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Ballmer Hints At 'Metro-ization' of Office

Soulskill posted about 3 years ago | from the no-making-up-words dept.

Microsoft 302

CWmike writes "Microsoft's CEO strongly hinted this week that the company will craft a Metro-style version of the next Office suite. 'You ought to expect that we are rethinking and working hard on what it would mean to do Office Metro style,' Ballmer told a Wall Street analyst. Metro, a tile- and touch-based interface borrowed from Windows Phone 7, would be a massive change for Office, one that would dwarf the 'ribbonization' that set off a firestorm of complaints about Office 2007's new look. The criticism died down, and Microsoft later extended the ribbon in Office 2010 and Windows 7. It will ribbonize other components of Windows 8, notably the OS's file manager. One analyst believes Metro Office is a done deal. 'I think they need something in Metro to enable people to work on documents on tablets,' said Rob Helm, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft. 'They need something on ARM.'"

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There's a patch (5, Insightful)

ttong (2459466) | about 3 years ago | (#37424948)

Luckily, there is a patch and you can download it here [libreoffice.org] . (It's not really a library, btw.)

Re:There's a patch (1, Redundant)

node 3 (115640) | about 3 years ago | (#37424974)

Luckily, there is a patch and you can download it here [libreoffice.org] . (It's not really a library, btw.)

And it's not really a patch, and it doesn't run on Metro...

Re:There's a patch (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425082)

And it's not really a patch, and it doesn't run on Metro...

.. and that was sort of the point.

Re:There's a patch (0)

node 3 (115640) | about 3 years ago | (#37425132)

And it's not really a patch, and it doesn't run on Metro...

.. and that was sort of the point.

Which is absolutely no point whatsoever.

Re:There's a patch (1)

ttong (2459466) | about 3 years ago | (#37425716)

Wow, the point is that it doesn't use Metro and that despite its name is not just a library. You mad?

"The criticism died down"... oh really? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37424962)

According to whom? On what evidence?

Metro is a pile of shite, the 'designers' are idiots who are simply trying to justify their positions, by ruining everybody's user experience.

Re:"The criticism died down"... oh really? (2)

jwegman (228147) | about 3 years ago | (#37425008)

Exactly! I still loath and the ribbon and always will. It is an abomination of a UI element.

And Metro is even worse!

Re:"The criticism died down"... oh really? (1, Redundant)

plover (150551) | about 3 years ago | (#37425206)

Two things. First, you personally are not their target market for UIs. If you don't like the ribbon, it doesn't matter because they won't change it.

Second, all the slamming of the ribbon is really tired tempest-in-a-teapot stuff. Find a more meaningful problem to worry about.. Right now, you sound pretty whiny because you can't get over something so trivial. Four years ago there was an insignificant change to a product with no more than a five year lifespan. Let it go.

In the grand scheme of life, do you really want to be known as "the guy who cried over the shifting of some menu items back in '07?"

Re:"The criticism died down"... oh really? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425224)

To be fair, the summary acts like the complaints dying down are all it took for Microsoft to continue the disliked interface. That makes it sound like the way to get them to stop this kind of thing is to continue complaining, constantly and loudly.

Re:"The criticism died down"... oh really? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425542)

I completely agree. There is no reason to whine about the ribbon when there are good alternative office suites out there. I am so glad I dumped Microsoft Office years ago.

Re:"The criticism died down"... oh really? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425708)

jwegman might not be the target market, but I sure am, as an employee in a Fortune Global 500 company with an IT department so conservative that we finally migrated company laptops/desktops to Vista and Office 2007 last year. That is not a typo. We migrated to Vista after 7 came out. This was allegedly because certain intranet applications were not certified to work with Windows 7, but anyway.

I am still not as productive in Office 2007 as I was with previous versions of Office, and neither is everyone else in my department. We grudgingly accepted the "upgrade" only because wey were receiving a bunch of Office 2007 files from customers that Office 2003 converter couldn't grok. If we have to go through another gratuitous change in UI so soon, I guarantee you that there will be upset managers with pitchforks outside the IT department. The IT department is aware of this.

So the consequence is that we will not get an upgrade beyond Windows 7 and Office 2010 until Microsoft withdraws enterprise support from each. Which will be a long, long, long time, if XP is any indication. A few slashdotters revolting may not get Microsoft's attention, but a megacorporation with 10,000+ licenses should. (And if it doesn't, Steve Ballmer ought to be fired. We're the customer segment paying for his lunch money, you know.)

Re:"The criticism died down"... oh really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425784)

jwegman might not be the target market, but I sure am, as an employee in a Fortune Global 500 company with an IT department so conservative that we finally migrated company laptops/desktops to Vista and Office 2007 last year. That is not a typo. We migrated to Vista after 7 came out. This was allegedly because certain intranet applications were not certified to work with Windows 7, but anyway.

Vista has one huge advantage over windows 7. With Vista, you can turn off the craptacular new user interface and go back to the "classic" interface.

With windows 7, MS made the craptacular new user interface mandatory.

