary colors and the blood cells are grid aligned…

I also came into work today inspired, that rarely happens after using something new from Microsoft! 🙂

Related Posts:

  • Interesting post Scott!

    URL in IE is on the bottom because when you’re on a tablet it’ll be closer to the keyboard, I haven’t had any troubles with it on my laptop though. Left and right arrow key are easy enough to navigate the start screen. Did you mean you wanted to use Start+left/right arrow key to just go faster? That would be a good idea :)Also on the note of sending a polarizing shock wave for people used to something over the last 15 years…yeah that’ll probably be true. Great post, I’ve found both positives and negatives about it over the last day I’ve been using it. Overall though, I like the bold direction and I think in the long term this is a step forward for computing. 

  • Anonymous

    Microsoft is like a stubborn child. They have a “not invented here” attitude and do not listen to users.
    Taking their Zune interface and forcing it into the phone and now windows is silly.
    Microsoft has such an ego that they will fight and fight to get adoption.  They will get their PR agents like Mary Jo and such to sing the praises of the metro interface. I predict another BOB, Windows ME, Microsoft Kin phone, Zune failure.  

    Why not improve on performance and fix bugs in windows. How about optimizing the kernel and making it more responsive.
    How about adding features like Apple has done. Why can’t I simply press a key on a window and have the PC read the content to me. Mac has had this for years. Media Player is a kludge and should be totally revamped.  Windows could be improved, but Microsoft is going to build a new system full of bugs.

    Metro is like going back to the days of DOS. Windows was revolutionary bringing multitasking to the PC. I cannot believe the Redmond boys are taking us back to the days of a more modal OS. They are backtracking to the 80’s.

    Microsoft needs to allow metro to be turned off. The windows icon driven interface is well adopted and forcing change will push users to other OS choices like Mac or Linux. 

    Apple has it right. they have the icon driven desktop on the Mac, iPad and iPod. iPad and iPod applications are modal because of their form factor and this works fine. 

    Microsoft needs to adapt to standards and make the performance work better. Adopt HTML5, improve background application processing and improve performance.

    Android is on track, but also has some things to learn from Apple. Android 4 looks OK, but there is room for improvement.  Foremost, they do not take advantage of all the screen real estate available to them and waste resources with silly 3D effects. I am hopeful they will fix this, but at least they are not trying to change the world like microsoft is doing with metro.

  • Scott, I 

  • cpsltwr

    “Grouping. The grouping seemed did not seem to follow a consistent pattern (prolong usage may alter this opinion). That is to say, how it allocates proportional sizes when you start moving tiles around does not immediately offer up a sense of consistency as I found myself at times wanting a particular tile to be bigger than the rest.”
    ??? you can expand/shrink the size of any tile.

    “Internet Explorer is terrible experience. I found the address bar being down the bottom to be frustrating at times, furthermore it often would get in the way of websites like Facebook who use the “Confirm/Cancel” buttons in the bottom right. I found when that occurred the address bar got in the way and left I playing a game of hide/seek until I could get to the said button(s). I am not sure what the science is behind moving it from a traditional top placement now to a bottom placement. I think they went a little too far on the “re-imagined” in this case.”
    in general controls in Metro style apps should be on the bottom because it’s easier to reach on a touchscreen (especially if it’s configured vertically), don’t get the Facebook complaint. 

    “Movement without touchscreen. Its clear this OS release is primarily optimized for iPad compete, but again if it’s a desktop release then having smarter keyboard control over how you interact with the OS needs optimizing.For instance, I found myself wanting to use START + LEFT/RIGHT Arrow to pan the screen left and right vs having to use the mouse and a scrollbar down the bottom (hit zone that alone was frustrating – fits law anyone?)”you can scroll with PgUp/PgDn; the scrollbar is at the very edge of the screen and so is a vertically “infinite” hit target so don’t get your complaint there – it’s also not the only way to scroll with a mouse (you can use the mousewheel, or just scroll by “pushing” the left or right edges of the screen with the mouse pointer.) You can also jump to a group by zooming out (lower right hand corner) and clicking on a group. 

  • runewake2

    Before making a comment like this I recommend you do your research. Have you actually used the Zune interface? It is one of the most smooth and beautiful UI’s I have ever used. It is simple, but at the same time complex.

    Frankly, it would serve the Mac fanboys (you) well if they would keep their opinions in check. Yes the mac has some nice features. So does windows. They change their OS’s and adapt to the competition. Both OS’s have done this including Mac adapting a BSD based kernel and dropping their old one.

    The problem with icons is that they are static. They do not provide information but simply a placeholder for a “thing”. This makes finding the “thing” easier but makes knowing what it is doing or has done harder. Microsoft is attempting something different with Metro that is not better or worse but different. I personally like the change and enjoy the opportunities it opens to me as a developer. It also replaces or changes the use for things like Rainmeter when the apps themselves can provide you with the information you want.

  • I’ve noticed you’ve left a comment in another thread with a similar undertone around “fighting fans of mac” so its a little hard for me personally to agree/disagree as my immediate thought is “this a religious discussion or an actual discussion”

    That being said, icons are a form of digital skeuomorphism and their job is to provide humans a pattern in which they can associate a contextual meaning for. That is to say a blue 3.5″ disk isn’t a realistic representative of saving data today, given disks have faded out – yet – there it is in most UI as the de-facto pattern that represents save. 

    The Zune UI works for the concept of browsing small data density such as music given its very simplistic in its requirements around feature(s). Using that same approach for an entire UI platform such as Windows is something in which the person(s) you are replying to are attempting to disagree with – so maybe you should keep your opinions on Windows vs Mac fanboys in check.

    Lastly Microsoft is attempting to break away from the Apple approach but its not fuelled by artistic intent it is mainly fuelled by Apple compete. I’ve sat in numerous high level compete meetings at Microsoft for Apple, Adobe and Oracle and this is what drives arguably 80% of all decisions around product feature(s) and design – compete. To be fair, it shows in their incarnations of the product(s) being reproduced so in a way, people now get the right to criticise as flaws and cracks in this strategy are quite apparent.

  • runewake2

    I understand your opinion of icons and find them useful. I use them daily after all. But the thing is, that I can get the icon and some information as well. Maybe I’m different but a Twitter Bird is far less useful to me than one that shows recent tweets and maybe even includes the bird as well. Something like that is useful and easy to use. Understand that I am not making an argument for a monotoned or white on color theme. But other interesting things can be done with the design of a Windows 8 tile that make it stand out.

    Note that he was arguing against “forcing” it into the phone. I simply pointed out that forcing it into the phone was a nice thing as the interface was easy to handle and did what it did extremely well. Even Steve Wazniak has found the style and flow of the Windows Phone “better than Android”. (source: http://goo.gl/M0ljO) and if I remember better than iOS as well.

    The Metro style is not something that a screenshot can really show you. It’s something you have to use to experience, and once you do you realize why it is so cool.

    I agree with your competition statement. That sounds spot on.

  • CanadianGuy99

    Research done. Zune DOA.
    OK interface, no adoption. Why?
    Too cumbersome. Too many actions to get where you want to go.

    As far as Metro’s icons with  ancillary information, am all for that. Just like the mail icon in iOS that tells you how many messages you have.

    It is Metro’s model desktop that is going to suck. I prefer free form to static interfaces.

    Time will tell if my prediction is true.