After getting pretty excited by all the Microsoft promotional videos including the Metro interface I decided to install Windows 8 on my MacBook Pro (Boot Camp styles) and give it a go. I do think it’s a huge leap forward for UX design, but here’s a few thoughts:
There was one phrase that kept coming back to me every time I jumped into it for the first few days. It was “Where am I?” While other touch based interfaces such as iOS on iPad do hide which apps you currently have open, the apps don’t often interact with each other. In Metro they do. An example: there isn’t a live contacts list in the Messenger app. So when I click “New”, the ‘People’ app has to open. I’m now an extra level deep, with no on screen indication of that.
I also feel too much is hidden in the interface. I personally don’t like the action menu being hidden with a right click. Maybe this comes up using a gesture in the touch interface, but that doesn’t help me on a desktop.
The more I play the more I can see what Microsoft are trying to do. Unfortunately I just don’t think it’s targeted towards desktop / laptops without touch screens. A one size fits all operating system sounds great in theory, but mice and keyboards work different to fingers and Metro doesn’t seem to care.
Some small annoyances that I hope will be ironed out before the full release:
- When a web page in Internet Explorer is pinned to the left or right the content “shrinks”. With so many pages having mobile versions and implementing media queries in their css for smaller browsers, i’d prefer the docked version to re-render the page using the new dimensions of the viewing space
- In one instance I had IE taking up the left three quarters, and the Messaging app taking up the right quarter. After zooming a video to full screen in IE, everytime I clicked into the Messaging app, the video would revert back to being windowed. Flash (and everything else) should be sandboxed into the viewing pane. Clicks in another section of metro shouldn’t be recognized
- Scrolling: it feels jerky and I can’t find a place to alter the speed of my trackpad in the windows settings
- I’d like to see the tabs in IE be easier to get to. Or at least be visible in a compressed view if I want to always see them. Though hopefully we’ll see some cool use of this new UI concept when the other browser vendors start publishing their browsers for Metro
Some of all of this may just be getting used to it. I am typing this in IE10 packaged with Windows 8, and I’m pleasantly surprised that it doesn’t feel anything like Internet Explorer. I’ll keep playing, but I’m dreading the day I have to teach my mum how to use it…