Metro needs more customization options

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 8, 2012
Updated • Aug 29, 2013
Windows, Windows 8

I have been toying around with a copy of Windows 8's Release Preview on my second desktop system for a while now, and have gotten used to the Metro interface rather quickly.

I specifically like the new way of searching and what the Windows Store has to offer.

There are definitely a few quirks here and there, and some things that I would have designed different. In this article, I'm going to look at some of the options that I feel are missing.

I do not have high hopes that anyone from Microsoft will comment here on this site, as the company has been largely ignoring it for the last six or so years of its existence.

1. The order of tiles

You can move Metro tiles around by dragging and dropping them to another location to customize where items appear on the start screen. When you drag and drop one or multiple Metro tiles around, you will notice that they are automatically placed underneath a column's existing tiles, or on the right of it if adding the new tiles would exceed the column tile limit.

What you can't do is leave gaps in the interface. If you look at the screenshot above you notice that I only have two Metro tiles on the left. I would move other tiles there, but only if I could leave a horizontal gap between the existing tiles in the column and the new tiles that I want to move there.

I can do that on the Windows desktop, where I can move the desktop shortcuts around into locations that I want them to be in without them snapping back to the next icon automatically.

2. Tile colors

There is no way to change the color theme, or the color of individual tiles in Metro. For me, there are simply too many colors in Metro, and I'd like to have a way to reduce the colors that are used to make it more eye-pleasing for myself. This is actually not just a problem of the start screen, but also of Windows Store where it is really difficulty to concentrate on individual items because of the color explosion there.

Give me options to display tiles in a certain color scheme, or black and white only. I do understand that this is not as hip and lively as the full color experience, but since I want to work with the operating system, I prefer usability over looks any time of the day.

What I'm looking for is something like what the high contrast theme is offering, only not that minimalistic.

The store is still to colorful for my liking in the high contrast theme, making it hard to concentrate on the app titles.

Custom tiles on the other hand should  have personalization options. They are all displayed in green on the screen, and there should be options to make them stick out as well if that is what a user wants.

3. Remove/Hide Start header

When you look at the Metro start screen, you see the header area at the top that is basically just displaying a Start title and on the right the username and profile icon that you can use to switch users, lock the screen or sign out. It would be really nice if one could automatically hide that header to make more room for additional Metro tiles there. There is not really a need for the Start title there, and the lock, sign out and account switching options are also available elsewhere.

Closing Words

Have you had a chance to work with the new Metro interface? Have you identified areas where it needs improvement?


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  1. Uhtred said on July 8, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    small point, but win7 starter pushed with netbooks was (unneccesarily) stripped of most customisation features, eg use their MS desktop image or switched to plain colour (no tiles either)…. of course you could upgrade…. Perhaps something similar for win8.
    I think this product is a kind of return to basic training, get people using the standard system first, and then roll out the customisations. For the moment it’s more a case of “be whats next” rather than “be what you want next”

  2. ramonkahn said on July 8, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    Metro goes kind of into the right direction, where there is not as much screen estate wasted for the pointless task bar.
    My issues are:
    * Search needs to be through apps, files and programs, no switching with tabs.
    * Mouse gestures need to have more customisation.

    Overall, Windows 8 is definitely more comfortable to work with than Win7. Unfortunately, big Organisations are probably not going to make the switch very fast (seeing as many are just beginning to switch to Win7 at the moment).
    The only thing really missing from Win8 right now is the driver support.

  3. Mike Edward Moras (e-sushiâ„¢) said on July 8, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    In Windows 8, I’m dearly missing my start button. After waving goodbye to the classic start menu in Windows 7, Microsoft really pushes us to places where not everyone of us wants to go.

    I think Metro makes good sense on touch-screen systems; but looking at mouse/keyboard preferences and non-touch systems and workflows, Microsoft is clearly going into the wrong direction.

    Looking at what they come up with lately on a hardware and software level, I am starting to ask myself what they are going to expect from us in the near future. I already see users sitting in front of a Kinect camera, punching holes in the air just to get that “snappy” new Metro desktop going. I might be wrong, but my experience tells me that their plan is not going to work…

    Wouldn’t be the first time Microsoft fails at large.

    To avoid the typical OS-version discussion, I’m not going to name the version of the Microsoft OS that failed and had that short lifetime full of bugs and security problems. Long-time Windows users know what I’m talking about. All others can consider themselves happy they don’t. ;)

    1. Stu said on July 8, 2012 at 4:47 pm

      I know what you mean, it seems Windows 2000/Office XP was the pinnacle of user interface. I still use Windows Classic menu’s today because they just work well.

      It seems they change things for the sake of changing it sometimes, an example of this is the ribbon interface in Office that I can’t stand. I much prefer using text menus than silly pictures.

      1. Miguel said on July 8, 2012 at 5:58 pm

        I totally agree. I prefer the Windows 2000 (or Windows XP classic theme) desktop and Start menu, and Office “pre-2007” text menus.

        It’s not bad for software companies to explore new interfaces (Metro interface is probably better for tablets and touch screens/devices), but I think they should not remove the older interfaces, they should give the user an option to choose the interface they like… That way it’s supposed that every user would be happier using their software, and more users would get their software or update to the latest versions, isn’t it?

  4. Roman ShaRP said on July 8, 2012 at 11:04 am

    I worked, and I think it just can’t be improved’. “Doctor said ‘This to morgue'” as we say here.

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