Nearly a week ago at the Mobile World Congress event, Microsoft released Windows 8 Consumer Preview, giving the world a demoed version of their upcoming operating system. Windows 8 introduces a drastic change in appearance and functionality from the traditional desktop with the “Metro” view. The Metro view features a tablet-based interface with touch-based interactions, but for desktops, tablets, and smartphones alike. In addition, Windows 8 provides users the ability to easily switch between Metro view and a more traditional desktop view.
Traces of Microsoft’s Future
What’s more, Windows 8′s Metro view could prove to be Microsoft taking one step closer towards their idea of the future world, illustrated by a conceptual video released several months ago. Nearly every device in this futuristic world is interactive, extremely intelligent, and seemingly easy to use. Furthermore, Windows 8 Metro seems to shadow the look and feel of the devices in Microsoft’s future world. Although the devices in the conceptual video are far more technologically advanced, the basic ideas and appearances of slick interfaces with oversized blocks and icons, smooth navigation, and touch interaction are illustrated in Microsoft’s new OS.
This is a huge leap for Microsoft as well as the tech industry. Bringing Windows 8 Metro to the desktop computer may be Microsoft’s way of getting the public more accustomed to tablet interfaces and interactions on devices other than tablets. And although the Metro view will generally be used for media, social and entertainment purposes at first, future releases of Metro-like operating systems may eventually replace today’s traditional desktop as a staple for everyday work.
Unfortunately, when it comes to change, a leap for some may be more of a stumble for others. One topic of concern will be how willingly users, especially desktop users with traditional preferences, will adapt to Windows 8 and its Metro view. Although Metro will work great as a tablet OS, its existence and usage on desktop computers, as well as the removal of the Start button in Windows 8 traditional view, could easily sway the public to reject Windows 8 as a dependable operating system. Mouse and keyboard interactions with an interface designed for touch interaction will be another adjustment for the general public. In today’s world, users and software are dependent on mouse and keyboard interactions to accomplish everyday work. And although dragging the mouse with touch-like motions will work for Metro on desktops, the effect is far less pleasing than navigating Metro on tablets.
However, I could imagine future releases of desktop “touch panels” illustrated in the conceptual video to address the keyboard-and-mouse issue. Software releases, such as Microsoft Office, implemented for touch-based operating systems will also become a necessity in order for Metro-like operating systems to grow in popularity and reliance. If users can accept, use and eventually depend more on the Metro view, Windows 8 could over time prove to be a small stepping stone towards bringing an interactive world to reality.