What has been “reimagined” in Windows 8 ? – Part 1
Finally the wait is over…Windows 8 “Developer Preview” was finally launched last week by Microsoft at Build Conference with the tagline “Windows Reimagined”. With all anxiety, I was one of the 50,000 people who downloaded Windows 8 Developer’s Preview on the very first night immediately after it was released(13th Sep night). Since then there has been so much talks about different aspects of Windows 8 in differnt forums & blog sites. In this series of blogs, I want to share some of those aspects in very simple manner as understood by me and what does that mean for end consumers like us.
Over last few years, Tablet market has heated up with wide scale adoption of these devices by end consumers. Some of the key influencing factors have been usability & mobility of these devices. Infact, tablets have been there for so many years now and I myself bought my first Windows XP based Compaq tablet in 2003. However, they had been kind of failures due to the usabiliy, performance & mobility aspects failing to impress the consumers. The tablet I had used to become very hot & even making it difficullt to hold after using for few hours of usage . Even the the performance, usability and the design of these devices was sluggish & eventually led to their extinction.
A new chapter to Tablets market was opened when Apple released it’s iPad. iPad was a spontaneous hit specially because of it’s sleek design & usability. Since then there has been several
Microsoft has been way behind in this journey as it’s Windows releases (including Windows 7) so far had never been touch optimized & designed for a true tablet usage. However, with the shrinking market share of Windows based PCs and exponentially rising market of Tablets, Microsoft needed a new robust OS specifically for Tablets to remain in the game. Unlike Apple, Microsoft still wanted to have a single OS which can double up as an OS for PCs, Laptops & Tablets. What does that mean for you ? It means that you can actually run the same version of OS on your home PC, Laptops & even on tablets but the underlying OS would be intelligent enough to identify your device and provide you the best available user interface & features optimized for that device.
Let me explain this a bit. Windows 8 is capable of running in two different mode (atleast what I could make of so far) & they are -
1) Classic User Interface (Classic UI)
2) Metro User Interface (Metro UI)
Classic UI - Classic UI is something which would run on a normal PC, Laptop with very similar interface available currently on Windows 7. Although user interface is similar, there are several new exciting features and improvements. I will try to cover them in subsequent blogs.
Metro UI – Metro UI is something which is a new addition to Windows since Windows Phone. It is actually an interface which has been optimized for touch based devices specially tablets. It’ is designed to be sleek, quick, modern”and a “refresh” from the icon-based interfaces.
Below diagram explains the above concept. In a Classic UI, when you click on the “Start Icon” on your windows you see a expanded Start Menu popping up from the bottom left hand corner of the screen. This has always worked for normal PC based devices. With Windows 8 and advent of Metro UI, this start menu has changed considerably. In the Metro UI world, “Start” menu is full screen configurable list of applications based on users’ needs, tailored for touch interaction, and tailored to the Windows user interface. Idea is that your “Start” menu is something which you can define yourself by organizing things based on your usage & preference. Also, there is a new concept of Metro Stype Apps which I will explain in detail in my next blog. The below diagram explains the concept little better.
When you press “Start” icon in the Metro UI mode on Windows 8, you don’t see the classic menu but you are immediately taken to the Start Menu shown in the right hand side of the above diagram.
In my next blogs in this series, I will be talking about the cool new features which have been introduced with Windows 8 & also talk about “Metro Style Apps”
On a lighter note, my niece who is very fond of iPad got hold of my Windows Tablet & asked me “What is this ?” & I said “iPad ka Papa” (meaning iPad’s Daddy) & she immediately reverted back saying “iPad ka Papa is so nice” . Although I said that jokingly, but time itself will prove in next few years that it is indeed going to give Apple it’s run of money as in old PC days. No offense meant for iPad lovers as I am one of those too.