When it comes to the Metro interface in Windows 8, it is clear that Microsoft is primarily targeting the tablet crowd and ‘casual’ users. This makes a great deal of sense as the tablet market is experiencing rapid growth while the traditional PC environment is slowly but surely losing momentum, especially among the average home user.

By providing an experience that is fairly uniform across multiple platforms like the Xbox 360, Windows Phone, and Windows 8 PC/Tablet, it creates a familiar experience that is easy for even non-technical users to easily grasp.

I’ve said it more than once that Metro is just as much about reaching out to casual users as it is about targeting tablet users. Recently though I’ve started to wonder, was Windows 7 really all that hard for less technical types to grasp navigating?

This question popped in my head earlier today when I was thinking about how easily my two-and-a-half year old daughter has learned to navigate today’s technologies like the Nintendo Wii (for getting to Netflix to watch her favorite shows like Dora the Explorer), our Windows 7 desktop, and even Metro.

Does my daughter find Metro an easier experience than desktop mode in Windows 7? Considering she can launch Start, go to programs, and select her favorite programs like MS Paint (which is apparently exciting when you are a toddler), I’d say no.

Sure, with Metro she seemed to get the hang of flicking around with the Windows key to exit programs and using the left charm bar to change out the programs quickly, but it wasn’t really easier for her to do…. maybe just quicker? Perhaps this just has to do with a young child’s ability to pick up new skills quickly, I don’t know.

What I have noticed is that she does seem to enjoy going to the laptop and using Metro more than the desktop computer and Windows 7.

While a toddler obviously isn’t a fair comparison of a ‘casual user’, I believe that an ideal ‘casual’ OS should be so easy to use and navigate that even the youngest (or even oldest) folks out there should be able to pick it up with ease. So, with my young daughter she seemed to have little trouble using both interfaces, so is Windows Metro really any easier to use than desktop for casual types in reality?

Actually, the answer is likely a resounding yes. While she might be able to use desktop just fine, it is because she watched me do things like launch MS Paint literally hundreds of times. Once she was used to seeing how desktop mode worked, sure she didn’t have any problems.

With Metro though, I just let her play around, I didn’t show her anything. Within a half hour she was clicking around apps and checking out the games and programs I had installed. This is the beauty of Metro, I believe. It can be introduced users that haven’t had Windows experiences or at least had troubles with Windows in the past and get them running programs quickly without the learning curve.

What made the Wii and its motion controller so popular in the gaming world was that it was easy for anyone to pick up, even non-gamers. If Metro can be easy for anyone to pick up, even technophobes, it could really be a game changer.

Of course you might be thinking everyone already has Windows, so what learning curve? I believe there are still people who have yet to embrace technology that we sometimes overlook. Some people in the elderly community, those with certain disabilities, and it could even be a great introductory platform for younger children.

It is also worth mentioning there are many people who use traditional Windows today that still struggle with it from time to time. Now, how is Microsoft going to target all these audiences in ways it hasn’t before and expand its market by reaching out to these crowds? I’m not a marketing wiz, so I can’t say for sure.

What I can say is that I believe Metro really is easier to pick up than desktop and if Microsoft can really market that as a selling point, they may have a hit on their hands. What do you think? Is Metro easier to pick up without a learning curve?

Conversely, do you think that the learning curve in Windows 7 (desktop) is worth it in order to get the more power-user oriented experience that comes from it?

Share your thoughts below.

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  • Tiago47

    fully agree.
    point is that Windows Phone offers exactly the same benefit -best UI fast simple- and it never took off and sell as expected.
    i see windows 8 as a hit!
    but what the future might be for MSFT…. it is very difficult to answer.