Windows 8.1 RTM has option to return to desktop after closing Modern apps

If you use Windows 8, or indeed the preview version of Windows 8.1, you know that when you close a Modern app you go right to the Start screen. There's no option that allows people to close those apps and return to the desktop UI. Now it looks like Microsoft has added that small but helpful option in the RTM build of Windows 8.1

As reported by McAkins Online, users can move the cursor to an empty part of the taskbar on the desktop in Windows 8.1 RTM and right-click to bring up a menu that includes the "Properties" option. Clicking on that brings up several tabs, including Navigation. The Navigation tab, when selected, brings up a number of check box options.

As shown in the screenshot above, there's a new check box option that will let users tell Windows 8.1 to go to the desktop when all apps are closed rather than the Start menu. The only issue with this option is that it also forces Windows 8.1 to always boot to the desktop screen rather than the Start screen. So if you would rather boot to the Start screen every time you start your Windows 8.1 PC this option is not for you.

Perhaps Microsoft will make a small change and separate the two options by the time Windows 8.1 is officially released on Oct. 18.

Source: McAkins Online | Image via McAkins Online

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I had initially set that option to go to the Desktop after closing an App, but found that I almost immediately went back to the Start screen. So I unchecked it. I think, as with anything new, after you use it a while, you get comfortable with it. Plus, I like the fact that while on the Start screen I can just start typing to search for a file or program. And I was one that really had a hard time getting used to Windows 8 when it first came out!

Same here, I find myself pressing the Windows key, Windows key + Q or + I on my Windows 7 work computer to look for the start screen, options or charms. I wish they would update Windows 7 to recognize the same keyboard shortcuts.

I don't use any "modern" apps. I tried the ones included with Win8 when I first installed it, but how am I supposed to use them if all my other apps are "desktop" apps? Even the "modern" Skype is useless. If I'm on the desktop using Firefox and Thunderbird and Acrobat and Word in windows, why would I want to keep switching back and forth to a full-screen Skype every time a friend messages me? I installed the desktop Skype, instead. I see no point in having to constantly switch back and forth from one UI to another UI. Give me everything on the desktop where it belongs. Call me a "luddite" or whatever, at least I can get things done without having to spend half my time switching UIs.

Good, now we just need an option to switch between the start menu and start screen. It's not like everybody likes touch UI on a desktop.

yowanvista said,
Good, now we just need an option to switch between the start menu and start screen. It's not like everybody likes touch UI on a desktop.

It's not like the interface is that much different either-
swipe left or right to move the Start Screen (a.k.a. Start Menu) to the left or right, or use the scroll wheel on the mouse, or the scroll bar at the bottom of the screen.
"Tap" or "click" on the app you want.

... or simply get to the Start Screen and type the name of the app you want, just like Win7 search did, where you could click "Start" and type the name of the app you want.

Haters got to hate.

I don't see the "desktop" paradigm going anywhere in the near future.
I often have 8-10 different "desktop" apps running at once, and Metro won't fix that, unless each Metro app runs in a 'window' on the "desktop", and allows me to share data between those apps.

So, the focus should be on getting Metro apps working seamlessly with desktop apps, in essence turning desktop apps into Metro apps.

I'm fine with that.

abecedarian paradoxious said,

So, the focus should be on getting Metro apps working seamlessly with desktop apps, in essence turning desktop apps into Metro apps.

No, the focus should be on turning Metro apps into desktop apps.
If MS persist in this Metro fullscreen-only nonsense, they should find another brand name and stop calling it "Windows".
If you can't put apps in windows on your screen, in the way you describe, then the very name "Windows" is misleading.

gb8080 said,

No, the focus should be on turning Metro apps into desktop apps.
If MS persist in this Metro fullscreen-only nonsense, they should find another brand name and stop calling it "Windows".
If you can't put apps in windows on your screen, in the way you describe, then the very name "Windows" is misleading.

Two words: In Oh.... N O.

In Win8.1, they've made Metro.. um, sorry... "Modern" apps more like "windows" than they were previously, thus rendering your point moot. Don't go backwards, please.

I want my apps to work in a touch-friendly environment and cordoning off the desktop will NOT make that happen.

abecedarian paradoxious said,

Don't go backwards, please.

It's not going backwards, it's continuing more forwards. MS has made a slight improvement but still not there. (They could continue further, as ModernMix demonstrates, but choose not to - so why still call it "Windows"?).

On a large desktop screen, the limited opportunities for displaying many "metro" apps at once are still ridiculous. We passed that stage 20+ years ago.
Not Metro but Retro.

I would like a horizontal split option as well. Modern apps look ridiculous when you're on a 27" or larger monitor. I would be fine with a 50/50 split like they had on Windows 8.0 for vertical splitting.

If I can optionally disable Metro, I may consider upgrading to Windows 8.
Otherwise, I won't downgrade to Windows 8.

ray_bk said,
If I can optionally disable Metro, I may consider upgrading to Windows 8.
Otherwise, I won't downgrade to Windows 8.
If this were an option, Windows 8 would fly off store shelves.

I wish Microsoft could bring back Aero glass, I dislike the flat whistler-esque watercolor window borders. Aero glass had a more modern, sophisticated, and nice look to them.

Here we go again (with the Start debate)...

Microsoft, thank you for giving users some CHOICE and listening to customer feedback.

Windows 8 "enthusiasts", note Windows 8 reviews on Amazon.com from "general consumers" before commenting!

68k said,
Here we go again (with the Start debate)...