Re:"The criticism died down"... oh really? (2)

NoobixCube (1133473) | about 3 years ago | (#37425252)

A Metro office will probably just have the ribbon, but BIGGER! They probably sat around thinking "How can we infuriate Office users this year? We already doubled the amount of space the UI takes up while exposing them to less features..." and then some bright spark goes "Let's double it agaiiiinnnn! :D"

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for tidying up interfaces, and the ribbon is a good try; but that's as high as my praise will go. It's a try, not a success. It's a designer's attempt at trying to figure out what's relevant to you, contextually, and when something isn't deemed relevant, it gets hard to find when you DO want it. My solution is to bury things in menus, but not like the one you see at the top of your window now (if it hasn't been eaten up by designers). Something sort of like the Ribbon, but with less contextual awareness; one that makes less assumptions and gets out of you way. There's such a thing as taking away too much when you're trying to simplify.

Re:"The criticism died down"... oh really? (3, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about 3 years ago | (#37425668)

...some bright spark goes "Let's double it agaiiiinnnn! :D"

You won't be laughing when they introduce Office NBR (Nothing But Ribbon) which has optimized the document portion of the interface away to avoid distraction from the hypnotic, all consuming awesomeness of The Ribbon (blessed be its name).

Re:"The criticism died down"... oh really? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425594)

Ribbon is just fine if you have enough screen real estate, namely 1900x1200. Less than that and it starts looking worse and worse as resolution goes down. But the idea is good and it's very usable, the main problem is that you get accustomed to it pretty fast but if you then move to a machine with less horizontal resolution, buttons start to collapse to drop-downs and you never find them.

As for the Metro interface, you're clearly a troll that managed to get a score of 2 (happens only on /.) You should really try it for a day or two on a phone. When you'll go back, you'll be staring at all those icons in your phone feeling sad. The same sadness you can experience when loading a videogame from the eighties with all those blocky sprites. Oh, and for some time you will try pushing beside the central button to go back to something else you were doing. But unfortunately there will be only plastic there on your phone :)

Seriously, they really did a good job with WP7. Go, figure about usability. Besides, there's factually much more innovation in Metro than icons and group of icons. Really.

Re:"The criticism died down"... oh really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425850)

According to whom? On what evidence?

Metro is a pile of shite, the 'designers' are idiots who are simply trying to justify their positions, by ruining everybody's user experience.

Why haven't you been modded up to 500!!! Truer words have never been written on Slashdot!!!

It'll just be a simplified version (1)

Toonol (1057698) | about 3 years ago | (#37424972)

'I think they need something in Metro to enable people to work on documents on tablets,' said Rob Helm, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft. 'They need something on ARM.'"

Sure, but that doesn't mean that there will be no more desktop version of office. These will be two different office suites that can inter-operate: Traditional desktop Office, and Metro Office. Since it sounds like tablets will only be able to run the Metro-style apps, this is inevitable, and not a big deal.

Re:It'll just be a simplified version (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425164)

Since it sounds like tablets will only be able to run the Metro-style apps

ARM tablets will; Intel tablets will run both.

Re:It'll just be a simplified version (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425386)

It must suck to type on a screen.

Re:It'll just be a simplified version (1)

muindaur (925372) | about 3 years ago | (#37425572)

I'm hoping that, since it runs Windows 8, you will be able to set it up landscape on a reading stand with a bluetooth mouse and keyboard. Easy to get a smaller keyboard for portability; like the Apple one: with the detriment of no number pad. I'm not saying the Apple one is the solution, just that it's a good example of a compact keyboard. One I've tested before, and found it comfortable to type on despite my normally large keyboards.

For home use, if done right, I might just have only a Windows tablet so I can use office for the needed files. Other than Office, all I need these days is a tablet (only thing I do on a computer is internet, email, Facebook, and office.)

Great (-1, Troll)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 3 years ago | (#37424978)

Thats what I want, 2 versions of orifice to purchase, at least CE came with the basics.

and good job MS, you cant even settle on a standard UI anymore, you have classic, ribbion and now metro all fighting for our mouseclicks, how the hell does that help anyone when every freaking window has a gd new U I!?!?

Balmer, your a moron

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425194)

Funny you say that. I feel the exact same way about the last 3 Ubuntu releases.

Re:Great (1)

couchslug (175151) | about 3 years ago | (#37425256)

"and good job MS, you cant even settle on a standard UI anymore, you have classic, ribbion and now metro all fighting for our mouseclicks, how the hell does that help anyone when every freaking window has a gd new U I!?!?"

And they say that Windows developers learned nothing from Linux!
(runs)

MS ahead of the game for once? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37424982)

The trend in computing is pretty clear: outside of some small niches here and there, it goes: mainframe -> workstation -> PC -> mobile (tablets/smartphones). Ribbonization makes products more suitable for the up and coming mobile world, and it seems like about the only time I can remember that Microsoft was actually on the leading side of the curve rather than the trailing side.

Ubutu has tried this too with Unity, but their attempt at mobile friendliness is a bit of a disaster.

Re:MS ahead of the game for once? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37424994)

Ooops I meant metroization not ribbonization

Re:MS ahead of the game for once? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425086)

WTH, you are not me, why are you correcting me?

Re:MS ahead of the game for once? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425140)

Yes, I am. I think we should take our medicine now.

Re:MS ahead of the game for once? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425490)

I also wanted to say that the ribbon interface is soooooooo fabulous and pretty. Lately, it's all that the boys talk about at the bath house.

