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By Frederic Lardinois Posted 7 hours ago It looks like Microsoft has finally realized that Metro (or the Modern UI or whatever else they call it these days) wasn’t right for the desktop. If the rumors are true, it’ll continue to de-emphasize Metro with the first major Windows 8.1 update later this year. No doubt, that’s exactly the right thing to do. Metro is actually a great user interface – just not on the desktop. So let’s look at the positive side: On a tablet, Metro is actually really, really good. On a tablet like the Surface, it’s a more productive interface than iOS or Android. In large parts, that’s because you can have more than one app on the screen, something Microsoft often emphasized in its ads, but something you only really come to appreciate when you switch back from a Windows tablet to an iPad. It suffers from the lack of must-have apps and Microsoft never quite figured out how to get decent apps on the platform. Even today – with the exception of games – the best Metro apps are actually from Microsoft itself. Bing News is a very nice newsreader, for example. Microsoft’s finance app, too, is very good, and so are SkyDrive/OneDrive, Xbox Music, Bing Weather and Bing Maps (and especially the latest preview version). Live tiles are a great idea. Even Internet Explorer in Metro turns out to be a fast, touch-first browser. Those apps, however, show the potential of a platform that is radically different from its competitors (which may just explain its failure). Microsoft was willing to take a gamble and created a modern, highly usable user interface that can sometimes make the competition look like it’s a few years behind the design curve. Metro uses some touch gestures that aren’t always intuitive. Who would think to slide in from the left and slide right back to open your recently used apps? Slide in from the right to bring up your “charms” and settings? Once you get used to its quirks, though, it all just works. Yet if failed and I’m sure we’ll see plenty of business school papers written about Windows 8 in the future. Instapaper founder Marco Arment argues Windows 8 – and Metro specifically – failed because “Microsoft isn’t Apple, and Microsoft’s customers aren’t Apple’s customers.” In his view, Microsoft’s customers weren’t ready for this radical change and the company forgot who its customers are. There’s some truth to that, but my feeling is that Microsoft’s main mistake was simply to force the old desktop and the new tile-based interface into a single operating system. Just like Apple, Microsoft understood that a touch interface has to be different from a regular desktop interface. But instead of just building a Windows for tablets (preferably with a name that didn’t include “Windows” at all to avoid confusion) and a better Windows 7, it just had to cram it all into one. In a way, Windows RT was supposed to be that Windows for tablets, but even that had a built-in desktop so people could run Office. But RT just confused people. If Microsoft had just allowed itself to let go of its Office fetish, it may have had a better chance at making RT a success. Metro is great, but Microsoft was clearly wrong when it thought people would quickly adopt touch on the desktop and on their laptops. Maybe that’ll still happen, but for now, it’s doing the right thing for its users by hiding as much of the Metro interface as possible. http://techcrunch.com/2014/02/02/in-praise-of-metro
Are you tired of Samsung’s TouchWiz UI? Then you’ll probably be happy to find out that the South Korean company is reportedly “exploring” the possibilities of launching a new smartphone UI. Trusty insider @evleaks has posted three screenshots of the alleged new UI, allowing us to see that it looks quite different from Samsung’s current TouchWiz Nature offering. Unfortunately, details on this new smartphone UI from Samsung are missing. But we can spot a Magazine icon, which leads us to believe that the new UI is related to the new Magazine UX that debuted yesterday on Samsung's 12.2-inch Galaxy NotePRO. Overall, the UI looks simple and elegant. Sure enough, there's no way of telling if this will ever make it to a commercial smartphone. But we're thinking that the rumored Galaxy S5 - expected to be officially announced in the next few months - can have a fresh look with a UI like this. Source
This posting is motivated by another I saw about the Firefox UI soon changing radically. I am sure to wander in a few different directions in my tirade here - but at it's heart that is what it is about. Seriously. I am really not kidding here. I know this may be hard to follow=> my apologies for that. OK, here I go now: My monitor is a box-shaped thing; TVs are also box-shaped; where I live the walls are box-shaped too. So - this square screen that I'm using right now is not very big, and from what I can tell squarish things fit best on a square screen, usually, right ?? (With me so far here ?!?) So here's another thing=> we have bodies that are usually NOT square (at least most of us ??), and most of nature also avoids squareness too...so we tend to REALLY LIKE rounded stuff - OK, I get that, no trouble here, it makes perfect sense. BUT: Until the day when my screen is either like 6 x 9 FEET square and is a thing that is like part of the wall, OR until it is big like that and also round=> I expect for stuff inside programs to be kind of SQUARISH and that's OK with me. It's just plain sensible & normal, I think. SO WHAT'S THE DEAL WITH FOLKS MAKING ALL THIS KRAPPY LOBOTOMIZED ROUNDED STUFF IN PROGRAMS LATELY ?!? BIG, rounded folder tabs, 'pearls' instead of menus, 'ribbons', and all sorts of other visual (non-verbal) stuff that just numbs the brain. OK, so I'm an old fart who really does PREFER the plain, boring, un-stimulating classic windows style. (It's squarish and that's as it should be.) So what will I do with the latest Firefox V 258.3456789 ?!? I will give it the 3 for 4 theme when that is possible - to make it plain and squarish, and install add-ons that add functionality while keeping it as boring as possible to look at. It's like this IMO: I don't want my browser to compete for my attention - it's just a thing used for showing other stuff. And=> It's the same IMO regarding the OS that I use; I want it to shaddup and leave me alone - to just put what I need on the screen and otherwise stay the hell out of my face and out of my way, OK ?!?!? All this fancy, cutesy, cartoony, brainless stuff just makes me want to puke. And finally - yes - I'll keep my ancient, plain browser until such time as it ceases to work at all anymore. Sure, I've got Firefox 20-whatever, but do I use it everyday ?? Hell no.