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UIs to the extreme… When is it enough?!?

July 16, 2012 Leave a comment

Just looking at the title, you might be thinking what am I on about. Well it’s fairly simple, when creating a new UI for an OS, when is pushing it to the extreme enough?!? I found myself asking this question tonight as I am busy downloading the new Office Preview and to me delight or night it has a full Metro look and feel to it.

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Hence my question… When creating a new operating system UI, when is pushing the new look and feel to much. Well let’s look back a few years. Windows 3.1 was not the prettiest OS in the world, but was a step up, to an extent, better than DOS. And then came Windows 95, 98, ME, XP, Vista and finally Windows 7. Each time a much better looking, and in some cases, a better OS than before. But it improved consistently from a UI perspective over the the years.

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Then we had this odd ball which was is the Windows Phone 7 which introduced us to Metro. A very clean and “Flat” UI which makes perfectly sense on a phone as you want to push as much performance out of it as possible and it works absolutely brilliantly, in my opinion.

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Then Windows 8 came around, and albeit it still not fully released, but further extended the Metro look. Now again, from a “Tablet”perspective it makes sense and even from a PC it works well even though you might not have a multi-touch screen. But what has been great was the fact that you still had a desktop which enabled rich UIs.

Then the new Visual Studio came out and I must admit, I prefer using notepad and the C# compiler to using it. It is the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen. And to my surprise (NOT) the new Office looks the same. Now I can understand where Microsoft is heading with this, especially with Windows Phone 8 and WindowsRT sharing a kernal and enabling applications to be written once and deployed on multiple versions… But I cannot see myself developing in Visual Studio 2011 on WindowsRT. I need at least Windows 8 Pro to do that, and most people would agree. Yes we need to look at WindowsRT to ensure our application will run on it, but after trying to develop on the GalaxyTab with the Java IDE they provide, it is exceptionally frustrating, especially with real estate.

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So again the question beckons, when is it enough.

The Surface will give us only Metro in WindowsRT, but then you have Office and Office Apps to cater for that. Why have a Metro UI for Office. But even more disturbing, I think, is something like Visual Studio 2011 in Metro. Surely you high end development environments should be exempt from that. My concern is that we are heading for LCARS, in Star Trek. Which in itself is a very sexy UI, but unless I get a starship with it, would I really like to trade in my Windows 7 UI for that?!?

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Just something to ponder over as Windows 8 & Windows Phone 8 is getting closer and closer to release. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ll get both devices & OSes again, because I believe in what Microsoft is doing… But maybe, just maybe they are pushing things to far… As a side note, the XBox 360 already has the Metro look and feel and had it before everything else. Now it works great there, especially with the kinect. But again, are things being pushed to far this time.

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Categories: General, Windows 8 Tags:

Windows 8 Release Preview as production…

July 5, 2012 Leave a comment

Not so long ago some tweets went out about the release of Windows 8 Release Preview and needless to say I went complete crazy and started downloading as soon as I managed to get a slot. And hour or so later, the ISO was staring me in the face invitingly.

The obvious choice staring me in the face, do I replace my production laptop with this or go with a virtualisation option. Clearly, if Microsoft released this a few days before they promised, it must be more stable than expected. So, after 3 seconds of deliberation the decision was made. Production it is!!!

So it’s been several weeks now and I have not yet reformatted back to Windows 7. But what happened…?

Well, I remember doing early testing of Windows 7 on my production machine and the experience was fantastic. Windows 8 has been nothing less. To date I have had zero OS crashes on my laptop. A few ( I think about 3) times logging out took more than an hour after which and just hard reset the machine. But it’s been very stable.

So impressions so far… I must admit that I am really enjoying it. Slowly getting used to using a mouse on a Metro UI, which was a bit challenging in the beginning. The preview apps for mail works well, especially once you’ve spent some time understanding them and also remembering that they were designed for touch and that hovering over an icon will not always give you a tooltip.

So what have I enjoyed the most so far. The Remote Desktop app is really great. Seeing that I do that during the day fairly frequently. Love the image viewer and also the Metro IE. I did the obvious and also installed Office 2010 for valid reasons. So I do use Outlook 90% of the time. Visual Studio 2012 works great as well. For blogging, well, I had to resort to installing Live Writer as I am having some IE issues with directly blogging to WordPress, but this has always been a nice little application for blogging.

Having a Desktop does work well and eventually finding an easy way to search for installed application had saved me pulling my hair out.

I think for new users this might be a challenge with Metro, especially if the input device is a mouse. But I am really looking forward to getting my hands on a Surface device to fully experience the Metro UI in all of its glory. I’ll post some more goodies about my experience later on, but for now I am a happy camper!!!

Categories: General, Windows, Windows 8