Windows 8 wish list: 10 Metro-style apps I want to see

Windows 8 wish list: 10 Metro-style apps I want to see

Summary: The more I use Windows 8 , the more I realize what's missing: great apps. If Microsoft wants people to fall in love with their new OS, it needs a collection of killer apps. Here's my wish list. What apps are you waiting for?

SHARE:

How many people have downloaded the Windows 8 Developer Preview since it was first made publicly available at last month's BUILD conference? Officially, Microsoft says the number of downloads exceeded 500,000 in the first 24 hours, including the 5,000 developers who paid to attend BUILD. The company is tight-lipped about numbers since then, but I suspect the number of downloads is probably well over a million now.

Since that first week, Windows 8 coverage on high-profile tech sites has dropped substantially as tech pundits refocused their short attention spans on new shiny things. Meanwhile, developers are actually, you know, developing apps. And a large number of Windows enthusiasts and IT professionals are pounding on Windows 8 with a vengeance.

In Microsoft's forums and on third-party sites, I've read lots and lots of praise. in this raw, early release, Windows 8 has made a great first impression, even among some critics who've previously been dismissive of anything with Windows in the name. As this screen shows, it really is possible for the two Windows 8 personalities—desktop and Metro—to live peacefully side by side:

Windows 8 apps, new and old

Windows 8 apps, new and old

But I've also also seen some harshly worded negative impressions come out of those early experiences. Lee Pender of Redmond Channel Partner. for example, calls Windows 8 "confusing" and adds: "Frustration is likely to be swift, heavy and completely unnecessary." Sebastian Anthony of ExtremeTech put together a list of "five deal-breaking flaws." ZDNet's own Zack Whittaker also offered five core criticisms, concluding that "one has to question whether Microsoft has its head screwed on the right way."

I've been using Windows 8 on a smattering of test PCs—desktops, notebooks, and netbooks, some touch-enabled—as well as in virtual PCs. The morning after Microsoft unveiled the Windows Developer Preview, I posted my first look at the new OS. In nearly a month of hands-on usage since then, I've assembled a much more complete picture of what Windows 8 is and isn't, at least as delivered in the Windows Developer Preview.

I think much of the praise is deserved. Windows 8 is full of great ideas.

I also think much of the criticism is valid. The transition between the new Start screen and the don't-call-it-legacy Windows Desktop and the new Metro style apps isn't as smooth as it could be. In fact, now is a good time to be making a list of Things That Need To Be Working Better In Time For Beta.

But it's too early to be drawing any firm conclusions—positive or negative.

Why? Because in this release it's literally impossible for anyone outside Redmond to experience Windows 8 the way it will work when it's released next year.

The Windows Developer Preview interface is unfinished. Some features are missing, like the "semantic zoom" feature that should make it much easier to work with groups of objects (like tiles on the Start screen). Some substantial pieces, including a few that were shown off at BUILD in Anaheim, are unavailable, too. Digital media features are the single most glaring omission.

The only "Designed for Windows 8" hardware is the Samsung tablet given to paid attendees at the BUILD conference. Most enthusiasts and IT pros who are kicking the Windows 8 tires are doing it on spare desktops or conventional laptops. The number of people who can actually experience Windows 8 on a touchscreen that works well is shockingly small.

And, most important of all, there are no serious Metro style apps for the new OS.

I mean no disrespect to the Microsoft student interns who wrote the 28 sample apps included with the Windows Developer Preview. Those sample apps do their job, which is to demo specific features so developers can get some idea of what Metro style apps can do. They're fine for 30-second demos, but they don't hold up for long-term use. This app is a resource hog and that app tends to hang. The user interfaces are Spartan, the feature lists are short, and ... well, you get the idea.

That collection of samples includes:

  • 10 games (don't worry, Angry Birds, your franchise is safe)
  • 8 informational apps—weather, stock prices, a somewhat clunky RSS reader, and so on
  • 5 creative apps—InkPad, PaintPlay, Piano, BitBox, and Memories
  • Twitter and Facebook clients with extremely limited feature sets

After the first week, none of those Metro style apps were on the "used daily" list of any Windows 8 test machine I own.

