The Windows 8 Metro UI challenge

It seems to me that the more I look at the new Windows 8 metro interface, I see that it’s focus is on showing us a new way to do things as opposed to showing us how to do what we need to do.

The main core functions of a Metro device should be:

  • Music
  • Movies
  • Weather
  • Mail
  • Video Conferencing
  • Books
  • Maps
  • Social
  • Search
  • Web Browsing
  • Photos
  • Games
  • Store

As you can see from the image above, Metro does have a lot of those functions on the home page but the issue to me seems like one of structure.

The tiles are not uniform and they are not grouped and it’s hard for the eye to consistently pin down where icons are.

The only thing I remember about the metro homepage is that the desktop is on the bottom left on my tablet. The rest of it is hard to follow.

I think Metro on Windows 8 is a good news and bad news puzzle story.

Windows 8 jigsaw puzzle

Windows 8 jigsaw puzzle

  • The bad news is that the pieces of the puzzle are not in place but there’s good news as well.
  • The good news is that ALL the pieces of the puzzle are on the board.

I think that if Metro tiles are sharpened, grouped and presented more intuitively, things would be much better.

The other major beef I have with Metro is what I call tile creep. It seems that I check out an app or some new feature and the next thing I know, I have more tiles on my desktop than I requested.

It seems to create more tiles on my desktop without my Explicit permission or direction to do so. This adds to the feeling of confusion and feeling overwhelmed.

I need to have 100% control over what shows up on my screen.

I personally like minimalism and a clean screen. I want my Windows 8 tiles to use the space in front of me wisely. I want things grouped intuitively in a way that make sense.

I went back and re-read the scorching criticism from Robert Dvorak recently about Windows 8.

Even there, he focuses on usability and concedes that the OS looks good – quote:

It’s not that the product out-and-out stinks. It is refreshingly slick-looking and modern, 

It seems to me that even the Microsoft team is struggling with UI principles as they build this OS.

All this can be fine tuned and fixed in time for launch and would go a long way to improving the user experience.

What do you all think?

 

Please Leave Your Comments Below...

  • Richardjaychontos

    I would love to know why when u upgrade you cant keep anything at all that sucks !!!!!!!!!!!!

    • JohnnyG

      I would assume that it’s because it’s a preview, not a test. I’m sure the final OS will allow you to keep settings, data etc. ms is working feverishly to get out the previews. Dealing with upgrades and all of the compatibility issues that go along with it is just beyond the scope of the preview.

    • http://seventy8Productions.com/ Steve Steiner

      It is annoying, I agree, but this is a testing version of the operating system. Because of that it is always best to do a clean install with each new release anyway. I am sure once Win8 is unleashed on the world consumers will be able to upgrade from Win7 to Win8 without a problem and that is really what matters here.

  • Gdbunnock

    WINDOWS 8 RP is not stable. Do we need more up date??? Black screen. Other pages that i didn’t click.

    • http://seventy8Productions.com/ Steve Steiner

       Win8 DP was stable for me. So was CP. Now RP is. I have ran it on hardware 8over 10 years old for testing, and am running it on much newer hardware as well. So, maybe you are having a hardware problem, or don’t meet the minimum requirements, I don’t know but overall it has been very stable for me.

  • 123321

    you have the option to bring all tiles in the order you like so no problem! 😉

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

      True but right out of the box, it should look more ordered and less chaotic.

  • Erothvt

    This post makes no sense. The Metro start screen can be organized and grouped anyway you like. you can drag the tiles into there own column groups, you can name those column groups anything you like. If you don’t like how it comes by default you can change it. 

    This seems to me like a hasty post without really displaying many of the features of the Metro start screen. Sometimes it seems like you don’t know many of the features before writing some of these posts. Many apps (the people app for example) lets you create “Secondary Tiles” which lets you customize the look of your desktop even more. I.e. you can make a single friend your contacts a tile of its own if you like to follow that persons facebook more closely then other friends.

    If you don’t like anything on your start screen you can unpin all tiles and just find your apps by typing its name or browsing through the all apps screen.

    The metro start screen is extremely customizable and a beautiful thing!

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

      I agree that it’s easily customizable.

      The issue is what is the default state of the device? The ability to organize apps the way I want is cool but it’s equally important for the tiles to look pleasant and organized out of the box.

      Just my take.

      • Erothvt

        Then I believe you should have made that clearer when writing this post. It is a good idea to have a better layout of the screen out of the box and potentially microsoft may do this, but this post, in my personal opinion, was just way to say how bad it is, not even mentioning the good things about it. It is posts like this that people, who have not had a lot of experience with windows 8, read that will just write it off because Onuora who is suppose to be someone who knows a lot about the operating system is saying that the Metro start screen is not very good. 

        If all you meant was that it should be better out of the box you should have said that and maybe given a screenshot of how it could be better. Instead of just leaving it as not being good. You even say this in the post: “I need to have 100% control over what shows up on my screen.” Which really makes no sense because you practically do have 100% control on what shows on your screen. Just by default they give you a not so good one. That is like saying i hate windows 7 because the wallpaper by default is blue with the windows logo on it. Well after you install it you change that thing you don’t like and everything is better. It is easy to point out a problem, it is better to give a solution.

