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dave

June 1st 2011 8:34 pm

Microsoft has posted a "Building Windows 8" video. Check it out and share your thoughts on the new OS.

It's a 5 minute walk-through of the new operating system that combines elements of both the Windows Phone 7 touch UI and the Windows 7 desktop UI.

YouTube link: www.youtube.com­/watch­?v­=p92QfWOw88I

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57 replies
ryan

Looks like Microsoft is trying out another one-size-fits-all solution for multiple computing paradigms, and that has never worked well for anyone in the past -- especially them. It's great that they've taken some of their interface learnings in Windows Phone 7 and applied them back out, but Windows has far greater fundamental issues than not having a good touch experience, and it needs greater fundamental change than they're providing with a new big-target touch-optimized home UI. Using the same core product to power between touch / mobile and desktop / mouse+keyboard experiences is not going to end well.

As a side note, this is Windows! Why would they run with such amateurish video production? It's not like they're "keeping it real." Can you imagine Apple introducing a new product to consumers with this kind of a video?
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s2sidhu

Ryan, I never got past the observation of your side note above. Even from the first word spoken...put a MIC on the guy! A DIFFERENT guy. With a different guy behind the camera. That being said, I like the UI - for a tablet. This looks like Windows Phone 8 Tablet Edition, not a comprehensive platform for the entire computing world.
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jasonhiner

Unfortunately, this shows the lack of discipline and commitment that got Microsoft to where it is today.
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greedobuck

It's hard to tell if you're being sarcastic...FWIW Microsoft makes 5billion dollars profit per quarter and its software runs ~95% of he world's desktop computers. They also have one of the top gaming consoles and great (albeit not successful in the market) phones and MP3 players that make their competition's products look pretty dated by comparison.
Their office suite is standard in most offices around the world.

They may have flaws in the way they approach some things, but they are making better products than anyone I can think of.
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groovechicken

As far as I am concerned, this just bolsters my argument for splitting the company into business and consumer divisions. Business keeps traditional Windows, Consumer gets Windows Phone 7 / Windows 8. This smells of desperation and may turn away the only segment that actually keeps them in business. It sounds like a support nightmare for IT professionals. It might be just the shove they need to finally give in and try Linux and use terminal services to provide access to the few apps that really are Windows only.
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greedobuck

It would make sense for Microsoft to split in this way. They really struggle to get the message out there with their consumer products (except XBox). Zune and WP7 are both amazing and blow the socks off iPods and iPhones in terms of UI, design, and innovation...but Microsoft couldn't market a rock-pushing machine to Sisyphos if their lives depended on it.

But businesses would likely just disable the touch elements of Windows 8. It doesn't appear to have any business uses really. Under that new UI is regular Windows that will be pretty much Windows 7 with a few tweaks and upgrades.
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drebes

If Apple can use iOS UI elements in Lion, Microsoft should use Windows Phone 7 stuff in 8, they might think. ;)
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dave

I don't think that's a totally accurate analogy though. I think there's a difference between using some elements that are beneficial (full screen apps, App Store functionality, enhanced gesture support on trackpads and mice) and trying to pigeon hole an existing operating system (designed primarily for mouse interaction) into a touch screen device.
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TSSaloic

According to Gizmodo it looks like they are going to more fuzzy controls for touch. I think for most consumer use the need to go to the Classic Windows desktop will diminish over time, especially if Microsoft were to force Windows store apps to have a tablet interface as well.
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greedobuck

Exactly. The average user can get by with the touch interface for most things. This makes for a great family computer. Touch interface for the parents or younger kids who are maybe just checking emails and doing simple tasks, and a full PC available to those who want to use Word or play some games.

I think the naysayers are ignoring the fact that not everyone wants to use computers in the same way. As long as Microsoft can get a good balance between flexibility and backwards compatibility/familiarity I think they are onto a winner.
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TSSaloic

That's why I'm looking forward to the Dev event (and possibly the event later tonight at Computex Taiwan). I want to know what they are doing to the underlying system for Windows 8 (Especially for ARM chips).

