<![CDATA[In what must be the longest Windows 8 development post ever called "Creating the Windows 8 user experience“, Jensen Harris ( the Microsoft Windows 8 Director of User Experience Program Management ) walks us through the rationale for the Windows 8 look, feel and user experience. I have to confess, so far this is the most detailed explanation of what Microsoft were thinking with this release and there is a LOT to dissect – walk with me. It starts with a comprehensive look back at Windows user elements starting all the way back with Windows 1. [caption id="attachment_16750" align="alignnone" width="600"] Windows 1[/caption] Then they discuss the trends that influenced the design of Windows 8.
- Connected all the time.
- People, not files, are the center of activity.
- The rise of mobile PCs over desktop PCs.
- Content is on the PC and in the cloud.
- Apps work together to save you time.
- Roam your experience between PCs.
Important – they speak to the role of the desktop in Windows 8
It is pretty straightforward. The desktop is there to run the millions of existing, powerful, familiar Windows programs that are designed for mouse and keyboard. Office. Visual Studio. Adobe Photoshop. AutoCAD. Lightroom. This software is widely-used, feature-rich, and powers the bulk of the work people do on the PC today. Bringing it forward (along with the metaphors such as manual discrete window sizing and overlapping placement) is a huge benefit when compared to tablets without these features or programs. It is an explicit design goal of Windows 8 to bring this software forward, run it better than in any previous version of Windows, and to provide the best environment possible for these products as they evolve into the future as well.Interesting – here the desktop is called “software”. Not a surprise if you have been reading articles by Paul Thurrott. The desktop is now software that optionally may be run from Metro and not vice versa. It’s critical to remember that going forward.
Next, A surprisingly candid admission about the failure of touch on Windows before Windows 8
Some bloggers have written about how Microsoft invested in developing touch in Windows 7, but ultimately had a poor approach, as evidenced by the touch experience of both phones and tablets surpassing that of Windows-based devices. Going back to even the first public demonstrations of Windows 7, we worked hard on touch, but our approach to implementing touch as just an adjunct to existing Windows desktop software didn’t work very well. Adding touch on top of UI paradigms designed for mouse and keyboard held the experience back.Interesting – a pretty candid admission that the Windows touch experience on Windows 7 was less than ideal. Not a big secret to the Microsoft community but interesting to see such a candid admission here.
Battery Life is critical – The reason for WinRT
Once we understood how important great battery life was, certain aspects of the new experience became clear. For instance, it became obvious early on in the planning process that to truly reimagine the Windows experience we would need to reimagine apps as well. Thus, WinRT and a new kind of app were born. To help extend a device’s battery life, WinRT-based apps know how to save their state instantly. Windows can throttle them down to use no CPU or memory on a moment’s notice, but without the user losing anything they’ve been working on in the app. When the app resumes, it resumes in exactly the same place it left off. To the user, it has been running all the time—but technically the program has been suspended or terminated in the background.This should help people understand the rationale for Windows RT.
My first Red Flag – The use case for Touch
Beyond phones, touch has become the single most pervasive user model for a vast array of interactions—many of those powered under the hood by Windows PCs! From cash registers, to ATMs, movie rental kiosks, airline check-in, and grocery checkout, touch is literally everywhere. How would you explain to a 5-year-old that when she touches a laptop screen, nothing is supposed to happen? To think that your PC would remain the single computing device you do not touch seems illogical. It is reminiscent of historic debates over the use of color back when PC displays were generally monochromatic; despite color being everywhere around us, many people believed color would be a distraction to work and should be reserved for play. (The Office team actually had a significant debate about the use of color icons in the first version that introduced toolbars.) In a decade (or probably less,) we will look back at this transition period and say to each another “Hey, do you remember how PC screens didn’t used to be touchable? Wow, isn’t that weird to think about now?”I still think that there needs to be a lot more careful analysis of use cases for touch. I have a PC, A Laptop and multiple tablets. I am writing this blog post on a PC and obviously am laser focused on this activity. At no point during the
Touch will evolve the same way. Having used a touch-enabled laptop every day for the last year (a Lenovo x220 tablet), I have a hard time imagining not being able to touch the screen for scrolling, or to tap the OK or Cancel buttons in a dialog box. Whenever I use a non-touch laptop, it is as if I’ve forgotten how to use the PC. Of course touch is not the primary way I use this laptop, but it is a crucial piece of how I interact with it. Even on the large-screen monitor I use at work, I just instinctively touch it—I don’t think “because this screen is attached to a desktop PC, I must not be able to touch it.”That sounds fine but his job (working on Windows 8 ) demands it. This is where extensive user testing will be key. It’s possible to solve a problem that very few people have.