I would love to see those same specs executed by experienced Windows programmers. If Microsoft wants Metro style apps and desktop apps to be equal citizens, it needs to deliver some Metro style apps that I'll want to use every day. And those apps need to be there when the Windows 8 beta is ready for the public.

And that got me thinking: what Metro style apps do I really want to see before I consider Windows 8 ready for daily use? So I put together a top 10 list, which starts on the next page.

Page 2: My Windows 8 app wish list -->

Topics: Software, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Windows

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

103 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: Windows 8 wish list: 10 Metro-style apps I want to see

    Hopefully some Developers got their hands on the Developers Preview for just that purpose.
    bobiroc
    • RE: Windows 8 wish list: 10 Metro-style apps I want to see

      I'm just not with the masses, if I want a cell phone interface on my PC I'll buy a pad. Apps in a OS, yup great way to drive more people to Mac OS. Thanks MS; your really starting to suck now. The last real OS was XP.
      guitarest
      • RE: if I want a cell phone interface on my PC I'll buy a pad.

        @guitarest

        That is what Windows 8 is about in case you didn't notice. Only time will tell if Win8 will have an Opt out of the Metro UI for not touch enabled desktops/laptops.

        If you knew your history XP was hated at first too. This is the case with most OSes especially Microsoft's OS. People that fear change scream and yell and tell everyone their opinion on how the latest software sucks and the old one is so much better. Then you fast forward a few years and the same complaints continue except this time it is about the same software they said sucked before that they now like. It is a vicious cycle.
        bobiroc
      • RE: Windows 8 wish list: 10 Metro-style apps I want to see

        @guitarest A fantastic way of getting people to ignore your opinions about Windows 8 is to talk about how much better Windows XP is than Windows 7.
        RandomEngy
      • Windows 7 was the last real OS

        @guitarest

        Odd as it sounds, you're in the minority now, as many people are really giving MS thumbs up the last couple years on what they're putting out.
        William Farrell
      • RE: Windows 8 wish list: 10 Metro-style apps I want to see

        <i>Only time will tell if Win8 will have an Opt out of the Metro UI for not touch enabled desktops/laptops.</i><br><br>Well they don't have all the time in the world. They better make up their mind.<br><br><i>If you knew your history XP was hated at first too.</i><br><br>Until people discovered Classic mode and tossed the Fisher Price crap aside. Same principle with the Metro only there's no need to have it for desktops at all. <br><br><i>This is the case with most OSes especially Microsoft's OS.</i><br><br>Well what do you expect? When you have 90% of the desktop market locked up, it affects people's computing experiences greatly. That's the price you pay for being a monopoly.<br><br><i>People that fear change scream and yell and tell everyone their opinion on how the latest software sucks and the old one is so much better.</i><br><br>Some change is good, but if it's change for the sake of change then it's stupid ramming a phone-type GUI down on people's desktops is the ultimate in stupidity.<br><br><i>Then you fast forward a few years and the same complaints continue except this time it is about the same software they said sucked before that they now like. It is a vicious cycle.</i><br><br>Well it's true. You add more useless features (a relative term) then more things are bound to break. For example, Nero 6 was a great DVD-burning software. Then I used Nero 8 and got all sorts of error messages to the point that I finally had to abandon it for less intrusive alternative.<br><br>Check this out. I think it's applicable here.<br><br><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feature_creep" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feature_creep</a><br><br>It's about as fundamental as the Laws of Physics.
        ScorpioBlue
      • RE: Windows 8 wish list: 10 Metro-style apps I want to see

        @guitarest You need to get out of 2004 and come to 2011 because Vista and 7 blow XP out of the water..I think the problem is a lot of people try or tried to run Vista/7 on computers that don't have the resources to run them correctly. So they assume that XP is better because it runs better on a computer made 5-10 years ago..you can buy pretty decent computers that run Win7 way better than XP ran in 2004 for under $500 these days...
        ChrispyCritter
    • RE: Windows 8 wish list: 10 Metro-style apps I want to see