Microsoft, thank you for giving users some CHOICE and listening to customer feedback.

Windows 8 "enthusiasts", note Windows 8 reviews on Amazon.com from "general consumers" before commenting!

Not only Amazon, just about all major retailers and etailers. My youngest brother is a GM at Best Buy. The feedback they receive from their staff and customers is pretty scary regarding Windows 8. He is hoping revenue and customer satisfaction goes up with the release of Windows 8.1. The stories he tells me of regular "Joes" calling in to Geek Squad because they can't find a program or they don't want to use the Microsoft Store because they don't trust Microsoft is quite hilarious.

Yet Im pretty sure these same people have ipads or android tablets and had no problems learning those systems. And since I have never met a best buy employee that actually knows anything beyond how many apps a platform has and is biased against anything that is not apple I consider their observations to carry no weight at all.

efjay said,
Yet Im pretty sure these same people have ipads or android tablets and had no problems learning those systems. And since I have never met a best buy employee that actually knows anything beyond how many apps a platform has and is biased against anything that is not apple I consider their observations to carry no weight at all.
The feedback I was referring to was from customers. They have such reports from call ins to Geek Squad and customer surveys from the sales associates.

Oh god yes! We are almost there Microsoft. Now an option to make Metro optional and I'll start recommending Windows 8.

Metro is Windows. The desktop is optional. I unpin the desktop tile on all my machines and the desktop is gone. The desktop is the new DOS.

Avatar Roku said,
Metro is Windows. The desktop is optional. I unpin the desktop tile on all my machines and the desktop is gone. The desktop is the new DOS.
Obviously you don't do anything "serious" on your PC, like programming or CAD.

Avatar Roku said,
The desktop is the new DOS.
When all major programs natively run as a modern App, only then can we say the desktop is equivalent to DOS. The desktop is far from dead.

Avatar Roku said,
Metro is Windows. The desktop is optional. I unpin the desktop tile on all my machines and the desktop is gone. The desktop is the new DOS.

It will be a long way before the desktop will gone and who knows what will finally replace it; it might be Metro, although I guess it will be a quite different one than what we have today or even a completely new paradigm.

JHBrown said,
When all major programs natively run as a modern App, only then can we say the desktop is equivalent to DOS.

Also, when Metro allows you to do *more* than Desktop. I don't get those stupid "it was the same when desktop came!" analogies. Desktop allowed you to do more than DOS, Metro does not allow you to do more than Desktop, it allows you to do less.

Don't you know that you're a dinosaur if you don't learn how to program or do CAD work by touch? It's magical you know. Metro for everything, just because.

Yup. I'm also a dinosaur because I demand low audio latency which Metro cannot provide. I should grow up and learn to "make music" using colorful Apps with colorful drum images Seriously though, I do believe that "Metro is the future" and at some point it will evolve into a desktop-like interface.

NoClipMode said,
Guess you can't read.

I can read fine, the option shown in the article is boot to desktop. It's NOT a new feature.

Xerxes said,

I can read fine, the option shown in the article is boot to desktop. It's NOT a new feature.

No, the feature mentioned in the article is that when a Metro app is closed your returned to the desktop. Not when you boot.

It's NOT a new feature, it's just boot to desktop with an extra tweak. What the article should say is boot to desktop gets a new tweak that makes modern apps close to desktop when boot to desktop is enabled.

Okay, fine. It's not a new feature. It's a new tweak to boot to desktop.

I understand why one would call it a tweak. It looks like a tweak because they are merged in the same option. But it acts like a new feature. They can serve two different needs.

I agree with Mr. Callaham that this should be separate options so that users can choose exactly what they want.

Nazmus Shakib Khandaker said,
Okay, fine. It's not a new feature. It's a new tweak to boot to desktop.

I understand why one would call it a tweak. It looks like a tweak because they are merged in the same option. But it acts like a new feature. They can serve two different needs.

I agree with Mr. Callaham that this should be separate options so that users can choose exactly what they want.

Yes, I agree with that that was pretty much what I was trying to get at, since it's part of boot to desktop I don't consider it a "new feature" per say. I also agree it should of been separate option instead of just merging it to BTD.

The fact that if the option is checked the OS will reboot directly to the desktop is exactly the reason why I do not use it.

Why not go back into the start screen after it boots to the desktop? Just one click, like if you were clicking the desktop tile. Not hard.

wingliston said,
Why not go back into the start screen after it boots to the desktop? Just one click, like if you were clicking the desktop tile. Not hard.

Oh no... we couldn't possibly do that! /s

Raa said,

Oh no... we couldn't possibly do that! /s

While it would be simple indeed I prefer to boot on the Start screen, which is just a matter of personal preferences of course. Separating, as suggested in the article, the two options would be not only a better solution but also more coherent with the actual Metro paradigm.

Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo!
/s

I expect users would now be prompted to set the default action on first boot/after upgrading to Windows 8.1. Most "general consumers" wouldn't know how to access Taskbar and Navigation properties.

Slow and steady getting there. I hope soon MS gets back to it sense and make Metro completely optional in a same way as they have WMC. People who still like Metro will have the option to enable it if they want and those who don't like it will be happy in their desktop. Forcing consumer to tablet interface is/was flawed strategy and it brings more resistance from consumers than gaining market share.

Agreed. Especially given how many things are half metro/half desktop such as taskbar menus, display options, etc. Its a total mess. Users should be able to completely disable Metro, and it seems like we're getting there step by step.

