Is Metro in Windows 8 Exciting Enough To Make You Want To Use It?

Back before the new Consumer Preview of Windows 8, I made it clear that I really was on the fence about Metro and likely would stay that way until I had a better idea of how the apps work.

Fast-forward to today and I’ve had about 8 hours or so of Windows 8 CP experience. Am I any closer to passing true judgment on Microsoft’s radically new Metro UI?

Actually, I’m just as torn as ever. Windows 8 Consumer Preview looks a million times more refined than the Frankensteinian monster that was bolted together for the Developer Preview, but it still leaves me as puzzled as ever.

I had hoped that I would get to try a robust library of key apps that proved just how impressive METRO was and why I should use it. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t expect tons of apps, I just figured Microsoft would focus on only the most useful ‘key’ apps for the Consumer Preview.

Browsing through the Windows Store I found that this was far from true.

Sure, there are about one-hundred apps. Do they really do what I’m looking for though? Not really. In order to truly enjoy Metro I need a few ‘key’ things.

A POP-based email client, a quality browser, and a way to type within Metro. I really didn’t expect that last one, and likely won’t get any real Metro Word Processor experience for a while. As for the first one, IE for Metro isn’t bad. It’s clean and easy to use, but it still isn’t as flexible as Firefox.

Finally, email was a bit disappointing. While there is an email client built into Metro it only supports a few standards like Exchange and Google Mail. No Yahoo and no way to input your own POP accounts.

Keep in mind that I do not claim to be an expert, so maybe there is a way to do this and I just missed it. If that is true, though, MS did a poor job making the Email app easy to use. My guess is that is simply isn’t supported.

So the three things I truly need the most do not exist in METRO at this time. Again, I didn’t necessarily expect a Word Processor this early into the game. The problem is I can’t fairly give the Metro my approval or disapproval until more apps arrive.

So I will put it this way, Metro’s interface is easy to use and has a reasonable foundation. As a platform I think it has some major potential. What it will really come down to is the apps. Strong apps will make Metro a compelling experience. Without it? I’ll likely spend 99% of my time on the ‘desktop’ side of Windows 8.

I was a little disappointed to see that MS didn’t leverage its existing Windows Phone apps better and start working with developers to convert some of the most key apps on that platform. While a social system does exist, I would have loved to see official versions of apps like Facebook. A name-brand e-reader program like Kindle Books would have been a nice bonus, too.

I think when it boils down to it, I don’t know if I like the way the operating system switches between interfaces. The problem is I think I’d rather use Desktop for 90% of everything, or Metro for 90% of everything.

Until Metro gets better apps upon release (which I’m sure it will), I will likely only be going into Metro for occasional testing, reviewing, and to better help our readers make a decision about Metro for themselves. Of course it hasn’t been even 24 hours yet.

Perhaps something I find in Metro will truly win me over between now and the official release.

What do you think of Metro and its existing apps? What killer apps do you hope to see when Windows 8 is released commercially?

Please Leave Your Comments Below...

  • Anon

    I know its only beta and you do have to make some concessions for that but it doesn’t feel as together and organised as it should. I think with metro I was basically expecting windows phone 7 on a pc, to a large extent it is just that, but as “fast and fluid” as it is, it somehow feels disjointed, which is only emphasized by the auto switch to desktop mode which is a lot smoother than in the dev preview but still a clunky and disappointing step. I do really like metro, some niggles aside, as you say, we need more metro apps.

  • Daryl Kane18

    microsoft should get rid of metro completely and use the old type of start menu

  • Ray Wall

    I have to agree with this post.

    I have not spent 8 hours on it yet, but I usually catch on very quickly to new versions of Windows, but this just feels convoluted and not very intuitive (on my laptop anyway).  Maybe I’ll get used to it, but for some reason I feel a resistance to wanting to spend much time trying to get used to it. This reminds me so much of Windows 3.11 and DOS.  Windows was “neat” but you ended up spending most of your time running DOS programs in Windows to do your real work.

    • Smokeyjoe87

      exactly, metro is coming off as almost a pre os os, its fine if all you want is a quick surf on the net or look at your pics, vids etc but if you want to use your pc for well, pc stuffs you have to go into the desktop. can’t really manage your files in metro, still reliant on explorer for that. why introduce new features such as mounting iso’s but not be able to do it in metro. at the moment, it feels like a skin. and not a very useful one. the rest of the features in 8 are great though 🙂

  • Timiteh

    Well Metro is not sufficient for me to upgrade because i still find it a bit too flat. However the Metro UI has been significantly improved since the Developper preview and i have nothing really significant agaisnt metro. In fact Windows 8 is not exactly why i expected for the future of PC U.I wise.
    The features which will make me want to upgrade are: the speed, the improved explorer, hyper V 3, refresh/reset option and all the other improvements of the desktop and of the core O.S.
     

  • Anon

    shocked that there doesn’t seem to be an metro version of explorer (unless I’m missing something), seems bonkers to push people to use the metro interface but be forced to use desktop for the most basic things. needs a lot tighter integration with the basic functionality of windows.

    • http://www.windows8update.com/ Onuora Amobi

      Try changing your monitor’s resolution. You have to go back to the desktop. That got old very fast.

      • Anon

        Sorry I think we have misunderstood each other, my gripe is that there doesn’t seem to be a file manager.

        I’m a little surprised that after MS got some heat for making metro too optimised for tablets they haven’t made a metro explorer, for example, if I want to transfer some pdf’s or videos to a usb stick I have no choice but to use desktop mode.

        its a little disappointing but I can’t re organise video’s or pictures from the metro hubs, you can’t play a video in metro and have it display on a second monitor, I can’t even see any way to control the volume of music from the metro music player.

