Windows 8: Two Distinct Graphical User Interfaces in One

Microsoft is making an ambitious change to Windows that is either going to wow us or annoy us, depending on how successful the endeavor is. Microsoft is going to have one GUI for tablets and one GUI for personal computers, both built into Windows 8.

Metro: Will be specifically designed to take advantage of the touch screen that tablet computers utilize. The current Metro design is kind of reminiscent of the Windows 7 phone, which the company describes as being fast and fluid.

Windows 8: Two Distinct Graphical User Interfaces in OneDesktop: The traditional Windows desktop will remain for those of us who need one. In addition the mouse, trackpad, and keyboard support will remain in Windows 8 as well. The desktop environment will contain some new eye candy, with the ribbon from Microsoft Office being more predominant.

In addition, Windows will just be another application and will only load when the user needs it. This means that when a computer starts up, the user will be presented with the Metro environment, which could mean a faster starting computer. Windows code will not be loaded until requested, which begs to ask these questions.

On the current Apple iPad and Google’s Chromebook, both provide the user with about eight hours of battery life. If a user needs to use Windows, how badly will battery life suffer? On tablet computers with less powerful CPUs and less RAM than traditional desktops and laptops, how well will Windows function? Will we need to disable features such as Aero to get Windows to run without sluggish performance on tablet computers?

What Microsoft calls ‘Windows reimagined’ appears to be nothing more than a shell placed over the top of Windows. I recall back when I was using Windows 3.11, I used a similar shell type program that used a GUI to launch DOS based programs without using any commands. Is this all that Metro will turn out to be? Just a platform to support applications including Windows itself?

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

The Microsoft Windows 8 Blog is here.

Article Written by

I have been writing for LockerGnome since relocating to Missouri seven years ago, where I continue to be a technology enthusiast who enjoys playing with the newest and latest gadgets.

  • Anonymous

    if they can prevent illegal immigrants to enter the country then this shouldn’t happened.

    consular processing

  • Anonymous

    If Windows isn’t going to load unless you explicitly tell Windows to load, there will be a lot more resources available. What’s the likelihood of being able to game in Metro mode? That’d be brilliant.

    • Anonymous

      Windows is always loaded in Windows :-) It’s the desktop which doesn’t load until needed.

  • Anonymous

    I’m seriously hoping Microsoft doesn’t fail. I’m anxious to get a Macbook Pro, but I’m waiting until Windows 8 comes out and I’ve fully tested it, giving them the benefit of the doubt that they have learned from the past and have something up their sleeve. If they fail, I won’t be using any more Microsoft products, including Office. I’ll be moving over to Apple products, which doesn’t seem to be a bad option nowadays.

    • http://www.youtube.com/iAmATechGeek iAmATechGeek

      If you move over to Apple it’ll be the best decision of your life. Trust me!

      • Anonymous

        Oh man trust me I want to. But I’m giving Microsoft ONE last chance.

        • Anonymous

          just buy a macbook pro. i have used just about everything from apple and i can’t take it anymore. everything is so watered down to the max. soon apple will port IOS to everything.

          • http://twitter.com/jbluetooth Justin Hansen

            Who says you have to follow their footsteps. You can still use almost every OS they made. I am sticking to 10.6 instead of 10.7. There are still a few things that need to be done.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kweinkauf Ken Weinkauf

      I work at a place where the only computers available are Macs. I am a web page designer and a technogeek. I struggle all day with the stupid Mac on my desk. Then I get home, fire up my Win 7 Pro computer, and something inside me goes “Ahhh!”

      • http://twitter.com/jbluetooth Justin Hansen

        Most of the web design market is on the Mac.
        May I ask why you stick to Windows? What is it about Windows that you like?
        But dont critize the Mac because I dont critize Windows. I dont just like the way it functions and looks. Thats it.
        What is it about Windows that you like?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NHEUAWMRAAZC7Z5KAC5IE5YHNQ rowan

      Just buy a macbook pro. if you like windows 8, then install it on the macbook pro using boot camp or parallel

      • Anonymous

        Wow rowan, that’s not a bad idea at all. Thanks for the tip.

