Should Windows get the 'Metro' Windows Phone 7 interface?

Should Windows get the 'Metro' Windows Phone 7 interface?

Summary: The New York Times' Nick Bilton poses an interesting question on the Bits blog on February 25: Should and could PC operating systems look more like mobile operating systems? In Microsoft's case, that would mean Windows would get an overhaul so that the multi-touch "Metro" UI became the primary way users would interact with their PCs.

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The New York Times' Nick Bilton poses an interesting question on the Bits blog on February 25: Should and could PC operating systems look more like mobile operating systems?

In Microsoft's case, that would mean Windows would get an overhaul so that multi-touch became the primary way users would interact with their PCs. Those "live tiles" that Microsoft demonstrated as part of Windows Phone 7 in Barcelona a week ago would become the default way users would interact with their "hubs" and applications. The horizontal scrolling menus familiar to us Zune HD users would replace the libraries and lists of files, music, pictures and other information stored on PCs.

Bilton talks about how much rewriting of the Mac OS would likely be needed to replace the current UI with a touch-centric one. Microsoft's Windows 7 already has  a lot of touch capabilities built in, but touch is still an afterthought, not a key input method, on the vast majority of Windows 7 machines. And for political, technical or whatever other combination of reasons, Microsoft has not backed the use of its Windows Mobile/Windows Phone OS for slates and tablets; it has encouraged partners to use plain-old Windows.

I am a fan of the Zune HD interface (the Windows Phone 7 adaptation of which is codenamed "Metro"). It's intuitive and attractive, with its chunky type and lots of "white space." But I'm still not ready to give in and say I want to use touch as my primary interaction method on my laptop. I still use a mouse and keyboard and want to continue to use those input methods when using a PC.

But what if I could switch interfaces -- use the Metro interface on a PC when I'm on a plane, train or other space-constrained environment, but a keyboard and a mouse when I need to get real work done? That might be useful.

What about you? Would you be in favor of Microsoft making the new Windows Phone user interface the default on Windows 8 or Windows 9 PCs?

[poll id = 38]

Could/should the Windows UI team borow a page from the Windows Phone book?

Topics: Hardware, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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31 comments
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  • Windows Mobile is a mute point

    It is finished, it was swept away...
    tux_engineer
    • You are one brilliant engineer!

      I can see that we are alot alike, that we are some of the only ones smart enough to realize that M$ is nothing but a has been!

      What place is Zune in after 2 years? last!
      What place is Windoze 7? last!
      And WinBobile? It will have 2 units sold - 1 to balmer and 1 to Gates!

      I bet the NBM's here that read your posts are pissed that you can see so clearly what there beloved bloggers can't!

      Right on Linux brother!!
      Ron Bergundy
      • Chuckles

        Were you like this right from your birth? I can see the pains your parents
        went through raising you.
        --Ram--
        Ram U
      • just had to respond to the idiot

        Alright. I hope you get a chance to read this, because i went through some trouble to reply to this.

        Zune came out in 2006. So by the math its 4 years old. Next, it's #2 behind the ipod in mindshare. Why? Because ipod came first and dominated the market with Itunes. Zune is a great device, its being changed to be more of a brand/service now. It also kicks itunes's butt in every way.

        Windows 7 isn't last. I'm not even sure where you came up with that. Windows 7 is being heralded as one of Microsoft's best OS's. And it's currently dominating the OS consumer market.

        Not sure what you mean by winbobile?. But windows mobile was one of the first smartphones out there. It was microsofts mistake not updating it sooner, but with windows phone 7 series they're dropping the standard pc look and trying something new. With a different UI, which I love.

        As far as the metro UI in windows. This would be a perfect addition to a tablet pc. Just like how mediacenter looks great on a netbook, they could create this UI for tablet pcs. So when you flip the screen you can press a button and open this metro-ish UI. Microsoft Please. This would be awesome, and kick the ipad to the curb.
        soniclooking
    • Pretty sure you mean 'moot' point.

      Why is that? The market shifts quickly. Apple started with nothing and captured a ton or market share in just a couple years. The market segment was "touch", and they captured it.

      Well, there is a segment for handwriting recognition (can't really do that on an iPad/iPod).

      There is also a huge segment for proper Voice Recognition. Just google people trying to convert voicemails into text accurately.

      There is also a huge opportunity for x86 based iPad clones. Do you really want to be locked into Apple custom CPU and their prudish App Store?

