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.

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I have been writing for Lockergnome for eight years.