An important hat tip to non Metro Users
If you only want to “live in the desktop,” if you never plan on using a PC with touch or using any apps from the Windows Store whatsoever, Windows 8 still has a lot to offer. The Windows 7 desktop experience has been brought forward and significantly improved, with additions such as the new Task Manager, new Explorer and file copy UI, Hyper-V on the client, multi-monitor taskbar and wallpaper, etc. And all in a package that uses fewer system resources than Windows 7. The new Start screen is simply a continuation of the Windows 7 trend of unifying disparate elements of the user interface—starting, launching, switching, and notifications. It is really your choice. You can use only desktop apps if you want. You can use only new apps and never leave them if you want (in which case all of the desktop code is not even loaded.) Or, you can choose to mix and match apps that run in both environments. We think in a short time everyone will mix and match, simply because there is so much creative development energy being put into the new scenarios made possible by new Windows 8 apps.This is obviously great to see. An acknowledgement of the importance of the desktop to the user base. It’s also an acknowledgement that some people will never use Metro. Just a fact. More on that a little later.
They describe some new design principles regarding the sharpening of the desktop.
In the end, we decided to bring the desktop closer to the Metro aesthetic, while preserving the compatibility afforded by not changing the size of window chrome, controls, or system UI. We have moved beyond Aero Glass—flattening surfaces, removing reflections, and scaling back distracting gradients. We applied the principles of “clean and crisp” when updating window and taskbar chrome. Gone are the glass and reflections. We squared off the edges of windows and the taskbar. We removed all the glows and gradients found on buttons within the chrome. We made the appearance of windows crisper by removing unnecessary shadows and transparency. The default window chrome is white, creating an airy and premium look. The taskbar continues to blend into the desktop wallpaper, but appears less complicated overall.They obviously are applying Metro principles to the desktop as well creating a sleeker and more futuristic look. [caption id="attachment_16755" align="alignnone" width="600"] New Windows 8 Desktop[/caption]
Very important – The Windows 8 Release Preview will not be feature completeThe following gem was tucked away in there.
While a few of these visual changes are hinted at in the upcoming Release Preview, most of them will not yet be publicly available. You’ll see them all in the final release of Windows 8!This is a big one. It puts into context the upcoming Windows 8 Release Preview. It’s good to know. We have to assume that a lot will change between the Windows 8 Release Preview and the final release – not just the desktop.
Microsoft hint about new learning tools and processes for learning Windows 8
So, the gestures themselves will work more consistently, and will be better-tuned than what is in the Consumer Preview. But how will people learn to use them? We will post more about learnability soon: about how people discover and understand new concepts, and the specific steps we will be taking to make sure that people don’t feel lost the first time they sit down with a Windows 8 PC.This is obviously critical with the amount of changes coming down the pipeline.
I loved this – a having it both ways statement
The full picture of the Windows 8 experience will only emerge when new hardware from our partners becomes available, and when the Store opens up for all developers to start submitting their new apps. At the same time, there’s no doubt that all the features of Windows 8 are compelling on today’s hardware designed for Windows 7—with or without touch. Since we designed Windows 8 to work great for laptops and desktops, it will work naturally for your Windows 7 hardware. Think of past versions of Windows that worked on existing hardware but were even better with new hardware. That’s our approach with Windows 8.Just funny to read.
Then, a very poignant summary – They get it!
Today most people love their PCs, but it is clear that people’s attitudes and expectations are changing for just about any device they carry around with them. People really want a product that just works. They want to sit on the couch and enjoy their favorite apps and games and websites and not worry about the vagaries of the registry or a million control panels or power profiles. They want to pick it up, enjoy using it, and then set it down. Our goal in Windows 8 is to redefine people’s expectations of their PC. Windows updates are applied silently in the background and in the middle-of-the-night “maintenance window” whenever possible. Because Windows 8 apps know how to preserve their state, this is totally seamless to you. Today, PCs are in the kitchen, in the living room, at the coffee shop, in your purse, on the train, in the passenger seat of your car. Increasingly they are mobile, always connected, affordable, and beautiful. And Windows PCs are in the workplace, no matter where that is or moves to. What would have seemed unrecognizable and “post-PC” 20 years ago is now the very definition of a PC.This is great. This is a summary of everything we as a community want from Windows devices.
What to make of it all? – Here’s what I thinkThis is a very thoughtful and beautifully written post. It addresses almost all the concerns from the Windows 8 user community and there are several “we hear you” moments in the text if you care to go through it all. A couple of things struck me after I read this 5 times (now 9).