Yeah not gonna happen. Metro is the future. Like it and enjoy it, or don't and stay and complain or move to Linux/Apple/Whatever

I don't mean that in a flippant way, but if you reckon Microsoft are going to make the modern UI "optional", you're crazy.

The Start Screen makes a far better Start Menu replacement for most stuff, especially in 8.1.

And pressing Win key + X or right clicking on the new Start button brings up a new menu that has far more useful shortcuts compared to the old Start Menu.

ZipZapRap said,
Yeah not gonna happen. Metro is the future. Like it and enjoy it, or don't and stay and complain or move to Linux/Apple/Whatever

I don't mean that in a flippant way, but if you reckon Microsoft are going to make the modern UI "optional", you're crazy.

Are you MS decision maker. How do you know this is not going to happen. People like you were saying the same thing when MS had launched Xbone with draconian DRM policy and ultimately they had to take u-turn. MS also took small step by bringing Start icon on desktop and giving option to directly boot to desktop. All those clueless management team who thought Metro is a great idea and shoehorn it on desktop to gain some tablet share are all fired including crying baby Ballmer.

I am sure shareholders and new CEO will have vision to steer MS in a right direction rather than being stubborn and keep loosing market share. Tablet is the next growth in computing for consumers and MS definitely need to venture in tablet area but they should keep desktop alone otherwise it will be loose-loose situation for MS. I am sure MS executives know this and rather than completely changing course they are taking baby steps to improve things.

It might be utter disbelief to you but MS is in the business to make money and they will need to hear what majority of consumers want. Slow adaptation of windows 8 and exploding growth of third party start menu makes shows that how wrong MS had been in removing the start menu.

Lord Method Man said,
Agreed. Especially given how many things are half metro/half desktop such as taskbar menus, display options, etc. Its a total mess. Users should be able to completely disable Metro, and it seems like we're getting there step by step.

it is far more likely that they would end up

killing off Desktop Control panel and integrating the rest of the options into Modern UI , since they already integrated so many options in 8.1 Modern CP

Desktop CP is cluster **** of mass anyway, redundant

Auditor said,

How do you know this is not going to happen.

I believe the desktop is exactly the reason why marketshare is dropping. Most people don't need more than a tablet and a phone (consumer AND business). Desktop has always been useless on these formfactors. They can never adapt the desktop to be mobile, resolution independent and touch-friendly. That's why the desktop is being replaced by metro. Metro isn't better at anything right now but it's a good start. Microsoft is moving everything that ever existed in the desktop to metro. This is a huge undertaking that has been going on for years. So you think that can be reversed? This is not on the same scale as a little DRM issue in xbox. And even if it would be possible to reverse they would need a new long term strategy plan. Do you have a suggestion that is technically plausible?

ZipZapRap said,
Yeah not gonna happen. Metro is the future. Like it and enjoy it, or don't and stay and complain or move to Linux/Apple/Whatever

Just like Silverlight was was the future of web..... Microsoft brings out technologies all the time claiming they are "the future" and when they fall on their arse or don't gain as much traction as they like they then drop them like a stone irritating developers and people that use them.

Metro like most things Microsoft do rarely works when it's radically different and forced onto people who are used to and like the way they interact with their PCs. 8s market share after a year pretty much sums up what consumers think of the OS.

I agree that Microsoft will cling onto Metro for a long while and in a lot of ways it's largely a positive thing however keeping 8 a desktop driven environment and making Metro "apps" work and integrate fully in both metro and desktop environments would have gotten people used to them and also pushed for more development of them. The "App at a time" approach to usability doesn't fit for most power pc uses.

Edited by Unplugged, Oct 1 2013, 9:54am :

Unplugged said,

Just like Silverlight was was the future of web..... Microsoft brings out technologies all the time claiming they are "the future" and when they fall on their arse or don't gain as much traction as they like they then drop them like a stone irritating developers and people that use them.

Are you saying they should stop trying or continue working technologies that have no future?
This is exactly what I respect in some companies. They are not afraid to try new (even radical) ideas.
Just like palm webOS or google wave silverlight had an impact on products that succeed/replace it.

Unplugged said,

Just like Silverlight was was the future of web..... Microsoft brings out technologies all the time claiming they are "the future" and when they fall on their arse or don't gain as much traction as they like they then drop them like a stone irritating developers and people that use them.

Metro like most things Microsoft do rarely works when it's radically different and forced onto people who are used to and like the way they interact with their PCs. 8s market share after a year pretty much sums up what consumers think of the OS.

I agree that Microsoft will cling onto Metro for a long while and in a lot of ways it's largely a positive thing however keeping 8 a desktop driven environment and making Metro "apps" work and integrate fully in both metro and desktop environments would have gotten people used to them and also pushed for more development of them. The "App at a time" approach to usability doesn't fit for most power pc uses.


I agree, we will see a big back pedal in Windows 9 or 8.2 or whatever you want to call it. I see the return of the full start menu and metro will be made optional. Right now there is just too much resistance to it from the enterprise business world. If they are wanting businesses to ever adopt this OS this change will have to be made otherwise people will cling to Windows 7 just like they did XP. I dont want to see Windows 7 around when I am 60 (currently 33).

Gotenks98 said,

I agree, we will see a big back pedal in Windows 9 or 8.2 or whatever you want to call it. I see the return of the full start menu and metro will be made optional. Right now there is just too much resistance to it from the enterprise business world. If they are wanting businesses to ever adopt this OS this change will have to be made otherwise people will cling to Windows 7 just like they did XP. I dont want to see Windows 7 around when I am 60 (currently 33).

