Microsoft Reveals Details About Windows 8's User Interface

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 1, 2011
Updated • Jun 25, 2018
Windows, Windows 8

Metro UI; That's the name of the new user interface that Microsoft plans to ship with the Windows 8 operating system when it comes out next year. What we did not know until now was how the interface would be integrated into the operating system, especially so on desktop PCs.

Many users suspected that the new UI would only be turned on by default on tablet and touch based devices, and that desktop users would get the standard interface instead.

That is not the case according to Steven Sinfosky. Windows 8 will ship with a dual user interface. The main interface is Metro UI which gets loaded when the operating system starts. Desktop UI, which Microsoft basically sees like another app on the system, is not loaded until the user needs it.

metro ui windows8

It is not clear from the post if users will be able to switch to the desktop UI as their primary interface so that Metro UI is not loaded at all.

What I do believe however is that many customers will be in for a shock when they start the operating system for the first time. The majority will expect an interface that looks like those of previous versions of Windows. It will be more than interesting to see their reactions when the PC boots into Metro UI.

We need to wait a bit longer until we know if users, manufacturers and companies will be able to customize the user experience so that the desktop UI will be loaded instead of Metro UI on startup.

I for one have a lot of questions that remain unanswered, like:

  • Can I select to run the desktop UI on startup right away?
  • Can I disable Metro UI?
  • Metro UI to me looks like an interactive launchpad for applications. Correct me if I'm wrong. How am I going to run popular operations from there? How is Metro UI faster or more convenient than the desktop UI in this regard? Take downloading an application and installing it for instance. How am I going to run the downloaded app in Metro UI?
  • How do desktop users benefit from the new interface, apart from the prettier looks? What can Metro UI do that the traditional desktop cannot?

My personal opinion at the time of writing is that Metro UI could be a great addition for users who do not do a lot of different things with their computers. Regular users who use it for Office, web browsing, light gaming and media. To me, it looks like the interface is made up of lots of widgets that are configurable by the user and expanded to run in full screen.

Here is a video of Metro UI in action

The video shows that you can run at least two applications side by side in the interface. But what about more than that? Can I watch a video in one corner and have two web browsers open at the same time and displayed on screen? What about a file browser in addition to that?

I have to admit that it is to early to judge the new interface yet. Maybe it pans out to be phenomenal in the end. For now though I have lots of doubts about that. I'm not that excited about the new interface as many of the users are who commented on the blog post. The majority seems to love the new interface.

What's your take?

Microsoft Reveals Details About Windows 8's User Interface
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Microsoft Reveals Details About Windows 8's User Interface
Microsoft revealed today that its Windows 8 operating system will ship with a dual interface that users may switch between.
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  1. Anonymous said on September 14, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    as long as i can disable ! metro UI i am happy, it just seems lazy to me that Microsoft has put a phone OS on windows 7, a good saying comes to mind if its not broken don’t fix it.

  2. Jan Kappen said on September 14, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    Metro UI can be disabled, just rename C:\Windows\system32\shsxs.dll to anything else and reboot.

  3. Robert Palmar said on September 1, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    The Metro UI is optimal for touchscreen devices and a leap forward there.
    The default interface should be the Desktop UI for non-touchscreen hardware.

  4. ilev said on September 1, 2011 at 10:43 am

    “Can I disable Metro UI?”
    The question should be “can I disable INSTALLING Metro UI” during the installation process”.

    Why should users/enterprises install an OS which has 10 million+ redundant touch-ui lines of code, which will take 10 GB of disk space, and run redundant 50-60 services in the background (many calling home to Microsoft each minute to transfer system and personal data, just like Vista and Win 7 do). ?

    Windows 8 will be a bigger flop than Vista.

    It won’t success on tablets either, the past shows us the users just don’t want Windows on a tablet.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on September 1, 2011 at 12:01 pm

      I cannot really make any judgement yet without having tested it first. At the moment, I think it could be a Vistaesque move that will take a lot of momentum from the OS. Sure, they appease the tablet and touch-based crowd but that is a minority in today’s PC world. I do not think that Microsoft is stupid enough to alienate the majority of their users with a weak interface, but still, it is a possibility.

  5. OAlexander said on September 1, 2011 at 10:25 am

    Gees, Windows 8 junkyism sets in early. Some people manage to adjust Windows to their practical and visual needs without having to follow the Microsoft “upgrade” cycle. I personally can live very well without the smear of fatty fingers on my monitor.

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