Re:MS ahead of the game for once? (1)

glenstar (569572) | about 3 years ago | (#37425870)

This is why Slashdot needs a "Like" or "+1" button.

Behind the game? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425072)

Considering nobody sane uses windows mobile, I feel like they're behind the game.

Re:MS ahead of the game for once? (0)

node 3 (115640) | about 3 years ago | (#37425100)

Yup, they are actually taking the lead... in the line of copiers following Apple, as usual.

The iPad has been around for almost two years now. Windows 8 is just now being publicly shown in its early testing phase. This is MS rightfully working to fix their tablet OS after someone else showed them how it's done. It's not done by tacking touch into their desktop GUI. It's done by starting from scratch with the UI.

MS is making a smart move, but they are by no means ahead of the industry.

Re:MS ahead of the game for once? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425358)

> in the line of copiers following Apple, as usual.

This. The mobile ship is departing, and MS isn't on it. Apple is.

Re:MS ahead of the game for once? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425792)

Yup, they are actually taking the lead... in the line of copiers following Apple, as usual.

So what exactly are they copying?

Smartphones? MS Smarthphone was already around in 2002/2003 and it was quite a success. Apple made the step in the market in 2005 with the ROKR but that was Motorola. You have to wait 2007 for the iPhone. So no, they are not copying this.

Tablets? MS has been around since 2001 and please don't start stretching it with the Newton, a complete failure, as opposed to Windows CE on PDAs that was ubiquitous

Matrix of icons in the GUI? ROTFL...

Re:MS ahead of the game for once? (1)

macs4all (973270) | about 3 years ago | (#37425188)

The trend in computing is pretty clear: outside of some small niches here and there, it goes: mainframe -> workstation -> PC -> mobile (tablets/smartphones). Ribbonization makes products more suitable for the up and coming mobile world, and it seems like about the only time I can remember that Microsoft was actually on the leading side of the curve rather than the trailing side.

Ubutu has tried this too with Unity, but their attempt at mobile friendliness is a bit of a disaster.

Having had to deal with RE-LEARNING MSOffice pretty much from the ground-up due to "ribbonization", I have to ask: What is the difference between a "Ribbon" and a "Toolbar"? They both take up valuable screen real-estate, and in the case of the Ribbon, I don't think they are as customizable as the old Toolbars were (I might be wrong on that point, though).

Like so, so many of MS' "innovations", the Ribbon seems like change for change's sake. Now, instead of pawing through menus to find the command I am looking for, I now have to paw through Ribbons (plural) to figure out the icon I am looking for (not that the old toolbar icons were any better...)

So, tell me how MS was "ahead of the curve", since Toolbars have been used for at least a couple of decades now.

Re:MS ahead of the game for once? (0)

Pino Grigio (2232472) | about 3 years ago | (#37425406)

I think there was something like £100,000,000 spent on research to produce the Ribbon. Personally I like it. Intermediate and Advanced users are more productive with it than they were with menu/toolbar combination. Plus it's aesthetically pleasing, which is something I value quite highly in a UI.

Re:MS ahead of the game for once? (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 3 years ago | (#37425580)

It's just a way for old users to feel even more superior. If you can get the job done in vi before they've even found the right ribbon there is something wrong. The same goes with older versions of MS Office and keyboard shortcuts.

Re:MS ahead of the game for once? (1)

SpiralSpirit (874918) | about 3 years ago | (#37425846)

ancient autocad users still tell me "release 14 was the best one ever". That was 1997. There will always be curmudgeons.

Re:MS ahead of the game for once? (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 3 years ago | (#37425884)

Oddly enough that was the last version I could justify buying so I don't have a clue what AutoCAD looks like now. At least the "light" version has actual circles now and can draw tangents these days.

Boy did I misread that title (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 3 years ago | (#37424986)

Is queer eye for the straight guy still on? I honestly thought this was going to be an article about Ballmer bringing the queer eye team to Redmond and having them do some work on Microsoft's headquarters...

Re:Boy did I misread that title (1)

spud603 (832173) | about 3 years ago | (#37425026)

what? what part of the title made you think of that?

Re:Boy did I misread that title (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 3 years ago | (#37425058)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metrosexual [wikipedia.org]

This might have something to do with the fact that I have not used any "office suite" software in so long that I no longer associate "Office" with "Microsoft's collection of word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software." Or the fact that I did not know that Windows Phone 7's UI was called "Metro," and thought that Ballmer was seeking to "metro-ize" his office (which I believe is in Redmond).

Re:Boy did I misread that title (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 3 years ago | (#37425260)

What's funny about the word 'metrosexual' is that 'metro-' means 'mother'.

Not sure what we should make of that... just think it's funny.

Re:Boy did I misread that title (1)

spud603 (832173) | about 3 years ago | (#37425270)

so: "metro-ization" > "metrosexual" > "homosexual" > queer eye
I get it now, but that's quite a few leaps :)

Re:Boy did I misread that title (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425080)

No, it's Queer Eye for the Straight GUI.

Re:Boy did I misread that title (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425232)

iQueer

Credit where it's due... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425244)

That's taken straight from the Ars Technica forum comments, attached to the story. Unless you're the same guy, attribution would be the right thing to do.