And just what do you think you'll see at 60? A mouse only driven UI with (by then) a rusty old Start Menu developed circa 2006, and silly drop downs?

Try again.

Windows 9 will build off Windows 8.x, just like Windows 7 was built off Vista, and didn't backpedal to Windows XP. Backpedaling to older more archaic things isn't how development works. There's too many benefits to the new UI (system unification, Windows Store, unbiased input, increased developer interest, easier methods of doing things, etc.) to backpedal to yesteryear's OS. Metro will continue to mature, and gain traction just like the GUI did when it was introduced back in the 80's. Computing didn't revert to the CLI after people complained that the CLI was better. So why do you think things will revert here? The desktop is a dead UI walking, developers are seldom interested in it. When was the last time a killer program was released for the Windows desktop? Where are all the Windows desktop equivalents of popular mobile apps? Most importantly, where are all the users? Besides grumpy people trying to cling on to their Photoshop (which I doubt half of them run, but whatever...), they're on their mobile devices. Microsoft is on to a great thing trying to enhance those mobile devices with greater functionality by leveraging Windows, rather than upscaling a smartphone OS. They can do a lot more, and thanks to Windows, that potential can now be realized.

Edited by Dot Matrix, Oct 1 2013, 12:17pm :

Dot Matrix said,

Windows 9 will build off Windows 8.x, just like Windows 7 was built off Vista, and didn't backpedal to Windows XP. Backpedaling to older more archaic things isn't how development works. There's too many benefits to the new UI (system unification, Windows Store, unbiased input, increased developer interest, easier methods of doing things, etc.) to backpedal to yesteryear's OS. Metro will continue to mature, and gain traction just like the GUI did when it was introduced back in the 80's. Computing didn't revert to the CLI after people complained that the CLI was better. So why do you think things will revert here? The desktop is a dead UI walking, developers are seldom interested in it. When was the last time a killer program was released for the Windows desktop? Where are all the Windows desktop equivalents of popular mobile apps? Most importantly, where are all the users? Besides grumpy people trying to cling on to their Photoshop (which I doubt half of them run, but whatever...), they're on their mobile devices. Microsoft is on to a great thing trying to enhance those mobile devices with greater functionality by leveraging Windows, rather than upscaling a smartphone OS. They can do a lot more, and thanks to Windows, that potential can now be realized.

I think you're confusing the OS with the GUI in your XP to Vista/7 example. Windows XP, Vista, and 7 have very similar GUIs, yes visually they differ somewhat, but most of the functionality is the same. It's the underlying stuff like driver models that changed the most with Vista.

Your example of CLI also doesn't work, as anyone that has worked with PowerShell can attest... Windows operating systems are getting more CLI capabilities, not less. And this is a good thing.

Killer programs on the desktop? Office 2013. Most PC games. Just about any productivity software you can find will be on the desktop.

Mobile apps on the desktop? Well, let me see... every last Angry Bird game can be purchased and installed on the desktop. The windows store however only has two. Candy Crush is a Facebook flash game, you don't need an app to play it on a Windows PC or Tablet (including RT). I don't need a facebook app because I have multiple browsers that work just fine. Even on Windows RT I don't need this app because I have a fully functional desktop-class browser. Having to have an app for everything is going back to the pre-internet days when all we had was apps. And the main reason for a lot of them is because a lot of websites don't have a mobile version that works well with a small phone screen (I don't think 10" tablets need web site replacement apps, 7" I'm not sure about). But I'm finding more and more that do, so we won't need website replacement apps as much going forward. THAT is the future, not an app for this, that, and everything else.

WinRT may be the API of the future, but the GUI that is the current Modern UI sure needs a lot of work. A proper task/status bar would really help... having to swipe to see the time, battery level, network status, etc is just dumb. Not saying some apps shouldn't still go full screen (Netflix, games, etc), but that is my biggest grip with it at the moment. It's like the desktop taskbar set to autohide... annoying as all get out.

The idea that one GUI can span across all devices and screen sizes may not actually work. I like the idea of an OS having multiple GUIs available and being able to switch between them depending on usage model or input method, eg. tablet mode vs docked with keyboard/mouse, or consumption vs productivity, but the apps also need to be able to run in either GUI as well. Modern UI's one-thing-at-a-time doesn't work for anything other than consumption. Snap isn't a good replacement for windows as it is too restrictive.

Oddly enough your last comment makes my point exactly... Microsoft is trying to leverage the power of their Windows OS on more than just desktops and laptops. But if they neuter it by making it into a mobile OS what's the point?

Edited by domboy, Oct 1 2013, 2:22pm :

Dot Matrix said,

And just what do you think you'll see at 60? A mouse only driven UI with (by then) a rusty old Start Menu developed circa 2006, and silly drop downs?

Try again.

Windows 9 will build off Windows 8.x, just like Windows 7 was built off Vista, and didn't backpedal to Windows XP. Backpedaling to older more archaic things isn't how development works. There's too many benefits to the new UI (system unification, Windows Store, unbiased input, increased developer interest, easier methods of doing things, etc.) to backpedal to yesteryear's OS. Metro will continue to mature, and gain traction just like the GUI did when it was introduced back in the 80's. Computing didn't revert to the CLI after people complained that the CLI was better. So why do you think things will revert here? The desktop is a dead UI walking, developers are seldom interested in it. When was the last time a killer program was released for the Windows desktop? Where are all the Windows desktop equivalents of popular mobile apps? Most importantly, where are all the users? Besides grumpy people trying to cling on to their Photoshop (which I doubt half of them run, but whatever...), they're on their mobile devices. Microsoft is on to a great thing trying to enhance those mobile devices with greater functionality by leveraging Windows, rather than upscaling a smartphone OS. They can do a lot more, and thanks to Windows, that potential can now be realized.


