Radical New Interface for Windows 8

Gnome

Jonathan Roberts says:

A lot of time has been spent discussing the new interface that's come by default with Gnome 3. Plenty of people aren't very keen on it, thinking it's a bad idea to try and create a single interface that scales on mobile devices, touch screens and traditional desktops; they also think it's a bad idea because it breaks lots of familiar habits and forces users to re-learn how to use their computer.

Well, I thought it was worth noting that now Microsoft is now heading down the same path, having just announced a radical new interface for Windows 8. It's obviously based on the Windows Phone 7 interface, very touch orientated and resembles none of the traditional Windows interfaces that millions of people are used to using. It also uses HTML 5, Javascript and CSS, the exact same technologies that Gnome Shel is built with (although I suspect when Microsoft releases this, they'll have documented the functions more thoroughly than the Gnome team have!).

I've always been partial to the Windows Phone 7 interface, and I can't help but be impressed by this latest offering from Microsoft. It's information dense, apparently quite usable and visually striking. Whether or not it works in practice or not I don't know since it doesn't work with Linux (and is obviously non-free).

Make of this what you will, but I think this suggests that the Gnome team has not only been ahead of the curve when it comes to the direction they've taken the new interface (Apple are also reportedly integrating elements of iOS into their next desktop OS, Lion), they've also been relatively conservative in their implementation.

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Your comments

I'm trying not to be underwhelmed by this Video

But that guys AQI is "like" really annoying?

From that video I've seen nothing impressive or new.
There on a hiding to nothing.
I can't really see business men or women wanting something that looks more like a toy in there offices. Of course the same could be said about all these "Mobile" type "App" driven desktop offerings.

That windows 8 affair is probably the worst one I've seen. As it seems presents the user with a Multifaceted Distraction Layer© from the moment you log in.

Piles are better than Icons.

Proof and puddings

This is a very impressive video, although for comparison it would be nice to have one extolling and demonstrating the virtues of Gnome Shell. However, whilst touch interfaces seem very intuitive and "the right way of doing things" on tablet sized devices (perhaps even blackboard sized devices in a presentation), is this right for the desktop and the laptop?

Right now I'm at my desktop and in order to touch the screen, I need to lean forward. Yet keyboard short-cuts are under hand and the mouse is a 20 cm detour to the right. For the laptop, if used at a desk, a touch interface may be easier but if used, say, on ones lap whilst on public transport, the light weight of the laptop may provide insufficient reaction force whilst touching the screen keep the laptop from moving.

I appreciate that it is important to develop new technologies and it will take time for them to find their uses (e.g. the laser) once out in the wild but are we really likely to see a convergence of UI design across desktop, laptop, netbook, tablet and smartphone? Each has their place, their virtues and limitations.

Consider these points: ease of interaction, maximum number of words per minute, portability, pocketability and effective utilisation of screen space for the task in hand etc. It's right for technology manufacturers (and hence tech buying public) to try, but I don't think one size will fit all in this case.

Media Center?

The new UI looks like their Media Center Software. Initially, it was quite appealing to me thanks to its clean and simple layout. But, after a while, I completely stopped using it. Truthfully, part of the reason was that Media Center refused to play nice with all media formats I use (shouldn’t Media Center be able to handle nearly all media types???) and because it was another application that needed to be launched slowing things down. In more classic Microsoft style, the Media Center software was cluttered by unneeded files (you know those wav files and random pics from games) that I was too lazy to clean up.

Just a pretty launcher?

I can't help but think that this looks like little more than a pretty application launcher and web browser that sits on top of the existing Windows GUI. When he opens up Excel, the more traditional Windows interface comes up. It feels a little like an app to make tablets more "touchable" -- one that's not completely integrated with the rest of the system very well. I guess the equivalent would be loading up the Gnome 2.x interface (menu bar at the top, window list at the bottom) when you fire up a GTK2/Gnome2 app from Gnome3. I'd put money on users being dissatisfied and confused in that sort of scenario.

Of course, this lack of integration may just be because they can't afford to change things too much -- if Gnome3 caused an outcry, just imagine the chaos that such a radical shift in Windows would precipitate! That's why I would assume that for desktop machines, Windows 8 won't offer very much. Perhaps a couple of tweaks here and there (I saw the ribbon in an Explorer window, I think... *shudder*), but a touch-oriented UI just can't work in a corporate environment -- people need to be able to rest their arms and view their content at an appropriate height. If you go down the touch-screen path, one of those two requirements has to be compromised. So none of this fancy-schmancy interface there, I think.

Underwhelmed

Hmmmm... I must admit to being fairly underwhelmed. It's like some weird hybrid of a Windows PC and a Windows Phone.

Personally, I prefer the KDE methodology - a different shell depending on the form factor of the machine you're running on. As Barryvan notes, having two *simultaneous* shells running is just confusing. Why do the "old fashioned" programmes sit in the traditional task bar? Surely that's a problem Gnome Shell (and Unity, and KDE) have addressed...

