Microsoft co-founder finds some Windows 8 aspects to be "puzzling"

While we know that Microsoft co-founder and Chairman Bill Gates is "very pleased" with his company's upcoming Windows 8 OS. Now, one of the other major co-founders of Microsoft, Paul Allen, has given his thoughts on Windows 8, and while he is critical of some aspects of the OS he generally is also happy with what Microsoft has created.

In a recent post on his official website, Allen says that he has been using Windows 8 on both a regular desktop PC as well as on a touch-screen enabled Samsung 700T tablet. He states, "In summary, I'm excited about Windows 8 and am confident that existing Windows users will feel the same after they have had a chance to use it." He also praised the touch screen "Modern" interface, adding, "I found the gesture navigation on the tablet to be quite satisfying and responsive. And in general, I find Windows 8 to be snappier and more responsive than Windows 7."

However, he did also find other aspects of Windows 8 to be, in his words, "puzzling." He lists a number of his issues with the OS in his post. One of them was that he felt that users might sometimes switch between desktop and "Modern" user interfaces without meaning to do so. Allen wrote:

For example, if using Outlook running in Desktop mode, when I click a link from an email to a Web site, I clearly intend for Internet Explorer to open in Desktop mode as well. But Windows may instead associate URLs with the Windows 8 style version of Internet Explorer. If so, clicking that link would open the Web page without the full array of IE features. Further, this would also require that I then switch back to Desktop mode and resume what I was doing previously in Outlook.

Allen feels that people who work with Windows 8 on a desktop PC environment will be able to quickly get used to the new OS "without much trouble." He seems particularly hyped about the prospect of Windows 8 on touch-based hardware, saying, "Touch seems a natural progression in the evolution of operating systems, and I'm confident that Windows 8 offers the best of legacy Windows features with an eye toward a very promising future."

Source: Paul Allen's website | Image via Microsoft

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I also think Microsoft could do with implementing the Windows Phone 8 Style 1/4 tile... especially for non-live tiles and legacy apps (will make them look more in sync and generally aesthetically better).

Paul Allen, in his blog

For example, if using Outlook running in Desktop mode, when I click a link from an email to a Web site, I clearly intend for Internet Explorer to open in Desktop mode as well. [. . .]
No. If I was using Outlook in "Desktop" mode, I'd want any links I click to open in the "Metro" Internet Explorer. I'd like to use the "Desktop" mode as less as possible, so any apps I use in the "Desktop" mode should interact with the "Metro" experience as much as possible. So, no, Paul, it isn't clear that you'd like Internet Explorer to open in "Desktop" mode just because you're using a "Desktop" app.

I really like the idea of a Hybrid... I just think that the execution is average/incomplete and will possibly addressed in the first major update 'blue'.

If you are using Metro, then there should be no need to ever have to use the desktop. This also applies to the 'desktop mode'... once you're in it... you shouldn't have to use metro for anything other than the Start Screen (If you don't have your Apps pinned).

SCOOBY_666UK said,
I really like the idea of a Hybrid... I just think that the execution is average/incomplete and will possibly addressed in the first major update 'blue'.

If you are using Metro, then there should be no need to ever have to use the desktop. This also applies to the 'desktop mode'... once you're in it... you shouldn't have to use metro for anything other than the Start Screen (If you don't have your Apps pinned).


I agree 100%. I wish Microsoft could see this...

SCOOBY_666UK said,
I really like the idea of a Hybrid... I just think that the execution is average/incomplete and will possibly addressed in the first major update 'blue'.

If you are using Metro, then there should be no need to ever have to use the desktop. This also applies to the 'desktop mode'... once you're in it... you shouldn't have to use metro for anything other than the Start Screen (If you don't have your Apps pinned).


I don't like this idea. I'd like "Metro" to replace as much of the "Desktop" as possible, so that Microsoft can eventually provide one unified Windows experience, instead of two experiences in one.

Calum said,

I don't like this idea. I'd like "Metro" to replace as much of the "Desktop" as possible, so that Microsoft can eventually provide one unified Windows experience, instead of two experiences in one.

I'd also like that... but we all know that Windows 8 and possibly Windows 9 will be transitional O/S's. By Windows 10 we should have a version 3.0 - mature n unified experience.

But the way it is in the current form... the experiences should be separated as much as possible. Windows should really be called something along the lines of ...Windows X (for x86/x64 Systems) & Windows RT for ARM Systems. Both are version 1.0 Systems.