Captcha: biters

Re:Boy did I misread that title (0)

CAIMLAS (41445) | about 3 years ago | (#37425416)

... you DO know they're talking about the Windows 8 interface, right? Have you seen it? It makes the Apple interface look, like, totally boring.

Not beating horse (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 3 years ago | (#37424996)

I'll hand it to Ballmer for not beating a dead horse and try to wedge Office into a form factor that worked okay but didn't get critical mass (Windows tablets). Now he's going to wedge it using a new UI that probably won't work on ARM tablets. He's clearly moved on to beating dead mules. ;)

Linux, still here, still free (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425000)

Come home.

First Bill, then Steve... ... you know these guys are no good for you baby.

I'll always be here for you.

- Tux

Re:Linux, still here, still free (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425098)

still mostly broken, and requires you read a 14 page document to install a video driver

Re:Linux, still here, still free (1)

isorox (205688) | about 3 years ago | (#37425334)

still mostly broken, and requires you read a 14 page document to install a video driver

Sorry, I've used linux for 12 years. What's a driver?

Re:Linux, still here, still free (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425440)

That's why it takes 14 pages to install it.

Re:Linux, still here, still free (1)

Truekaiser (724672) | about 3 years ago | (#37425420)

not really.. all modern nvidia and amd hardware just works when you install the binary driver.

Re:Linux, still here, still free (1)

node 3 (115640) | about 3 years ago | (#37425126)

Still here, still free, and still being ignored by 99% of consumers.

As much of a train wreck Windows 8 is looking to be, I don't see how it will compel your average computer user to switch to Linux.

Re:Linux, still here, still free (2)

pspahn (1175617) | about 3 years ago | (#37425458)

...and still being ignored by 99% of consumers.

Someone will figure out how to attract the generic consumer at some point. Compare average user awareness of Linux five years ago versus today. People have actually heard about it by now.

The general perception is probably something along the lines of, "I know it exists. I don't know why I would want it. It's over my head."

Give users a reason to switch and they will as long as they remain comfortable with an OS switch. Android seems to be doing well. LAMP seems to be doing well (not really a consumer product, but it does have a consumer facing aspect since it is an option when purchasing web hosting, which many average people are doing today).

All Linux needs is a good spokesman. Someone with a marketing degree and not an engineering/CS degree. Or, what seems to be the most likely, a wrapper around Linux that tells the user a lot in a simple snappy name. Android did that and it's worked quite well.

Re:Linux, still here, still free (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425600)

Five years ago! Yay!

http://penguinday.wordpress.com/2010/08/11/the-eternal-five-years/

Re:Linux, still here, still free (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 3 years ago | (#37425632)

ASUS figured that out with the netbooks but they also have a large laptop section that depends on cheap MS Windows licences to be competitive. Thus at a trade show a few years ago the CEO was singing the praises of his linux netbooks in the morning and made a PUBLIC APOLOGY about them not having MS Windows in the afternoon, and then dropped the entire linux product line. He'd had lunch with some people from Microsoft.
There was an article about that incident here at the time.
The details of whatever deal or threats were made were not reported but the results were very clear.

Re:Linux, still here, still free (1)

That Guy From Mrktng (2274712) | about 3 years ago | (#37425650)

Is not going to happen, you can't force marketing on a "product" thats not mean to be marketed. The trend that Apple started is the "dumbification" of technology, everything has to be easy and work 100% of the time, shit can't go wrong because users are clueless or have better things to do than to fiddle with config files in nano, ascii both ways.

Linux requires users with smarts, curiosity and free time and those are not common to a lot of people. Linux should focus in introducing itself to kids and education environments since, by personal experience, kids easily love Linux because they have the 3 things I mentioned above, also they have the motivation to pose as "teh 1337dude that uses Linux".

Android is a good example, everybody knows android and most of them know that it runs on that stuff called Linux, they see it working, they see it's cool and shinny and at least in the consumer mind Linux is not synonymous of bash prompts and 8 bit color GUI anymore.

Most of us would like Linux to have a relevant market share, but in reality what we'd like to see is more people smart enough to value Linux and with the motivation to learn it and tame it, is not going to happen unless you give them a strong motivation, a tangible motivation. _Freedom_ is not tangible, people ask themselves why using Win or OSX make them _non free people_ and then they realize it's a televangelist kind of discourse and could not care less.

Re:Linux, still here, still free (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425766)

Still here, still free, and still being ignored by 99% of consumers.

As much of a train wreck Windows 8 is looking to be, I don't see how it will compel your average computer user to switch to Linux.

I think people sometimes forget the users that Windows designs for.
I don't enjoy when the OS tries to make decisions about what I'm trying to do, I like to configure things myself. I use BSD unix, my wife uses Windows.
Most people using Windows would be pretty pissed off having to manually configure everything.
Let people use what makes them happy....... that interface will probably be welcomed by many right away, the rest will learn to like it or leave.

Re:Linux, still here, still free (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 3 years ago | (#37425524)

Been there, tried that for 3.5 years after seeing Vista was the future of Windows. Win7 brought me back, if Metro is something I abhor then I got no problem making 7 the new XP and keeping it for many years to come. Besides, you typically get one generation of "classic" mode so I'd say at worst it becomes hopeless when Win8 support ends around 2020 or so. And there's Mac, but I figure they're heading down the same path Microsoft is, in fact a bit further up the road. Mostly I'm anxious to see what happens to Qt and KDE, because if Gnome 3 and Unity is any sign of what's to come then I'd rather become a grumpy old fart talking about how everything was better before.