^this multiplied by infinity. I don't know how much the supposed "tech inclined " people complain about the lack of start button but when I see a regular consumer or user on windows 8 at college they all get it they never complain. If they can adapt to it and SHOW a " tech inclined" person how to use it, it just shows how stubborn how a person how to learn how to use it. To me I wish they removed all traces of the button but I guess we we will have to wait till that happens. The way I see it is as tech educated people we should adapt to new OS and not complain about a start button and if you can't do the well then I just say "pathetic and find a new job because you are making the tech community look bad" anyways that was my two cents

domboy said,

I think you're confusing the OS with the GUI in your XP to Vista/7 example. Windows XP, Vista, and 7 have very similar desktop GUIs, visually they differ, but most of the functionality is the same. It's the underlying stuff like driver models that changed the most with Vista.

You example of CLI also doesn't work, as anyone that has worked with PowerShell can attest... Windows operating systems are getting more CLI capabilities, not less. And this is a good thing.

Mobile apps on the desktop? Well, let me see... every last Angry Bird game can be purchased and installed on the desktop. The windows store however only has two. Candy Crush is a Facebook flash game, you don't need an app to play it on a Windows PC or Tablet (including RT).

Killer programs on the desktop? Office 2013. Most PC games. Just about any productivity software you can find will be on the desktop.

WinRT may be the API of the future, but the GUI that is the current Modern UI sure needs a lot of work. A proper task/status bar would really help... having to swipe to see time, network status, etc is just dumb. Not saying some apps shouldn't still go full screen (Netflix, games, etc), but that is my biggest grip with it at the moment. It's like the desktop taskbar set to autohide... annoying as all get out.

The idea that one GUI can span across all devices and screen sizes may not actually work. I like the idea of an OS having multiple GUIs available and being able to switch between them depending on usage model or input method (tablet mode vs docked with keyboard/mouse), but the apps also need to be able to run in either GUI as well. That would mean expanding WinRT to the desktop.

You're still trying to switch everything to a mouse-only UI, which isn't going to work. The point of Metro is to expand Windows' capabilities past that. You're not going to have that.

Also, not my point with Vista. Vista introduced massive under the hood enhancements that broke many older programs, and locked down the file system, which ****ed many off, and complained, complained, and complained to Microsoft to change it back to like it was in XP - they didn't do that. Same here, Microsoft has already firmly committed to furthering Modern development, and yes, that includes the desktop PC.

Dot Matrix said,

You're still trying to switch everything to a mouse-only UI, which isn't going to work. The point of Metro is to expand Windows' capabilities past that. You're not going to have that.

No, I'm not. I'm saying two things.

1.Touch only (at least in its current state) is not the future, as touch-only slows you down for anything but basic consumption. Touch being one of several input methods is where it is going to be for most devices larger than a 7" tablet.

2. Modern UI in its current state is not a good replacement for a powerful multi-tasking UI. Hence the desktop will remain until something better replaces it. Right now that is not Modern UI.

Again, I like the idea of one OS and one set of APIs, but the one GUI for everything doesn't always make sense, as different input methods allow for different types of interaction. What works with one may be counter intuitive with the other. So I don't see it as a wise or sensible choice to replace the desktop UI, just compliment it. Again, I'm not talking about the APIs underlying it.

domboy said,

No, I'm not. I'm saying two things.

1.Touch only (at least in its current state) is not the future, as touch-only slows you down for anything but basic consumption. Touch being one of several input methods is where it is going to be for most devices larger than a 7" tablet.

2. Modern UI in its current state is not a good replacement for a powerful multi-tasking UI. Hence the desktop will remain until something better replaces it. Right now that is not Modern UI.

Again, I like the idea of one OS and one set of APIs, but the one GUI for everything doesn't always make sense, as different input methods allow for different types of interaction. What works with one may be counter intuitive with the other. So I don't see it as a wise or sensible choice to replace the desktop UI, just compliment it. Again, I'm not talking about the APIs underlying it.

Metro isn't touch only. It still very much supports a mouse.

And, yes, Metro is still young, but it is quickly becoming a powerful environment in itself. The only thing it won't do is allow you to clutter your screen with Windows and other visual clutter. It prevents distractions.

Dot Matrix said,

Metro isn't touch only. It still very much supports a mouse.

And, yes, Metro is still young, but it is quickly becoming a powerful environment in itself. The only thing it won't do is allow you to clutter your screen with Windows and other visual clutter. It prevents distractions.

Supports it, technically yes. Is it ideal? I don't think so, not yet anyway. Besides, I didn't say Metro was touch-only. But that is the input method it was clearly optimized for.

Your second paragraph is entirely subjective. But I do agree with your premise... modern ui is very young, and needs a lot of work.

But the question still stands on whether it should actually replace the desktop, or be merely the touch-centric ui in an OS that has two ui environments?

Edited by domboy, Oct 1 2013, 3:58pm :

Funny how everyone knows the future so confidently that they can condescend to everyone who disagrees with their brilliance.