When I'm critical of Windows 8 it isn't by default. I'm not saying Windows 8 is bad. But for a large chunk of us this is not a Desktop OS. Maybe a built in desktop where the computer is on the other side of the screen. But if they come with those virtual laser keyboards it might be of use as a desktop OS. I see it primarily as a well designed tablet OS. With some Laptops that can convert to a Tablet. (monitor turns around and folds down becomes a tablet. ) It's just not everyone has ever gotten a total hang of grab and hold base idea. Dad still hasn't figured out how to grab and hold an icon with a simple mouse let alone a finger. And he's the one that used to bring home the suitcase style PC's. Also some of us took typing. er most of us. I cheated... but ended up learning what I knew and improved on it. Because when I took typing in 1993, AIM came out a couple years later and IM's is how I learned how to type rather fast. (90-100 wpm) true some are way faster. I've been slowed down a bit because I lost a finger tip. But even with a shorter ring finger I'm still above 90 wpm. Bit harder to do that on a Tablet. I'd say Zagg would be required on all screens then on a laptop because it's hard to smudge Zagg. Easier to clean. But Windows 8 isn't an upgrade OS. Its alot like Vista. And Vista was better than 7. People just didn't have the hardware at the time to make Windows Vista useful. 32bit was kinda silly. 64bit was where Windows Vista shined.

Metro Apps... Basically they just changed from executables to a hipster term called apps coined by Apple. And this route is telling me the next version of Windows won't have the desktop ability because they want people to get used to the Metro interface like a phone.

Totalaero said,
Metro Apps... Basically they just changed from executables to a hipster term called apps coined by Apple. And this route is telling me the next version of Windows won't have the desktop ability because they want people to get used to the Metro interface like a phone.

The benefit to Windows is legacy support. The desktop isn't going anywhere...

The whole Idea of combining desktop and tablet mode is puzzling for me. I don't know why they did that. Metro is great for Tablets but why pooping on beautiful windows 7 UI for desktop PCs and even Laptops?

Simply because Microsoft wants you to be familiar with the modern ui interface. Once you know it, you want a tablet. On the same way, you want the phone.

S3P€hR said,
The whole Idea of combining desktop and tablet mode is puzzling for me. I don't know why they did that.

The idea totally makes sense. I've not bothered with tablets because they are useless oversized phones. I cant actually do anything productive on them really, they're gimmicks. And i already have a laptop and desktop PC. So i dont want a tablet anyway, theres no hole for it to fill. But having an OS with touch support, plus a mobile/touch ecosystem in place as well as having a fully capable desktop is the ultimate OS as far as i'm concerned. For example i can get a Surface Pro + touch keyboard or another hybrid tablet and it can totally replace my laptop, so i dont need to have a laptop + tablet which is a waste of money and pointless. These tablets would basically be like laptops with removable keyboards.

I use RTM on my desktop PC and the only time i see metro/the new Start screen is when i need to use search. Which is all i ever used the Start Menu for anyway. And the new Start screen is much better for search as it displays far more results on my 30" monitor (150 vs 20 on the Start Menu).

However if i had a tablet i'd use Metro most of the time. And thats the whole point, you use the UI that best suits the device you're using. You can have one device that does it all with an OS that does everything and can adapt to the device. I don't know how so many people fail to see this.

Edited by NoClipMode, Oct 2 2012, 8:11pm :

S3P€hR said,
The whole Idea of combining desktop and tablet mode is puzzling for me. I don't know why they did that. Metro is great for Tablets but why pooping on beautiful windows 7 UI for desktop PCs and even Laptops?

It's about Microsoft's race to stay top dog. Right now, they have exactly 0% market share of the tablet market and they have less then 2% share of the mobile phone market (in sales).
Mean while, Windows outsells the competition with 450 million licenses sold this just time last year for Windows 7 alone. Because the Metro apps are cross platform and you sign in with your Microsoft account, Microsoft could have a virtual 450million users if they (just the windows 7 percentage of Windows users) upgraded to Windows 8. That'd give them a huge amount of users immediately.
Keep in mind that apple as only sold 315 million total iOS devices, be it ipods, iphones or ipad's this time last year.

Microsoft's battle is running out of time, to get people onboard with their metro eco system and that 450+ million users locked in without forcing users into Metro like this they won't have the userbase that'll transition to Windows Phone or Windows tablets at a later date.

Its the dumb 'smart' move Microsoft HAS to do inoder to survive.

I like windows 8, some things that are puzzling me:

- the seperation of desktop/modern browsers, they could at least have shared history and bookmarks
- the imho not improved network selection in desktop mode
- the fact you can't use modern UI on multiple monitors
- the modern UI window snapping/splitting whatever. I want more ways to organize the place where apps show and more than two apps at the same time. For example, 1 anchored left, 1 at the top, 1 in the middle,...

XerXis said,
I like windows 8, some things that are puzzling me:

- the seperation of desktop/modern browsers, they could at least have shared history and bookmarks
- the imho not improved network selection in desktop mode
- the fact you can't use modern UI on multiple monitors
- the modern UI window snapping/splitting whatever. I want more ways to organize the place where apps show and more than two apps at the same time. For example, 1 anchored left, 1 at the top, 1 in the middle,...