      People hub, Mail and Calendar metro apps are coming (and they all look ace)<br><br><a href="http://windowsteamblog.com/windows_live/b/windowslive/archive/2011/09/21/a-preview-of-windows-live-for-windows-8.aspx" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://windowsteamblog.com/windows_live/b/windowslive/archive/2011/09/21/a-preview-of-windows-live-for-windows-8.aspx</a><br><br>I doubt we'll see Office metro apps though. Microsoft seems keen to keep Office a desktop app.
      bradavon
      • RE: Windows 8 wish list: 10 Metro-style apps I want to see

        @bradavon There is a version of Office for the Metro interface and it uses the cloud and Office 365 and Skydrive. There is also a music/video player and it is superior to Apple's offering it is called Zune. It looks more like the author looked at the Mango phone and decided he wanted its features on the desktop because everyone of his wish list is available in Mango except for Skype.
        Rndmacts
      • RE: Windows 8 wish list: 10 Metro-style apps I want to see

        @Rndmacts: Thanks I didn't know that about Office. Zune is a desktop app though.
        bradavon
  • RE: Windows 8 wish list: 10 Metro-style apps I want to see

    Netflix and Media Center would make it up there. Twitter too. Some others would include Rdio/Spotify, a really good IM client, and I'd like to see what Photoshop would look like in Metro. Also, I don't remember seeing a PDF reader, despite there being some screenshots on Paul Thurrott's website...
    Jeff Kibuule
    • RE: Windows 8 wish list: 10 Metro-style apps I want to see

      Give me an immersive experience for competitive events (ESPN / NBC Olympics / WSOP)!
      scH4MMER
      • RE: Windows 8 wish list: 10 Metro-style apps I want to see

        @scH4MMER
        I do think IE 10 is trying to focus on HTML5 exclusively. I think we'll see a lot of 'apps' delivered right within IE. MLB Gameday looks good by me in metro as an example
        casejoe
  • RE: Windows 8 wish list: 10 Metro-style apps I want to see

    Before catering to the casual tablet-centric user with all sorts of apps; when is Microsoft going to publicly talk about what Windows-8 is going to do for the serious PC-centric users, i.e., data entry oriented businesses?
    TsarNikky
    • RE: Windows 8 wish list: 10 Metro-style apps I want to see

      @TsarNikky

      My guess is around January, or whenever they release the public beta.
      Michael Alan Goff
    • RE: Windows 8 wish list: 10 Metro-style apps I want to see

      @TsarNikky You mean besides the fact that you can still run and create "classic"-style Windows apps with Windows 8? Metro-style is mainly for the consumption of data via touch, not production of data--class-style is recommended for that.
      peterritchie
    • RE: Windows 8 wish list: 10 Metro-style apps I want to see

      @TsarNikky They have not talked much about it outside of //Build/. If you went there there were alot of "boring" sessions about building business applications accessing data, varous controls available, and they built a huge number of sample apps (not the ones on the start screen) that show you how to use various features. The UI elements work well for mouse and keyboard but they are different and will require you to re-think your design. (of course if you dont want a new design why would you build it). Still alot to be fleshed out but the basics of a story is there, certainly enough to start designing and building business apps.
      Without doubt the biggest missing piece is what the multi-tasking experience will be for the PC - Large Monitor - Dual Monitor user. Hard to imagine we will be limited to 2 apps on a Dual monitor set up.
      nanderto
    • RE: Windows 8 wish list: 10 Metro-style apps I want to see

      @TsarNikky
      WDP runs Office 2010 just fine.
      Also Firefox 8, Chrome, Windows Live Messenger, and pretty much every other Windows application I've tried.
      (Although, it does seem to dislike videos in Flash, but that probably has something to do with the video drivers being an "Engineering Preview". Oh, and IE10PP3 does have its problems too)

      But see this:http://www.zdnet.com/tb/1-105743-2089989

      It's a developer preview so developers can, um, develop Metro style apps now (and have them ready for the App Store when it opens).
      CarlitosLx
  • Good UI would be a start

    Have the Beta and it's [b]horrible[/b]. One minute you're in a desktop style app and the next you're in a completely different Metro app. They both look and feel completely different with no cohesiveness.

    It's just BAD, BAD, BAD.
    itguy10
    • You have the beta?

      How did you get hold of it?
      Michael Alan Goff