From The Forums: Windows 9 UI as Star Trek's LCARS

Neowin readers certainly have expressed their opinions on Windows 8 and its new "Modern" UI in the past, and a few have even come up with alternative mockups for how the desktop portion of Windows 8 could be changed. But what should the next version of Windows look like? Today, we put the spotlight on a design for Windows 9 (or perhaps Windows Blue?) that may look familiar to many of you that was submitted by another one of our community members.

In a forum post called "Windows 9", Neowin member Brian Miller uploaded the image below, with the statement, "The only way I will use Windows again is if Windows Blue looks like this..."

Yes, it's a new Windows interface as if it was being used on the Enterprise in Star Trek: The Next Generation. The official name for the UI is LCARS (Library Computer Access/Retrieval System) and it was created way back in 1987 by Michael Okuda for the hit syndicated TV series. The design was kept for all seven years of the TV show, and was also seen, with some slight variations, on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager and all four of the Next Generation movies.

We contacted Miller about the design and he told us, "My boss designed it and shared it with us in an email. I thought I'd post it online. He hates Win8 and said the only way he would use Windows is if they re-did the UI to look like the LCARS interface." He later added, "I'm hoping someone can do a nice mod for Win8 to make it look like that fake screenshot."

What else needs to be said, except maybe, "Engage?"

Images via Paramount Pictures

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I would take the decorative lines, make them movable and with a swipe be able to change current data views independent of top or bottom line. The large buttons/icons/livetiles in the decorative line area could be the main controls for the sub app area.

It would no longer be a waste of space and could be like alt-tabbing through active programs or processes. This would allow further customization of each section and what live data it represented.

The layout is ok but the gaudy Fisher-Price colors ruin it. Metro wouldn't be quite as bad if it didn't look like "Baby's First Tablet OS".

Come now, with the kb+m boner shared by Windows 8 critics, you know these guys would MUCH rather live in the Star Wars universe, where everything is buttons, knobs, dials, and heads-up displays.

That "Start trek"-like Windows 9-wannabe UI looks like pure ****, vomit.
If that'll be the future of Windows, I'll gladly embrace other desktop OS-es, or I'll keep Windows 7 as long as I'll have hardware to run it.

The new Win 8 GUI will survive. There is always resistance to change. But the public will learn to love it. Simply because for the majority of common users it is more user-friendly.

I remember the different LCARS "themes" on wincustomize.com that people made for Stardock's DesktopX.
No one complained about forcing "touch screen functionality" with any of those.

MFH said,
How could they? It was an optional theme that had to be used with a thirdparty product...

It was an optional theme... okay.
It needed a third party product... okay.

It was better suited to touch than mouse and keyboard and no one complained... okay.


Point being the premise was 'cool' then, and will be 'cool' in the future, but... it's not cool now?
... simply because Microsoft is doing it and not someone else.

Funny timing. I was watching an episode of ST:TNG last night and thought I should make a LCARS file manager for Windows 8 so I could learn about developing Win8 apps.

Not bad, I love Star Trek so it's great nostalgia, but I'd stick with just squares and rectangles for now. Would love to see more of an update of LCARS UI and UX.

It looks extremely ugly to me. In terms of positioning, tiles are perfect as a grid. The curves totally ruin it, however the smaller tiles with icon only SHOULD be included on Windows Blue.

And yet, as thousands of years of mosaic art have shown us, grids and tiles don't necessarily have to have anything to do with each other at all to be pretty.

The thing I never understood about Star Trek was that Data would sit at the helm and press buttons physically. Why didn't he just use a USB cable and directly interact with the computer? Maybe Starfleet had some kind of security restriction on Android syncing with the ship computer?

Well, his life long goal was to be more Human. So maybe he did that to try and fit in? At one point in the show he even decided to try turning off his hyper accurate internal chronometer to better understand why Humans would sometimes "feel" something took more or less time, even though a clock would say that event took the same amount of time no matter what. So if he went that far. Oh, and that thing with Tasha too.