Idk about IE10, but Chrome has shared bookmarks. It actually syncs them via Google's cloud though.

XerXis said,
I like windows 8, some things that are puzzling me:

- the seperation of desktop/modern browsers, they could at least have shared history and bookmarks
- the imho not improved network selection in desktop mode
- the fact you can't use modern UI on multiple monitors
- the modern UI window snapping/splitting whatever. I want more ways to organize the place where apps show and more than two apps at the same time. For example, 1 anchored left, 1 at the top, 1 in the middle,...

Even worse, is the lack of ability to desktop the all together via policy profiles. I was really excited about a metro only desktop, but it turns out even with Windows 8 RT you still have access to the desktop if you want/need it or not.

XerXis said,
I like windows 8, some things that are puzzling me:

- the seperation of desktop/modern browsers, they could at least have shared history and bookmarks
- the imho not improved network selection in desktop mode
- the fact you can't use modern UI on multiple monitors
- the modern UI window snapping/splitting whatever. I want more ways to organize the place where apps show and more than two apps at the same time. For example, 1 anchored left, 1 at the top, 1 in the middle,...

Re: your first point on IE10. it does share history and favorites between metro and desktop, provided you select to sync IE10 settings via the cloud. what it doesn't share between metro and desktop is cookies, meaning when I'm logged in to Facebook on desktop and switch to metro IE, I have to login again.

Videos and Music also open by default in Metro on the RTM. Also, little things like importing photos lack basic functionality such as deleting while importing, and splittting videos and pictures into their respective folders. You can't even do it from Photo Gallery 2012, you have to actually go to My Computer and right click on the camera icon and import to even get to that useful feature. Totally undiscoverable.

The items they need to get right from the start, photos, music, video, are not quite ready for prime time. I sincerley hope there are updates to the basic apps at launch.

jimmyfal said,
Videos and Music also open by default in Metro on the RTM. Also, little things like importing photos lack basic functionality such as deleting while importing, and splittting videos and pictures into their respective folders. You can't even do it from Photo Gallery 2012, you have to actually go to My Computer and right click on the camera icon and import to even get to that useful feature. Totally undiscoverable.

The items they need to get right from the start, photos, music, video, are not quite ready for prime time. I sincerley hope there are updates to the basic apps at launch.

The current provided Metro Apps are rather stark with a lot of missing features. For example, printing is missing in many of the Apps that the Printing Contract interface is essential, there are sharing feature missing, and on and on.

I am hoping there is a nice 'Liveish' update scheduled before release to clean up all OS provided Metro Apps.

(There are a couple of bugs in the Mail App that I want to punch the developers at Microsoft over, that the WP7 got right the first time, even though the concept is rather unique and complex.)

Vasya_Vodochkin said,
Links from desktop apps are always opened in desktop IE10 by default.

I think that was only a problem with the developer preview. Using it I would get frustrated when a desktop app would open a link in a metro version. Haven't ran into that problem on the release preview or the rtm evaluation.

NeoandGeo said,

I think that was only a problem with the developer preview. Using it I would get frustrated when a desktop app would open a link in a metro version. Haven't ran into that problem on the release preview or the rtm evaluation.

Yes, this was happening to me too on either the Developer or maybe even Consumer previews but now Outlook links open on the Desktop while links from the built-in mail client open in the metro IE.

That being said, I wish they spent some more time on this. For instance I wish they had more settings and defaults for actions that happen on the desktop and in Metro. For instance if I'm browsing my libraries from my desktop and click on an audio or video file, I would want the desktop media player to open, while the Metro player to only launch when I initiate the playback action from inside the Metro UI.

Other than that though, I think they've managed to bring some level of balance and make both the desktop / legacy environment very usable while keep pushing onto the modern / touch UI...

Vasya_Vodochkin said,
Links from desktop apps are always opened in desktop IE10 by default.

Yes, but on a virgin install, double click an image file or music file in desktop mode and it throws you into metro, very jarring experience. Metro should use metro apps, and desktop should use desktop apps.

Chris123NT said,

Yes, but on a virgin install, double click an image file or music file in desktop mode and it throws you into metro, very jarring experience. Metro should use metro apps, and desktop should use desktop apps.

Absolutely. It's horrible to launch a music file from the Explorer and then be thrown into a Metro app, which takes over the entire screen for something which should be a background activity.

I really like Windows 8 but the interaction between desktop and Metro is terrible and leads to a very poor user experience. That's without even taking into account how poorly featured most Metro apps are.

theyarecomingforyou said,

Absolutely. It's horrible to launch a music file from the Explorer and then be thrown into a Metro app, which takes over the entire screen for something which should be a background activity.

I really like Windows 8 but the interaction between desktop and Metro is terrible and leads to a very poor user experience. That's without even taking into account how poorly featured most Metro apps are.


I agree as well. I hope this is addressed at some point.