Windows 8 and Windows 8 concept screens: The opinion of someone who thinks his opinion matters
Before I launch into my tirade, it's necessary for me to say that I think that this concept and this concept are both beautiful, well thought out, and simply incredible. I also want to clarify that I am definitely not a design expert in any way, shape, or form, and would never make myself out to be. So whatever I say in this post is purely coming out of the mind of a consumer with an enthusiasm for technology - much like I expect all of you to be as well. I am completely open to everyone else's ideas, and thank you for reading!
That said, the first problem I had with these concepts is that they received so much attention so quickly and so much knee-jerk-reactional type praise that I questioned how great these UI's really are. With the massive design and research team at Microsoft, I would expect that the official version of Windows 8 has been carefully debated and planned for so long that I have confidence in Microsoft's work. However, that isn't an argument that has any real substance, just something I want us all to keep in mind, so here is my analysis of Windows 8, the Desktop concept by Sputnik8, and the UI by zainadeel in that order.
Windows 8: For the most part, I like Windows 8. Most of its features don't bother me, and it appears snappy and modern enough. Here is a bulleted list of what I like and don't like.
- SkyDrive integration: I use Skydrive all the time. I love it. It's easy and convenient for me, and 25GB is more than adequate space, so I'm excited SkyDrive going to be tightly integrated in Windows 8.
- Presentation of files in Metro UI: Hey, it looks pretty. The arrangement of photos is pretty nice. I don't actually hear enough about this feature; all of the focus goes toward how Explorer in the Desktop part of Windows 8 has been improved.
- Being forced to make a choice: I don't like Windows 8 because it gives two choices for almost every feature. You can view files in Metro or in Desktop. You can go to Control Panel (I think) in Metro or in Desktop. How are we, as simple-minded users, supposed to make a choice like that every single time we want to use something?
- Far too jarring switch between Metro and Desktop: To quote my favorite TV show, "Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing." Combining Metro and Desktop, instead of being a harmonious bridge between the Windows 7 era and the complete immersion of Metro UI, has turned into something far more catastrophic. Instead of being one piece, it's a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde situation. How can I not feel like my Windows experience is broken when I'm supposed to switch between Metro and Desktop? In every operating system, I believe the aesthetic and design language should be a constant, ubiquitous experience. The Desktop experience on Windows 8 feels like a remnant of Windows 7 that Microsoft is only inputting to try and salvage whatever positive experiences users may have had with Windows 7 and put those connotations in with Windows 8. Whatever it is, I don't like it, and I don't think it's working very well. In fact, its almost as if the designers got lazy and instead of finding creative, unique ways to make Metro UI just as functional as Desktop, just put Desktop in there so it could do whatever Metro can't. Would it really kill the designers to at least make the Windows 8 Desktop somewhat Metro? That would honestly fix a lot for me.
- Vomit green: I was excited when the first pictures of Windows 8's homescreen came out. What I was not so excited about was that it appeared that the default background color would be this vomit green. Couldn't they have gone with something lighter and happier? Or maybe a nice blue? I mean, I liked it at first, but wouldn't it make sense for the start screen to be blue? The Windows 8 logo is a nice sky blue. Historically, blue has always been part of Windows, and I feel the start screen especially should be a nice blue hue, or just NOT GREEN.
- Beautiful "blur" effects: The desktop behind the windows appears to be blurred, which gives it a soft feel. I love this. I'm just interested as to what would happen if there were icons on the desktop?
- Logo: Sputnik8's logo is interesting. It looks nice (a diamond made of squares with a red one on the top), but does it have real significance to the meaning of Windows? To me, not really. But I like it anyway.
- Everything seems so user-friendly: All the buttons are fun, large enough, and inviting. I just question whether or not the screen real estate is being used effectively.
- Bing: There is one screenshot of how Bing would look in IE10. I love it. I can't say I love or hate how Bing looks right now. I mean, there are some elements I like and some I do without. I just wish it was more...minimalistic in real life.
- Too bare-bones? Obviously, that is bound to happen in a concept UI, but I feel like if I had Sputnik8's operating system, I would feel as if it really couldn't do anything. It seems like a good operating system for people who do simple things. But obviously, that's just an assumption.
METRO DESKTOP CONCEPT:
- Explorer: Clean. Touch-friendly, yet mouse friendly.
- Taskbar: I like the idea of dark taskbar. It really lets the icons...pop! And I just love how it shows when there are more than one window of one application open.
- Search bar: Just fantastic. I love how it doesn't interrupt the other things you need to be doing while giving you an easy and effective way to search.
- Destruction of the ribbon: I don't like the Ribbon much either. I think they should stop trying to cheat space and make things more confusing when they could have a clean set of menus.
- Explorer: I'm a little bit more iffy on this. Doesn't seem as harmonious to me, and horizontal text is always a big no-no for me. The change of color from the main window to the right pane makes me feel as if the gray and black parts are extra bulk that increase the "weight" of the window, if that exists. I like how in the second sets of photos, the edges of the windows are curved. I feel like this needs to be emphasized. Curved windows are more attractive and seem much more touchable then hard window edges. People might say that you will inevitably have hard edges in a maximized window, but then you shouldn't really be resizing that anyway if you have it maximized.
- Skin?: It almost seems, by the last photo, that it's just a heavily-skinned Windows 7. All the buttons are rearranged for no particular reason that I can see, and I feel like Microsoft would not rip the familiarity of the positions of buttons away from us like that.
I'm not so sure I like this concept at all. Office should be treated like another app that just has incredibly good integration with Windows, and I would definitely be skeptical about marrying the aesthetic of Office with Windows 7. If nothing else, I like the soft "bumps" and the overall look.
That's it! Feel free to scream at me in the comments for how stupid I'm probably being.