A dumb idea, but... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425048)

This is one of those really dumb ideas that I hope catches on. Like... well... I can't think of another example.

The reason why it's dumb should be obvious: they're trying to port a program with an input that's 99% keystrokes over to a device that has no keyboard.

The reason why I hope it catches on is that it might encourage tablet hardware designers to start seriously considering adding some kind of hardware keyboard to their devices. No, the on-screen keyboard doesn't count. I have a touchscreen netbook and I still claim it's superior to tablets in almost every respect, but its weaknesses (shorter battery life, bulkier than a tablet, takes too long to power up) keep me from just keeping it in my pocket and using it whenever I have a spare 5 minutes.

Between the addition of a keyboard and a some of the tablet designers finally getting it through their heads that the only way to beat Apple is on price, I might just break down and buy a tablet.

Re:A dumb idea, but... (1)

unencode200x (914144) | about 3 years ago | (#37425120)

The reason why it's dumb should be obvious: they're trying to port a program with an input that's 99% keystrokes over to a device that has no keyboard.

I wish I had mod points!

Agreed on this one, tablets (at least the one's I've worked on) are not for authoring novels or creating spreadsheets. You can take a look at them and so forth, but, at least for now, they're constrained by their form factor.

Re:A dumb idea, but... (1)

zero0ne (1309517) | about 3 years ago | (#37425760)

brain implant :)

Dear Microsoft.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425054)

What the hell?

Sincerely, every single pc user on the face of this planet.

Did he run around screaming (1)

unassimilatible (225662) | about 3 years ago | (#37425064)

"Developers!" when he said it?

Sorry, someone had to risk the OT karma hit.

Metrosexualised (1)

MrKaos (858439) | about 3 years ago | (#37425090)

So the interface is sooooooo Metro-sexsual, darling

Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425110)

Isn't "Metro" just slang for "pretty gay"?

Riding on the Metro (2)

gstrickler (920733) | about 3 years ago | (#37425118)

I remember a feeling coming over me
I was hoping you might change your mind
I remember hating you for changing things
Riding on the Metro

with apologies to Berlin

20 years of menu bars and buttons and MDI ... (1)

hardtofindanick (1105361) | about 3 years ago | (#37425134)

...was going to be boring at some point. Apparently that point is now.

On the bright side something good may come out of this "dumb-down-the-product" approach made popular (and commercially perfected) by Apple. It worked great for them so since MS is trying to re-invent themselves, why not follow the same paradigm.

On the other hand, the pro users (a slight super set of the little crowd here at /.) think that the old one worked just fine, why mess with it, rightly so

I think noone is really wrong or right here. Only time will tell if MS can pull this off.

Re:20 years of menu bars and buttons and MDI ... (1)

Microlith (54737) | about 3 years ago | (#37425350)

It worked great for them so since MS is trying to re-invent themselves, why not follow the same paradigm.

Indeed. And they get to follow Apple's lead in getting users the world over to accept DRM'd hardware and walled gardens. They can convince users that mobile devices need to be meticulously managed by the OS vendor, and allowing you access of any kind below the shiny, barred exterior is bad and will lead only to bad things.

This is something Microsoft has dreamed of for years. Apple beat them to the punch with iOS, and now Microsoft is following along. I expect the restrictions being placed on access to Metro will grow and eventually encompass all software that touches the Windows platform. Much like drivers, you will eventually be unable to install software without getting a Microsoft signature (for $hundreds) and you'll only be able to sell through Microsoft's app store.

Re:20 years of menu bars and buttons and MDI ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425666)

I expect the restrictions being placed on access to Metro will grow and eventually encompass all software that touches the Windows platform. Much like drivers, you will eventually be unable to install software without getting a Microsoft signature (for $hundreds) and you'll only be able to sell through Microsoft's app store.

I bet they LOVE you down at the tinfoil store...

Umm (1)

jader3rd (2222716) | about 3 years ago | (#37425146)

Metro doesn't give you ARM. The two aren't related.

Re:Umm (1)

Toonol (1057698) | about 3 years ago | (#37425266)

Metro doesn't give you ARM. The two aren't related.

They kind of are, in that if you're a windows app on ARM, you're going to run using Metro. x86 apps can use Metro or the normal Desktop. While there'll be cross-platform Metro apps, their primary use will be for portable ARM devices.

Re:Umm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425282)

Yes, they are. Win8 ARM devices will run Metro apps only.

Re:Umm (1)

jader3rd (2222716) | about 3 years ago | (#37425876)

Win8 ARM devices will run Metro apps only.

Given that the previous Windows on ARM demo's didn't involve that I'd like to see your source on that. The previous demos showed a normal working desktop running the desktop apps.

In other news (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425204)

Miguel De Icaza has announced a new open source reimplementation of Microsoft's Metro interface, built on the Mono platform. This reimplementation will run on any operating system supported by Mono, unlike the official "Metro" implementation.

The new open source UI has been dubbed "Homo," which means "self" in Latin.