The truth is that in it's current form, Metro is not a successful UI on the desktop. There is a mass amount of resistance to it from enterprise and consumer users. To dismiss this as "stubbornness" is asinine. When the iPhone was released it sported a radically different UI than previous phones, and yet there was no clamour to return to BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, or Palm UIs. Nor were people demanding MS go back to Windows Program Manager when 95 was released. That's because those UIs were better and more intuitive than what came before, and people adapted quickly to using them.

MS is not pushing Metro due to its benevolence or because Metro is vastly superior - they're doing it because they want Apple-like total control over the Windows ecosystem - and they only have that in Metro. (Did you think it was an accident that you can't build Metro apps outside the Windows Store?) So they released Win 8 with both closed and open ecosystems with an eye towards eventually phasing out desktop altogether. Fortunately for those of us who like open ecosystems, users hate having a touch based UI shoved down their throats on the desktop and are letting MS know by staying with Win 7. (Vast majority of Win 8 sales are new PCs - that is, users with no choice - with many others switching to Mac instead)

MS will change because they will be forced to if they want to stay in the game. No one knows exactly what future UIs will look like - but they'll have to be both useful and intuitive if they're going to succeed on a large scale.

domboy said,

But the question still stands on whether it should actually replace the desktop, or be merely the touch-centric ui in an OS that has two ui environments?

I think the whole transition would take far to long if they didn't push it as hard as they are pushing it with Windows 8. If Metro was hidden on non-touch computers, what would be the incentive for developers to start looking at it? Right now they are in a very stable situation with Windows 7... so now is the perfect time.

Jpoint said,
When the iPhone was released it sported a radically different UI than previous phones, and yet there was no clamour to return to BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, or Palm UIs.

That's because the iPhone had the blessing of the almighty Jobs. He could have introduced a rotary phone tethered to a POTS line on that stage in 2007 and people would have hailed it as the greatest innovation ever.
Jpoint said,
Nor were people demanding MS go back to Windows Program Manager when 95 was released.

Oh yes they were! Maybe you don't remember because the media didn't work so hard to besmirch Microsoft the way they do now, but there were many people who preferred Program Manager because "that's how they were used to doing things." There were many people who hated Windows Explorer as well. I recall the old forums that explained how to set the shell back to Program Manager. Same thing happened with Windows XP's XML-based themes. The so-called "kindergarten UI." People complained about the new Start Menu being "too difficult" or "confusing."

Then they started using it and realized it's actually an improvement once they opened their minds. People like to complain. About change. Really, about anything. But especially change. Just like any innovation that people mock and complain about, it will be ridiculed until those people open their minds and give it an honest chance.

I'm not saying Windows 8 is perfect, but it is certainly better than people would have you believe. It needs some refinement and 8.1 is a good first step in that direction. People just need to stop demanding regression and realize that in spite of change, much good will come with a unified UI. If only Microsoft could have called it "Apple iOS 8," then people would have blindly defended the OS like they did the original iPhone that didn't support 3G, MMS, copy/paste, and a myriad of other features.

Jpoint said,
Funny how everyone knows the future so confidently that they can condescend to everyone who disagrees with their brilliance.

The truth is that in it's current form, Metro is not a successful UI on the desktop. There is a mass amount of resistance to it from enterprise and consumer users. To dismiss this as "stubbornness" is asinine. When the iPhone was released it sported a radically different UI than previous phones, and yet there was no clamour to return to BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, or Palm UIs. Nor were people demanding MS go back to Windows Program Manager when 95 was released. That's because those UIs were better and more intuitive than what came before, and people adapted quickly to using them.

MS is not pushing Metro due to its benevolence or because Metro is vastly superior - they're doing it because they want Apple-like total control over the Windows ecosystem - and they only have that in Metro. (Did you think it was an accident that you can't build Metro apps outside the Windows Store?) So they released Win 8 with both closed and open ecosystems with an eye towards eventually phasing out desktop altogether. Fortunately for those of us who like open ecosystems, users hate having a touch based UI shoved down their throats on the desktop and are letting MS know by staying with Win 7. (Vast majority of Win 8 sales are new PCs - that is, users with no choice - with many others switching to Mac instead)

MS will change because they will be forced to if they want to stay in the game. No one knows exactly what future UIs will look like - but they'll have to be both useful and intuitive if they're going to succeed on a large scale.

Utter bullocks. They're pushing Metro because they want system unification, and sure it locks down the user, but then again, the user needs locked down. You don't have to look farther than Android to see why. But that doesn't mean Windows 8 doesn't allow homebrew apps or business accounts - It does.

Dot Matrix said,

Utter bullocks. They're pushing Metro because they want system unification, and sure it locks down the user, but then again, the user needs locked down. You don't have to look farther than Android to see why. But that doesn't mean Windows 8 doesn't allow homebrew apps or business accounts - It does.

Be careful what you wish for. You will be locked out with the rest of the users.

xpxp2002 said,

Then they started using it and realized it's actually an improvement once they opened their minds. People like to complain. About change. Really, about anything. But especially change. Just like any innovation that people mock and complain about, it will be ridiculed until those people open their minds and give it an honest chance.

I'm not being critical of Modern UI because I dislike change... I use quite a few different UIs on a daily bases, in Windows, Linux, Android, etc. Modern UI is the only one that bugs me, partially because of the thought that Microsoft would like to replace the desktop with it (and I'm not convinced it is NOT tied to the desire to control the ecosystem and $$ via the store). That, and the lack of a task/status bar that is always visible. But you're right, seems like every release of Windows has triggered all sorts of craziness in the past...

xpxp2002 said,

I'm not saying Windows 8 is perfect, but it is certainly better than people would have you believe. It needs some refinement and 8.1 is a good first step in that direction. People just need to stop demanding regression and realize that in spite of change, much good will come with a unified UI.

