Microsoft talks more about Metro, Ribbon and Media Center in Windows 8

Microsoft is cranking out the updates for its Windows 8 blog site pretty quickly. On Thursday, Microsoft's Steven Sinofsky wrote about how Microsoft is responding to general feedback about the next update to its long running PC operating system. Today Sinofsky's latest, and very extensive, blog post goes into even more detail on the kind of feedback Microsoft has gotten from the public on some specific aspects of Windows 8.

One of them is the "ribbon" user interface that's being used by Windows 8's Explorer feature. Sinofsky says, "We chose the ribbon mechanism, and to those that find that a flawed choice, there isn’t much we can do other than disagree. We were certain, and this proved out, that the dislike of the ribbon is most intense in the audience of this blog. Said dislike, we assumed, would produce a high level of commentary, much the way some topics during Windows 7 blogging did. That assumption was correct." He admits that changes to the UI are still being made, saying, "We have work to do as we continue to refine the way we have organized commands and what commands we should organize (map network drive, powershell), as well as the default settings and graphical treatment. We are actively considering the feedback in this regard. We share the goal in having a clean user experience. We also have the goal of making sure people can get done the things they do want to get done."

On the subject of the Metro version of Windows 8's UI, Sinofsky says, "A lot of this discussion will depend ultimately on what Metro comes to mean for folks. As we looked at Metro style for Windows 8, as we talked about in an earlier post, we see much more than a more monochrome set of visuals and fewer controls (when there are fewer commands). We see a new platform, a reimagining of Windows. For Windows 8, Metro style means a new type of app—an app that learns from and improves upon the current (and most popular) platform." He adds, "We said the desktop is like an app in Windows 8—you can use it or not, as much or as little as you want. Some have said 'it feels jarring' to go to the desktop. My perspective is that it is no more or less jarring that switching between any other apps if you embrace diversity or experiences that are built for a specific task or purpose."

Sinofsky also talks a bit about Media Center which he says will "definitely" be a feature in Windows 8. He adds, "Knowing how strong the support for Media Center is among pre-release testers, we still have work to do to make sure the quality and compatibility with add-ins is what you would expect even in pre-release." However, Sinofsky says that the first pre-release versions of Windows 8 won't have Media Center enabled along with DVD Creator, Windows 7 games and more. He also reveals that just 6 percent of all Windows 7 users worldwide launch Windows Media Center.

Of course, more info on Windows 8 will be revealed when Microsoft hold its BUILD conference later this month. Sinofsky says, "We’re focused on BUILD and making sure we do a great job showing off the work we’ve done, and are definitely excited to continue the dialogue. I look forward to those conversations in person at BUILD and here on the blog as well."

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If they made it so that Zune would support all the codecs then I would agree. I do find the Zune software slightly buggy though.

Minimoose said,
If they made it so that Zune would support all the codecs then I would agree. I do find the Zune software slightly buggy though.

In what way is the Zune software slightly buggy? I'm not aware of ever coming across any bugs while using it.

How is Sinofsky taking out the time to work on W8 with all this?

And with W7, he did this blogging, plus simultaneously wrote a book about Windows project, called 'One Strategy'.

That man really impresses me.

[quote=FMH said,]


The Shell is an App, this is not new or news, except to remind people that this isn't some major departure from what the UI model of Windows has always used.

Program Manager, Explorer, and other alternatives have ALWAYS just been Apps.

In Win3.x HP and Norton both had Program Manager replacements that were popular, HP's got them sued by Apple even.

Explorer today is just an Application like it has always been, and can be replaced with any shell the user wants. There is nothing new with concept, expect Microsoft offering more options inherently for the Shell.

People seem to forget how customizable Windows truly is, because they see the Linux world as where people go for a customized experience, when Windows inherently offers a similar level of flexibility, without having to resort to a patchwork of technology. (Running a Window Manager and full XWindows on Windows is not hard, if that is what you want - and it can sit on the WIn32 subsystem or the SUA/UNIX subsystem.)

Companies for years have had replacement 'shells' for Windows, by just replacing the shell setting, which just launches another application instead of Explorer. There are people that use Media Center as their Shell, and there are solutions like at ATMs and other KIOSK solutions that use custom Apps as the shell.

As for the news about Media Center, this is not surprising, as it is a key solution, and even though not 'used' a lot, it set the stage for a lot of the technologies people like and think are common now. Windows Media Center offered a custom API set for Apps (long before the iPhone created a similar concept), and even though it has mainly been used for things like Netflix or Video rental Apps, there are Weather Apps, Games, and other Media Center based Apps.

Media Center does need to integrate into Zune better, as you have to leave Media Center now, so it either needs to become the same software, or if licensing/restrictions prevent Microsoft from making Zune the main software, a nice Zune Media Center App needs to exist to make the experience better. Zune already handles the TV portions of Media Center (which is one of the best selling points of ZuneHD's and WP7, as your Media Center is a DVR and all your recorded content is easily loaded on to your Zune or WP7 device.).

Thats exactly what i was thinking. These guys really take out time for the stuff they love
Really nice to actually reply to comments .

I think they should offer media center as a separate download to possibly reduce installation time of windows 8 and also less bloat... like they did with mail, calendar, etc in windows 7.

joshbarfield said,
I think they should offer media center as a separate download to possibly reduce installation time of windows 8 and also less bloat... like they did with mail, calendar, etc in windows 7.

Reduce installation time by what? 20 seconds?

joshbarfield said,
I think they should offer media center as a separate download to possibly reduce installation time of windows 8 and also less bloat... like they did with mail, calendar, etc in windows 7.

Bloat? Do you have any idea how silly this sounds?

Even all the Live Essentials Software is smaller than downloading iTunes.