        I know its a beta preview, but leaving out volume control is a bit much. maybe I expected too much and this is much more of a transitional os than I’d hoped for. I can’t help but wonder if MS would have been better to keep windows 8 as desktop and metro in WOA and introduced a more functionally capable metro version for desktop users with win 9.

        great site btw 🙂

        • Anon

          forget about the volume, just figured out that if you go into charms then settings then you can get more settings for the music app and you then have access to the master volume control lol

        • JohnnyG

          I don’t believe you’re thinking about this properly. First of all, theres no need for a volume control in the music player. Its in the charms menu which is always a swipe away. On tablet devices,there will be a volume control on the side of the device.

          I’m still trying to decide whether I agree with you about the file manager. I’m not sure I’d want to do file management from Metro. I also wonder how much of it will need to we done. Honestly, how much file management do you ever do on an iPad?

          I’m thinking that most Metro apps will either use cloud storage or they’ll manage their own files. If you want to mess around with copying files, the desktop seems like the right place to do it.

          I don’t really see Metro being used in quite that way. If you pay attention to Microsoft’s design strategy, it’s about being able to use the right tool for the job. It’s not about replacing the desktop with metro. It’s about giving you all the ease of use and great experience you get with a touch interface without giving up the things that you know and love. The only thing that really changes is that the Metro start screen replaces the start menu. Outside of that, everything is an add-on, not a replacement.

          When you view it from that perspective, I’m not sure I see a reason for a metro style file manager in most cases. My only hesitation is that I can imagine some relatively rare circumstances where it might come in handy. So I’m still a little on the fence.

          • smokey Joe

            To be honest, I think your thinking of win 8 as purely a tablet OS, if you are then its amazing. just the same as a win phone 7 OS which I’m an avid fan of. but they aren’t just pushing this as a mobile OS, they are forcing this on a desktop user and server users as well.

            Personally I think that if MS want to push an interface (cuz lets face it metro ain’t new by any stretch)  then it shouldn’t detract from any use-ability.

            If metro is to be introduced to the consumer market as a front screen to the windows experience then you should be able to do everything that you were able to do in windows 7 and do it easily. I must stress that this should only be expected from windows 7 usability and not stuff that you would go to other apps for. Desktop mode should only be used for legacy apps. If this is not the case then it will come across as half assed and incomplete.

            This isn’t to say that the features should be removed from the desktop experience because then you will find users not able to do the tasks that they set out to do if they decide to reject the metro UI.

            I don’t think that a desktop user will view it unnecessary to have a volume control in the media player, all they will see is that it once used to be right there and now its a phaff to get to the volume.

            If metro is about getting the right tool for the job then it just gets in the way for a desktop user. I think win8 will go down in history as being the annoying os when ms didn’t know what they wanted to do and how it was to be used. the whole dos – 3.11, me – xp, vista – 7 thing.

            It SHOULD be about replacing the desktop with metro though, if people have to hunt around for minutes to find out how to shut down a pc then MS have failed in designing an OS.

            If win 8 didn’t have the metro UI then it would easily be the best OS that MS have made, the new features in it are a god send and the new features in server 8 are amazing and have incredible potential for the enterprise market when put together with the system centre range of applications but if they shove a cobbled together mash of interfaces that are confusing it will fail,

            having a mash of two separate control panels just is ridiculous. and whats more worrying is that I have not heard one bit of positive feedback form a desktop user of this metro UI, how many millions of users will that be suddenly complaining about the metro UI when it isn’t metro that’s to blame, its the implementation. suddenly you will find that tablet sales aren’t doing so well and phone sales are a bit off because general consumers will have a mind set that metro means confusing and awkward.

            I whole heartedly agree that a unified OS is the way to go, not just an interface but the same OS! but this is just too much and half assed.

            sorry

          • smokey Joe

            also, if you have a mind-set of a windows 8 tablet of being exactly as a pc on the move including all the functionality of a fully fledged laptop or desktop then it would really set it apart from an ipad and would be infinitely more valuable. stuff like online cloud profiles so any win 8 device you sign in on has the same experience and resources available. that’s what the end goal should be and it just falls short 🙁

  • JohnnyG

    I couldn’t disagree more. 

    First of all expecting even ‘key’ apps to be robust for a consumer preview is, in my opinion, a little ridiculous.  It seems like a classic case “give ’em an inch and they take a mile.”  Sounds to me like you want a fully realized product so you can try before you buy.  That’s what a trial version is for.  That’s not what this is.  It’s a preview.  It’s meant to show you a product with a lot of the features in place so you can see what direction they’re taking.  Quite simply, you want too much too soon.  It will be there, but not yet.

    If I were Amazon or some other big name company, the last thing I would want is my app showing up in the consumer preview.  I wouldn’t want my customer service people fielding support calls for an OS that hasn’t shipped yet.

    Secondly, the keyboard is there.  But you only get it with a touch device.  It shows up beautifully on my touch screen monitor.  If you’re using it on a traditional laptop/desktop, you don’t need one on the screen, because you already have one.  Unless you want to hunt and peck with the mouse, it would be useless to display it.  The whole point of the preview is that it works equally well with the keyboard as it does for touch.  So test it with the system you have and see how well it works.

    The email client works fine with google, Hotmail and Exchange.  Again, it’s a preview.  Sign up for a hotmail or gmail account.  It’s not like they cost anything.  POP support will be there. It just isn’t now.  So what.  Sounds a little nit-picky to me.

    Not sure what your issues are with IE in this case.  You’re a user of FireFox – which I truly despise.  Even so, I’m not sure how much ‘flexibility’ you need in a browser.  If you type in an address (or click a link) and it displays a page, the browser has pretty much done the job I need it to do.  I’m sure it will only get better, but for now I’d rather have Microsoft concentrate on finishing the OS.