I'll miss you, Aero...
Hello again, everyone. I promise to make this post much shorter than my first...
As we've all read, the Windows 8 RTM has leaked. Me, being the eager person that I am to try the latest and greatest admittedly downloaded the RTM. I'm not encouraging that everyone go out and download it and I'm not going to go into detail about how to acquire your copy for those of you unfamiliar with the methods involved. Once again, I'm running Windows 8 on a Virtual Machine using VMWare Player. For the record, I do plan on buying Windows 8 when it's publicly available October 26th.
Yeah, I'm not going to refer to the UI as "Windows 8 Style UI." Metro is Metro until Microsoft comes up with something other than a working name for the UI in my opinion.
Now, on to business...
Functionally, Windows 8 is a vast improvement over Windows 7 as I've mentioned in my previous post. Aesthetically (talking specifically about the Desktop, not the Start Screen), not so much, in my opinion. This is not another post of using Metro with a mouse and keyboard; let me make that very clear.
When Windows 7 was released, the general consensus was that Windows 7 was a refined version of Windows Vista. Aero's eye-candy had been toned down and it just preformed much better especially given the fact that the hardware had time to "catch up." Personally, and call me crazy, I was a fan of Vista's flavor of Aero; It just looked much prettier than Windows 7, post beta. Aero gave Windows a new identity, very different to the generic-grey style of the Classic UI or the toy-like nature of Windows XP's default Luna theme.
Windows 8's Desktop UI can't be called a refinement of Windows 7's UI. That would be inaccurate as Windows 8's Desktop takes its design ques from Metro. But's a hardly a step forward either. As I'm browsing through the classic Control Panel and the new File Explorer (Windows Explorer), this Desktop UI just feels... Plain. I guess that'd be the best way to describe it. It almost feels like a step back from the early Aero days when we were first introduced to Aero in Windows Vista Beta 2 and later RC1; Someone took the pretty out of Windows 7, in other words. The visual style is essentially gone with only the layout of control elements remaining and for some reason, borders around list elements (see: Personalization.) This is not the "Metro" that's fast, fluid and unique like Windows Phone or the new Start Screen.
Maybe it's just me. I'm sure some people out there will love the more simplistic looking Desktop UI. At the very least, I would have preferred Microsoft leave the transparency options intact and allow users to set their desired Windows Boarder and Task Bar color and intensity as mentioned in other posts. But what Windows 8 needed as much as a fresh take on the main UI (metro) was an overhaul of the classic Desktop component as well, besides adding the ribbon to the File Explorer.
I recognize though that this might have been too much to ask for, given everything Microsoft has been working on in the past year alone. You could say that an overhauled Desktop would've defeated the purpose of the Start Screen, but the fact of the matter is that both the Start Screen and Desktop are two entirely different ways of interacting with the operating system, and both built around interacting with two types of very different sets of applications as well; Touch and mouse/keyboard.
Finally, for future reference reference, I think the Windows team should take a good look at Office 2013 again and implement that border-less, clean UI into the Desktop, along with fluid animations that really make it feel modern instead of a plain version of Windows 7's UI.
TL;DR They took the pretty out of 7/Vista
Thanks for reading! I look forward to your comments/suggestions.