In the short run though I am encouraged with what I'm seeing with AMD and their APU announcements and some good x86 tablets.
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RohitK

Exactly! As a general rule, your regular OS should *not* be a blown-up version of your mobile OS! Also, while it's great that it's touch optimized, I can only hope that they've focused on keeping it running smoothly for people on the regular peripherals. A lot of people use external monitors and such with their laptops and heck, just prefer keyboards and mice in general.
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greedobuck

This is hardly a blown-up version of WP7. It's taking ideas and cues from WP7, just as WP7 has taken cues from the recent crop of Microsoft's software (e.g. the Metro UI in most Windows Live apps and Zune, as well as Media Center).

Microsoft recognise that a computer is no longer just something you sit at a desk to use. Sometimes you want to run a simple app or just view some live tiles; sometimes you want to watch a movie and quickly flick open your twitter feed or Facebook status for a second; sometimes you might want to browse through media with your fingers to choose photos and music rather than a mouse and keyboard.

I think it's far more elegant, intuitive, and efficient to use one device to accomplish these different ways of computing rather than inventing middle-of-the-road form factors that compromise too much and add too little (that is how I feel about the iPad).

I think it's important to point out that this is probably aimed at computers used by multiple people, some of whom may find the touch is all they need.
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greedobuck

Microsoft's core business is...business, and I think this video is aimed at tech nerds and partners rather than the consumers that Apple dazzles with their 'magical' smoke and mirrors. Microsoft are showing features, not dazzling gullible fanboys with shiny pictures and insulting superlatives.

I am very excited for Windows 8. This is exactly what I want, and I hope the rest of the reveal later this year has more great stuff.

I want my main computing device to be a slim netbook that can convert to a tablet and runs a full OS. Windows 8 on a Samsung sliding pc (Series 9?) would cover all of my computing needs perfectly (except for gaming and HTPC, which I would be using separate PCs for).

I think the market overestimates the demand for the current crop of tablets (let's face it, around 20 computers are sold for every tablet). Many people say an iPad can cover the majority of computing needs for many people. If that tablet also had the capability of doing all the things an iPad can't, then I think a winning form factor as arrived. Current tablets are a massive compromise and inhabit a zone between smartphone and laptop that doesn't need to be filled.
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mike

Looks nice and contemporary. For those concerned about whether it will work well on PC as well as tablets, I'd put money on them offering the option to switch to "classic" mode.
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greedobuck

Yes, they have confirmed that you can switch to regular Windows in a separate video.
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drebes

I think they are relying too much on touch interfaces. It makes for good demos, but once they start to use it more in desktop PCs I'm sure it will look much more like Windows 7.
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ranhalt

You mean like at the 3 min mark? The entire time, they're using the Metro UI, then they switch to Excel and you see the traditional Windows taskbar and you remember what you're using. It's just a UI shell on top of Win7, not a new OS. Microsoft couldn't make a new OS from scratch if their lives depended on it. Unless they went dumpster diving (again).
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frankspin

Completely agree with you on all accounts. I was totally happy and excited with what I was seeing but then out of nowhere it's back to good ole Windows taskbar.

I guess we can hope that since this is a first demo of the Windows 8 there is still plenty of work to be done to make the UI more fluid and fit in the Metro UI theme.
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greedobuck

That will be more up to apps I would think. For example the Zune software and WL Messenger are very Metro already (I haven't tried them on touchscreens though).
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TSSaloic

If Microsoft went too hard on a whole new interface they could alienate their biggest clients. Their Enterprise customers.
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greedobuck

You mean like NT, which was/is one of the most incredible feats of programming in the history of the world?

There is no need to Microsoft (or anyone) to create a new OS at this stage. Windows/NT has been revised and updated constantly to the point where it is as stable as it realistically could be and more universal and flexible than any other OS.

