Today's Building Windows 8 blog post, written by Steven Sinofsky, isn't really about a new Windows 8 feature or tweak, but rather about how the new-style Metro tablet UI will interact with the traditional Windows desktop.

Specifically, Sinofsky says that the Metro UI won't sit on top of the Windows desktop on tablets, but that the Windows desktop wouldn't even load unless specifically invoked by the user - "you can think of the Windows desktop as just another app," he says. At the same time, Sinofsky affirmed that Microsoft understands the importance of the standard Windows desktop, and acknowledged that the traditional mouse-and-keyboard interface was just better for certain tasks, including the running of legacy apps. He sums all of this up best toward the end of the piece: 

"Our design goal was clear: no compromises. If you want to, you can seamlessly switch between Metro style apps and the improved Windows desktop. Existing apps, devices, and tools all remain and are improved in Windows 8. On the other hand, if you prefer to immerse yourself in only Metro style apps (and platform) and the new user experience, you can do that as well!  Developers can target the APIs that make sense for the software they wish to deliver."

If Microsoft can deliver on this promise and give us one device that can serve as a satisfactory tablet and a satisfactory PC, I for one would definitely be interested.

Source: Building Windows 8 Blog

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  • B3an - Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - link

    Wow thats great news. But pretty much what i was expecting. Although i wasn't sure if the usual windows desktop would also run in the background when using the Metro UI. It's great that it dont though as this will obviously save power and resources.

    Many people seemed to think the Metro UI would be like an add-on on top of the desktop, and that the tablet capabilities wouldn't be a really good alternative for OS's completely aimed at touch like Android and iOS. But the way MS are doing this is basically like having two completely separate OS's in the same package, one finely tuned for tablet and one for desktop/laptop. If you use a Windows 8 tablet there should be no need to ever even use the usual widows desktop. And for desktop/laptop users there should never be any need to use the Metro UI, or even see it. But you always can use either on any device if you wanted to. It's perfect.

    This could seriously be an amazing OS is MS get it right, and so far they seem to be on the right track.
  • MonkeyPaw - Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - link

    Seems like a logical move, and I figured that Metro would work like media center does. This is much smarter, since MS probably doesn't want to waste any overhead on a tablet. I like that both interfaces will work, as it sounds like cross-platforming will be possible, furthing compatibility.
  • Penti - Thursday, September 1, 2011 - link

    Most "apps" shown in metro UX is just WPF-apps with third party Metro-skin so the Metro-mode isn't really more then a bunch of tiles and a browser at the moment.
  • inighthawki - Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - link

    I don't think this is really like "2 OSs" in one, more like they now have explorer.exe and metro.exe, and you can choose which one is your interface into the OS (or both). But the underlying OS functionality should be running near identically on either interface, it's only how you interact with the OS that is going to change.
  • B3an - Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - link

    Well i wouldn't be at all surprised if certain parts of the OS are not loaded with the Metro UI (not just Windows Explorer) in order to save battery and gain performance, as well as other new things that are only enabled with Metro.
    And the Metro UI has it's own developer platform and apps, so it is a little like a separate OS. From earlier leaked builds of Win 8 there was also some new frameworks and API's for Metro it seems.

    If Metro was simply a new interface it wouldn't cut it for tablets, the battery would drain too fast and performance wouldn't compete with dedicated mobile/touch OS's like Android and iOS so i expect there to be many changes when running Metro.
  • snoozemode - Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - link

    There is a very fitting word to describe the Windows 8 UI, ambivalence.
  • LeftSide - Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - link

    Here is for hoping the Metro UI is well integrated with media center. Using the remote with those tiles seems easy to integrate, and the extra apps would be great.
  • dew111 - Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - link

    Unfortunately, it seems like Media Center won't be included with Windows 8, mostly because of the MPAA. It may be available in the app store though.
  • B3an - Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - link

    I hope thats not the case. What are the MPAA nazi's not happy about this time?
    MS should atleast include it for the rest of the world and just leave it out of the U.S version.
  • DanNeely - Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - link


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