Microsoft did not remove them from Windows to reduce 'bloat' or even the 'size', as the DVD has plenty of room for them, and the space on your hard drive consumed is tiny.

Windows DOES NOT work like Linux, if you have applications installed that you are not using, even if they need lower level services, they are NOT consuming RAM and are only consuming the few MB of space on the HD. PERIOD.

People act like extra software and features are 'bloat' that is running all the time or needs extra lower level services to be running. If the user uses them, the lower level services start up then, and if they don't use them, the services aren't touched. Windows can load lower level stuff on the fly, it is not a monolithic kernel like Linux.

Even the different versions of Windows 7, Home Premium, Professional, Ultimate, Enterprise, do have different 'features' available. However, you can load any version on a netbook, and the performance will be identical. (Ironically, the exception is Home Starter/Basic, as it is the 'slowest' version because it turns off the DWM features and other things that make Windows faster.)

I am amazed that the concept of 'bloat' is even used in this context, considering it doesn't work like people think it does. In the DOS and WIn3.x days, having services and 'crap' loaded, did impair performance. Windows NT, this does not happen.

Windows Media Center itself consumes about 50mb (again smaller than iTunes.)

And if you don't even run Media Center, it is using 0% of your RAM and 0% of your CPU.

(PS Yes the loadable modules of Linux makes the 'compile/load' requirements of the monolithic kernel less cumbersome and painful, but there are still application requirements that by just installing need kernel level services added to the runtime stack, which is why 'extra' crap is bloat. The modules in Linux also mean the kernel is a bit less optimized on a platform than a traditional monolithic kernel, as it falls back to generics instead of the most optimized code for the architecture and optimized drivers for the hardware. Of course you can custom compile your Linux kernel and drivers and dependencies, but this is out of the scope for 99% of even the Linux end users.)

thenetavenger said,

Even all the Live Essentials Software is smaller than downloading iTunes.

You sure? It sure took a lot longer to just download and install messenger than iTunes last week when I reinstalled Windows to my new harddrive....

I agree with the rest you said though, Media Center a very small amount of storage compared to what today computers have and unless you run it it won't be consuming any Ram or CPU (neither would an app in Linux, I'd just like to point that out)
I guess people simply call anything they don't use bloat...

Personally I wish I could use Media Center more, it's great for watching TV, unfortunately my TV-card (and more importantly the CA-module to access encrypted channels) still do not have any 64bit drivers that are compatible with Media Center and there are so few TV-cards to choose from...

Leonick said,

Personally I wish I could use Media Center more, it's great for watching TV, unfortunately my TV-card (and more importantly the CA-module to access encrypted channels) still do not have any 64bit drivers that are compatible with Media Center and there are so few TV-cards to choose from...

Umm, I have a Hauppauge HVR-1250 and it works fine in 64-bit, plus they have many other cards that work too. Avermedia also has cards that work fine in 64-bit. I think you need to revisit some of these manufacturers. Their drivers have been working in 64-bit Windows for awhile now.

It better have full MP4 support not just the ability to playback the files but to display the files from the metadata tags in each file just like MP3 arrange by year,genre etc.

They did such a good job in 7 with windows explorer and embedded tag support its a shame the media center team drooped the ball .

Ability to index network shares again in X64 windows is long overdue aswell in this age of gigabit and fiber networks.

I still don't see why the Zune software isn't included by default or why Windows Media Player (or it's respective replacement) doesn't support Windows Phones and Zunes by default.

satukoro said,
I still don't see why the Zune software isn't included by default or why Windows Media Player (or it's respective replacement) doesn't support Windows Phones and Zunes by default.

I've been saying that for a while. I don't understand why they don't just merge the two (Under the Zune branding). It really doesn't make any sense to have two products that are so similar, yet have different strengths and weaknesses... If they merged the two, they'd have a complete product.

M_Lyons10 said,

I've been saying that for a while. I don't understand why they don't just merge the two (Under the Zune branding). It really doesn't make any sense to have two products that are so similar, yet have different strengths and weaknesses... If they merged the two, they'd have a complete product.

Exactly. If I'm correct, Zune is a separate division. However, having a team working on Windows Media Player and a separate team working on Zune software is absurd, because essentially each program does the same thing with their respective strengths and weaknesses as you stated above. If Microsoft were to take at the very least the codec support that WMP has, Zune might become a little more attractive to someone who doesn't own an mp3 player. I use it myself, but not being able to handle many of the file formats that I come across, I'm merely forced to use an alternative occasionally.

I don't see why people have to be so against the ribbon. I guess they just don't like change... It really is more efficient once you get used to it.

M_Lyons10 said,
I don't see why people have to be so against the ribbon. I guess they just don't like change... It really is more efficient once you get used to it.

+1, if the program in question warrants it. Programs like word processors, graphic utilities, etc work nicely with it.. just an overall time saver and convenience. Putting a ribbon on say Calculator is just absurd.. seen great examples of the ribbon done right and horribly wrong.

Max Norris said,

+1, if the program in question warrants it. Programs like word processors, graphic utilities, etc work nicely with it.. just an overall time saver and convenience. Putting a ribbon on say Calculator is just absurd.. seen great examples of the ribbon done right and horribly wrong.

+1, I absolutely agree. It doesn't fit every solution. I have made programs that implemented the ribbon and ones that have not. It's definitely a case by case thing.

i use media center all the time with my xbox, i am not sure if that counts. Because you dont need to physically start the program on your computer to use it on your xbox.

It is clear that the Metro "touchy-feely" interface is for those who want to use tablets for casual computing use--check e-mail, surf the Internet, Tweet. There seems to be nothing new for those who use PCs for serious computer work, i.e., keyboard/mouse. If there is, when is MS going to show us? It is long overdue.

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