Is Windows 8’s Push Towards Metro Just A Small Piece Of A Bigger Puzzle?

When it comes to Windows 8 news, I’ve been fairly mixed on the issues.

I’m not the only one, as most of the technological community seems steadily divided in half. I’ve heard many techies say they like the new direction, it’s something decisively different and it bridges the gap between PCs and the growing world of smartphones and tablets. Others say Metro is a disaster on the PC, and it shouldn’t be forced upon users.

The general consensus regarding Metro on a tablet is either neutral or positive from what I’ve seen, though.

The big question is why force someone to choose? Can’t Windows 8 for PCs have the option of Metro or the option to ditch it? According to Microsoft, no, but why? To answer that question you have to understand that Microsoft is throwing a huge gamble on the idea of platform unity. It seems that they want all consumers to identify their products as similar.

After consumers are forced to transition to a PC using Metro, which will undoubtedly happen, they will soon identify that interface with Windows. If all game systems, Microsoft TV systems, mobile phones, tablets and PCs have the same interface, it will make it easier to pick up a new Microsoft product and just run with it (at least that’s their theory).

This isn’t THAT new of a concept, actually. Many have said this is a completely new direction for Windows, including myself, but this might just be half-true.

TOUCH FOCUS is the new direction for Microsoft, not unity of platforms, because that was always part of Microsoft’s plan with its operating systems. Windows CE and Windows Mobile all tried to have design elements that made them feel like the PC as much as possible. That’s because, in those days, computers were the bigger focus.

Today, touch devices have become more important, so instead of mobile devices looking like desktop devices, the role is switching. This isn’t surprising.

So why not offer Metro-haters an alternative? This could slow down acceptance of this “touch focus” direction, plain and simple. Will it work? Hard to say, really. It could keep users clinging on to their pre-Windows 8 OS of choice even longer. Windows 3.x, Windows 9x, and now Windows XP have hung around for a decade or more after their release– and they didn’t really change the formula that much.

This makes Windows 8 a risk, but the rewards could potentially be worth it.

If Windows Metro is accepted, they can slowly transition all their products to such a design, something they’ve already done. Also in theory, they could eventually ditch the Windows NT core altogether in the future and it wouldn’t affect that many users, so long as RT was still supported by the successor OS. Forcing change WILL cause Windows user casualties, there is no doubt about it.

Microsoft understands this, and despite some of the negative crap thrown around about them, the company is not full of idiots. Standing around and pushing Windows is a bad idea. It is old, and much of the code needs ditched in the next decade or so.

Microsoft has already done a good job of migrating away from older code, as many 90s Windows programs don’t work that well in Windows Vista and beyond, meaning that the older code isn’t supported. Still, Windows will eventually need to re-invent itself. Having RT in place ensures that RT apps could easily be integrated into any change in OS direction in the future.

So forcing users might make some switch to Mac or even Linux, but it will also better future-proof Microsoft for the operating systems of tomorrow, at least in my opinion. What do you think about Metro? Do you think its just a “selfish ploy to attract a few more tablet users” or is it really more about evolving the Microsoft direction, and just a small piece of a bigger a puzzle that will likely take a decade or more to realize? Share your thoughts below!

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