One other question - if all of those panels which are replacing icons are "live", that has the potential to be an incredible drain on system resources...

Why this isn't any good

Basically, it is just a UI for tablets, running on top of the traditional desktop and not integrating with it AT ALL. Or in other words, adding to the already immense amount of crud which has amassed over the years, and not providing extra features / functionality for the very large majority of users.

Honestly, who would rather use that than the traditional UI when working on a desktop (or even on a laptop)?

Yet more change for the sake

Yet more change for the sake of change. Doubtless new users will find this 'more intuitive', whilst existing Windows users will be forced to re-learn yet another user interface.

I like it...

Looks fairly slick to me, though I am sure the first thing I will try to hack in the registry is the 2 running windows limit. No reason why you could not have 3,4,5 apps running in oversized tiles.

It is one hell of a lot better looking than Disunity or Gnome3...

I will be running it in a Virtual Box under XFCE, I am sure...

so

so it's a launcher then. Also they didn't design their 'thumb slab' keyboard at all, credit goes to an android developer for thumb keyboard, was out even before honeycombs version of it

Just a load of Design Lemmings

Many of these demonstrations look very pretty but, they never show someone actually doing something constructive with their computer, they just play with the windows. (And what lovely photographs they have!) This is unfortunate as most computer users employ their computers to be productive, mainly creating or editing files (documents), be they spreadsheets, presentations, written documents, pictures, audio files, emails and the like.

Some harp on about the keyboard short-cuts that are buried within the desktop. This may be great for Power Users but, remember, most users just use a mouse, trackball or their laptop's touch pad and, I for one don't want greasy finger marks all over the screen of any display.

It would appear the designers of these interfaces, be they from Apple, Microsoft or Gnome are determined to drag computer users, kicking and screaming, into their unified GUI world. They just don't realize that, what is good for a smart phone or notebook, isn't necessarily best for a 20” VDU sitting on top of the (physical) desktop. What I need from my 37” TV in the corner of the Lounge isn't the same as my laptop on the table in the Conservatory. Hey Guys, they are different! Yes, technically they could do the same things but, generally we all tend to use specific devices to undertake tasks that they are best suited for. If I want to watch the film Avatar I generally plump for a large screen TV in the Lounge and, at a pinch, my laptop (but this is generally a very inferior experience and the laptop hasn't the sound system to deliver the best experience either).

The winner of these design Lemmings will be the one who realizes this fact and designs in the required configuration to their system to allow the User to choose what is best for them otherwise they will just tip over the cliff into the design scrap yard.

It's either that or we will be using Xfce on or computers in the near future.

What's more interesting...

I'm pretty much unmoved by the all new interfaces, but what I found more interesting was this from the BBC website report covering the Windows 8 preview:

"In a bid to speed up its efforts to get more tablets running Windows in the hands of consumers, Microsoft has reportedly demanded that hardware firms work with a single chip maker as they produce their gadgets."

Surely this going to drive tablet manufacturers to plump for Android which requires little effort to get running on most chipsets. This could be the best thing that Micro$oft has ever done for the open source community. Cheers Steve.

A beautiful future...

Looks like being forced to use Xfce might not be that bad of a future! Xfce does look nice!!!

Gnome is dead...

If you have not made the switch to XFCE yet, either you are a KDE user, or your distro has not tried to force Gnome 3 or Unity on you yet... ;)

Just do it now, and get it over with. It is worth it...

Linux booting issue

Hi friend,
I installed windows xp and Pc Quest linux 7 (dual OS) in my system, for that Windows XP is working fine wherein Linux OS is giving an error while booting, the error message as ' ide0:Unexpected interrupt, status = 0x7f,count=1
ideo at 0x1f0-0x1f7,0x3f6 on irq 14
Note: i'm using SATA type Segate HD

Not again...

oh great, another YARIC (Yet Another Radical Interface Change). I really do not like this mentality that developers have got. we shouldn't be re-inventing the wheel, we should be adding to what already exists. this kind of Innovation comes at the cost of choice, one of Linux's greatest strengths. that is why many have switched to KDE, XFCE, GNOME 2, etc... because they provide choice. If MicroSoft do go down the same route as GNOME and Ubuntu (one desktop for all platforms), then by the time Windows 8 arrives Linux will suddenly gain a large share of the market. however that large market share will be made up of users who are NOT using Ubuntu and are NOT using GNOME 3.

From Business to Consumer-Device

Personal computers were once tools of the hobbyist and office dwellers to accomplish tasks in new and better ways.

They are mainstream now and primarily used to read email and facebook/twitter, enjoy music, movies, shows, books, blogs, and games-- all available online.

Hardware manufactures release incrementally faster hardware to run the newest, over-bloated operating system on.

Its so sad.

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