Let me say, to start, that the Metro user interface (UI) introduced in Windows 8 was not designed for computer users like me.It’s clearly and primarily an interface for consuming
digital material–Web pages, weather reports, images, videos, games, merchandise. Secondarily, it encourages short, text-message-style communication and hopes to pull consumers into its particular brand of file sharing and cloud computing. But the Metro UI is piss-poor for producing
digital material–creating Web pages, writing essays, editing video/photographs, recording audio, and so on.In short, it’s a consumer’s UI and not a producer’s.I enjoy digital consuming, but my time on the computer is at least equally, if not more so, spent producing digits. This is why, I think, that I’ve been slow to warm up to tablets. Yes, I’ve got an iPad, a Kindle Fire and an Android-based smartphone, but I don’t spend that much time on the tablets. And when I do, it’s certainly not to create anything.The Metro IU calls to mind the ill-fated PointCast Network
from the mid-1990s. PointCast was supposed to herald a new era of “push” technology where users would no longer need to wait milliseconds while they requested or pulled
information into their computers, because those data would already be pushed
to them, ready for instant access. Push technology
was one of the earliest Internet memes, but PointCast was a disaster, largely because users’ bandwidth could not support it.
Nowadays, our bandwidth can support push technology, but do we need it? After a few minutes of being distracted by Metro’s constant updating of my email headers and Facebook photos, I was ready to turn them off. I’d much rather pull data toward me and endure the brief wait for it, then have data shoved at me that I don’t necessarily need.
After spending a couple of hours with Windows 8, my main hope is that its craposity does not interfere with the Windows 7 way of doing things. As it is now, in this “consumer preview”, it already does. A few examples: There’s no simple way to close Metro applications with the click of a mouse (okay, Alt-F4 still works). They are designed to just stay open (in suspended mode), like in Android/iOS. And it’s difficult to launch applications in Metro if they’re not already one of the Metro tiles (see below for specifics).
(For the record, I’ll include shut-down instructions at the bottom of this post.)I, along with most Windows power users, will be avoiding Windows 8 and the Metro UI crap for as long as possible. I hope by the time that I have to buy a Win8 machine that someone will have figured out a way to disable Metro and allow users to boot directly into the desktop interface.Here’s what I discovered about Metro during a couple of miserable hours I spent with it this weekend.