1. Big Bang Radar's Avatar
    Microsoft Windows 8 & WP8

    The most striking aspect of the Windows Phone 7 interface is the Metro interface, where the selection and navigation of the phone functions are reduced to a wall of tiles. On a phone or a tablet this is easy, and you will soon be zipping away at the tiles with your fingers.
    Those who downloaded the W8CP, have been greeted with the same interface replacing the Start menu. The Start button/orb was first implemented in Windows 95 17 years ago, and every version of Windows has had a resemblence to it over all of the recent releases.

    But it's not just cool tiles MS has taken from the Metro interface, it now includes 'Gestures' which somehow you are required to do with the Mouse & Keyboard. Or does MS think we will ditch the digital rodent for a flimsy Multi Touch trackpad? Maybe. It seems quite likely they will launch one along side 8.
    It also doesnt think we will be buying PROGRAMS (NOT apps) on disk, or from a vendor as its launched a Programs store for everything. Initially this will be only for Metro, but it seems likely they will expand the app store to cover Win32 after release.

    Apple OS X & iOS

    It was noted by many reviewers that iPhone-like elements are leaking into OS X Lion. Mountain Lion, seems even more consumed by Apple's desire to converge it's products.

    Considering Apple has just named Mountain Lion just 'OS X' and not Mac OS X may be a sign of imminent doom for the Mac world. Apple appears to have concluded that everyone wants massive phones rather than functional desktops. It's been swayed by the success of the iPad, obviously, But many Mac users (Not me, I am on Win7 and will be til it crashes and burns in about 2026) are not happy asbout this, as they think the clean desktop interface is being overrun by iOS like quirky tools, irrespective of what Mac users might think.

    Touch Problems

    After looking at touch controls in a store, it becoomes apparent that even on a 24" monitor, selection makes a big difference using fingers. Using MS Office 2007, the border at the top of the program is 25px high on a 1080 screen. Placing a fingertip on the monitor, I measure that at around 60px. To select the top edge it would need to be much larger to move around. At the same time, all the icons would need to be bigger too. So space for text would need to be much smaller. As a result, a program like 3ds Max would be completely impossible using t0ouch without a design rethink, because it uses fine mouse control. Theres another problem, which is that a mouse pointer uses little space without obscuring, while a finger is larger and obscures alot.
    Are these issues with a touchpad? Not really, because they are generally much smaller than the screen. If you use a notebook, it is usually an alternative to a mouse, controlling the same pointer, but I'd defy anyone to control the pointer as rapidly and accurately as a mouse. They've been successful on laptops because you dont need to take a mouse or have the surface to use one, but they are not equal in what they provide.
    One final point that needs to be made: how tired your arms will get using a touchscreen, because you cannot use a wrist rest or the table to support your wrists. To do this a touchpad might seem a preferable choice, but for those who want multitouch and some degree of accuracy, they will need to provide more input space than a mouse would need. These issues all drive the question of wether the Windows metro interface is designed not just to change Windows but to completely alter the way we use computers and the ergonomics of working them.

    In the context of a tablet it's easy to see how Metro is meant to work, but in terms of a desktop environment, it appears Microsoft is aiming to create something it knows isnt suitable, in the hope users work out how to make it function, firstly by forgetting how well the old system worked. That's a huge gamble, because (As it found out with Vista) Computer users are creature of habit, and don't like moderate change at the best of times.

    Final Thoughts

    Do I think this is a good idea? No. I think it's a bad idea, because I can't see how I'd want to use my Desktop PC with my fingers, and equally I don't want (Desktop 7) Windows on my phone/tab.
    What seems to be driving this odd notion is that uniformity equals brand identity, and that the GUI of a product should be global for all products made by the same company. That's silly.
    Saab, when it existed,never considered it a wise moveto take the cockpit design of the Viggen fighter jet and apply it to all of it's saloon cars or, conversely, put a walnut finish in a jet. They might have been made by the same company, but nobody in Saab thought that the speedo in their military jets should look like the one they put in the Classic 900 Turbo.
    Computer desktops have evolved since Apple took some fledgling ideas from Xerox and mad the Macintosh. They're the way they are because they were controlled by mouse, not big fat greasy digits. Phones, on the other hand, have been controlled by touch since before they had displays and, as such, digit control is natural for them.

    Therefore if you put a mouse controlled interface on a phone, it would be hard to use, if not impossible with a mouse, and a phone interface on a desktop would be clunky and unnatural.
    Apple has already had feedback regarding the OS X Lion to that effect, which it's chosen to ignore with Snow Lion, it appears. And Microsoft seems determined to shove tiles down desktop users throats with Windows 8.

    I predictc that within hours of launching Windows 8. Microsoft Answers will be stormed with people demanding to know how to ditch Metro and go back to Windows 7, Vista & XP worked previously.

    Interestingly, Microsoft has fell for this rubbish previously, when it added Gadgets to Vista only to find that withing days peole got rid of them. In Windows 7, They don't appear by defaul, demonstrating that the company thought was wonderful but consumers just snorted at it and removed it.

    Unless we suddenly throw out our old monitors for touch-screen ones, I can see Metro (At least for Desktop) Being one of Microsoft's less successful ideas, and it's had a few duff ones. Remember Bob and Clippit?

    Yet it's undeniable that Apple & Microsoft want to merge their mobile & desktop interfaces, if not the OS itself.

    After an hour of thinking the system was pretty, most people will want/ force it to work/ reinstall Windows 7. That's how I felt using the Consumer Preview of Windows 8. I've seen some say it's great, but I have the opposite, pessimistic emotions.

    The irony is, is that many pundits like myself, excluding me,(I'm happy where I am, Microsoft!) have been banging on for decades that Microsoft needs to be more daring and controversial, except this wasnt the way I'd imagined it would go. This is a perfect lesson in being careful with what you say.

    Is this the end of the PC as we know it? No. I'm willing to bet that Windows 7 will go the way of XP, only the timeframe will be Much longer, unless they issue a fix for Windows 8 giving real desktop back, or they design a seperate OS based on Win32.


    Stan.
    04-27-2012 07:22 PM
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