From The Forums: Merging Windows 8 Metro with desktop

On Friday, Microsoft posted up a huge update to its official Windows 8 blog, with more information on how the Windows 8 team made the design decisions that led them to create the Metro touch screen user interface. The same blog post also talked about some of the changes that Microsoft plans to do with the desktop version of Windows 8.

In fact, that same blog had a statement from Microsoft's Jensen Harris, which gave some attention to those Windows fans that have created their own Metro-style version of the desktop. He stated:

We have appreciated seeing people on various sites post screenshots of their proposed designs for “Metro-izing” the visual appearance of the desktop. It is exciting to see the interest and passion that goes into designing them!

While Microsoft will be making a few small Metro-style changes to the Windows 8 desktop, one of our Neowin forum members, Mr. Dee, came up with a mock up for a true merging of the Metro UI with the familiar desktop elements, including the Start button and the taskbar.

Mr. Dee states in his post:

Seriously, I am having problems with Metro simply because it is a multi-tasking nightmare. I believe Microsoft should have just melded the best of the classic desktop with Metro. Give me the option of easily switching between my desktop apps and Metro when needed, all without leaving either behind. Its simple, and here it is after using Windows 8 Consumer Preview for 2 months now. This is all I really need to honestly make Metro useful. In fact, you could have the taskbar autohide in this scenario.

One forum member, butilikethecookie, seemed to like this design, saying, "I really like it. The desktop apps could run on top of metro." Others in the forums didn't care for it, including HawkMan, who said, "wow, that would be a total usability nightmare, and ugly as sin."

The Neowin forum threads are filled with suggestions on how our readers would design Windows 8. One of them, abysal, stated:

This has probably been said already, but if we're going to be stuck with metro, at least allow the Start screen to be displayed on the left side, kind of like the charms menu, rather then go full screen and cover up the desktop and everything I was working on. That is VERY distracting and the number 1 issue for me.

In any case, we should learn in three weeks or less if the Preview Version of Windows 8 will bring some closure to some of its critics.

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I think Microsoft is well aware of the problems they have UI and Usability wise where Desktop competes with Metro and two together are not visually appealing. I guess they are rushing with Windows 8 to have it ready for Tablets and Phones. So as last minute attempt to fix the problem they are making Desktop UI to be more Metro like but not too much since they still have lot of existing Desktop application needed old interface. I think they will polish things out with Windows 9 so i believe Windows 9 will emerge in less than 2 years. I really can't tell what will happen with Metro idea, WinRT in general and Metro Screen. It failed on Zune, Windows 7 Phone is struggling and now it is applied across all platforms. Microsoft is taking a big risk here, but fortunately or unfortunately for them the market will decide its fate.

We shall see...

Just spent some time with OS X Lion helping a friend upgrade her Macbook. Hadn't been in OS X for some time. Shocked to see how much 8 is taking from OS X. That's what they do but I was unaware. The App store, Launchpad (Metro Start Screen). With the exception of Live Tiles, I do think Apple handled it better.

Still OS X is not Windows. But I do think for laptops, MS would do well to copy Apple's trackpad gestures for Metro navigation, it is much needed.

Now with that change I can live with.. taskbar and start screen on desktop not bad, personally I don't hate Metro because Microsoft took a different approach than the rest of em but just hate how it has been implemented that's why, I say Windows 9 will do better not 8.

 Why is it that when one person voice their disapprove about Windows 8 and 5-10 fan boy gotta jump the gun and must have their smack-talk and are so defensive like it's the end of the world....why try so hard to shove some bs down ppl throat?

Hey I got a news for you, stfu? Wake up  and realize that not everybody is going to dig the same sh*t as you, so deal with it and chill down. And when Windows 8 releases we will see whats up? If you think, its almighty great..numbers will talk. Until then, shut up and let ppl have their say..

If Microsoft were to make the desktop look more Metro, could they at least try to lose the ugly chrome around ever window? At least on the sides and the bottom of the window? They don't seem to serve any purpose besides stealing real estate on the screen and detracting from the overall contents in the window.

Plus getting rid of shadows is pretty dumb, as the drop shadows give a sense of depth and a slight indicator of what window is in the very front (has no shadows casted on top of it) and it just looks nice. If they can do it with their Xbox dashboard, I don't see why shadows are a bad thing.

I actually like the blog post that is referenced here because it brings up the fact that pretty much each time Windows has had a major shift in the way the OS operates, there have been vocal detractors. I heard people hated Vista but when I got my machine with Vista, I had no issues at all. Sure I turned off the sidebar, but otherwise I enjoyed it (especially over XP, got so tired of the blueness of it all).
I'm excited about Windows 8 and I don't think that a total mesh of desktop and Metro is necessary. People will adapt to it or simply not use it. I prefer to move forward though and embrace the new interface. Will there be things I won't like? Yes likely so. However, usually the benefits outweigh any negatives.
I can't say for sure yet, since Windows 8 isn't done. Until then any thought of how it will be to use it daily is only speculative.