I would argue that Microsoft should aim for a unified API that works in multiple user interfaces. The goal of a common API across their platforms is a cool idea, and may make sense, but a common UI doesn't make as much sense. PCs are mostly keyboard/mouse, with touch beginning to show up on some devices. Phones are touch only, and also have very small screens. Tablets somewhere in between. Consoles are controller-based. A common UI that works and makes sense on all these devices?? I thought that perhaps it might works, but I'm no longer sure it is a good idea. A common API yes, common UI, hmm.

domboy said,

A common UI that works and makes sense on all these devices?? I thought that perhaps it might works, but I'm no longer sure it is a good idea. A common API yes, common UI, hmm.

Of course, I may end up eating my words if Modern UI or whatever gets tweaked to where it makes sense on at least desktops, laptops, and tablets/convertibles. I bought a Surface RT because I was wanting a convertible, and Windows 8 does make sense on this kind of device. That said, if it lacked the desktop I would not have bought it... and I'm one of those that runs the jailbreak because I want to run desktop apps on it as well. I don't like the idea of user lockout. I guess we'll see how this plays out.

Problem with your theory that metro is here and accepting it. Is that Microsoft is hoping Windows 8 will be adapted by businesses...

And I don't know of any businesses that will accept having to deal with a metro page. You can make individuals accept it...but Microsoft makes it's biggest profits by selling bulk licenses to companies.

And if you can't get companies to jump on that metro train...then you have to adapt to them.

texasghost said,
Problem with your theory that metro is here and accepting it. Is that Microsoft is hoping Windows 8 will be adapted by businesses...

And I don't know of any businesses that will accept having to deal with a metro page. You can make individuals accept it...but Microsoft makes it's biggest profits by selling bulk licenses to companies.

And if you can't get companies to jump on that metro train...then you have to adapt to them.

Companies aren't tied to the Start Menu. Eventually, they'll adopt it, as it provides more of a useful layout than the desktop or start menu combined.

Auditor said,
Slow and steady getting there. I hope soon MS gets back to it sense and make Metro completely optional in a same way as they have WMC. People who still like Metro will have the option to enable it if they want and those who don't like it will be happy in their desktop. Forcing consumer to tablet interface is/was flawed strategy and it brings more resistance from consumers than gaining market share.

There already is such an option... but in Windows Server 2012/R2 - you have to optionally install User Experience Enhancement or whatever it's called - can't remember. Sadly I don't see them brining that down to Windows Client...

LegendaryRamzi said,

Are you saying they should stop trying or continue working technologies that have no future?
This is exactly what I respect in some companies. They are not afraid to try new (even radical) ideas.
Just like palm webOS or google wave silverlight had an impact on products that succeed/replace it.

Not at all. I use a fair few MS techs. Im just saying that assuming Win32 is going away and going to be replaced with Metro as the future of the OS just because Microsoft says so doesn't mean squat. Microsoft are a business at the end of the day and if metro falls on it's arse they will have no choice but to "back pedal" or reach common ground to please the majority of it's users or we will end up with another XP situation.

Consumers decide what the next best thing is and developers use what's popular. At the moment windows 8 isn't and mostly because it's too different. I hear far to many complaints from Desktop / Laptop users that this sucks and that sucks because of a,b,c and d. If it was "The Next Best thing" it wouldn't attract these complaints and adoption rate would be far higher despite the haters.

Microsoft should have made Metro work in cooperation with the Desktop. Metro Apps are Apps at the end of the day. Why can't they be run in windowed mode on the desktop? Why do they have to be run full screen and put into a limited number of positions?

Simply put many desktop uses and users require multiple monitors / windows and the ability to lay out and drag from one to the other. It works well and has done for years simply because nothing better has come out to replace it.

Sorry if I sound like a metro hater but "app at a time" or limited snap / multi tasking abilities don't make this better or more productive unless your on a tablet no matter how simplified they make the gui. It's a promising direction and if they pull it off it will be great to have apps that run on all flavours and hardware but softly softly approach unfortunately.

Unplugged said,

Not at all. I use a fair few MS techs. Im just saying that assuming Win32 is going away and going to be replaced with Metro as the future of the OS just because Microsoft says so doesn't mean squat. Microsoft are a business at the end of the day and if metro falls on it's arse they will have no choice but to "back pedal" or reach common ground to please the majority of it's users or we will end up with another XP situation.

Consumers decide what the next best thing is and developers use what's popular. At the moment windows 8 isn't and mostly because it's too different. I hear far to many complaints from Desktop / Laptop users that this sucks and that sucks because of a,b,c and d. If it was "The Next Best thing" it wouldn't attract these complaints and adoption rate would be far higher despite the haters.

Microsoft should have made Metro work in cooperation with the Desktop. Metro Apps are Apps at the end of the day. Why can't they be run in windowed mode on the desktop? Why do they have to be run full screen and put into a limited number of positions?

Simply put many desktop uses and users require multiple monitors / windows and the ability to lay out and drag from one to the other. It works well and has done for years simply because nothing better has come out to replace it.