There is no need to constantly rag on Microsoft. It doesn't make you look cool (except to other hipsters, but looking cool to other hipsters is surely the height of uncool).
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christiankaff

Wow, this looks really awesome for tablets!! I'm not sure I'd like it on my desktop though.
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TSSaloic

I would think that most of the desktop experience would be more like 7's "Classic" desktop. Although the snap they were showing looks intriguing. MetroTwit on the left side and everything else in the traditional desktop sounds nice.
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dave

I like how Metro snaps to the side and other elements can be added / swapped out. It has a very sexy, contemporary look, but it is a stark contrast to the traditional Windows UI that was also displayed on the same screen.

I just don't think those two paradigms work very well together.
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TSSaloic

True. Although MetroTwit does look good, and a snap with only my timeline and a small box to enter text into at the bottom would be nice, or a micro snap that would quickly push MetroTwit up a bit and pop up a Zune control would be nice. But Zune and MetroTwit do look slightly out of place in Windows anyway.
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christiankaff

Yes, the new UI clashes with the old one horribly. They need to fix that, if they want to keep the clean, simple theme they had going towards the beginning.
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greedobuck

It does look a bit ugly to see a regular Windows task bar (running Excel, the ugliest program in the world). But I think it will be fine.

It looks a lot like with Windows gadgets would be if a) there were any useful ones, and b) if the simplest of gadgets didn't use up 4GB RAM and 80% CPU.
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dave

Personally, I love the design of the touch UI and thing it's going to be great for tablets. But the traditional Windows desktop interface to use with a touch screen? It's been proven over and over again for the past 10+ years that it doesn't work.

I also fear for the added hardware overhead that a tablet that can run both the traditional desktop and touchscreen interface will have. You're not going to get very outstanding battery life.
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alsoknownasjazz

I think this looks fantastic. Somebody at M$ has finally gotten their head in the game. Windows 7 is a superb step forward at the time, Windows Phone 7 was a huge improvement over WinMo 6.x (despite some glaring feature omissions and useability issues), and this looks like an even bigger step forward now.
I agree, it was somewhat surreal seeing the taskbar next to the metro interface, but at the same time, the way it smoothly handled the transition and the 'desktop' simply condensed to accomodate it was pretty good. I do think/hope they'll bring more improvements to the desktop-side of the shell, this of course was just the tablet demo. If this is truly a sign of things to come, and not a one-off or a fluke, they're definitely going to finally be a contender in the tablet space. It's going to come down to hardware req's.
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whyme09

I actually really like the new UI design but if you want it to make sense it has to be a uniform look throughout the UI. Dont do what they did with Windows Mobile and put a skin over the UI and call it "touch friendly." Windows Mobile was just a complete disaster! I do like the fluid motion between app changes or screen changes. If they keep that along with a Uniform UI they could have a great potential successor to Windows 7.
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connorg

Some very cool ui elements in there--I really like the side by side multitasking. But like whyme09 said, it needs to be a lot more uniform. If it feels just like a skin on top of a real OS it'll never fly.
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kris

They really didn't give any indication of how it's going to work with a non-touch interface. I'm surprised that's it's meant to be a desktop/laptop OS at all, with design like that.
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TSSaloic

It may go back to your standard "Classic" desktop.
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greedobuck

The touch interface is optional, so I assume you either deal with using a mouse or just stick to the normal desktop.

This would be pretty good with Kinect though, or even a remote control like Media Center for when you're a few metres away checking out sports results or your stocks or something.
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livedevil

I think their strategy makes sense. Form factors and how user use the device, have great impact on UI.
User will likely be transforming the way they use their PC. Hence a transforming UI seems sensible. The guts just need to be stable and snappy. (user might even transform a slate or TV by adding in keyboard and mouse ...)

However I think the visual / graphical feel of slate mode and desktop mode, is not that consistent. They mentioned about, having a modern, during their D9 interview.
When user transform from slate to desktop, the feel of going from modern to old is still presence.
Maybe they need to tweak the desktop styling a bit, add some transition, to guide the user.... etc. I am not a UX designer, hence I have no idea how to solve the problem.

