I installed my third beta of Windows 8 on my Samsung Series 9. I am finally starting to see what Microsoft is thinking. Up until this point, I didn’t get it. It’s like Windows 7 but worse. What I realized in this last version is that it is highly intended to be used on a touch screen device.
The Metro UI is designed from the ground up to be used with your fingers, not a pen or a mouse. The graphic design loses all the rounded corners, shadows and gradients that we are used to. It’s all flat and simple. This is becoming the new style, but it has nothing to do with fashion. It is because tablets have crappy video cards and shadows suck up battery life. This was a calculated decision to save battery life.
Microsoft is assuming that a new kind of laptop will emerge that is thin, like the iPad or Samsung Series 9. And this new laptop will run Windows 8. It will be a full blown processor and laptop, not a crippled thing like the iPad, but it will be optimized for finger experiences. The screen will be the touchpad.
I haven’t seen a device like this yet, but I imagine that by Christmas we will be seeing many versions of touch screen ultra-portable laptops. The trackpad will lose significance as the screen itself becomes the interface. This makes sense considering how big and sophisticated the trackpads were getting.
The question I have is whether my hands will get in the way. After all, they are not transparent. One of my primary applications is Outlook. Using the Windows 8 Mail app in Metro was actually quite easy. I could really imagine using it with my fingers. This was the moment I realized the design methodology they were employing. All of the apps in Metro are designed to be Finger-friendly.
This strategy seems sound to me. You have to hand it to Microsoft. They don’t quit. This latest gamble may actually work. I wonder how it will impact Apple and if they will respond with something even better. Even without Steve Jobs.
UPDATE: I just read this on Betanews about a touch screen laptop. It’s the exact thing I am saying they are going to do.