Sorry if I sound like a metro hater but "app at a time" or limited snap / multi tasking abilities don't make this better or more productive unless your on a tablet no matter how simplified they make the gui. It's a promising direction and if they pull it off it will be great to have apps that run on all flavours and hardware but softly softly approach unfortunately.

Metro apps are a different breed. They run in a specialized environment (WinRT) that better safeguard the running code, and separate it from other processes in the OS. Metro apps are not traditional x86 apps, and therefore by design are not meant to run on the desktop. And who wants that? On a tablet, the desktop is the LAST thing people want or need. Even on a desktop PC they provide a nice, simplistic layout, and easily prevents clutter.

Unplugged said,

Consumers decide what the next best thing is and developers use what's popular. At the moment windows 8 isn't and mostly because it's too different. I hear far to many complaints from Desktop / Laptop users that this sucks and that sucks because of a,b,c and d. If it was "The Next Best thing" it wouldn't attract these complaints and adoption rate would be far higher despite the haters.

I'm not so sure. Steam is a good example. They got so much hate in the beginning. Almost everyone was complaining and trying to work around steam. Valve just continued improving steam and even made it impossible to ignore it. And look at how much praise it suddenly gets. Probably even from the early haters.
Unplugged said,

Microsoft should have made Metro work in cooperation with the Desktop. Metro Apps are Apps at the end of the day. Why can't they be run in windowed mode on the desktop? Why do they have to be run full screen and put into a limited number of positions?
Simply put many desktop uses and users require multiple monitors / windows and the ability to lay out and drag from one to the other. It works well and has done for years simply because nothing better has come out to replace it.
Sorry if I sound like a metro hater but "app at a time" or limited snap / multi tasking abilities don't make this better or more productive unless your on a tablet no matter how simplified they make the gui. It's a promising direction and if they pull it off it will be great to have apps that run on all flavours and hardware but softly softly approach unfortunately.

In the desktop it is really unclear for the os and the application when it should stop updating data or refreshing the interface. Should It stop when it's 100% hidden? should it stop when it's minimized? should it stop when it's not in focus? Right now every application is just using all these computer resources with no regards for processingpower, batterylife or datalimits. This is not such an issue on desktopcomputers but it really is on laptops and tablets. Metro is trying to solve this but Multitasking and multimonitor is really important and they should really improve this. It is way to limited now. I imagine this will be adressed in Windows 9.

Dot Matrix said,

Metro apps are a different breed. They run in a specialized environment (WinRT) that better safeguard the running code, and separate it from other processes in the OS. Metro apps are not traditional x86 apps, and therefore by design are not meant to run on the desktop. And who wants that? On a tablet, the desktop is the LAST thing people want or need. Even on a desktop PC they provide a nice, simplistic layout, and easily prevents clutter.

LegendaryRamzi said,

In the desktop it is really unclear for the os and the application when it should stop updating data or refreshing the interface. Should It stop when it's 100% hidden? should it stop when it's minimized? should it stop when it's not in focus? Right now every application is just using all these computer resources with no regards for processingpower, batterylife or datalimits. This is not such an issue on desktopcomputers but it really is on laptops and tablets. Metro is trying to solve this but Multitasking and multimonitor is really important and they should really improve this. It is way to limited now. I imagine this will be adressed in Windows 9.

The issues with the win32 API are not the problem we are discussing, it is the user interface, Modern UI vs Desktop UI.

There is no reason whatsoever that the WinRT API cannot be extended to target the desktop for apps. There is already a third party addon that makes modern apps run in desktop windows instead of fullscreen. Microsoft could do this themselves with the API, and make it a configurable option.

Actually, I totally agree with you there. I frequently use both the desktop and metro interfaces, and a return to previous location would be SOOO much better!

Agreed.. that'd be a welcome improvement. Plus, when you close an app that is snapped, the background should be the previous app that's opened, not a big blue empty screen (not sure if they've fixed that in 8.1, I've not used it)

And what if that previous location changes after starting the Modern app? Like if you launch a Modern app from the Start screen and then swipe to the Desktop? Then where should it take you when it closes the Modern app?

j2006 said,
Actually, I totally agree with you there. I frequently use both the desktop and metro interfaces, and a return to previous location would be SOOO much better!

that would only work for open modern apps that you reopen from desktop quick view (top left of screen, shows all open modern apps with one tile for desktop).

it wouldn't work if you went to the start screen to open a modern app and wanted to return to desktop when you close it, as the last place you were ay was the start screen.

i personally don't see an issue, been using 8 since release and love it.

what i mean by that is a like defaulting to the start screen where i have live tiles setup along with all the apps i might need, i do pin x86 apps to taskbar so i can open from there when using desktop but i cam also open them from start screen very easily.

ZipZapRap said,
Agreed.. that'd be a welcome improvement. Plus, when you close an app that is snapped, the background should be the previous app that's opened, not a big blue empty screen (not sure if they've fixed that in 8.1, I've not used it)

No, they haven't. Since "Windows 8-style" apps don't multitask, they need to let you split an app with the Start screen. Every time I am watching a video and need to launch another app, my video gets paused. There's no reason a full-fledged, "no compromises" PC OS (which Windows 8 is still supposed to be) shouldn't be capable of that.

And just to be clear, no, I am not one of those backwards "bring back the Start Menu" people. I embraced Windows 8 on day 1, and still value the improvements it makes. It just needs further refinement, and priority #1 should be to finish fixing multitasking.

Agreed. That makes MUCH more sense? Or make it a drop-down with the following options: Desktop, Start Screen, Last Environment