More information can be found the Homo website: Homo project [mono-project.org] .

Kudos (5, Insightful)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 3 years ago | (#37425208)

After Ribbons, it has become extremely difficult to think up ways to make MS Office worse. Continuing to do so shows an unbelievable level of commitment and effort.

Re:Kudos (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425298)

Here's a freebie...

1. Put it in the cloud
2. Cloud services taken down by worm
3. When services are restored, everybody has unrestricted access to everyone's documents
4. Julian (still in Swedish prison) is inexplicably blamed for classified documents being downloaded by internet at large

jesus fucking christ (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425272)

one more reason to avoid Windows 8

Do they understand GUI design? (3, Insightful)

zoffdino (848658) | about 3 years ago | (#37425320)

Does Microsoft understand that different form-factor requires different GUI design? They try to shove the one-size-fit-all approach to all the devices that they design, that's why they fail so hard. You can't take a PC interface, with mouse and keyboard, and copy it directly over to a tablet, where an icon is too small to be touched precisely by a stylus. You can't do serious document editing or spreadsheet on a phone / tablet so design those apps with a "good enough" feature set and let go. You can't copy a panel-based interface to a keyboard and mouse environment. Apple knows how to do those things: they have a scroller for the phone, a pop up for the tablet, and a plain old drop down for the computer. They make them "consistent" but far from identical, cause your interaction with them are different.

shi7! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425366)

I thought it was my the pa]roject to

Will tablets bring back handwriting? (1)

blair1q (305137) | about 3 years ago | (#37425402)

Tablets are more amenable to handwriting than desktops, and less to typing than desktops.

Can they bring back handwriting?

Will it be more efficient for input?

Can conversion to typed text be made error-free?

And what of hybrid concepts like Swype?

Re:Will tablets bring back handwriting? (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 3 years ago | (#37425482)

handwriting sucks

1) its slow
2) its different for every person on the planet
3) its typically unreadable

Re:Will tablets bring back handwriting? (2)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 3 years ago | (#37425618)

Handwriting and typing each have their place. Typing is typically done at a desk or on your lap. Handwriting is good for when you're standing up or in the field. Further, you can handwrite things you can't type. Ever try to type an equation or a chart?

Re:Will tablets bring back handwriting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425488)

Tablets are more amenable to handwriting than desktops, and less to typing than desktops. Can they bring back handwriting? Will it be more efficient for input? Can conversion to typed text be made error-free? And what of hybrid concepts like Swype?

To answer your questions in order: Yes. No. For certain values of 'error-free'. It's stupid.

Re:Will tablets bring back handwriting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425598)

Where is the -1 Ignorant mod?

Microsoft has been trying handwriting on tablets since they started working on tablets, which was before anyone else. If handwriting actually worked well Microsoft's probably in a better position to take advantage of it than anyone else. The problem is, it doesn't, so that idea has been scrapped for the traditional 'copy Apple' strategy. Diverting from this strategy rarely seems to work well for Microsoft.

Re:Will tablets bring back handwriting? (1)

cbhacking (979169) | about 3 years ago | (#37425698)

Windows has supported handwriting recognition for years, and still does in Win8 (assuming you have a digitizer that can recognize a stylus). Whether Word will support handwriting recognition within a doc directly, I don't know. OneNote already does, though.

Re:Will tablets bring back handwriting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425854)

As slow as touch keyboards are, handwriting is even slower, even with a stylus. Although, I suppose it has the advantage that you can do it without looking at the screen.

Port the C++ code (1)

s0lar (217978) | about 3 years ago | (#37425434)

Well, I doubt they would ever port the massive codebase to their new C++/CX dialect. Does anyone remember the C++/CLR thing and all the talk about Office.NET? Yeah, right.

However, I am sure there will be a small tile-based viewer.

Stacks (1, Interesting)

MikShapi (681808) | about 3 years ago | (#37425448)

So here's the thing. Big tech is all about the verticals nowadays. Here's my future.

Apple showed us how it's done - having the CPU, the iDevice, the OS, developing carrier relations, an app store, a lot of apps and a developer community, and now a cross-device cloud service. Apple makes most of its money from the devices by the way.

Google's not letting down. After Eric Shmidt and Larry Page had their disagreement on whether Google should be fleshing out its own stack or consolidating around its "core business" (see Yahoo for why I believe that's a BAD strategy), Eric left and Larry went to work. They thought about their stack - same stack as Apple only top-down and with only part of the components - the cloud services, the OS, the app store and developer community, and its minor foray into the device business.

So they bought all the stack components they were missing in one lean and mean acquisition of virtually all 'things' Motorola - the solid carrier relations worldwide, a device making capability, the "defensive" patent portfolio - and they even one-upped Apple - they got another rung down - they now make the baseband too.

And here's where the big surprise rolled in.

Microsoft Windows 8.

Windows? In the mobile space? Weren't they late to the party? Aren't they dragging their feet with some distant relative of PocketPC? Wasn't their buddy Nokia about to be decimated and dismembered with cheaper ~350$ iPhone models and cheap Androids in some 100 countries with no carrier subsidies? You know, those places where Nokia still sells more phones than everyone else in the world combined? Those places where nobody buys 500$ phones?
Apple and Google are still going to take them to pieces, right? You know, Apple driving a cloud software package and "Cord-free" in those same countries where many people don't have enough money for both a PC and a phone?