Edited by Kyang, Dec 30 2012, 2:22am :

There were a few situations where he would interface directly with the ship's computer, but it was treated like a Big Deal, with unexpected complications.

It can probably be explained away as a compatibility issue, or even a location issue: the ship has a central computer with terminals. Plugging into what's already just an I/O device might not achieve what plugging directly into the CPU would, but as a matter of protocol, he has to be at his station. Dunno.

The irony, other than the non-essential decorative lines, this is what the Windows 8 UI looks like if you select the Dark Grey Theme.

In our training materials, we use LCARS images to demonstrate that it is a 'new' concept, but is simple and familiar. In a post a made months ago, I posted a link to an LCARS screen to demonstrate that a 'futuristic' UI was very similar to Windows 8.

It is the 'new direction' that is creating push back from tech 'experts' that believe they know UI better than Microsoft.

If you go back and watch the Next Generation, or Voyager there are several screenshoots that look identical to Windows 8's UI, with the exception of the rounded decorative borders.

Windows 8 has a lot in common with LCARS - Touch friendly, but NOT necessary as demonstrated on the series. Information is displayed at all times, even on the 'input' screens. Screens expand and 'dock' to display more detailed real time information while performing functions on the rest of the display. (Season 3/4 of Next Generation especially used these in storyline.)


So now go back up top and look at the 'mock up', Other than the decorative lines, WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE? Nothing...

But hey, a futuristic Interface was ok for us to think about for Star Trek, but now that it is here, we have to make fun of it because we want to drag our knuckles in the dirt and have traditional GUI concepts that were truly outdated in the early 90s.

Everyone that still thinks that Windows 8 is 'wrong' or has a bad UI, go look up Bill Buxton and watch some of his lectures over the past few years, even before Windows 8. One thing he emphasizes is that with all the technology if someone was put in a coma in 1984 they could wake up today and find that most UIs, specifically the Mac UI hadn't changed. Which is disturbing in an industry that can do better.

Maybe it is a need to make fun of what we don't understand, or just to hate Microsoft. If ya want to make fun of something, head over to the OS X section and point out that the Menu on the top of the screen STILL used 30 years later by Apple, was NOT a GUI concept and is still a throw back to the 'list of words/commands' that was popular in early textual interfaces.

PS Anyone else find it is funny that the person that made up this graphic put a START tile on the START screen. Brilliant uh? Idiots.

Edited by thenetavenger, Dec 30 2012, 1:00am :

Start Menu is what Windows 9 needs, the failure of Windows 8/Vista 2.0 perfectly illustrates why touchscreen features are so irrelevant on regular PCs.

Dot Matrix said,
Hahahaha. Oh, my. Listen, when Vista "failed", did Microsoft fall back to XP? So why would they fall back to 7?

Why would they? They can't even realize that they're in a downwards spiral.. However users did fall back to XP. Windows 8 isn't taking off as they expected so they should really start thinking about something more PC-friendly instead of throwing a half baked abomination at users.

yowanvista said,
Start Menu is what Windows 9 needs, the failure of Windows 8/Vista 2.0 perfectly illustrates why touchscreen features are so irrelevant on regular PCs.

Vista 2.0? Hah. That's cute. Vista was deemed a "failure" because of lack of driver support from OEMs, 8 is deemed to be a "failure" because its radical change in user interface. Hardly the same. Both are perfectly fine operating systems. Both take a learning curve. So you can quit your trolling.

How is Windows 8 not PC friendly? Been using it for months now, and I'm just as productive on it as I was before on 7. With so many just now getting on to 7, Windows 8 isn't exactly going to "take off", but it's not going to crash either like you want it to. Quit your trolling.

Jimmy422 said,

Vista 2.0? Hah. That's cute. Vista was deemed a "failure" because of lack of driver support from OEMs, 8 is deemed to be a "failure" because its radical change in user interface. Hardly the same. Both are perfectly fine operating systems. Both take a learning curve. So you can quit your trolling.


