After all the feedback on Explorer in Windows 8, Steven Sinofsky gives us an update on the two different user interfaces being implemented in the new OS:
We believe there is room for a more elegant, perhaps a more nuanced, approach. You get a beautiful, fast and fluid, Metro style interface and a huge variety of new apps to use. These applications have new attributes (a platform) that go well beyond the graphical styling (much to come on this at Build). As we showed, you get an amazing touch experience, and also one that works with mouse, trackpad, and keyboard. And if you want to stay permanently immersed in that Metro world, you will never see the desktop—we won’t even load it (literally the code will not be loaded) unless you explicitly choose to go there! This is Windows reimagined.
But if you do see value in the desktop experience—in precise control, in powerful windowing and file management, in compatibility with hundreds of thousands of existing programs and devices, in support of your business software, those capabilities are right at your fingertips as well. You don’t need to change to a different device if you want to edit photos or movies professionally, create documents for your job or school, manage a large corpus of media or data, or get done the infinite number of things people do with a PC today. And if you don’t want to do any of those “PC” things, then you don’t have to and you’re not paying for them in memory, battery life, or hardware requirements. If you do want or need this functionality, then you can switch to it with ease and fluidity because Windows is right there. Essentially, you can think of the Windows desktop as just another app.
There are certain things I like and dislike about this explanation.
Right now, these leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Sinofsky notes that if you do need the old user interface (Aero), you can quickly and easily switch to it. I want to know how. Is there some sort of button you click that takes you to the old design? Do certain apps that don’t work with Metro suddenly suck you out of Metro and into the old design? How is this accomplished?
Also, if the code isn’t loaded for the old design as stated, what happens when you switch back? That means it’s going to take a lot longer to load than if the code were loaded initially.
On the plus side, I’m imagining the old Windows 7 design to be somewhat like Boot Camp on a Mac. It’s only there if you need it, and if you don’t, it can be easily ignored. A lot of Apple users are going to complain about this new post from Microsoft, no doubt. But they need to remember Apple gives users the choice to switch between two different UIs or maintain just one. This is essentially what Microsoft is doing.