First, I wish I had read this before the Windows 8 Developer Preview.It seems to me that this is change management in reverse – first introduce the change and then explain it. It seems to me that this is probably a big reason that there is so much drama about a lot of the changes that have been introduced. These messages need to go to the community before big changes are introduced. It’s like politics, if you don’t fill the void with your story, others will fill it in with their opinions. It’s absolutely refreshing to get a real glimpse into what they are thinking.
Second – Windows RT makes a lot more senseOnce you understand the vision for ARM and X86, a lot more things become clear. It’s the best of all worlds for everyone.
- You don’t like Metro? Fine, stay in the desktop app and eventually you’ll probably be curious enough to come and explore.
- You like Metro and don’t want the desktop, get a Windows RT device and you’ll be fine.
- You’re a developer and wants to develop apps to reach everyone, build them in Metro and you can reach all devices.
Very Nice Right Up!
Like you say it appears Microsoft is listening & moving in a very positive direction (thank goodness)…
Sounds like things are coming along…
There is another old saying … “talk is cheap” … now we see if Microsoft will pay the piper or just write good PR statements … I’m one of the older desktop generation who doesn’t need a tablet for anything … was wondering if Microsoft was abandoning those of us who didn’t like metro or have a need for it … we’ll see .. your thoughts are good – wondering if Microsoft reads your blog, too, for feeling out the industry opinions …hope so.
Talk is cheap. They know the pressure is on. Remember Ballmer warned us how big the change would be.
I as I guess most people reading this have a copy of 8 Preview on an extra drive. It seems to just be one click to drop back to a Windows 7 experience,, so really something for everyone.
Except the Win7 experience is being invaded by the ugliness of Metro on the desktop too!
So the Win7 experience will only be possible in Win7 itself, so it’s either dual boot, or Boot Win8 (recommended) out.
Well, I am still not convinced MS is “Listening” at all, it seams to me they are just trying to save face in what is obviously a very controversial move – that is making Metro the focus. This is more like the hard-sell: it’s coming, you can’t avoid it, like it or lump it. And here are some lame excuses why we are doing this monumental favour for you. Here are a few things I pulled from the write up and my take on them: 1) “How would you explain to a 5-year-old that when she touches a laptop screen, nothing is supposed to happen?” The five-year-old will just know! These little people are tech savvy, THEY will explain to the older ones who may not be so tech savvy….. 2) “Whenever I use a non-touch laptop, it is as if I’ve forgotten how to use the PC.” A) And this guy is influencing the developemnt of something that affects millions of users world wide! Perhaps he needs to do a basic computing course first. I can imagine him at a hands-on museum trying to work out where to put the disc for Tom Clancey’s Ghost Recon in a Commodore 64 – get real! 3) “They obviously are applying Metro principles to the desktop as well creating a sleeker and more futuristic look.” A) Metro apps look fine in the Metro environment, but on the desktop the metro influence is just plain ugly. Metro needs to stay in the Metro camp, and the desktop needs to retain its good use of colors and design. For me this is the one invading factor of Metro that will ensure Windows7 stays on my computer, because Metro on the desktop is anything but beautiful. .
The RP needs to be feature rich and complete, the only thing that should make it different from the final product is that it still contains code, and will expire, we really need to see what MS is trying to unleash (no hidden surprises or expected features that didn’t make it) on us before we even contemplate shelling out an exorbitant price to buy it.
Sounds like you’re pushing for a Release Preview II
I don’t care if they include Metro as long as they let us do the following:
Boot into whichever environment we choose. Sure, it may take some convincing to get some people to explore Metro, but shoving it in their faces every time they start the machine up is not the way to do it.
Use the Start Button. The Start Button is crucial. I shouldn’thave to go through Metro to search for something or launch a program that isn’t in my Start Bar. I like a clean, minimalistic Start Bar, so a massive row of icons doesn’t work for me.
Change the theme back to Windows 7. I like the glassy look and rounded corners.
Keep the current login screen. I use a laptop, so the login screen is a big part of the experience, even of it is only for a few seconds. The appearance should be seamless between the login screen and the desktop.
Those seem like simple enough requests.
I decided to bite the bullet and use win8 as on my work laptop to really get a feel for it. It was a rough time in the beginning but now I can surely say that I will never go back.
Regarding choosing were to boot: I use a laptop so I usually don’t turn of my computer more than 1 to 2 times a week which means that when it boots up from sleep mode it boots directly into the desktop cause thats were I left from. I Think most people will actually do that also.
