Metro UI in the long term
Microsoft OS with Metro UI have been around for about two years now, it's now available in all Microsoft platforms and still it's a work in progress. Like other Microsoft bets, they will not give up on it. They are ready to go deep in their pocket and Windows pocket is the deepest.
I have been using various Metro UI devices, WP7 (HTC Surround, Dell Venue Pro), Windows 8 (since Sept 2011), and Xbox 360. Overall I can say I enjoy the concept. Chromeless UI that lets you concentrate on the content, live tiles that keep you informed, and an empty start screen that you can design the way you want (WP8 mostly). Also, there are some weaknesses that I can categorize them as
- Metro UI shortcomings
. Multitasking for pro users.
. SDKs' UI toolbox does not have enough templates, App bars and Charms are not enough.
- WinRT shortcomings
. Not enough for professional apps
. Sandbox is secure but slow
Up until Office 2013 preview release (OneNote MX mainly) I doubted as if it is possible to write a real productive app with touch only devices. Radial menu which was previously demoed by the Bing team about a year ago apparently is the answer.
This emphasizes that Metro is not ready to take the world. Maybe after Windows 9 is out but definitely not with Windows 8 and now. Windows 8 lets PC users taste Metro just like what WP7 did for the Phone owners.
Metro and The Cloud
Metro is the Microsoft UI choice for the coming 10-20 years. That's why it is a mix of everything. Metro apps get suspended as soon as 5 seconds after switching away from them. There's no way to have the whole package of Matlab, 3D Studio Max, Photoshop, AutoCAD, and etc. on the metro side unless you want the user to stare at the app while it is processing the simulation. These apps are supposed to have a backend on the cloud (Windows Azure) with a UI on a Metro device, in other word, all the process hungry apps should do the processing on the cloud. Is this what we want now? No, in five years when all devices are connected to internet anywhere all the time? Yes.
What does it take for Metro to succeed? First we need to elaborate on what the success is. In the 90s and 2000s success was having 90% of the market share. Things have changed and are still changing. As soon as Facebook decides on releasing an OS with ecosystem of its own things will change more dramatically. Success for Microsoft on Metro UI can be making at least as much money as Windows division used to make in the coming years. They don't need to have 90% market share to do so with Software as a Service business plan, app store, and Surface.