You have to switch to Metro to search for stuff? Hmm. I just always pull up Charms and hit search or win+Q from the desktop. Seems faster than switching to metro, albeit by only a smidge as hitting the win key from desktop and typing what you're looking for is pretty quick.

I'd be perfectly happy with Windows 8 if I didn't have to switch in to Metro to search for stuff. I don't use any of the Metro apps, there aren't any yet that are appealing, them being full screen isn't appealing, and so until that's changed I'll just use the classic desktop. Metro kills my productivity. But hey Microsoft can experiment with new stuff all they want, I'm not trying to discourage them, I just hope they make the integration more smooth, because currently it kind of sucks.

smooth3006 said,
"from the forums" did you guys rip that slogan off of android central?

There aren't many other ways to say that something is from the forums, other than 'from the forums'

smooth3006 said,
"from the forums" did you guys rip that slogan off of android central?

that's whats left, copyrighted slogans...

I love how Jensen says,

We have appreciated seeing people on various sites post screenshots of their proposed designs for “Metro-izing” the visual appearance of the desktop. It is exciting to see the interest and passion that goes into designing them!

But in the final analysis, Microsoft is going to do exactly what they want without any feedback from users. I don't necessarily think Metro is a bad idea; in fact, it's a super idea. The problem is, it still feels like it's a design schema for a touch device that is being shoe-horned to work with non-touch devices. People can say 'you can click the tiles with your mouse and use the keyboard like in Windows 7 on the Start menu' but the difference is, the Start menu is designed for a mouse and keyboard (search feature), not a touch device. So, why replace the Start menu with a huge giant screen of tiles made primarily for touch that is going to be installed also on all these non touch devices? It just doesn't does make that much sense to me. Getting flipped to the giant Start screen everytime you click the Start button or hit the Windows key is still jarring. Having two ways to switch between apps (the touch-screen inspired left-side slide out for Metro apps and the taskbar for all other apps) is also a little wonky. On the other hand, while I like the principle behind having the taskbar showing and the Metro page, that also means that having a cool looking Desktop background, or keeping your work area clean is gone. So, I can see how Microsoft wouldn't go for that. I'm going to keep my final judgment for the Release Preview, since they might actually change enough things to make it a little more productive for PC users and not just tablet users.

it's almost as if there's no win for Microsoft in this. when announced Metro and separate desktop everyone was saying how Microsoft should've done something with the desktop also. then Microsoft started doing something with the desktop then almost everyone want the desktop back the way it was. there's almost no win.

I think Microsoft should forge along with what they're doing. I'm sure this is not the final or only version of Metro. I'm sure throughout the years there will be many more revisions. Metro is a design language, and languages are interpretive. I can only guess that we've all seen Microsoft's vision of what their interpretation of metro will be in the future (who remember those office future videos). I will take some versions to get there along with the infrastructure behind it. I'm sure Microsoft is lining those up one by one.

Right now I'm using Windows 8 CP on a DV7 and it's ok. however on my Acer W500 slate it's pretty damn good. Windows 8 is most definitely a tablet OS

I've been using Start8 to provide myself with a Start Button and I think Windows 8 should be like that by default. They should have kept the start button and it can still go to the start screen. But the other thing that I'm hoping is that the default installation of Windows 8 will provide many shortcuts on the start screen that people will be looking for from the old start menu, for example the Default Programs function. Its annoying to have to manually add these back to the start screen because they weren't there.

netsendjoe said,
I've been using Start8 to provide myself with a Start Button and I think Windows 8 should be like that by default. They should have kept the start button and it can still go to the start screen. But the other thing that I'm hoping is that the default installation of Windows 8 will provide many shortcuts on the start screen that people will be looking for from the old start menu, for example the Default Programs function. Its annoying to have to manually add these back to the start screen because they weren't there.

Now that I've been using CP from the day 1, I think Start button was always a waste of space for me and I'm glad it's gone from taskbar. Mainly because I use taskbar on the side of the screen, that way it doesn't waste vertical space and is smaller at the same time. Just enough to fit most of the apps I use at the same time, but sometimes one app wouldn't fit and make it split into pages.
That being said It's easier to add some extra functionality via 3rd party apps (like Start8 does), than remove existing.

simplezz said,
It's incredible how Microsoft just ignores its userbase and rams through what it likes.

Those who have issues with W8 complain thousands of times more than those that like the OS, they also repeat themselves frequently presumably in some attempt that the OS will change drastically if the people shout loud enough. Consequently negative opinion is more widespead than the reality of the situation.

simplezz said,
It's incredible how Microsoft just ignores its userbase and rams through what it likes.

