Is Windows 8 Metro failing even at Microsoft?

Is Windows 8 Metro failing even at Microsoft?

Summary: When even one of Metro's former developers doesn't use Windows and Microsoft is making noise about bringing the classic desktop to ARM tablets isn't it clear that Microsoft doesn't really believe in Metro?

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 Bill Flora, a key leader on the team that created Microsoft's Metro interface... and his MacBook Pro.

Bill Flora, a key leader on the team that created Microsoft's Metro... and his MacBook Pro.

When I first saw this image of Bill Flora, a key leader on the team that created Microsoft's Windows 8 Metro interface, I almost laughed myself silly. Notice what Flora, who had left Microsoft after 19-years as a creative director in September to start TECTONIC, a user experience design firm, uses for his main computer? That sure looks a MacBook Pro to me!

Seriously? One of Microsoft's go-to Metro guys left the company ahead of Windows 8's launch and now uses a Mac? The picture says it all. Of course, Floria's not the only Metro developer to abandon ship. Brandon Watson, head of developer experiences for Windows Phone, is the latest executive to leave the Microsoft’s phone unit. Between Flora and Watson's departure, Matt Bencke, General Manager for Windows Phone Developer and Marketplace, left the Windows Phone team, but he did, at least, stay in Microsoft. He's now over with the to Xbox Live crew.

OK, so Metro, while it's getting closer to beta, is still too wet behind the ears for serious work. That said, I can't be the only one who thinks it's a little odd that Metro developers are running out the door so late in the game and with so much Metro development and design work still to be done. I wonder what they know that Microsoft isn't telling us. Mind you, Microsoft isn't telling users or developers that much about Metro applications and programming.

We do know, however, that it seems Microsoft may just be supporting both Metro-style and Desktop apps, aka classic Windows, on Windows 8 on ARM. That tells me Microsoft is starting to hedge its bets that dyed in the wool Windows users are really going to take up a radically new interface to do the same old things.

That said, I also doubt that Microsoft can bring its old x86 Windows look and applications to ARM in a way that will work. I think the Metro interface will be a total failure on the desktop, but I think that “Classic” Windows on a tablet or a smartphone will be even more of a design flop.

Leaving aside the foolishness of trying to use a Windows, Icons, Menus, and Pointer (WIMP) interface on a tablet, there's the engineering problems behind the display. It's not that easy to port old x86 code and recompile it for ARM.

You could, I suppose use an Apple-style  Rosetta x86 binary emulator for ARM, but that approach has three major problems: 1) It's slow; 2) It eats power like an elephant eats peanuts; and 3) you're still stuck with very different screen architectures.

Sure, I can see why the idea of using Desktop on ARM sounds attractive at first glance: “Give the people the interface and apps they already know,” but practically speaking it comes with a host of problems. Not least of these is that it makes me wonder, yet again just how really ready Metro is for any users on any platforms.

Bill Flora image. (Credit: Jay Greene/CNET)

Related Stories:

Windows 8 Consumer Preview due February 29: why it's not called beta

Why Windows 7 will be Dead on Arrival

Why Windows 8 matters for real work, and so will Windows 9

Why Metro now rules at Microsoft (CNET)

Windows 8 on ARM: The desktop is still there

New Desktop Interface Flops

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

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74 comments
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  • Dog bites man

    SJVN writes an article bashing Windows.
    Michael Alan Goff
    • RE: Is Windows 8 Metro failing even at Microsoft?

      @Michael Alan Goff Haha, let's see how many postings this article will generate. Last time I checked "Five Reasons why Windows 8 will be dead on arrival" generated 725 posts. That's not pocket change!
      statuskwo5
      • RE: Is Windows 8 Metro failing even at Microsoft?

        @statuskwo5

        Unfortunately, this will break 500 posts easily.
        Michael Alan Goff
      • ZD must be pressuring Steven for hits

        @statuskwo5
        Journalism sure doesn't justify his job, so it must be the hit counts.
        Cynical99
      • RE: Is Windows 8 Metro failing even at Microsoft?

        @statuskwo5 Haha. You windows fanboys crack me up. Windows 8 is going to be the biggest failure since Windows Phone 7. Pass the popcorn.
        Nathan A Smith
      • RE: Is Windows 8 Metro failing even at Microsoft?

