In this post we’ll once again take a look at what happened on the official Building Windows 8 blog this week (August 24 – August 31) At the end I’ll give my personal opinion about some of the things. Ready? Set? Metro!
This post shows the team’s effort to improve the experience for the basic actions everyone uses daily, these are copying, moving and deleting files. Internally the Windows 8 file mechanism has been improved to support large file copies, including support for USB3. On the outside, the copy dialog has got a revamp and now shows detailed information about pending “copy jobs”. Furthermore multiple copy/move actions will be grouped in the same window, with the ability to pause or stop the action.
Additionally there’s a new dialog when having file name collisions (e.g: you copy a file and the specified folder already has a file with the same name). This dialog allows you to get an overview of these files and choose the one(s) you want to keep.
In the coments, some people called these new dialogs a ‘User Interface disaster’, so the team did a follow-up post explaining some of the design decisions for these new dialogs.
The next post “revealed” the usage of the Ribbon in the explorer. I won’t go into detail here because we knew this for a very long time thanks to build leaks. The ribbon gives you access to all commands without the need to dig deep in menu options, some people love it, others don’t.
This post shows how Windows 8 will natively be able to mount and burn (virtually opening the disk image) ISO files. You’ll also be able to open VHD files, these will be added to your Computer like a regular hard drive.
You might want to take a look at the accompanying video, showing part of a new Metro taskbar and a Metro user interface at the end showing small icons similar to Windows Phone 7.
This post has Steven Sinofsky himself talking about having two user interface, the Metro interface shown June 01, and the improved “legacy desktop”. He says that the legacy desktop is important, especially for larger applications, and won’t go away soon. He says people who only want the tablet experience don’t even need to go to the legacy desktop, and the code won’t even be loaded. Essentially you can see the legacy desktop as “just another app”, a pretty powerful one, that’s for sure.
Please read the post, as I’m sure that it might put a lot of people and press alike who didn’t catch exactly what they said back in June. (those who’re still thinking that the Metro UI is just for tablets so Microsoft can “catch up” with Apple and Google)
This post reflects on the overwhelming amount of comments and private mails they’ve received during the first two weeks, and first 8 articles of the “Building Windows 8” blog. Steven says they’re actively listening to all of the feedback, and that the blog is the “talk of the town” inside Microsoft. Several quotes:
I’ve certainly received my share of extremely warm messages telling me to ignore “those trolls andfanboys” and “what you’re saying resonates.” Those are nice to read in the face of an equal number of messages telling me how poor a job we’re doing. We also receive a great many very specific questions and suggestions.
My inbox is filled with mock-ups and proposals of dialog boxes and toolbars. But it already was—we’ve been doing this process for a long time. The difficulty in talking about UI through static images is much like trying to summarize or review a movie based on only viewing a still. Our own testing uses dozens of images in sequence when we evaluate designs.
He also says future post will include topics on the new Metro interface, Media Center and a further discussion about the Ribbon interface.
Whew, that was a long post, one day later than expected. Before I’m going to hit publish I’d like to share some of my personal thoughts:
My thoughts on the ribbon interface
As many other people, I’m not that fond of the ribbon in the Explorer. I understand that it makes a lot of things easier for older people and newcomers to Windows as those people don’t have the habit to right click things. Now they can find the commands they want, displayed with a visual icon on screen.
I’m fine with it, I think the ribbon in Office has been the of the greatest things Microsoft has invented in a long time, it’s just so productive, I’ve found tons of new things, and older things are easier to do. And it just completely fits in with all of the Office applications. It’s really awesome. In Office. I guess only time will tell if it’s really usable in the Explorer. Right now, I’m not fond of the baby blue chrome, and it takes up way too much screen space to me, distracting your view from what really matters: the files in the folder.
Commenters are assholes
Not all of them. I almost get a heart-attack from reading some of the rudely preposterous (fanboy?) comments. People shouldn’t immediately judge something from what they see in screenshots. Furthermore the UI still isn’t final and could still change a lot. People should try the features with a Beta or RC version and then give their judgement in a polite, honest and mature way.
At last, people need to understand that Windows is a product that’s used by millions of people, and they can’t please everyone. Windows needs to be usable for both older people as well as “power users”. It’s impossible to create something that everyone likes. I’m not a Microsoft fanboy, there are lots of things I hate about Windows 7 and what I’ve seen of Windows 8, but I have the decency to talk about these things in a normal way, without being rude. I get so nervous and sad seeing many people on a variety of forums, blogs and websites act the opposite way, and I’m having a hard time figuring out why they’re doing it that way. Boredom? Might be better for me to stop reading those comments…
BUILD is quickly approaching. People all over the world are excited while also having some fears. Some doubt Microsoft’s ability to give people a full-blown tablet experience while also maintaining all of the older hardware and software compatibility. Developers are worried about their ability to develop WPF/Silverlight applications for the new platform. Microsoft keeps themselves silent for now, sometimes giving a quick peek at the future. We’ll see just how bright it is in exactly 11 days.