      And finally, there would be a market for roll-out or fold-out displays.

      Apple might be on top now, but the flipside is that you can only resell an ipod so many times before people get tired of it.

      Based on the iPod refurb market, the novelty of having one is gone. A BMW exec once made the comment that their greatest fear was too many used cars in the market to de-value the brand. Steve Jobs better listen.
      croberts
      • well said.

        >>Based on the iPod refurb market, the novelty of having one is gone. A
        BMW exec once made the comment that their greatest fear was too many
        used cars in the market to de-value the brand. Steve Jobs better listen.

        Perfect analogy
        --Ram--
        Ram U
    • Maybe, Maybe not

      BUt what Microsoft has going here is nice. The "Metro" UI is very elegant and functional. Expect to see more of it.
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • Its ok.

        I think it looks slick. I don't think it will go far beyond the phone and maybe tablet. Theres probably a reason they call it Metro. It fits a particular type of crowd.
        storm14k
        • I agree

          While nice, it has a limited use. It would be next to useless on normal desktops and laptops. I'd love to see it on a tablet device, maybe as an addon to Windows like Media Center is.
          The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • It's Windows After All

    To be honest, I'd wonder if Microsoft would be able to push Metro as a UI in Windows, if only because you have the legacy of hundreds of millions of programs made on the current UI vs. this new one.

    It would be an interesting option to integrate it as an option, but I can't help but think you'll confuse people. Also, it would require mass adoption of touch to really make sense, and now too many devices already out there have touch present.
    clindhartsen
  • Merge it with Media Center

    I would like it as a shell for Tablets that runs on top of normal windows kinda like media center does. Or maybe just kinda merge it with Media Center and add touch capabilities. Since MC uses a similar design language already, that shouldn't be hard.
    UCFw00t
    • Funny

      I just said the same thing without reading your post.

      I too, would love to see it ontop of Windows as an optional way of navigating on a tablet device.
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • Take two seconds to think about that headline

    Contrary to the obsession with "Touch" devices, no one seriously wants a touch computer at work. You can grab a mouse with icing sugar on your fingers from that donut, but that doesn't work so well with a touchscreen.

    I really question the whole iPad at Starbucks thing too. Wiping a little ipod is one thing, wiping a giant iPad to keep getting rid of fingerprints is another.
    croberts
    • I agree....

      ...touch simply isn't for everything.
      storm14k
  • Mentioned this idea to a friend the day WS7 phone was debuted

    Metro wouldn't have to replace mouse and keyboard. Microsoft has already designed UI elements that can be interacted with by touch or mouse-- like jump lists and Aero snap. I think those interactions are equally natural with either input method.

    I think at the very least a viewing mode in explorer would be nice. Like how a Mac will allow you to switch to cover flow in finder.

    I remember reading a quote of a Microsoft employee working on Windows 8 claiming that we won't recognize Windows. If metro integration is what he was talking about, I can't wait!
    ericesque
    • Good point, re: other UI elements

      True... Metro doesn't HAVE to be a touch thing. Maybe it just becomes more of a design thing, in terms of how files and other information is displayed on the PC so that it resembles more what is the default in Media Center in Windows Phone 7...? MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
  • It would be nice

    For a tablet device. Tweak it a little bit for use on a bigger screen, and include a form of multitasking management, and you have yourself a winner. I'd love to use it with a HP Slate.

    I too, am a fan of the Zune HD's UI. It's different than what people are used to using, but it flows very nicely and is very easy to use.

    Going back to your poll, if Microsoft included this as an optional module that installs itself after the detection of a touch screen, and is it's own entity (Similar to Media Center), that a user can open to use a touch enabled device. Of course, some would see it as "bloat" (What else is new), but I think it could be very useful if pure tablet devices are to take off here finally.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • let the zunetablet vaporware begin

    i am desperately waiting for new fancy "concept" videos of
    curier/zunebook/windows 8 vaporware. let it begin!
    bannedfromzdnetagain
    • Exactly right elllroy!

      M$ makes NOTHING but vaporware.

      No other company in the history of computing EVER did that except M$!!
      Ron Bergundy
  • RE: Should Windows get the 'Metro' Windows Phone 7 interface?

    No, it would be a bad ideia. Besides, Windows 7 already has a very similar interface, in Media Center.
    pedroroque