Well... just hang on for a second and let's think about it like rational geeks who pertain to understand why Android and iPhone changed the market.
So don't sell your microsoft stock just yet. Looks like they've been thinking it through. REAL hard.

Remember how in 2007 a "phone" was a device? As was the music player, the GPS and to some extent the camera? Today, just like the others, the phone is an app. Sure, we call the device a "phone", but that's just legacy that stuck. Almost like calling a computer a typewriter. It's a rabidly multi-dimensional device. It's a web node, a tricorder, a content delivery platform and a bank terminal. And so much more. We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

All this to say, a phone is an app.

So it's 2007 all over again, only now it's Microsoft actually doing something /different/ for the first time in 24 years. It's their defining iPhone moment.

It's all in the PC, stupid - it got commoditized, all but forgotten, but it still does al the heavy hauling of our actual work.

  And on the new breed of mobile devices - "phones", tablets and whatever follows, it is, if Microsoft have their way, going to become, plain and simple, an app.
  And not just any app mind you. It'll be the killer app that will allow a lot of people to drop their desktop or laptop.

You'll hook your phone or tablet up to a screen and a keyboard (with or without cables), or not, launch said app, and do your word, excel, visio and other work stuff. When you close this app, under it all will be a mobile OS UI on-par (one would hope) with iOS and Android.

Cute, but where's microsoft going to conjure the entire stack needed to pull this off? It ain't a single-layer market anymore where you can get by as a big player making just the OS or just the device....

Microsoft isn't as bad as you'd think in their stack. They have handsets, basebands and carrier relations covered by their now best buddy Nokia, both them and Nokia have access to CPUs, they have a mobile OS that unlike Blackberry, webOS etc is actually competent, with a new kernel and the metro UI everyone's raving about, and they have the momentum and can wear the hard slog of gearing up an apps community and app store. And they're already pushing the cloud package with Office 365. Oh yeah, and they make their money from selling Office, so don't expect them to wither away and die anytime soon.

Apple can do this in a blink by the way. They have a powerful desktop OS they can just integrate straight into their mobile stack. They're already laying out the groundwork in fact - notice how you can show your iPad screen on an external display wirelessly? Notice how the "PC" was demoted below the cloud? Or how iDevices no longer require a PC tether?

Think how useful it'll be when your iPhone is running real desktop stuff in an app. And driving an external 30'' display and keyboard wirelessly.

And here's the irony - Google, seems to be missing a layer of the stack everyone, particularly themselves - has pretty much written off as "there's no business to be made there" - the desktop OS. And Chrome OS is not a desktop OS. It's a browser. Android can do what it does.

But the desktop hardware is going to go the way of the dodo, and the desktop OS will become the killer app of the mobile. And google will either need to somehow emulate for ARM-OSX (ya-ha, because Apple will so agree to that) or ARM-Win8, or see their hard-earned chunk of the smartphone market erode to Apple, Microsoft and Nokia.

And before you holler "There's not enough CPU or MEMORY BANDWIDTH in mobile devices!"... This is never going to happen at scale!"

Well, there's seemingly three CPUs out there, but there's really only two.

There's ARM CPUs with cortex cores - everything from the snapdragon, the reference A9 or Apple's A5 or countless others. That's the pick for mobile phones and tablets. Why? Because they have most of what we traditionally call a "motherboard" on the chip itself - a System on Chip. And the whole thing chews up 2 Watts. They're not particularly powerful compared to your desktop core i7, having nowhere near as much cache or predictive execution logic, but they'll take on an Atom.

An Atom also takes 2 Watts. Only unlike the ARM CPU, it doesn't have the entire system on the chip, and needs another 15 Watts of infrastructure around it on the motherboard. This makes a whole Atom system a relative power hog and takes up motherboard space not exactly abundant in small mobile devices. It's only competitive advantage is that it's a good old x86 architecture.

Which is why it's neither here nor there. And the moment ARM versions of Windows will appear, the Atom is dead weight. It can't do anything you can't do far better with an ARM. On the performance end, the CORE (and AMD) will chew it out. I'm writing these words on a "computer" that is as thick as an iPad, marginally longer, has a motherboard that can fit in a phone and drives a Core i7 CPU on a meager 17 Watts (TDP, less most of the time) for 5 hours. When a "desktop PC" killer app is out there, expect it appearing in a tablet (and its even lower voltage siblings in a phone) near you. And it will drive a working PC app juuuuust fine.

I'm not suggesting you can stick an i7 in a phone just yet. An i7 is not a system on chip either, and the system will at its core require no less than 30 Watts (and nobody will buy a phone that lasts 45 minutes, or want to hold something that emits as much heat as a 30 Watt light bulb). But with a killer app to drive demand, several years of development, using the equivalent of an i3 rather than an i7 and perhaps CPU designs that haul the memory controller onto the chip, alongside higher capacity batteries... it's not science fiction either.

My point in all this discourse is that while the OS's will take a few years to get there, and as the killer app generates the mass demand, ARM, core and other architectures will clamp down on the gap in the middle, expect something powerful enough to drive desktop, and power-cheap enough to get shoehorned into phone form factor to come on offer. Some will remind you we were driving desktops with XP and office >2000 on machines with 450MHz CPU's as little as a decade ago.

