Sacrificing Metro UI for conformity? Make sure you have YOUR say!

Published by at

A few links of interest that caught my eye, summing up perhaps the two extremes of viewpoint regarding the UI changes being made in the switch from old style 'Metro' panoramas to the platform-agnostic 'hamburger', slide-out control panes. Me? Something probably has to be sacrificed in order to converge apps with Android and iOS, but please leave the toolbars at the bottom of the phone screen, where they're thumb-friendly....

Firstly, Neowin's analysis, concluding that Microsoft has no choice but to converge the UI of the OS and its apps with those of both Windows on the desktop and Android on mobile, since developers shouldn't have to rework interfaces just for Windows (10) Phone, that would only slow down growth of the OS further:

Windows Phone's design guidelines set out to achieve a goal of making all apps operate in a similar fashion. The idea was that this would make the entire UI feel cohesive, and it would make it easy for consumers to use new apps, as they would all operate under the same design principles.

The problem that this caused was that it required established apps that have their own design to rethink their apps specifically for Windows Phone. Or in other words, they could build one UI for Android and iOS but for Windows Phone, they had to do additional work to make it match the theme of the OS. This additional overhead is one of the reasons why the app ecosystem never took off of on Windows Phone....

[regarding hamburger menus etc.] ...This change was also necessary to make the Universal apps work across the ecosystem. It's quite obvious that the modern app style would not work on the desktop, and if Microsoft wants devs to take advantage of its ecosystem, they can't expect a complete UI rewrite for each targeted device.

Keep an eye on how Windows 10 for phone progresses, as you will likely see further shifts away from a rigid design environment to one that has more room for freedom of expression.

Which is a fair point. If Microsoft's going to create an interface that works across laptop, tablet, Android, iOS and Windows Phones then something's going to have to be chucked under the bus. From the point of view of developers and, to an extent, from the point of view of users too, who want everything to look familiar.

On the other hand, this time from an editorial over at WMPU, the argument is that Microsoft simply isn't listening to enthusiast feedback in terms of these interface compromises. And, after all, we have the disaster that was Windows 8.x on the desktop as a whopping great data point here, so I'd agree that Microsoft needs to listen more to users, not less:

Microsoft announced the Windows 10 and Windows Insider Program as a new revolutionary program. A program where they would be more open, share details with Windows Insiders and take feedback to avoid a repeat of Windows 8. For those who don’t remember, during the Windows 8 Beta days, many people complained about aspects of metro. They weren’t sure it was as usable as Windows 7 and made requests for changes which were ignored. The rest is history. Windows 8 tanked everywhere and became one of the most hated Microsoft OSes since Vista.

On Windows 10 for PCs, Microsoft made a similar disputed change with OneDrive and the way the OS handles Onedrive files, there was an almost immediate glut of negative feedback towards the change. Many testers saw it as for the worse but Microsoft had made their choice, feedback be damned....

The user interface of Windows 10 as it is shaping up – is so far, a disaster. The hamburger menus everywhere pointing out the painfully obvious, the lack of swipeable elements in certain apps, the zoo that is the settings menu (fixed in 8.1 GDR2, destroyed again in Windows 10). None of these are features requested and even liked by users, yet Microsoft’s Interface team has seen them to be fit for purpose.

Ian Muir Ian Angry

There is a certain group of fans who will no doubt point out that the Windows 10 preview is in fact a preview. Those fans will inform us that when Microsoft is asking for feedback, they mean wait till they are done with the OS and then deliver feedback. They will then go on to tell us about how we’re seeing the building process and how we can’t judge until it is done. To those fans, I have a saying for you – “If you want to strike, strike now. No matter how skilfully a footballer strikes beyond the 90 minutes’ regulated time, he makes no influence. Strike now before it becomes too late!”

So yes, changes are undoubtedly necessary, but let's all have as much of a say as possible. My showstopper would be the removal of the bottom-of-screen toolbars, but I'm sure you have your own likes... and dislikes. Get involved via the UserVoice site here.