Windows 8 Final Review Part 4 – What Microsoft got wrong in Windows 8 – Metro

I struggled for a long time to figure out what the Metro Tile experience was missing and what that nagging feeling was that I had about it and then it hit me.

I had a Eureka! moment as I figured it out.

Nothing is wrong with Metro Tiles.

Sounds crazy doesn’t it? It’s actually true.

Metro is perfectly fine as a User Interface but the problem is that both the vendor and software makers have abused the platform.

Stay with me here because it actually will start to make sense.

The Metro style interface is a blank canvas.

Its a design aesthetic that Microsoft, developers and software partners will use to design apps and software going forward. It’s not inherently good or bad, it’s a blank canvas.

You can take a blank canvas and paint a beautiful painting or you can throw red paint on it and mess it up.

Either way, there’s nothing wrong with the canvas, it’s the painter’s fault.

I have 2 concrete examples of how not to use Metro and the first one is the Vendor – Microsoft.

The (App) Store

When you click on the store icon to get to the app store, you are greeted by about 10 tiles (All stars, New Releases etc). When you scroll right, you see the Games and Social sections, then you scroll right for Entertainment and Photo and on and on it goes.

The Windows App Store

The Windows App Store

It’s AWFUL.

It’s a very inefficient way to use a potentially efficient canvas.

It’s like creating a web page that is 12 pages long vertically. There’s a reason why we don’t build web pages that long and it’s because in general, readers don’t have the patience for that.

The irony is that if the first page of the Store looked like this:

Alternate App Store Intro tiles

Alternate App Store Intro tiles

It would be more attractive and intuitive. You could also neatly fit all the categories (Games, Social etc) onto the first page.

I guess my point is, if you are going to make people scroll, at least make them scroll only when you have to and not just because.

Bottom line is, it doesn’t make sense to have us scroll ridiculously at the home page.

It makes sense to use the scroll for readers who want to check out sub categories. For instance like the photo above, if I wanted to check out all the top free apps in Books and Reference, if there were 120 apps, it might make sense to make me scroll a little bit.

It could also be argued that a better UI at that point would further sub categorize them so I didn’t have to use more than one screen.

Not Metro’s fault, but the designer’s fault.

Another example in the Windows App Store…

Install the Autotrader.com app

Autotrader Tiles

Autotrader Tiles

Oh my Gosh! What a trainwreck!

They just throw cars and tiles and categories at you and you’re meant to scroll and do something with it. Too many pictures scrolling across the screen is visually overwhelming.

You just keep scrolling and scrolling and your eyes are drawn to all those cars and titles and links – this right off the bat!

Contrast that with their website (which is looking a little older but is still effective).

Autotrader Web Page

Autotrader Web Page

All the visual cues I need to find what I need above the fold on the homepage.

In 3 or 4 seconds, I know where I need to go to get where I need to.

There’s nothing wrong with Metro but Microsoft need to teach UI standards and best practices and do their best to enforce them.

There’s a lot on the line to get this right. If they don’t, people will just say Metro (and by extension) Windows 8 Suck!

Once again, this is all my opinion, maybe the general public disagree.

Let’s talk about what else needs fixing.

I call these – the usual suspects.

Articles in the series:

Please Leave Your Comments Below...

  • sarveshmotihari

    I donot agree with this….sorry

  • no name just me

    You are right the UI needs allot of work . and the whole subject of the FrontPage is that it reminds me of the old windows 3.1 and alike and i also want the choice of a start menu so still looking don’t know if i will buy it. so far it has worked on my two computers and it seems to improve the internet  CONNECTION FOR THE START THAT’S GOOD. LIKE YOU SAID WE WILL SEE

  • newraze

    I like how the app store is because it reminds me of how the the xbox 360 home screen looks and I’m used to that.

  • CarlosMobile

    You know what I hate about the scrolling? The fact that apps don’t auto scroll when you move the mouse to the right, like the metro home page does. Why didn’t they implement that? it seems like a no brainer to me and I can’t believe no one caught on to this! If apps had the auto scrolling when moving to the right they would be so much better, it’s a shame as I sometimes forget they don’t have this functionality and I try to scroll by moving my mouse to the right but obviously that doesn’t work.

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

      I have noticed and lamented this as well.  That auto scroll in Metro is the bomb.  I would use it on everything.  Makes scrolling a pleasure.

  • Erothvt

    I don’t think the horizontal scrolling is a problem at all. It is meant so you can see the information right away. I hate having to go through a series of category clicks to get to the information I want to see. It is much more intuitive for me to just start flicking to get to the area I want. And if I want a quicker way to get all the way to the right that is why they created the Semantic Zoom feature, so all you have to do is a quick pinch of the screen and you get your quick navigation view.