        • http://twitter.com/jbluetooth Justin Hansen

          Yeah, what Rowen said. You have no idea how great it is to be on a Mac.

  • Guest

    I’m seriously hoping Microsoft doesn’t fail. I’m anxious to get a Macbook Pro, but I’m waiting until Windows 8 comes out and I’ve fully tested it, giving them the benefit of the doubt that they have learned from the past and have something up their sleeve. If they fail, I won’t be using any more Microsoft products, including Office. I’ll be moving over to Apple products, which doesn’t seem to be a bad option nowadays.

  • http://twitter.com/dougmcarthur Doug McArthur

    I remember using DOSSHELL and it being a much friendlier place than Windows 3.1. It never crashed, was easy to navigate with keyboard or mouse (when the mouse was a big blocky block instead of a precise pointer) and it allowed for the quick launching of apps and games.

  • http://twitter.com/dougmcarthur Doug McArthur

    Here’s a demo of the new Metro interface in Windows 8 from the Microsoft UI dev team: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p92QfWOw88I

    • Anonymous

      Yeah I think that’s the tablet GUI (Microsoft supposedly came with the idea of having 2 different GUI’s; but again, I’ll wait for both until I judge).

  • Colby McAloney

    If this will affect my Windows experience (not XP) badly, I will just stay with Windows 7 until it gets outdated. Then I might get a mac mini.

  • Bryan Miner

    I am hoping that they will release a beta. This could either be a surprise success or a major fail. I don’t think the “tiles” are going to work as well as Microsoft thinks, most people at a desktop are going to actually use a computer as a computer. I would like to see it as a screen saver though.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kweinkauf Ken Weinkauf

    Since time began for Microsoft’s operating systems, one thing has been consistent. Every other operating system has been a gem, and the others have been horrible. Win 8, as far as history goes, is destined to be crap. I think the biggest problem for Microsoft is too many people are still with XP! They haven’t gotten the bulk of their user base moved to Win 7 yet and already we are talking about Win 8! As far as I can see (and my history with personal computers goes back to DOS 3.0) this is going to be a major flop.

    • http://www.anthonyguidetti.com Anthony Guidetti

      I disagree. Windows 95 and 98 were good, then came ME which was awful. But 2000 and XP were not bad. Vista was, but not Windows 7. The “every other” is not true. So I don’t think we can judge the quality of the operating system by basing them on the past. Plus, I don’t think the fact that the bulk of users are still on XP is relevant. Most are businesses who rely on certain programs only usable on XP, and the others are ordinary people who don’t even know what an operating system is. Besides, I still see people running OS 10.4 and .5.

  • http://twitter.com/tsilb Kevin Connolly

    Your analogy is flawed. Windows 3x was a shell on top of DOS, and it just happened to be able to load another DOS on top of that. If anything, it sounds like Metro will be a shim placed underneath Windows. like a bootloader.

    I’ll be disabling that with haste.

  • http://twitter.com/tsilb Kevin Connolly

    Your analogy is flawed. Windows 3x was a shell on top of DOS, and it just happened to be able to load another DOS on top of that. If anything, it sounds like Metro will be a shim placed underneath Windows. like a bootloader.

    I’ll be disabling that with haste.

  • http://twitter.com/MrCInCali Mister Chuck

    Well, my 2 cents is that Windows 8 as you describe it seems to give Microsoft access to the tablet market with their Windows products, which they don’t have today. Historically, when Microsoft was caught “flat-footed” and without a product to take a slice of an emerging hardware product line, they have flopped in their knee jerk reactions. So they seem poised to repeat the past and flop again with Windows 8. Because from your description, there is very little new feature/function to the new OS.