October 30, 2012

A simple guide to Windows 8 Metro UI

Written By Martin Sandhu

Microsoft might not want us to call it ‘Metro’ anymore (due to a dispute over the name), but we’re still really excited about Windows 8 User Interface and what it means for the future of apps.

Multi-platform UI
Firstly, despite appearances, the modern interface isn’t just available on Windows phones and tablets. The design and operating system is being used across Windows 8, on phones, tablets and on PCs. As the aesthetics suggest, the operating system is designed for touch screen use, it can be used on a PC with a mouse and keyboard too.

RIP start menu…
Any Windows user will know that the start button in the bottom left corner is the gateway to everything. Window 8 has diced with death, and public outcry (remember when they combined the taskbar in Windows 7?) and created a Start Screen. The screen takes up the desktop and will greet you when you boot up any Windows 8 device.

The tiled screen features both shortcuts to programs and data feeds of your choice – whether it’s your latest emails or market figures or daily appoints through your calendar. Each ’tile’ can be moved and resized so you can create a personalised start screen, with the information you need at your finger tips. Think of it as a notification centre and start menu rolled into one.

Goodbye Start Menu…

Another new feature of Windows 8 is ‘charms’ – quick access tools that are available in the right of the screen, whatever program you are running. These give you the ability to share from any Windows app (much like on an iPhone), search from anywhere on your PC or access your device settings.

The Windows Store
Much like the App store and Google Play, Windows has now launched its own app store. Despite the fact that Windows 8 has been available in pre-release form for quite some time, there is a distinct lack of apps currently available – we’re yet to see a native Twitter or Facebook app or favourites such as BBC iPlayer. Although that is expected to change pretty quickly.

Despite being accused of not keeping up-to-date with the market trends in the past, PC’s running Windows still account for almost 70% of computer usage in the world – largely due to business preferences. Therefore the app store opens up the possibility of apps to a completely new audience of traditional PC users who are unaccustomed to anything more than Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer.

Windows 8 Store


Windows 8 vs Windows RT
There are two versions of Windows 8 to choose from. Windows RT is not capable of running legacy Windows apps, despite the fact a RT tablet includes the traditional desktop interface. A RT device can only run downloadable Modern UI apps from the Windows Store. Windows 8 is much more like the traditional Windows operating systems, with a Pro version available too. Windows 8 devices can run any app from the Windows Store and pretty much any program written for Windows 7. Other than usability the main difference between the two systems is price.

Windows Surface Tablet. We want one but everywhere is sold out!