Windows 8: Embrace Or Reject?

  • Metro Start Screen does not span multiple monitors: I am not sure why, but Metro Start Screen always stays on one screen in a multi-monitor setup. You cannot stretch it to two screens and you cannot send one of the full-screen Metro apps to another monitor while having some other Metro app open on the first monitor. Whatever new features have been introduced in Windows 8 related to Metro apps (like snapping another app next to a full-screen app) are limited to one screen. This means, in setups with 2 or 3 monitors, users are forced to see the Windows 7-style Desktop on other monitors. This is a bummer, because one way to reduce the jarring that occurs when switching from Metro to Desktop is by limiting the exposure of Desktop and making Metro more fully-functional for day-to-day use. Having a multi-monitor setup means no matter how immersed you are in Metro, your second and/or third monitors will scream “Desktop”, which of course, is not desirable.
  • Switching between Desktop and Start Screen is jarring: Needless to say, it is jarring to go from the bright-colored, big tiles in the Start Screen to a plain old Desktop, and even worse from a power user’s perspective, going from Desktop to the Start Screen.
  • Large monitors: Windows 8 for mouse and keyboard introduces interactions at the corners of the screen to invoke certain commands. For example, bottom right corner has an icon to show all apps (semantic zoom mode) and top left shows the previously accessed app. The mouse has to travel a lot of distance on large monitors to get access to those corners, and so memorizing keyboard shortcuts for those actions will become necessary. Also, depending on how an app is built, there is a chance that most of the big screen would end up being filled with white space.
  • No Compromise may actually be a Compromise itself: I have heard two separate wishes voiced in reaction to Windows 8 – the first, is the ability to turn off Metro Start Screen, and the second is the ability to hide Desktop and make it unavailable. This is Microsoft’s biggest problem: they are trying to create a no-compromise solution by merging both the old and the new, but maybe their customers on both consumer side and enterprise side may be looking for only one or the other? Do you see the “No Compromise” path actually like a compromise? Rather than go with two separate OSes, Microsoft compromised and built (quite nicely, as a v1 effort) a blended OS. Time and customers will tell when Windows 8 comes out, if that was the best option but at the moment there is enough concern from both the sides to create some level of worry in Redmond.
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    Romit Mehta

    Romit writes about mobile news and gadgets, and is currently a Windows Phone owner (Nokia Lumia 920). Find him on twitter @TheRomit. Personal site is