The most talked about new feature in Windows 8 is obviously the new Metro Start screen, with its flashy new Live Tiles and a more touch oriented user interface.

There has been much criticism, though, from people who have used the Metro user interface on a desktop or traditional point-and-click interface.

Some people have complained about the lack of ability to turn off the Metro UI from loading by default, others have complained about not being able to scroll sideways to move through apps.

Microsoft released a blog post talking about the Start Screen and the Start Menu in general.

It also released a statement within the post addressing some of the complaints about Metro not working as well with point-and-click. The statement talking about how touch the user interfaces vs. point-and-click situation right now is the same as the keyboard-only user interface vs. the point-and-click debate in the 1980s:

“The debate around touch today is looking eerily like the debate in the 1980s over whether a mouse was a gimmick, a productivity time waster, or an innovation in the user experience. We say this knowing that many comments have been emphatic about the superiority of the mouse over touch.

Unlike when the mouse was introduced—before desktop publishing programs came along there were few use cases for the mouse other than early paint programs—today we are surrounded by touch screens—at the airport, the gas station, the movie theater, every cash register, and of course, on our phones.

The one place touch has not yet become mainstream is on the most capable of all the devices you use. Just like the introduction of the mouse, innovations like this do not happen without new OS support, new apps, and new hardware.

We believe that, as with the mouse, we will see touch augmenting, but not replacing, most every aspect of the PC experience over time. Achieving this starts with the Windows 8 Developer Preview. So with that, let’s start the dialog about how things will evolve, not just in the Windows core user experience, but in hardware and apps as well.”

I agree with this statement completely. There is more of a use for touch based user interfaces than there have been in the past. As touch screens become even more popular, I think that we will begin to see less and less point-to-click UIs. I don’t think that they will go away anytime soon, though.

Using a mouse will probably always be more accurate than using your finger, that’s why the mouse will probably never die especially if you have to use programs that really need accuracy.

A comment on the blog post by Alex Kahoun was still complaining about the lack of good support for the mouse:

“Let me say that as far as the new start screen goes, it is top notch for touch.  Absolutely amazing.  I do have one complaint though, for the mouse, it’s sub-par.  I can’t stand the horizontal scroll bar.  From a design perspective you guys have spent a lot of quality time perfecting 8, and it shows!

When I’m forced to use the ugly scroll bar for horizontal scrolling though, I really think you guys dropped the ball there.  I’m not without offering a solution either.  Take a look at the IE Add-On Gallery…/default.aspx.  It has a nice smooth auto-scroll feature, only in the middle of the page, for mouse users.

Would it be possible to include something like this for mouse users?  Again, I know the design philosophy was touch-first, and you guys really knocked it out of the park on that one!  Can the mouse users get a tiny bit of love?  Keep up the good work.”

I agree with this comment partially. While I would like to be able to scroll sideways on the Start Screen, I think it works just fine with a mouse when your talking about basic productivity.

Overall I think that there could be some changes made to the Start Screen, but it’s pretty good right now.

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  • Dean Lawrence

    I actually love the start menu how it is. It’s nice and simple.

  • davepermen

    The proper way for the Mouse would just be to let it be used identical to touch. Drag to move the screen, drag in apps, etc.

    I sure hope they add that. Over the next years, people will be more used to scrolling by dragging than by scrollbar. Those people will be irritated when using a mouse. Remember, that UI will more or less be the default for the next 10-15 years, easily. People in 15 years won’t understand a scrollbar anymore, and won’t have to.