Which isn't necessarily bad, they sometimes HAVE to know better because else we'd still be stuck at like Windows 95.

Midnight Mick said,
IMO Microsoft will fail on the laptop/desktop market with Windows 8, however I do wish them luck (& my god are they gonna need it!).

To be honest, most of their first time upgraders are from OEMs, So Dell and the like will be pushing Win8 with their desktops, and so will the local PC stores. It'll be interesting to see if the majority of them step up and offer touchscreen monitors to go along with their fantasic metro startscreen.
I wouldn't be surprised if Nokia got in on the deal and started bundle one of their phones with new PCs to get the entire experiance and that will sell.

Now the problem I'm having trouble with is that while tablets can be held in different positions to suit the way your elbo and shoulder interact with the screen, the same can't be said for monitors that are sat at a desk, and I think a lot of people will take the jump to touchscreen monitors for their desktop because it worked so well for their smartphone and tablets right? lol.
I think we're going to see a lot of people with very poorly arms shortly after the win8 release when the new touchscreeen PCs are released because there won't be an option NOT to use touchscreen, the way the metro interface is setup now is hard to us with a keyboard and mouse, let alone when you have a easier 'touchscreen' interface to use how it was designed.

sagum said,

To be honest, most of their first time upgraders are from OEMs, So Dell and the like will be pushing Win8 with their desktops, and so will the local PC stores. It'll be interesting to see if the majority of them step up and offer touchscreen monitors to go along with their fantasic metro startscreen.
I wouldn't be surprised if Nokia got in on the deal and started bundle one of their phones with new PCs to get the entire experiance and that will sell.

Now the problem I'm having trouble with is that while tablets can be held in different positions to suit the way your elbo and shoulder interact with the screen, the same can't be said for monitors that are sat at a desk, and I think a lot of people will take the jump to touchscreen monitors for their desktop because it worked so well for their smartphone and tablets right? lol.
I think we're going to see a lot of people with very poorly arms shortly after the win8 release when the new touchscreeen PCs are released because there won't be an option NOT to use touchscreen, the way the metro interface is setup now is hard to us with a keyboard and mouse, let alone when you have a easier 'touchscreen' interface to use how it was designed.

and customers will be asking for downgrades to 7, just it it was with vista to xp

nekrosoft13 said,
and customers will be asking for downgrades to 7, just it it was with vista to xp

It all depends on the press reactions.
Customers asked to go back to XP not because they disliked Vista (most people didn't even try it) but because they read it was bad, or their "tech-savvy" friend told them it was bad.

Calum said,
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. If Microsoft do this, I won't touch Windows 8.

Great. I'm glad you got that off of your chest. Now please stop boring us with posting the same comment over and over again.

Drewidian said,

Great. I'm glad you got that off of your chest. Now please stop boring us with posting the same comment over and over again.


He has just as much right to state his opinion as you do.

Calum said,
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. If Microsoft do this, I won't touch Windows 8.

don't worry windows 8 will be the biggest failure on desktop in ms history

nekrosoft13 said,

don't worry windows 8 will be the biggest failure on desktop in ms history


Yeah, of course it will. Because you said so. /s

Calum said,
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. If Microsoft do this, I won't touch Windows 8.

You're such a Microsoft hater...... You should adapt to change...........

Immersion........ Rich Ui........ Adapt.......

Drewidian said,

Great. I'm glad you got that off of your chest. Now please stop boring us with posting the same comment over and over again.


I've posted it only once before this, in the thread this article refers to. Of course, I expect people to post obnoxious and ignorant comments, like you did, because not everyone in this world is a decent person

Athernar said,

You're such a Microsoft hater...... You should adapt to change...........

Immersion........ Rich Ui........ Adapt.......


I think you may have been joking, but even still, Microsoft haven't made the terrible decision to merge the two experiences in this way, so your comment doesn't make sense

Calum said,

I think you may have been joking, but even still, Microsoft haven't made the terrible decision to merge the two experiences in this way, so your comment doesn't make sense

It doesn't make sense because you haven't opened your mind to change. Adapt.

Calum said,

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. If Microsoft do this, I won't touch Windows 8.

I think you confused some people as I'm sure you like Windows 8 too (according to your previous posts).

Now calm down people, we shouldn't argue against each other in the same group. We should slaughter those other tribes instead which don't share that opinion!

Athernar said,

It doesn't make sense because you haven't opened your mind to change. Adapt.


I love Windows 8, and I've loved every change to all of the software and services I've ever used (including Facebook, which is my favourite service ever since they announced Timeline), which is why I'm saying your comments here don't make sense, heh. In case I confused anyone, I meant if Microsoft do what this forum thread suggest (regarding merging the experiences), I'm not talking about if Microsoft make the changes they've already made to Windows 8 (which I like).

Cøi said,

I think you confused some people as I'm sure you like Windows 8 too (according to your previous posts).