Nevertheless I like metro design language. It gives me a sense that I am reading a nice magazine or advertisement board.
At the moment, I do like the next Windows strategy and UI.
Hope they can find a nice name for it. Currently codenamed as Windows 8, lol
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greedobuck

I think Windows 8 is a great name simply because Windows 7 has been quite a success. and a perceived recovery from Windows Vista.
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cass

It was exciting until they showed the Windows 7 style desktop. I'm worried that this is going to have the bloatiness of a desktop OS shoved onto a tablet. Feel like they need to build it from the ground up, optimized for lower power hardware.

I'm also a bit concerned about the complexity of the OS. I think gadget nerds like us can manage to figure out the hidden gestures and settings, but what about the non-techy people out there?
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TSSaloic

They did/are port(ing) it over to ARM which would take a rewrite. But the UI is one of the last things to change.
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greedobuck

It looks incredibly intuitive. You want to see the weather - touch the tile with the clouds and sun on it.

Anyone who can currently use a Windows computer (95% of the world's computer users) should find this at least as useable as what they are using now.

I think the idea here is that the OS becomes as simple or as complex as you want or need it to be. If you just want to touch tiles and see information you can do that with Windows 8. If you want to use all the features and power of the latest software and hardware you can do that too.
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dotEvan

I actually like the touch interface. It seemed snappy in their demo, and they seem to be taking queues from Apple in that they are standardizing UI across applications (ie: selecting files from multiple applications at once in the video).

I think it's interesting that they think that this interface will work well with a keyboard and mouse, since, IMO, it doesn't seem friendly to that environment. And, as Ryan pointed out, bringing traditional Windows apps into a touch environment aren't particularly comfortable either.

However, I have to give them credit for trying to standardize the interface between devices. Something like this may position Microsoft to say to non tech savvy people "Hey -- look how easy this is! It's the same interface on your phone, tablet and PC now!" chipping away at Apple's market share. However, I think this will only be viable if they conquer the seemingly impossible task of marrying traditional desktop apps to a touch interface (and, apparently now, vice-versa).
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TSSaloic

The Desktop UI looks like it would be more along the lines of the "classic" desktop we're used to, but with more Metro flourishes like Snap.
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fourblades

Will wait, it's still not fully baked anyways. Still it's nice design. They'll have to show something that differentiate it with personal and with business.
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wuzzabuzza

I still remember all the promises of Longhorn. What's the file system going to be in windows 8? It's way to early to judge this thing until they release it and we see how much bloat there is.
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TSSaloic

Likely NTFS, but maybe with a bit bigger focus on Libraries.
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greedobuck

I don't think they could do much more with libraries without updating the file system.
They could add the podcasts library by default (currently only shows up if Zune is installed I think).

Or maybe they could make libraries index ALL relevant files regardless of location. I know this would piss off some users, but for the average user I think it would be great to know that an MP3 is going to be in the music library regardless of where it was saved. This is basically how the pictures hub works on WP7 (including online services).

Maybe they could do something more akin to WP7 hubs instead of (or as an enhancement to) libraries. That actually sounds pretty cool. Allow a music app to plug in features and controls into the library window so you end up browsing the files rather than opening an app and browsing within the app. Again that's pretty much how WP7 hubs are designed to work.
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greedobuck

My money is on NTFS, which would be a shame. I really want to be able to add tags to ALL files and view according to the tags rather than the folder structure.

This works great in Windows 7 as long as the files support tags (MP3, Word docs, etc.) but as soon as a file is in a different format you can't tag it.

For example, in the Windows 7 pictures library the same photo can be found under different categories, such as a picture tagged as "Bob, Spain, 2010" would be found under Bob, Spain, and 2010. This is how a human naturally thinks about looking for a photo - not by what arbitrary folder it was stored in. This is something they should definitely bring over from WP7.
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lwbt

From the looks of the demo, it would work and run great on a tablet. On a desktop, I don't see myself stretching across the screen to do those, it would be tiring to keep reaching for the screen. Get rid of the backwards compatibility and maybe the innovation can move forward, otherwise, it's just Windows 7 with a touch UI.
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