Windows 8: Dull and Boring

Love it or hate it, most users have adapted rather well to the Aero Windows interface first introduced with Vista. Not with just how it functions, but also how it looks. Until now we didn’t really know how Aero and the new Windows 8 “Metro” style were going to get along in the next release of Windows.

But on Friday Microsoft let everyone know they won’t get along. Aero is being dumped for a Metro style user interface in the final release of Windows 8. Instead of Aero we’ll get something “flat”, “clean” and “modern”. And by the way, users will not see the user interface until the final release in the fall.

Windows 8 Screenshot from MSDN blog

So that leaves us to speculate on what those adjectives mean. Based on this screen shot from Jensen Harris’ blog about the Windows 8 user experience, the words ought to be “dull” and “boring”. Granted they are trying to keep it under wraps until the final release, but could they have released a less inspiring screenshot? Will consumers flock to buy a visually unimpressive upgrade, regardless of what it can do? Probably not.

An article on Computerworld.com suggests that the dropping of Aero is primarily based on extending battery life. That’s all well and good. But again Microsoft ought to be taking a lesson from Apple. OSX and iOS both have a sleek look that users of abilities love. While “modern”, they still have a pleasing aesthetic feel. It makes us ooh and aah with glee to the point we just have to get our hands on an iPad and even longtime PC loyalist secretly long for a Mac (don’t worry, we won’t tell).

So perhaps Microsoft didn’t want to give everything away (or they’re still figuring it out) with the secrecy around the new UI. But they haven’t inspired a “Gotta have it” mentality they'll need to make the next version take off, rather than languish the way Vista did.

If you read the full Jensen Harris blog, he does a great job explaining some of the changes in Windows 8, why they are being made, and how they can benefit the user. Consumers may or may not buy into it. They certainly won’t be reading the blog, but watching the commercials and the news stories when it is finally released.

What do you think about this seemingly last minute change by Microsoft? Will it pay off, or does it mean they're more likely to screw something up - again?