Now calm down people, we shouldn't argue against each other in the same group. We should slaughter those other tribes instead which don't share that opinion!


You're right I think people thought I meant if Microsoft make the changes they've already made, but I actually meant if Microsoft make the change that the author of this thread suggested.

Calum said,

I love Windows 8, and I've loved every change to all of the software and services I've ever used (including Facebook, which is my favourite service ever since they announced Timeline), which is why I'm saying your comments here don't make sense, heh. In case I confused anyone, I meant if Microsoft do what this forum thread suggest (regarding merging the experiences), I'm not talking about if Microsoft make the changes they've already made to Windows 8 (which I like).

Exactly, so they can make the change and you can love it because it's change!

All change is good change when you tell people to adapt.

Athernar said,

Exactly, so they can make the change and you can love it because it's change!

All change is good change when you tell people to adapt.


You clearly don't see the point. No, not all change is good, and I don't believe anyone has ever suggested that; however, when a technology company like Facebook and Microsoft make a change, it tends to be good, and those who are against it tend to be blind to the benefits These companies know what they're doing. I'm not suggesting every change or decision they make is the best one, but most of them are, and most of the improvements they make provide many great benefits. The person who created this thread with this suggestion clearly does not know what he is doing when it comes to usable design and a decent user experience. That is why your comment does not make sense; you don't get the point.

Calum said,

You clearly don't see the point. No, not all change is good, and I don't believe anyone has ever suggested that; however, when a technology company like Facebook and Microsoft make a change, it tends to be good, and those who are against it tend to be blind to the benefits These companies know what they're doing. I'm not suggesting every change or decision they make is the best one, but most of them are, and most of the improvements they make provide many great benefits. The person who created this thread with this suggestion clearly does not know what he is doing when it comes to usable design and a decent user experience. That is why your comment does not make sense; you don't get the point.

You're blind to the benefits of this change...... You would like it if you adapted.........

Calum said,
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. If Microsoft do this, I won't touch Windows 8.

XP has had and is having a very long life. Windows-7 will be having an even longer one.

Athernar said,

You're blind to the benefits of this change...... You would like it if you adapted.........


The limitations of this change overshadow the benefits because this change very badly affects usability and user experience.

Edited by Calum, May 20 2012, 10:06am :

Calum said,

The limitations of this change overshadow the benefits because this change very badly affects usability and user experience.

It doesn't if you adapt.

Horrible looking. I know there's debate on having the two separate but seeing them together is just hideous. I like how it is now and we'll hopefully see some more improvements to the UIs as release nears. It's pretty good now but merging the two would be a disaster.

I think people are trying way too hard to preserve that old familiar desktop feel. Which you can totally already do in the current version. Just go into desktop and STAY there.

My wife uses the win8 laptop I have and she seldom ventures into the metro side. Shortcuts are setup, she knows where files are and it's as simple as that.

The pic is a good idea but ugly how about a new taskbar designed for Metro.... or some way of identifying what tiles are active and which ones aren't. Metro still needs more, something always feels like its missing and I find myself constantly switching back and forth from Metro to Desktop UI. Quite tiring.

NerdyTech said,
The pic is a good idea but ugly how about a new taskbar designed for Metro.... or some way of identifying what tiles are active and which ones aren't. Metro still needs more, something always feels like its missing and I find myself constantly switching back and forth from Metro to Desktop UI. Quite tiring.

Part of the whole point is NOT having a difference of what Titles/Apps are active or not active.

Replacing the traditional and aged concept of 'running' is part of the goal, and something the OS should be worrying about not the User. Why waste your time with process management, do you want to decide how each thread executes and what core it goes to a million times a second too?

With the intellience of the OS today, process management and states should just be automatic, along with content should just be stored/saved with version point to regress.

Apps and software should be available and content should be available where the user leaves it.

This is breaking a hard habit, because it is more than a 50 year old concept. However, trust me that we no longer need this and can let go of time wasting traditional methods.

We don't have have to do this anymore, and just because there are people that do not get this or the big picture does not mean that we all should be forced to use an OS that is regressed and dumbed down.

Phouchg said,
Active Desktop.
If you absolutely have to (arguably) fook something up, you'd better go all the way.

Yeah, but where Active Desktop failed in the past, this could actually work. It could even support the Windows 7 style Start Menu for maximum compatibility.
I bet that if Windows 8 fails, this will be what Windows 9 will incorporate.
The charms bar would become unnecessary and you could always auto-hide the taskbar.

glyfz said,
What a waste of time.

MS still misses the point. Make the Metro an optional UI, which can be totally disabled during installation (or, if in a weak moment, can be selected as the default UI). A simple question during installation can handle this, which creates an editable Registry File element. However, since Microsoft has chosen to abandon the laptop/desktop marketplace, they may chose to not provide this feature.