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

          Part of your point is taken.

          I said:

          As you can see from the image above, Metro does have a lot of those functions on thehome page but the issue to me seems like one of structure.The tiles are not uniform and they are not grouped and it’s hard for the eye toconsistently pin down where icons are.

          with a picture of the homepage above the paragraph.

          To your point about having control, you have limited control.

          You don’t control:Shape, Size and Color of tiles.

          Just to be clear…:-)

          • Erothvt

            Yes, you say that they are not grouped and have varying sizes but they can be grouped and you have some control of size. You can choose to make them all big or all small, again that is your choice.

            And with the Shape, Size and Color, there is no difference to most other OS’s. You have no control over how iOS app icons look. It is a branding icon for the person who wrote the app. Granted in Windows 7 desktop you can change what icon is used for installed applications but i would wager to say that 90% of people don’t do this. You recognize an app by the branding that the company has not by some wired image you chose for it.

            When comparing the Metro interface to others I believe microsoft has given you a pretty good amount of customizations to make the screen look like your own. If you want to make all your tiles the same size and have very defined groups for them you can do that. If you don’t want them all the same you can do that as well. I definitely just think you could have made a much better post if you mentioned some of the customizations that you can do.

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

            🙂

            I’m enjoying this.

            The amount of customization possible with Windows 8 is absolutely not relevant. 

            When you buy a car, you don’t expect to have the front headlights facing upwards. Even if they were adjustable, you would expect them to be front facing because you expect a certain amount of consistency at the time of purchase.

            The same is true here. When I open up Windows 8 for the first time, I expect to see something pleasant, easy on the eye and consistent.

            I shouldn’t have to adjust it myself to get it to look this way.

            You may want to buy an iPad and start it up for the first time. 

            It’s just clean and simple. After you have owned it for a while, it will probably have apps and folders everywhere. – A mess. But it’s your mess. Not the vendors.

          • Erothvt

            As am I =)

            But I don’t think your headlight analogy is relevant. Headlights have a specific purpose and they are expected to be used for that purpose. The issue here is much more subjective, to me it is more like saying a car is terrible because it is black with plain old hub caps on it. But people love cars because they are customizable and you know you will put rims with spinners on it and paint it red.

            I do have an iPad and when I first opened it I did not drool on the screen and think how clean and pleasing it is =). I said oh I want to put this app here and this app there and main I wish I could make that app just go away, but I can’t….

            You may think the Metro UI is not pleasant to the eye and I am sure many other people do as well, but there are many people who don’t agree with you and like have a screen that is not a checker board of monotony. But that is topic that can be discussed for ever because it is so subjective.

            My only criticism of your post is that you don’t say anywhere that you just don’t like how it comes out of the box. You make it seem like it is bad and you are stuck with it, and you make it seem like you cant do some things that you actually can.

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

            What I think this comes down to is a basic principle of what to expect from a product out of the box.

            (Relative) chaos or order?

            I think we can both agree that almost any product you buy should be packaged neatly.

            What you do with it after you buy is your business – it’s yours – you own it.

  • Michael

    With Metro:

    Metro tiles need to be completely customisable. At present, for the most part, you get what you are given.
    Here is what a modern user wants:
    1) to decide what color and size each metro app tile will be
    2) to decide what color and size each desktop program tile will be
    3) to decide what each icon to use for each and every tile

    Most people may not really care to much about the above, but Windows has always been about choice – the end user can change things the way they want if they want.

    With Desktop:

    The desktop is much cleaner now – good move!

    What I think is wrong:
    1) the scroll bars should be similar gradient to the buttons
    2) NO – do not use dumbed down metro style icons – ANYWHERE

    I read somewhere that one of the reasons MS thinks desktop users will want Win8 (hehehe) is that you can have different pictures on multiple monitor setups. 

    Well this is true to a degree if you have a slideshow happening – then the images are just rotated at different times for each monitor. 

    But again where is the end-users choice? If this is to be feature – then I want to make the decision, for each desktop, what image is displayed, whether it is a slideshow or static image.

    • http://seventy8Productions.com/ Steve Steiner

       Here is what the modern user has right now, the ability:
      1)to decide what size each tile will be
      2)to decide what icons are used on the desktop as always and what size they are (desktop program tile? WTF have you even used Win8?)

      On practically every operating system including iOS, Apple, the Linux Distros I use and overall Windows you get the icon that comes with the program, it is part of the programs brand. Firefox has the Fox on the world for instance, it is part of how you identify that appllication. Sometimes as with windows power users decide to change their icons, but that is something that isn’t very common or even always possible with other operating systems.,Here with everything but Metro Apps, that is still possible. Given that the norm is each app has it’s own icon, I think customization hardly needs to be a priority here though who knows some day it might happen. So from your first list, all you are left with that users can’t do is “icon customization” which is possible on everything but tiles, and lets face it, most users aren’t loading other icon packs (partially because most icon packs never have anything anyway). Hardly a good representation of what the modern user want’s.

