[sc:windows-category ]Last week Microsoft posted a developers preview of Windows 8 and Metro is front and center.
The preview shows just how far the Metro UI has come from the humble Zune HD to now dominate MS’s entire UI strategy.
The preview is slick, the Metro elements work well and of course I’ve said several times that I love Metro on the Zune and Phone, but do I like it on my desktop?
For tablets and other touch screen devices it will of course be brilliant, but with a mouse and keyboard the experience takes a big hit on usability. On the touch screen, a quick swipe takes you left or right on the start menu, but with a mouse you have to find the scroll bar and click it. It just lacks the joy of the touch interface.
And before anyone says that everyone will upgrade to touch screens for their PC’s, lets stop that dead in it’s tracks. Touchscreens and physical keyboards are antithetical to each other. Each takes you out of the experience and makes it harder to be productive. Even moving your hand over to your mouse is a significant disruption, a third input device will make it even worse.
And don’t get me started on the fingerprints. Imagine a nice 24 or 32 inch monitor covered in fingerprints… and having to clean it every couple of hours .
I think this really comes down to the rise of two competing use cases for computers over the last few years:
- Input (IUC): the use case where people enter information in to the computer. Writing a document, creating a spreadsheet, editing a video, etc.
- Output (OUC): the use case where people view information from the computer. Watching a video, browsing the web, reading e-mail, etc.
The difference comes down to the amount of interaction it takes to perform the task, IUC takes a lot more interaction with the computer to accomplish. Where as OUC tends to have a small amount of interaction to start the content and then very little after that.
Since the birth of the PC, IUC has dominated the use of computers, however PDA’s, tablets and other form factors have made OUC more prevalent than ever. So far no one has tried to combine these two use cases together in one OS. Apple has OSX and iOS, Microsoft has Windows and Windows Phone. Everyone else is pretty much in the OUC camp (Google with Android and pretty much any other phone OS).
MS is trying to accomplish this merger with Windows 8. Will it work? Don’t know, the preview obviously focuses on the new Metro UI components more than the traditional UI, but that is to be expected at this point. So far I’m excited to see a Windows 8 tablet or a Media Center PC, but from what I’ve seen so far I’m not sure I’ll much like Windows 8 on my PC.