Vista never needed any learning curve whatsoever, it didn't have any rubbish touch features like Windows 8. It was a pure desktop OS as was XP, however Windows 8 + Metro junk = perfect recipe for failure. I simply called it Vista 2.0 because it is failing harder than Vista.. In fact Vista is way better when it comes down to the UI.

yowanvista said,

Vista never needed any learning curve whatsoever, it didn't have any rubbish touch features like Windows 8. It was a pure desktop OS as was XP, however Windows 8 + Metro junk = perfect recipe for failure. I simply called it Vista 2.0 because it is failing harder than Vista.. In fact Vista is way better when it comes down to the UI.

So, there's touch. Who the **** cares? Touch is perfect fine augmenting the desktop, and you'll see more of it in the years to come.

Dot Matrix said,

So, there's touch. Who the **** cares? Touch is perfect fine augmenting the desktop, and you'll see more of it in the years to come.


It may be so in the next decade but forcing touch features on regular PCs right now doesn't make any sense let alone advertising touchscreen for a market that isn't even willing to use it.. Microsoft is doing it the hard way, much like Apple these days, they stopped caring about the choice of customers because they're greedy, they think that forcing is better than giving users the damn choice. In the long run they'll simply lose their userbase while trying to market something that should never have replaced the traditional PC experience, they fixed something that was never broken.

yowanvista said,

It may be so in the next decade but forcing touch features on regular PCs right now doesn't make any sense let alone advertising touchscreen for a market that isn't even willing to use it.. Microsoft is doing it the hard way, much like Apple these days, they stopped caring about the choice of customers because they're greedy, they think that forcing is better than giving users the damn choice. In the long run they'll simply lose their userbase while trying to market something that should never have replaced the traditional PC experience, they fixed something that was never broken.

They're not forcing anything. You don't have to use the Windows Store or Windows 8 apps if you don't want to. As for the start screen, it works wonderfully with my Kb+M, so again, there's nothing to complain about.

Touch is here, whether you like it or not. It's not replacing anything, simply augmenting. I can't wait for a couple years from now when touch screens are finally cheap enough that I can buy a few for my desktop.

I simply called it Vista 2.0 because it is failing harder than Vista..

Says who? Net Applications?

When Net Applications claims IE is still used more than Chrome, everyone on this site pulls a giant fit and says their results are BS and have no real world correlation whatsoever. But if Net Applications says Windows 8 is slower than Vista then its the word of god and 100% correct

yowanvista said,

It may be so in the next decade but forcing touch features on regular PCs right now doesn't make any sense let alone advertising touchscreen for a market that isn't even willing to use it.. Microsoft is doing it the hard way, much like Apple these days, they stopped caring about the choice of customers because they're greedy, they think that forcing is better than giving users the damn choice. In the long run they'll simply lose their userbase while trying to market something that should never have replaced the traditional PC experience, they fixed something that was never broken.

Didn't realize I was being forced to use a touch screen when I used Windows 8.

Lastwebpage said,
LOL? You ever saw that Data or Piccard use an alpha-numeric-keyboard or a mouse in Star Trek?

Have you ever seen them doing real work?

MFH said,

Have you ever seen them doing real work?

Uh, they were constantly putting together reports, rosters, and shift assignments on tablets. Engineering 'reprogrammed' stuff all the time on touch consoles, and then there's the helm, which, you know, flew the ship.

Joshie said,

Uh, they were constantly putting together reports, rosters, and shift assignments on tablets. Engineering 'reprogrammed' stuff all the time on touch consoles, and then there's the helm, which, you know, flew the ship.

Uhm, no? They just said, that they did XYZ, have you EVER seen anyone do real work in Star Trek? I sure haven't...

MFH said,

Uhm, no? They just said, that they did XYZ, have you EVER seen anyone do real work in Star Trek? I sure haven't...

Define REAL work... Because they did "work" all the time on the show. Engineering, sickbay, bridge, etc all did "work" on touch consoles. Not once was a desktop UI used.

Dot Matrix said,

Define REAL work... Because they did "work" all the time on the show. Engineering, sickbay, bridge, etc all did "work" on touch consoles. Not once was a desktop UI used.

No, in Star Trek IV Scotty was using a desktop. In fact, he was even talking to the mouse