Microsoft UX Designer Talks Making Metro Default In Windows 8

Microsoft took a whole bucketful of risks when it launched its modern operating platform, Windows 8. And one of these risks was making Metro the default choice for PC users.

The shiny new environment was the reason behind a lot of confusion that made coming to grips with the new OS difficult — for beginners more so. And now the company has opened up a bit on this decision, explaining the reasoning behind making such a drastic change.

A Microsoft UX designer took to Reddit to discuss the Metro UI, pointing out that this new environment was primarily designed for simple tasks like viewing photos, web browsing, checking Facebook.

But the company then decided to make the Modern UI default in Windows 8 in a bid to force users to see the Start Screen — to discover the new environment. Had they made the operating system boot to desktop like previous versions of Windows, nobody would have talked about Metro.

A reasoning not without merit, some may say, but here is the quote:

“The short answer is because casual users don’t go exploring. If we made desktop the default as it has always been, and included a nice little start menu that felt like home, the casual users would never have migrated to their land of milk and honey.

They would still occupy the desktop just as they always had, and we would have been stuck in square one. So we forced it upon them. We drove them to it with goads in their sides. In 8.1, we softened the points on the goads by giving users an option to boot directly to desktop.”

The designer also maintains that since now everybody is aware of the fact that Metro is an essential part of Windows, the very core around which the operating system is centered, Microsoft not only has more ways to play with it, but is looking into ways to improve it.

The idea, now, is to make the new environment as intuitive and usable as possible.

I’d still like to read a very detailed book about how the Metro environment was designed and integrated into Windows, and while I am still holding out for a personal memoir from a senior company executive, this is as close an explanation we will get from the official source.

Hit the link above if you want to read the account in full at Reddit.

2 Comments

  1. Ray C

    February 18, 2014 at 11:05 am

    I think the people who complain about Metro being the default are sillier than the people who complained about IE being the default. Why does it matter what’s the default now that you have the option to change it. That’s almost like complaining in XP and 7 that your start menu, desktop, and control panel didn’t run in Classic View by default. Even before the Boot to Desktop option was made easy to access, there was still the desktop button. Did you complain that when you clicked on start, it didn’t automatically go to “All Programs.” And to me the confusion with Metro was more about missing or non-obvious features. Like that power button should have been there from the start. There should have been an obvious all apps button from the bigging. Personally I think both of these things should have been tiles. PC Settings should have been a tile. I think anything you click on the start button and see right away should have been a permanent button or tile possibly. Even logging off by clicking your name is not obvious to most people. A more obvious way to close apps would have been nice. But almost all those areas have been corrected in either 8.1 or update 1.

    • Lee Keels

      February 24, 2014 at 8:06 am

      Why do desktop users need the Modern UI (it is NOT called Metro) AT ALL? Why do tablet users need the desktop UI AT ALL? We need two separate operating systems….not a spaghetti paste of two together.

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