It's time for Microsoft to come clean over the Metro UI

It's time for Microsoft to come clean over the Metro UI

Summary: Microsoft has kept us in suspense for long enough and it's now time for the Redmond behemoth to come clean as to what users can expect from the next-generation Windows.

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We've had the developer preview of Windows 8 for a few months now, and there's a constant drip-feed of information coming from Microsoft via way of the Building Windows 8 blog. But there's one question that Microsoft is refusing to answer - whether there will be an easy way for users to disable the Metro UI start screen and get back to a classic desktop.

I think Microsoft has kept us in suspense for long enough and it's now time for the Redmond behemoth to come clear as to what users can expect from the next-generation Windows.

Note: None of the following applies to ARM-powered Windows 8 systems, which I believe will have no classic desktop support.

I think that in many ways what Microsoft has done is very clever. The company unveiled the Developer Preview and thrust the tiled, touch-capable Metro UI down everyone's throat. The classic desktop is there, but it's at least a click away, and if you want it back permanently, you need to don surgical gloves and start butchering the OS with third-party tools. If you prefer the classic desktop over the Metro UI, or have no need for a touch interface on the hardware you're running Windows 8 on, then this will put a crimp in your workflow.

There's a certain logic to what Microsoft did with the Metro UI start screen in the Windows 8 developer preview. What better way to get people to use the new UI than to make it the default option, and what better way to take the temperature for how people feel about it than by making it mandatory. If the Metro UI had been optional and the people installing the preview had been faced with the classic Windows desktop then I think that only a small number of people (those with touch hardware, hardcore users, masochists ...) would have taken the new UI for a spin, and that would have resulted in limited feedback as testers assumed that the classic desktop would remain the primary method of interacting with the operating system.

But has the metro UI really ousted the classic desktop? Well, Microsoft is being tight-lipped about the future of the classic desktop, but I'm hearing unconfirmed rumors that there are builds of Windows 8 at Microsoft that offer users an easy way to switch between Metro and classic, a move primarily driven by the negative reaction to the new UI (and associated costs, such as related to training) expressed by enterprise users, and apprehension from big name OEMs who fear that users will shun the new OS and land them with yet another Vista-esque debacle (given that PC sales are already precarious, OEMs don't want to do anything that might push things over the edge).

As much as Microsoft might want to push a new user interface (and the associated app store, which could be a sweet little revenue generator) onto the masses, the company is also sensitive to the fact that another Vista-style foul-up could mean serious trouble for the company, if not the industry as a whole.

My betting is that Microsoft will play it safe with Windows 8 and give users the option of how they want to view their PC. It's the only sensible thing to do.

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Topics: Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

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96 comments
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  • RE: It's time for Microsoft to come clean over the Metro UI

    Edit a single entry in the registry to turn off the Metro UI...
    1. Open regedit by pressing the windows key and typing regedit.
    2. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer
    3. Modify the RPEnabled key to a ???0??? instead of the default ???1???.
    anonymous_user
    • RE: It's time for Microsoft to come clean over the Metro UI

      @acewingman@... I see what you did there.
      agsmith112
      • RE: It's time for Microsoft to come clean over the Metro UI

        @acewingman@...
        Create User Accounts in Metro. Now apply this hack and find out that [b]ONLY![/b] the Admin Account reverts. The Metro Created User Accounts still show the Metro UI. Nice Hack but we need more since you cannot edit the Registry from a User Account.
        The Rifleman
    • RE: It's time for Microsoft to come clean over the Metro UI

      @acewingman@...

      Wow that is hard!! BUT!!!! To make things slightly easier, as a network admin of a large windows network, i can actually push it out through GP (believe it or not) meaning none of my users would ever see the metro screen if we didnt want them to!!!!!

      Magic.
      danjames2012
    • RE: It's time for Microsoft to come clean over the Metro UI

      @acewingman@...
      only expert users can do that! Linux offers a better and simpler UI interface.
      The Linux Geek
      • RE: It's time for Microsoft to come clean over the Metro UI

        @The Linux Geek
        Apparently you haven't tried Gnome-3. Boy does that User Experience SUCK OUT LOUD! And like the classic desktop in Win-8 Preview, thoroughly devoid of customization. Just try to delete the extra tool-bar at the bottom and try to put the top tool-bar on the bottom as I prefer it. Only Mandriva Linux with the KDE Desktop has this type of functionality correct.
        The Rifleman
      • RE: Linux offers a better and simpler UI interface.

