An Alternate Windows 8 User Experience (Revisited)

by A Kikta in

 A little over a year ago I posted some thoughts on the Verge Forums about the Windows 8 Consumer Preview (original article here). After the Developer Preview but before the official release, the Consumer Preview nonetheless gave us a good indication of Windows 8's true the (then termed) Metro language would really work and feel within the Windows universe.

At the time the implementation felt awkward, a missed opportunity. The potential clarity of Metro remained, but instead of simplifying the operating system, it complicated and bifurcated it. It was a disjointed experience, one that others would later deem a cognitive burden

I imagined an ideal solution (albeit an unrealistic one) where instead of a disorienting state change from the desktop to Metro, a Metro overlay would appear above the desktop environment, helping maintain spatial orientating and the continuity of the desktop workflow.

Further, I imagined this overlay would be an ideal place to consolidate and clarify the miasma of Windows settings and utilities. As well as a place for live tiles and applications, it could serve as the perfect place for the Control Panel,  Task Manager, an improved Preview utility, and even a place for managing multiple desktops.

The post generated good discourse (thanks to the great community at The Verge and The Verge Forums).

A year later, I'm no longer frustrated with the implementation of the Modern UI, for one reason...I ignore it. I don't use it, I don't think about it, in fact I rarely even remember that it's even there.

I enter the tiled interface in two scenarios. For a few seconds when I restart....before immediately hitting Window Key + D to enter the desktop. And the rare occasion when I need to launch an application not pinned to the taskbar.

Admittedly there is a third scanario....when I enter the Modern UI with the intent gleaning information about the date, the weather, or the news. This typically leads to an immediate return to desktop Chrome and the familiar landscape of Google services.

There are aspects of the Modern UI that I do embrace: the lock screen is beautiful and informative, and tiles do work quite well when launching applications.

The Modern UI acquits itself much better on a touch device, but my original criticisms of the interface remain. After using Windows 8 for a year, I don't dislike it....I just don't care.