And why Google just wagered on the Atom in its new Intel pact is beyond me. Seems like the wrongest route to take given it is already ill positioned to cope with mobile devices that will drive desktop OS's.

I think it's still their move - everyone else has made their long-term play that seems to be making sense, and they need to show how they intend to swim in what is now a virtually certain future, at least insofar as the other two major players have placed their bets and are plowing their way relentlessly in that direction.
  It may still be a good 2-4 years off, but it's now officially been put into play.

Interesting Tmes.

Re:Stacks (4, Insightful)

Un pobre guey (593801) | about 3 years ago | (#37425556)

Apple can do this in a blink by the way. They have a powerful desktop OS they can just integrate straight into their mobile stack. They're already laying out the groundwork in fact - notice how you can show your iPad screen on an external display wirelessly? Notice how the "PC" was demoted below the cloud? Or how iDevices no longer require a PC tether? Think how useful it'll be when your iPhone is running real desktop stuff in an app. And driving an external 30'' display and keyboard wirelessly.

Interesting scenario, but it is more likely that the phone will be a slave rather than a master. People lose phones and they get stolen, and there will always be terrifying pressure to extend battery life. It is more likely that everyone will have a a compute appliance [slashdot.org] of ever increasing horsepower somewhere in the relatively secure perimeter of their home or office to which their growing horde of devices are wirelessly connected, at least when their are nearby. More and more horsepower and storage, and damn the wattage. Many people do things like play games, create and edit digital content, and other things that continue to soak up compute cycles without any foreseeable limit. Google isn't stupid or shortsighted. I suspect they and Apple have a very good idea of what role phones will play over the next 20 years or so.

Microsoft, however (those dedicated stock price masturbators), are almost certainly clueless. If anyone is going to screw it up and forcibly, tenaciously extract failure from the jaws of success, it will be them.

Insightful comment (1)

jamrock (863246) | about 3 years ago | (#37425738)

Damn, where are mod points when you need them? Insightful comment indeed, and I agree with everything you said, particularly about a home compute appliance to which your mobile devices connect. And it's interesting you should say that Apple and Google have given the future of mobile much thought. Remember it was Jobs who coined the term "Digital Hub", and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see it unspool very much like your prediction. I personally envision something along the lines of a Mac mini/Time Capsule-type hybrid device to fulfill the role of network storage, wireless router, and media/application server, with Thunderbolt ports to connect monitors and peripherals. Kudos. Sharp thinking on your part.

Re:Stacks (1)

MikShapi (681808) | about 3 years ago | (#37425822)

The slave and master analogy is a bit misleading because it lumps document storage and processing together and creates this false dichotomy of dumb powerless nodes vs thick clients. Reality just doesn't look like that anymore.

The phone will have processing (needed for an acceptable snappy UI, and because we need some form of CPU to drive it and even the cheapest/smallest ones are plenty powerful and growing by the day), will have local storage for OS and cloud-cached local storage (needed because the device cannot be assured to always have connectivity) and have authoritative copies of their data backed up to a cloud backend (beacuse, as you rightly pointed out, people lose phones).

The trick is to offer the cloud not as a per-app thing (where my contact list app accesses and locally cache my google address book) but integrated below the filesystem access calls (tho perhaps above the filesystem itself, or perhaps not)

If you've watched the June Apple keynote, Apple is driving in exactly that direction - extending the local filesystem and file storage API's given to applications to extend to their cloud. Expect Google and MS to follow, both know about OS kernels, datacenters and pipes and can do this easily enough, and they'll need to feature-match it.

 

Re:Stacks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425626)

I saw a demo a while back where someone ran X to a monitor from their Android phone with a USB hub going to a keyboard and mouse. It was a bit slow, but Android seems closer to your scenario than the others.

Re:Stacks (1)

MikShapi (681808) | about 3 years ago | (#37425774)

X is just a conduit to stream a console over a network. Doesn't actually which apps you intend to stream and where are they going to come from.
Google docs is a decade behind.

The big question here is "can you meet, or at least approach, the 'WinXP, MS Office and misc X86 apps for windows' bar on Android running on ARM?"
It's the hardware to drive it, the OS to drive it, the applications and in many cases a way to tie into legacy stuff.

Re:Stacks (1)

Cico71 (603080) | about 3 years ago | (#37425840)

Interesting post, wish I had mod points.

baffling (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | about 3 years ago | (#37425450)

Why people not only continue to use MS Office but are willing to pay 200 bucks or so for it is beyond me.

No way! (1)

Trillan (597339) | about 3 years ago | (#37425532)

Microsoft is pushing Metro as their new UI, and (possibly, it sounds like Microsoft hasn't even decided) their only ARM SDK. Of course they have an Office port in the works. Otherwise, Office would be unsellable.

Wha.. what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425744)

Well, if they introduce a completely new interface, I'm sure they'll offer a "classic" Ribbon mode as an option for people who don't want to switch to the new one.

(har)

Windows 9 All the way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425886)

Given Micro$oft's record of OS blunders/wonders (Windows Me boo, Windows XP Yea, Windows Vista boo, Win7 Yea), I think I'll hold out for Windows 9. They should have it right by then.

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