        @The Linux Geek

        I hope to God, you are not speaking of that abomination that Canonical has created for Ubuntu called Unity??? It may be fine for tablets, and similar devices, but for most common workplace desktop scenarios, it plain sucks.

        Also, keeping in line with `@The Rifleman's` comments regarding Gnome 3, I think it is somewhere between Gnome 2.x (which I like, and customize like hell); and Unity ([b]which I could not wait to scrape[/b] from my Oneiric and Precise installs).
        fatman65536
      • RE: It's time for Microsoft to come clean over the Metro UI

        @The Linux Geek
        I'm actually interested in Cinnamon, the Linux Mint fork of Gnome 3 with the customizability and UI philosophy of Gnome 2.x. What concerns me the most is this new HUD Canonical is considering for Ubuntu. They intend for it to be a replacement for application menus. I think its going to be a disaster.
        thezorch
    • Ah, yes----the registry.

      @acewingman@...
      Maybe they should have named Metro "Lipstick" instead.
      Userama
    • My Take......

      @acewingman@... Why have to revert to a registry HACK for a option that should be included and an option you can set on initial setup.

      We are just starting to implement WIN7 configured to suit our users, others are still happy on XP and Vista, WIN 7 is not well liked, liked and we are just moving to Office 2007 from 2003, again Office 10 not well received.
      We do NOT want to have to commit more money into Upgrades (O/S or Office), Training, we just want to run a productive company, where money is NO having to be spent to feed Microsoft.
      carlsf1
    • RE: It's time for Microsoft to come clean over the Metro UI

      @acewingman@...

      it WONT work for beta... so stop dreaming there will be a "hack" to turn metro off...

      Canouna has said there is no start manu anymore. so stay with Win7, xp or vista... or go win8. or some other OS.
      Emi Cyberschreiber
    • RE: It's time for Microsoft to come clean over the Metro UI

      @acewingman@...

      Not a good option for the vast majority of non-tech users.
      gribittmep
    • RE: It's time for Microsoft to come clean over the Metro UI

      @acewingman@...
      Yeah, I can just see my dad getting in the registry to edit things.......
      mepallow
    • RE: It's time for Microsoft to come clean over the Metro UI

      @acewingman@...
      Good. Worked like a charm. Changed the binary value--on a standard account w/out admin rights--logged off, logged back on and wooohooo. Classic (Windows 7 style) Start Menu.
      DarienHawk67
  • RE: It's time for Microsoft to come clean over the Metro UI

    Ever since my initial tests with Metro I have been telling everyone who asks about Windows 8 that Metro sucks. <br><br>Not everyone will use a touch screen device, the example I have used is call centre staff, if I ring up to query by electricity bill I do not want the drone on the other end having to check my consumption on a screen they are swiping with hands that not 2 seconds earlier were holding a peanut butter sandwich.<br><br>By the end of the work day the screens in these places are going to be harder to view than dimly lit greenscreens on hardware held together with goodwill and layers of the dust of time!
    tjc1974
    • RE: It's time for Microsoft to come clean over the Metro UI

      @tjc1974

      Have you even tried Windows 8? your comments lead me to believe that the answer is no... As if anything its easier to use than windows 7 on a non touch screen.
      danjames2012
      • RE: It's time for Microsoft to come clean over the Metro UI

        @danjames2012

        Maybe if you're blind or retarded it's easier. Add a lot of apps and watch that nasty tile list grow. Unless they fixed it along the way.
        itguy10
      • RE: It's time for Microsoft to come clean over the Metro UI

        @danjames2012

        Maybe if you're blind or retarded it's easier. Add a lot of apps and watch that nasty tile list grow. Unless they fixed it along the way.
        itguy10
      • RE: It's time for Microsoft to come clean over the Metro UI

        @itguy10

        Says the guy who can't remember if he scrolls up and down or left to right. I wouldn't comment on others intellect to be honest.
        danjames2012
      • RE: It's time for Microsoft to come clean over the Metro UI

        @danjames2012

        Hmm, which part of "Ever since my initial tests with Metro" was oblique?

        I've run windows 8 in a virtual machine for several months, it is anything but easier to use than Windows 7, I have found that Metro gets in the way of mouse/keyboard input.
        tjc1974