        @statuskwo5
        I'll add one, and precisely one. I was trying to figure out why the Open Source tie in that would bring SJVN into it. Then I remembered Metro is MS's version of Unity. I seriously expect that MS will back off of Metro for anything other than its intended usage of portable devices, just like Canonical is now backing off on some of the sillier things on Unity like Global Menus on the desktop.
        admiraljkb
    • He hates his own work?

      @Michael Alan Goff <br>What i find funny is this guy created Metro and he hates it himself? Some how that doesn't make sense to me and why would he create something he hated then leave the company? Maybe the fact is he got so much praise and attention that he is now confident to start his own company and work for himself. So I guess when someone tells him that Metro design is nice he just says, "oh that ugly mess I created, oh god don't even get me started"! Is that really what he thinks of his own work?????
      OhTheHumanity
      • Funny how you jump to conclusions

        @OhTheHumanity
        everyone assumes that because he uses a different systme he hates Metro. Funny, I don't think he ever said that. Steven insinuated to skew the truth, whatever that is.
        Cynical99
    • RE: Is Windows 8 Metro failing even at Microsoft?

      @Michael Alan Goff

      Is it just me or is SJVN sounding a lot more desperate than usual. Do you think he's starting to appreciate that the best software development people in the world, with the best tools and a shipload of money, might be capable of turinng out an OS that is a couple of generations beyond Linux or the Unix variant Apple uses?

      Be afwaid Steven. Be wery afwaid...
      tonymcs@...
      • RE: Is Windows 8 Metro failing even at Microsoft?

        @tonymcs@...
        +1
        toddybottom_z
      • Not desperate

        @tonymcs@...
        Needed hit counts or gets canned at ZD.
        Cynical99
      • RE: Is Windows 8 Metro failing even at Microsoft?

        @tonymcs@... "the best software development people in the world" certainly can't be working at MS given the quality of their products. How can you even say something like that?? Jeez
        dongennl
  • RE: Is Windows 8 Metro failing even at Microsoft?

    MacBook Pro (essentially an x86 PC with an Apple logo) runs Windows. What's new?
    statuskwo5
    • RE: Is Windows 8 Metro failing even at Microsoft?

      @statuskwo5

      And few run Windows exclusively on them.

      After all Windows users only buy $300 laptops - or so that's what they say when they say Apple is too expensive....
      itguy10
      • RE: Is Windows 8 Metro failing even at Microsoft?

        @itguy10 Bill Flora must have been running Windows otherwise he wouldn't be able to test Metro. ;-)
        statuskwo5
      • RE: Is Windows 8 Metro failing even at Microsoft?

        @itguy10 - I am typing this in IE9 on Win7 on on a 17" MBP attached to a Thunderbolt display. I run Win7 on this box 90% of the time. The other 10% of the time I have to run OSX to write and test code for our iOS apps. If it wasn't for this latter requirement, I wouldn't have bought a Mac.

        MBP's are expensive laptops. Period. They're nice laptops, yet, but they're JUST laptops and there's nothing magical about them at all.

        There are very fine laptops available from multiple different vendors which meet or exceed the design & features offered by MBP's usually at a far lower price point.

        Apple has had an advantage thus far in that one can daisy-chain two Thunderbolt displays connected to one MBP so that you can, should you have the inclination and necessary cash, drive two 29" screens from one laptop.

        But that stranglehold over Thunderbolt is about to end with Intel's soon to be released IvyBridge processors and chipsets. We can expect laptops from Acer, Asus, Sony, Dell and HP that support thunderbolt as soon as demand for multiple external screens increases.
        bitcrazed
      • RE: Is Windows 8 Metro failing even at Microsoft?

        @statuskwo5

        Uhhhh, it's called a VM. You can run anything in a VM. Doesn't make that VM your main OS, does it?
        benched42
        • RE: Is Windows 8 Metro failing even at Microsoft?

          @beched42 it's called bootcamp. :D
          XMaverick
      • RE: Is Windows 8 Metro failing even at Microsoft?

        @itguy10
        That's not what they mean when they say that. It's what you make of it.
        They basically mean that you can get more hardware on a Windows PC for the same amount of cash :) Think before you write.
        jarrichvdv
      • RE: Is Windows 8 Metro failing even at Microsoft?

        @benched42 Of course you can run anything inside a VM. And Flora is running Windows.
        statuskwo5