      You desktop issues aren’t really worth commenting on… you don’t like it, gotcha, I’m sure you will overrule everyone that does…

      Finally though, you show a complete lack of understanding what we can do with the desktop. They have already shown us that you will be able to select different images for different desktops, and they weren’t talking about slideshows when they showed one image per desktop.,Now the RP is out we can do this. Might help in the future to make sure you know about what your posting before you post.You can start here http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2012/05/21/enhancing-windows-8-for-multiple-monitors.aspx

  • Couldbeblue

    My biggest concern is not with Windows 8 but with the fact that to watch the videos you have to download new players – and exe files at that! what is wrong with this picture? Why do we have to download yet another player to go with the 47 others we already have?

  • Taras

    My 2 Bits ; Im really good with all technology inside an out.  Windows “customizing” has been a passion for years now.  Making the OS look and operate in supreme ways ahead of its time kinda thing !  Now with Win 8 it screams “Wheres my desktop as soon as it launches”  of course my opinion.  I believe this is going to be very difficult for the general user who doesn’t dig to find options or custom features to make the “new win 8 computer “theres” again !  If a vote was taken im sure desktop keybo/mouse users would want desktop boot default.  and the vice versa for tablet users.  Now lets not forget the people who like the best of both worlds !  Like myself i would want a quad core tablet win8 with desktop default and tablet for wife and kids metro default !  The desktop or metro at boot needs to be “your choice” period because it will always be personal preference.  and that’s how to make all happy.  HAPPY is good !  Now for the “old” start menu…..jeeeze ok push tile to get to desktop (dual mon setup needs improvements !) and ok im at desktop screen and what can I do ….im actually lost feeling and brain farting as to how I put the “My Computer” shortcut on the desktop to go into my drives the way I have always thought I enjoyed.  So this brought me to realize the “old start menu” is something of comfort for me as well.  again the vote scenario I guarantee would be to make this an option to enable as well.  IMO should be enabled by default.  OK so the last thing now for my review lol is the closing of pages / apps in the metro experience….IMO SUCKS !!! I  believe they should adapt the smoothness of the “WebOS” handling of (pages/apps/cards)  first its minimized to put where you want it, or you swipe (chuck it) as I like to call it !  off the top of the screen to terminate/close.   That being said I love win8 and will love to make it into my own “win12” like I always do ! lmao

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5WJGC7242GFDP2QXANKF5WTMEA Rex

      The way to put “My Computer” on the desktop is the same as it has been since Vista.  Right click the desktop, and select “Personalize” and then in the Box that pops up select “Change Desktop Icons.”  After that its is obvious.  I remember years ago trying to figure out how to do it and thinking how inefficient that method is.  But seriously, it has been this way for like 8 years.  You might want to rethink about how good you are with technology.

      Windows 8, is certainly not perfect, but most of the problems you are complaining about are you.  Metro could use some automatic organization, but it works fine as a start menu replacement.  I have yet to see a time that XP, Vista or 7 could do things that I can no longer do in 8, PERIOD!  In general, I find Window 8 to be more efficient than earlier versions.

  • joquni

    The desktop looks like it was made by Fisher-Price

    • darkpr0fit

      And has the same quality!!!!!

  • darkpr0fit

    The metro interface may very well work for the typical consumer, however companies will fight this!!!! Who wants to spend big dollars re-educating users and fighting the wave of problems that will occur, as well as all the hardware upgrades that will have to be introduced to take full advantage of this. The bigger question that Microsoft should be answering, is this “Instead of can we do this, should we do this at this time?”.

  • Taras

    Again ill repeat “HAPPY IS GOOD”  just include the option of either desktop or metro !  And also the option of enabling the Win7 start menu.  Then there is not much to pick at.  Most people and companies will be really happy !!!

  • Taras

    Also the option of putting your own image as metro background and also tile backgrounds !

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5WJGC7242GFDP2QXANKF5WTMEA Rex

    I agree.  I am not calling for the return of the start button, or the automatic loading of the desktop.  I dont think either those are necessary.  But the start screen is a mess.  There need to be default zones much like the App Store.  Perhaps all Desktop Programs automatically put tiles in a section for Destop Programs.  All Metro Programs Broken down into even more sections based on program type.   IE10 webpage tiles should have their own section.

    Manual Creation of new sections should be possible, and realignment should also be possible.

    The top ten used programs from each section should be listed at the front of the section.  Hovering over the title to the section should cause the section to collapse and expand.  When collapsed only the first 10 should still show.

    Also way more customization should be possible.  Selecting Tile colors, and the dual colors of the system should be individually selectable with way, way, way more options of colors.  Customized backgrounds should be possible as well, the current 6 or so styles is just unacceptable.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5WJGC7242GFDP2QXANKF5WTMEA Rex

      In fact the more I think about it.  The more important all these things are.  This will be the point that will either make or break Windows 8.  Not the ability to have a start menu or go straight to the desktop.  The inherintly messy start screen is the current achilles heel for Windows 8.  MS, I hope you are reading this.  Fix this as soon as possible!