Windows 8: Rectangles for all the things explained

The new Windows 8 user interface discards the desktop metaphor we've used for three decades, and replaces it with a panorama of coloured rectangles. Why? And how does it change the development process?

The now-familiar desktop view of folders of documents, along with its interface chrome of scroll bars and the like, was developed at Xerox Pato Alto Research Centre (PARC) in the 1970s. But for the new "touch first" interface for Windows 8, Microsoft has chosen a different direction.

On this week's Patch Monday podcast, we discuss the new interface with user experience designer Shane Morris from Automatic Studio and developer Nick Randolph from Built to Roam — the team behind the award-winning Qantas app for Windows Phone and the latest Windows app for National Australia Bank.

Morris recaps the presentation he gave to Microsoft's TechEd 2012 event last week, explaining the interface's design inspirations in transport system wayfinding signage, the Swiss Style of graphic design, Bauhaus and motion graphics, as well as the idea that digital natives don't need an icon like a floppy disk to explain how to save documents.

Randolph explains how the development process is more iterative, with more back-and-forth communication between designer and developer. The programming style is different, too — more interactive and almost game-like.

To leave an audio comment on the program, Skype to stilgherrian, or phone Sydney +61 2 8011 3733.

Running time: 30 minutes, 03 seconds.

Stilgherrian travelled to TechEd 2012 as Microsoft's guest.


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