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Microsoft explains Metro UI, admits Aero was 'Cheesy'

updated 12:04 pm EDT, Mon May 21, 2012

Microsoft shows evolution from Windows 1 to Metro

Microsoft has blogged about the history of Windows user interface changes in preparation for the expected Windows 8 release later this year. The post explains how Windows has morphed from the original release in 1985 through to present day, and the jump from "Aero" UI elements in Windows Vista and 7 to "Metro" in Windows 8.

Starting from the Windows 1 release 27 years ago, Microsoft initially viewed mouse input as a gimmick, rather than the future, before the first commercially successful version, Windows 3, was released in 1990. Windows 3 and 3.1 introduced the File Manager and Program Manager tools, and effectively forced the adoption of mice on its users. Windows 95 introduced the Start menu along with a redesigned user experience, influencing future OS releases.

Windows XP in 2001 and Windows Vista in 2006 are also covered, both influencing the design of Windows 7, which is described as the first mainstream non-phone OS to introduce multitouch support into its core. The company admits, however, that the Aero UI has reached the end of its practical lifetime.

"[The Aero] style of simulating faux-realistic materials (such as glass or aluminum) on the screen looks dated and cheesy now, but at the time, it was very much en vogue," writes Microsoft user experience director Jensen Harris.

Trends that are said to have influenced Windows 8 and its Metro interface include constant Internet connections, cloud storage availability, mobile computing becoming more of a focus, and an aim to make the user central to the experience by being more socially aware.

Windows 8 is expected to be released later this year, with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview available to download.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. Arne_Saknussemm

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Apr 2011

    0

    Aesthetics aside;

    What about bringing back some consistency to the "real" user experience, rather than it's looks?

    Say for example that the UI fonts all over the system behave as the control panel app dictates, not only consistently across applications but giving users full control of every element, thus helping older eyes to actually see otherwise impractically small or fancy fonts.

    Icons, those were supposed to be there to help you understand functions in an easier and faster way than text, yet on XP a trend started towards longer names in favor of graphics(ie. "Program Files" instead of just "Programs"), with Windows 7 making even advanced users read over and over long phrases just to access common functions.

    Colors were supposed to be dictated by strict OS guidelines; now it's a mess, like with fonts not even Microsoft own programs are coherent in their use or even user configuration.

    Metro looks really slick on portable devices, on the desktop the jury is still out, but from the looks of the consumer preview it's several orders of magnitude more wasteful of screen real estate than XP's default Fisher Price interface and Seven's huge buttons.

    Arguably the Windows GUI reached it's peak with Win2K, Microsoft would be wise in keeping the "classic look" from it in whatever it comes up with after Seven, and set that UI as default for experienced users, instead of forcing everyone into the new "consumer fad" it has just conjured up.

  1. BigMac2

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Dec 2000

    0

    Windows UI mess

    Windows has always being a UI mess and a me too product. The UI is much confusing and everything in windows is made to confuse and keep the users in the dark, Windows users are generally unable to discern between the real file structure and the windows "virtual" structure. That said much when they admit the Aero UI was made for fashion and was "en vogue" and does nothing helpful.

    The Metro UI is no where near a desktop replacement, while being interesting for a screensaver on a billboard it gives not much functionality to the users over a conventional desktop (convention established by Apple in 1984).

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