Metro on the Wrong Track for Many Windows Users

You know me. I'm a Linux guy. Still, I think Windows has gone from being a bad joke of a desktop operating system (Windows ME) to being a reasonable choice (Windows 7). Its course hasn't been steady, though: After the still popular XP SP3, we got Vista. And now we have Windows 8. What the heck is Steve Ballmer thinking?

Microsoft has made it clear that it considers Windows 8's Metro interface and applications to be the future. When I look at Metro, however, I see gaudy colors, boxy designs, applications that can either run as a small tile or as full screen with no way to resize or move windows. Where have I seen this before? Wait, I know! Windows 1.0.

Twenty-five years of user-interface development and this is what we get? Scary.

If Metro were just a tablet interface, I might be inclined to give it a pass -- except that Android and iOS already have better, more usable interfaces. This isn't just my opinion. Look at the market: Windows Phone 7 has a Metro interface, and it has just a tiny fraction of the smartphone market.

Another problem is that longtime Windows users already know the Windows interface. They don't know Metro, which is not the Windows interface. Heck, Mac OS X Lion and Mint Linux's GNOME 2.28 both look and feel more like Windows 7 than Windows 8 Metro does. Fortunately, you can use a more Windows-like interface, but Microsoft really seems to want everyone to move to Metro.

Windows developers can't love this either. They've spent years learning the likes of .Net, Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) and Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), and now they have to learn WinRT and Jupiter/XAML. As if that isn't bad enough, their workload has just doubled, since they'll need to rewrite their apps for the more traditional Windows-style desktop.

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