Microsoft explains Windows 8 dual-interface design

Aug 31, 2011
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Microsoft Windows chief Steven Sinofsky has taken to the Building Windows 8 blog to explain the company's decision to keep two interfaces: the traditional desktop UI and the more tablet-friendly Metro UI. His explanation seemed to be in response to criticism and confusion after the latest details were revealed on the new Windows 8 Explorer interface.

On Monday, details on the Windows 8 Explorer file manager interface were revealed showing what looked to be a very traditional Windows UI without any Metro elements. Reactions were mixed with many confused as to what direction Microsoft was heading with its Windows 8 interface. Well, Sinofsky is attempting to answer that and says that it is a "balancing act" of trying to get both interfaces working together harmoniously.

Sinofsky writes in his post:

Some of you are probably wondering how these parts work together to create a harmonious experience. Are there two user interfaces? Why not move on to a Metro style experience everywhere? On the other hand, others have been suggesting that Metro is only for tablets and touch, and we should avoid “dumbing down” Windows 8 with that design.

He proceeds to address each of these concerns, saying that the fluid and intuitive Metro interface is great on the tablet form factor, but when it comes down to getting serious work done, precision mouse and keyboard tools are still needed as well as the ability to run traditional applications. Hence, he explains that in the end they decided to bring the best of both worlds together for Windows 8.

With Windows 8 on a tablet, users can fully immerse themselves in the Metro UI and never see the desktop interface. In fact, the code for the desktop interface won't even load. But, if the user needs to use the desktop interface, they can do so without needing to switch over to a laptop or other secondary device just for business or work.

A more detailed preview of Windows 8 is expected to take place during Microsoft's Build developer conference in September. It's been rumored that the first betas may be distributed to developers then along with a Windows 8 compatible hardware giveaway.


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