Regarding the start button: in start I could have around 10 or 15 Icons directly available (dont remember exactly), in metro I now have 24 and could easily increase up to 32 on my 13″ screen. those are all readily available in one click on the windows button, exactly like the start menu, and I can also instantly start typing for search.
Regarding aero: Aero takes upp processing power and is a drain on the batteri, so since I use a laptop, if they can come up with a fresh interface that gives me a few % more on my batteri then I’m all for that.
Reagarding the start screen: really!!! now you are just being picky.
I work as a Consultant and I will be extremely carefull in advising my customers to change over to Win8 without a good reason, simply cause they always have a large Group of users who just ain’t that computer literate. It is a big change and it will take a couple of years and probably at least one version more for the market to adapt. However if you are fairly computer literate I will definately recommend switching over and even if I don’t agree with all the Changes I understand them and welcome a fresh change to an environment that has been nearly unchanged now for too many years.
At first it was all foreign in the beginning, now it is easier to move around,,,,,Hmmmm Changing perception in how people do things. I do not feel Touch on the PC desktop is going to get many followers unless you live in space. Man, any more manipulating your arm is a lead weight. Microsoft says hardware will work well with Win8? Hmmm, not the other way around? Did I read that right? It is interesting that the edges and corners activate a changing environment. Can you imagine a modus oprandi on the big screen?
Nah! Now, if only you could use the Windows phone as your portable mouse / desktop. Touch and Metro Titles would be on the side of being EC, ergo correct.
Thanks for your comment.
I just installed the consumer preview yesterday, and judging from what I have seen I think it is cool. I like the change to metro layout. By the time the final version is out I am sure most of people’s skepticism will be laid to rest. Microsoft has breathed a lease of fresh air into their OS, and it is called WINDOWS 8.
Awesome. Glad to see Windows 8 fans…
Welcome to the dark side Mr. Amobi. I think you are starting to get it. Metro use may rub off on you yet. I personally love it and don’t need the old start menu. As for MS allowing others that kind of personalization, I am on the fence. I understand why MS is being so heavy handed about it, but not sure I like that level of forcing others to their will (hopefully even Aero will be a classic theme not set by default, though I will never use it). Windows 8 isn’t maybe for everyone. I wouldn’t advise anyone to upgrade from Windows 7 without verifying they like it first. I would whole heartedly advise upgrade from XP however. XP wasn’t a bad OS, it did what it was supposed to, just not with any style (green power bar, what were they thinking). For me, I haven’t been this excited for an OS since building themes for Win95. Cant wait for more Metro Apps in RP! MS just please make someway to more clearly organize Metro, folders or something, expandable and collapsible sections with editable headings would be nice. And no, “all apps” doesn’t count that is even more cluttered.
Metro is all about Apps and the App Store, it is not “let’s give you the best overall experience”, it’s about raking in the millions from other peoples hard work and ingenuity – namely building a gazillion of Apps of which a few are useful and the rest useless, and MS taking a cut whether you like it or not..
I’m imagining Windows8 is the next OS2, we are already considering changing to Mac since it is the next best thing to Win7..
We could just stay with Win7 for the next 10 years but, since MS is going the way of OS2 we might as well make the break sooner rather than later.
I think that is a great summary of the post. I have installed 8 on one of my laptops that I use every day to build up experience; I still have difficulty with Metro. It’s not quite baked yet.
If I take an experience that I have just had with my Nokia phone upgrading to Symbian Belle. I had no real issues with the previous OS but after about a week of using Belle I simply would not go back. It lets me have as many home screens as I want and I can organise the apps on each screen how I want them. I have them in categories’, entertainment (music video etc.), business (exchange mail travel bookings business apps PowerPoint etc.), personal (email, flight details etc.) you get the picture.
With Metro I don’t get that experience I get all the apps on the main page and then hanging off the right side of my screen (ok with touch but sucks with mouse). I want Metro screens as sliding tiles with whatever apps I load on that tile. I want to have a Metro tile slide over the desktop when I don’t use it for XX time so that I could see information that’s important to me (weather, flights, appointments) if I move the mouse it should take me back to the desktop where I work. If I shut down the PC when I reboot it should take me back to where I was i.e. one of the many Metro screens that I have or desktop.
If that’s where we are going I would buy it in a second, the performance benefit is also huge not sure if you have been monitoring performance and battery draw but there large improvements over 7.
Woohoo a modified Windows 3.11 is here. The new desktop simply displays a few colours and that’s it. You may even be able to take the graphics card out since it won’t be doing anything anyway – Awsome!
And what is this guy smoking? ”
The taskbar continues to blend into the desktop wallpaper, but appears less complicated overall. ” Since when has the taskbar ever been complicated?
