Windows 8 user experience will come down to apps

Windows 8 user experience will come down to apps

Summary: Microsoft shook up the tech world with a very advanced look at the upcoming Windows 8. As nice as the tile interface looks the user experience will come down to apps, and that is beyond Microsoft's control.

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Microsoft shook up the tech world with a very advanced look at the upcoming Windows 8. It was previously believed that Windows 8 would have a separate version for touch tablets, and a more traditional version for desktops and laptops. That doesn't seem to be the case according to Microsoft, as the statement that the new interface will be on "desktops, laptops and tablets." Microsoft may be biting off more than it can chew with this goal; as nice as the tile interface looks the user experience will come down to apps, and those must vary widely for the three devices types.

The Windows 8 interface for touch tablets is very cool, with careful thought in the design to make things easy to manipulate and access. That manipulation seems to depend heavily on a touch interface as found on tablets, and I am not sure how well that will translate to keyboard and mouse control. The problem is that tablets are totally different animals in how they are used, and one interface may not really work for all three device types.

Interface concerns aside, the real test for Windows 8 will come from apps. Microsoft showed standard Excel running under Windows 8, and frankly that just won't work. I've used Windows 7 touch tablets quite a bit, and trying to work with apps designed for manipulation with the keyboard and mouse just don't work with touch. Apple recognized this and produced iPad specific versions of its iWork suite that were optimized for touch, and Microsoft must do the same with its own apps at least.

Even if Microsoft puts lots of effort into making touch-specific versions of Office for tablets, the rest of the app world is going to have to do the same. Developers are not going to build apps that handle tablets, laptops and desktops equally well, it is too much work. We're going to end up with what we have today with Windows 7 touch tablets: thousands of apps that simply don't work with a keyboard and mouse. This can't be allowed to happen for Windows 8 to succeed in the mobile market.

I'm afraid that building one version of Windows 8 for all devices just won't fly, even if Microsoft puts a lot of sophisticated checking to determine what type of device Windows 8 is installed on. Such checking could change the interface based on the device type detected, but that's still not good enough. It's going to come down to those apps, and tablet apps are totally different beasts than desktop apps.

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Topics: Software, Operating Systems, Windows

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  • RE: Windows 8 user experience will come down to apps

    I work with touch enable tablets quite a bit as well having owned one for years; in fact, I'm writing this on one. I have zero problems with using touch, in any application. It's not as good as a dedicated tablet, but it works just fine. FWIW, I'm getting ready to replace my touch enabled laptop, with another touch enabled laptop; I simply love them.
    roteague
    • RE: Windows 8 user experience will come down to apps

      @roteague You're right on about touch... one need not look further than what Microsoft's future vision is - they've made it plain and simple as to where they are going.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ff7SzP4gfg&feature=related
      jessiethe3rd
  • RE: Windows 8 user experience will come down to apps

    "Developers are not going to build apps that handle tablets, laptops and desktops equally well, it is too much work."

    So that's why there aren't companies that are making iPad applications? You do realize that companies are already doing this, correct? They can even CHOOSE to continue to develop "traditional" apps or "touch" apps or both. That's what this design gives them.

    Oh and if you design your program correctly, after you have a "touch" design, it's not THAT much work (depending on the program) to change the UI. It's all about how you approach your development.
    Zedox
    • RE: Windows 8 user experience will come down to apps

      @Zedox iPad developers don't have to make the same code work equally well on Macs. That's what we're talking about here, not the same thing at all.
      JamesKendrick
      • RE: Windows 8 user experience will come down to apps

        @JamesKendrick <br>One big pice of the keynote demo was that the touch UI "apps" will be written in HTML5/Java. So why can't they take their core desktop app and add an HTML5 "layer" that makes it live tile accessible?
        reklissrick
      • That doesn't make sense

        @ JamesKendrick

        It's easier to write a single app with two UIs (Wimp and touch) than it is to write one Wimp app and another touch app.

        I'm sure there will be some apps that remain Wimp-only, and Windows 8 users will only use these when they've got a keyboard and mouse to hand. By the same measure, I've no doubt that touch apps will be developed to target tablets, without any Wimp option, and by and large only tablet users will use these.

        No matter how you look at it, the ability of Windows 8 to run both Wimp and touch apps is an improvement over being forced to use two different devices/OSes.

