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Using Windows 8 and the Metro Interface

Tiles for launching: where are my apps?

The Windows 8 developer preview comes with a range of sample Metro apps to give developers some inspiration and to give us users something to try out. They have large colorful tiles with pictures and live updates and they’re already pinned to the Start screen and arranged into groups, as are a couple of key desktop applications – including the Task Manager.

But what about your own applications? When you install a program, a tile for it is pinned to the Start screen in a new group. For something like Office, you get icons for all the apps and utilities that installs. There aren’t tiles for all the programs and utilities installed as part of Windows though; you have to search for those and pin the ones you want, one at a time. Pinning an app to the desktop task bar doesn’t pin it to the Start screen, and it doesn’t even give you the option to pin it to the Start screen. That means you can’t open a program, use it and then pin it to the Start menu. Instead you have to go out of your way to pin it as a separate task.

Install Office and you get tiles for the applications: all of them.

Install Office and you get tiles for the applications: all of them.

Similarly, pinning a Web site to the task bar or saving it as a favorite doesn’t pin it to the Start screen as well. You have to pin it from the Metro version of IE. That does make sense. You don’t want every page you favorite cluttering up the Start screen and if you open a Web site from Metro IE it won’t load plugins like Flash or Silverlight so it won’t work the same way as in desktop IE. But it also means that the Start screen is only a fast way to get to Web sites that don’t use plugins and you have to work out which is which and treat them differently.

If you want to unpin an app, swipe the tile upwards or right-click it to get a menu that lets you unpin it. The same menu lets you choose a smaller tile – for a Metro app – or choose Advanced options for a desktop app. Being able to open the location in Explorer is often a good way to find associated programs and utilities, but it’s a long-winded way of doing it. Running as administrator is useful for power users. Bizarrely enough, you can pin an app from the Start screen to the task bar from here, even though you can’t do it the other way round.

You can only choose larger and smaller tiles for Metro apps.

You can only choose larger and smaller tiles for Metro apps.
  • soo-nah-mee
    The longer I have my WP7 with Mango, the more I'm liking how Windows 8 looks.

    ...Just as long as it's not intrusive when you want (or need) to use the "standard" Windows GUI"
  • theconsolegamer
    W8, the Windows that went Xbox.
  • mcd023
    I'm looking forward to having this on a tablet. I'm using an iPad 1 (mainly for aviation charts), and I'm really liking the idea of being able to snap windows or apps into panes. That's gonna be really nice for productivity, especially for guys like me who may have a hard time remember what numbers to plug into the calculator ;)
  • danielravennest
    Touch interface is useless for desktop monitors, since the optimal view distance to avoid eyestrain requires holding your arms out horizontal, which induces arm strain if you do it all day long. On the other hand, I have room on my physical desk between the keyboard and the two large monitors for a tablet-shaped screen where taskbar, weather gadgets, and application launcher could live comfortably, and touch interface could work.

    So what would be needed there is an option to use *both* Metro and standard desktop UI, selectable by monitor, at the same time.
  • nikorr
    Still don't like it. Looks boring. Unattractive yet...
  • amk-aka-Phantom
    You can’t miss the low power notification and you can’t do anything until you click Close.

    That sucks.

    The Start screen is lively and up-to-date, appealing and modern-looking.

    The Start screen is childish, disgusting green and different from what we're used to for no particular reason. Fixed.

    Unless there will be an option to turn Win8 into something power user-friendly (no Metro AT ALL, no intrusive alerts, no impression that I'm using an OS designed for retards who need to Search all the time because they keep forgetting where they keep their files), I won't get it. It's just disgusting and doesn't deserve to be on my PCs. If you want to work with a retarded OS, there's Mac OS X with its stupid dock; I want Windows to be something that is actually useful and not enraging.
  • shanky887614
    im suprised they dont have a choise which gui you want and could just uninstall metro

    for example on linux you can use gnow or kde as desktop enviroment
    I shutter to think how awful the Windows experience will be on a large multiple screen desktop workstation, having to run almost every application full screen because developers can target all Windows devices with only the Metro GUI. That's right - 30 years of perfecting the desktop metaphor down the drain. Thanks Microsoft.
  • HolyCrusader
    For tablets, the Metro GUI has potential, although I find their current choice of colors unattractive. For desktops - not so much. Like others, I have multiple monitors attached to my system, and nothing I've seen with Metro hints on how it'll work in 2+ monitor environments. Furthermore, it looks as if it'll be a *slower* interface than the current tried-and-true GUI that's current employed by Windows7 I keep wondering if they have Kinetic in mind for Desktop usage of Metro?
  • lordstormdragon
    I don't care about tablets. I'm in the 3D rendering industry, and tablets are not only not an option, they're silly toys for mediocre people doing little to no actual work. Entertainment devices at best. I can see their usefulness in medical and scientific fields, but these fields already have tablets that work great and have for years. Not that there isn't room for improvement, obviously!

    Thus far, the media (be it Tom's or any other site, but most importantly Microsoft themselves) have done no justice to the actual infrastructure of the world in their marketing. Tablet UIs mean nothing to people with real jobs.

    There is no reason to sidegrade to Windows 8 if you have a Windows 7 computer.