With regard to the new improved, eeerrrmmm, no ruined desktop: Wow, we have gone from the “Cartoon” appearance of WinXP, to the sofisticated display of Vista and more refined appearance of Win7, to the Blandness of Metro.
How many colors can your graphics card display 16…!!!
I tried Windows 8 CP sometime ago and thought as most people who wrote about it as missing lot of what I was used to before. I then took it off for a while and reinstalled it and said to my self “I am going to use it for a week and see. If it is no good I’ll stick with W7”. Honest I like W8 and will stick with it. I don’t see why there should be the old start menu. Instead I think the Metro is better for you can get to applications faster now. For instance how many clicks in W7 to get to control panel and how less it is now and how faster. I use my PC mainly for programming; I am not a business programme developer but develops for medical imaging. I think that W8 would be great. Once you get used to it you’ll get used to it and will want to stick with it. Even shutting down is quick. Tinker around you’ll find it is much easier than any of the previous versions.
Once you have even read the emails you wrote, you know that can not afford to Windows 8, the laptop is not suitable for the run of the Vodafone modem software is not compatible with Windows 8 al. I long for a very new machine, the program, but it’s just a poor pensioner desire remains.
I love Windows 8 CP on my PC, I have been using it since the month it has release(I think last days of Feb) and It’s dual booting with my Win7ultimate. It’s good, simple, very interactive, lot’s of stuff to do. I don’t really understand people who doesn’t want metro. I saw many posts, threads, articles and other stuff that they don’t metro and that didn’t encourage me to stop using Windows 8 and I think most of them didn’t actually tried and use W8 and just watch videos, read article about the new features(Metro, NO Start button etc.). With that, It actually makes them hate W8. Why don’t they just try W8, download it for about 3-6hrs and try it, nothing will lose. LOL.
Anyway. I’m thanking Microsoft for bringing me a new OS. Definitely gonna buy W8 on October. Am I right? Or does it have Beta on june? The only thing that I want is that every people should try W8. BTW, Thanks again Microsoft, and this very infomative aticle.
Just read this article:
This really shows that the Windows8 Move is all about MS controlling people and profits.
MS GET STUFFED!!!!
Sorry, I don’t see anything wrong here. You want to use their software to build apps, it is free if you build them for Microsoft. If you want to build apps that could be used on another environment, you have to pay to use the software. Otherwise you have to use someone else’s. Nothing in life is free. MS only gives it to you if you help them as well. Makes sense to me.
You miss the point:
1) Even if you own VS 2011 you cannot distribute Metro apps EXCEPT through the metro store. 2) People who code for fun or who are just learning the ropes can ONLY build metro apps, not desktop applications. 3) This is forcing people to build metro apps, and even if they only want to share their app with friends, they can’t do it for free. 4) Other environments (Linux, mac etc) provide development tools for free, as MS has done until now. 5) You say nothing comes for free, but that is not true. There is a thing called Open Source, which is one of MS big bug bears – obviously they want to try to stop that kind of thing on Windows.
Seriously, this is your reasoning? What about Java, what about HTML5, what about using a free editor and compiler? There are many ways you can make software for your friends. MS makes visual studio to make money. They are under no obligation to provide it for free. It has nothing to do with stopping open source. If they blocked installing open source software, then I would join you in calling foul.
sorry tried it for 3 weeks no good windows rt is going to be worse
i will stick linux at least if the program does not do what i want
i can decompile it and reprogram to suit me
I wonder if Microsoft ever considered naming the Tiles “Windows” instead.
Pin a Window to the home screen; See your friends status updates directly in the Window; watch the weather in the Window…hmmm, seems not quite right, yet natural somehow.
Or maybe it’s just an overuse of the word Windows. Anyway.
I can lay to rest 80+% of any app-usage argument in Windows 8… period… wait.. you say! He’s joking… right?
No… you take Windows 8 and run whatever you think you can throw at it… keep throwing more at it… more.. then add MORE… then think… Did Windows 7 ever run 32 app windows concurrently without SOMETHING choking… rack those brain cells… not in any world Bill Gates would recognize…
For the “Metro is DOA” crowd, then look towards the second coming….
For the “Why are they runing my Desktop” crowd (which I was a card carrying member…), just look at where all of Adobe’s apps are going and you can see the writing on the wall…
But there’s more… don’t have a touch screen.. but do have a touch enabled WACOM pad… Metro sends you kisses…
I can go along if they call it microsoft 8, windows 8 or any other number it will never be, my 1984 ibm running the original windows under dos is a better windows than windows 8.