        @ rekliss007

        It's HTML5/Javascript, not HTML5/Java. Javascript and Java have nothing in common, apart from the similar names.
        WilErz
      • RE: Windows 8 user experience will come down to apps

        @JamesKendrick not too sure what your level of expertise is on developing applications on the .NET framework. I can only assume that the only difference between apps that run on the tablet and the desktop portions of Windows 8 will only be UI specific. That being said, I think all developers will agree that the first step in the process will be to decide what portion of the OS to write for. What is nice about what MS is doing with Windows 8 is providing two platforms on one OS... Code is the same for both the desktop and tablet parts which means that an apps code is easily ported with only a retooling of the apps UI. I actually think this will be a benefit to any developer.
        apetti
  • RE: Windows 8 user experience will come down to apps

    I agree that applications (or apps) will make or break the Win8 tablet environment. However, I think that the issue of touch aps versus keyboard/mouse applications is overblown. What Zedox was getting at above is that vendors will produce multiple versions of applications - a touch-centric "lite" app for tablets and touch, and a full version for keyboard/mouse usage. This will work similarly to the way that, as an example, Photoshop has different OSX and iOS version. The nice thing for Windows developers is that these versions will be based upon the same code, so programming may actually be simpler.

    Sure, people may try to use the full version on tablets or choose to use the "lite" version with a keyboard and mouse. But that will be up to user preference.

    And if vendors like Photoshop, who sell a very powerful, expensive program, are smart, they will "give" the "lite" version away with purchase of the full version. Then you can have it on all your machines, or even run the full version when your tablet is docked to your big monitor, with your keyboard and mouse plugged in (as I am sure will be possible with several Win8 tablets in the future, since we are already seeing this being attempted with Android).
    jglopic
  • Horrible UI

    Those nasty tiles have to go. Talk about information overload; it's crazy.<br><br>Then again, the public has spoken with Win Phone 7 and it's abysmal sales. So I don't see them getting embraced in large numbers.<br><br>Win 8 seems to be a "Let's throw a bunch of junk out there and see what sticks." Shows a real lack of understanding of how people use and process information.<br><br>Then again, MS has a real lack of understanding of what a good UI is so this is not a shock.
    itguy08
    • RE: Windows 8 user experience will come down to apps

      @itguy08 You're right. The people that have actually used Win Phone 7 say they love it...and it's pretty easy to see why. Perhaps if you took your face out from between Steve Jobs but cheeks, you might also understand why. Icons that do not display information are so 20 years ago.
      rnWilis
    • The the public has spoken and told you to quit being a troll

      @itguy08
      and to quit wasting people's time by spreading your lies and made up "real world experience" stories, but you don't listen and just keep doing it.

      So give us a legitimate reason as to why we care what you say, or why should MS care what you say?
      Will Pharaoh
    • RE: Windows 8 user experience will come down to apps

      @itguy08 Yeah, because an UI of a grid of icons is waay better!! Adding a grid of icons to Lion doen't seem very exciting to me!!!
      jatbains
    • RE: Windows 8 user experience will come down to apps

      @itguy08 Pick up a WP7 device. Use it. Eat crow. The end.
      jessiethe3rd
  • RE: Windows 8 user experience will come down to apps

    Vista 2 in the making. This will be disastrous. Win 7 will be the next xp and be around for years to come until it's bloated and no longer secure.
    mike2k
    • Actually that's wrong.

      @mike2k
      This is no "Vista 2" as that's what all the ABMer's called Windows 7. Then they called Kinect "Vista 2".

      Fact is, I can see that this will actually sell very well.
      Will Pharaoh
      • Would you prefer ...

        @Will Pharaoh

        Windows ME 3? ;-)
        Economister
      • RE: Windows 8 user experience will come down to apps

        @Will Pharaoh

        Vista was a big departure from XP and it sucked, Win 7 is great. Win 8 looks to be a big departure from Win 7 and although it has some bold ideas, I think will also suck. Win 9 will probably be good though.
        OffsideInVancouver
    • RE: Windows 8 user experience will come down to apps

      @OffsideInVancouver

      I generally like MS products, but I really hate this sort of nonsense. Facts first: W7 is just Vista 'tidied up a bit'. This is so blindingly obvious. It is as obvious as the fact that iOS displays nothing more than tiles of unanimated icons.

      W7 has all the things that I hated about Vista and a few things added that I like, some of which are pretty impressive. Overall I think it is pretty good, but suffers from the same bloat as Vista and retains the frustrating interface.

      It is kind of hard to understand why so many people are singing and dancing when really very little has changed. I'm running Vista with SP2 and I can't see any difference at all.
      12312332123
      • RE: Windows 8 user experience will come down to apps

        @Traxxion interesting way of looking at it. I do agree that it is fact that Win 7 is a cleaned up version of Vista, but I will add that the kernal is so clean in comparison that the user experience is very smooth. I think that the kernal will be further "cleaned" up to provide an even better, less bloated experience. We will have to wait and see. There is a lot of unknows!!!
        apetti
  • Can you say DUH?

    Apparently the majority of the "tech writers" on this website just can see outside the box. This interface will work just the same with legacy app as Windows 7. It's just an interface. If you really get that confused by a simple (and it looks very simple) interface, then maybe you should start writing about gardening. Seriously, the tiles are just icons that display data. Not that complicated. They just allow the use of touchscreen input, mouse/keyboard input, or controller-less input (ala Kinect)
    rnWilis