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Dear Microsoft… The desktop is NOT a giant tablet!

31 May

One of the most annoying features of Windows 8 is that it treats everything like a tablet with touch screen. Personally, I feel that Microsoft have got it wrong by not differentiating between tablet and desktop usage. Even with the rumoured update of a start screen (finally) in Windows 8.1, things aren’t going to change too drastically in the MS camp.

Microsoft doesn’t seem to learn from their mistake. Previously when the start screen desktop was predominant from Windows 95 onwards, Microsoft have tried to reuse the same user interface in both tablets (or tableted PCs to be more precise) and mobile phones. Both ended up with failure because the desktop just don’t work well on tablets or phones. The time around, the mistake is to design Windows 8 to be pro mobile phone and tablet and try to fit it to the desktop! Clearly the screen size difference and the user’s profile on phone, tablet and desktop are different. On a desktop where screen size is large, users want to be able to work on various applications with the same screen, be it to copy and paste items, compare content or simply to multi-task between chatting with friends, surfing the net and watching TED and writing a blog. On a smaller sized screen, multi-tasking ala desktop UI does not make sense simply due to the screen size being so small makes overlaying applications ineffective and too small to use. But no, Windows 8 forces you to read emails on a 24″ monitor screen maximized, Skype with friends on a 24″ video screen (all the pimple details!!) or even listen to music on a 24″ screen; this is an ineffective use of such large screens and isn’t it a wonder why people are asking for the start button and default desktop mode?

Furthermore even if you try to use the tile application exlusively, you are redirected back to the desktop mode inadvertantly. For example, if you want to make changes to the network, you need to launch the desktop mode “Network Sharing” application. Or you need desktop mode to make changes to your music or video library.

If I didn’t need some applications only available on Microsoft or just being plain lazy, I would have gone Apple OS for desktop… seriously (still an open option for me). Apple made the right decision to keep the UI different between phone/tablet and desktop. In fact, the Apple OS desktop has not changed too much since inception and each version just makes the desktop run more faster, better and effectively, unlike Windows UI that keeps changing from 95 (and before) to XP to Vista/7 and now 8. Any Windows support person will have a hard time support the various UI flavors with icons buried in different areas in different versions. Even for a Windows server support professional like me, I had a hard time doing simple tasks like looking for print queues or task scheduler, I cannot imagine what the consumers must go through with the ever changing Windows UI.

I suspect with the current strong oppostiion, Microsoft will have to back-paddle and settle for applications working both in desktop (windowed) and tablet/phone application mode.

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Posted by on May 31, 2013 in General, Windows

 

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