Posts Tagged Metro

Is Apple the perfect Windows 8 partner?

I sent my dad shopping for a new laptop the other day and discovered something that I didn’t expect. We are less than two months away from the launch of Windows 8, despite this there are no notebooks currently on offer that give a Windows 8 specific hardware experience. The local computer store stocked a large range of notebooks of all sizes and capabilities, however the only mention of Windows 8 was the discounted upgrade on offer if you purchased a Windows 7 equipped machine today.

His previous notebook was an Acer Ultra-Portable, a 14″ machine with an optical drive, it was light and portable. The obvious replacement would have to be a Ultrabook of some description. After some time looking through the range of Ultrabooks available from the usual suspects; Acer, Sony, Samsung etc it wasn’t surprising that he ended up in the price range of Apple MacBooks. The purchase became obvious and dad became the proud owner of his first Mac. Having been a Windows user for years and not being one for change I went ahead and installed Boot Camp using the default Apple Boot Camp installer. The process was painless and a short while later he was up and running with Windows 7 just as he was with his old notebook. With one important difference…. the trackpad, it was awesome! The feel and accuracy of the track pad, coupled with the drivers supplied by Apple made the experience vastly improved over any other trackpad I had used in the past.

Apple MacBook Windows 7 Office 365 trackpad touch

Windows 7 and Apple’s MacBook Pro… the perfect match!

And then came the realisation, with Windows 8 on the horizon there is yet to be a defining hardware experience for the use of what was known as “Metro”, the tiled interface of Windows 8. Did Apple just fill that void? With the multi-touch trackpad giving accuracy and a high quality experience with Windows 7…. the Windows 8 experience stands to be one of the best, lending itself to a gesture based interaction, and a plus… without the awkward touch interaction of a screen that is at 45 degrees or so to your keyboard… the trackpad on the MacBook could be the best Windows 8 experience so far!

Upon its release I will be introducing dad to Windows 8, he already uses an iPad and is used to the app-centric world of iOS, Windows 8 may well be a step in the right direction for him.

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Microsoft previews Office 15 tiles

A screenshot started doing the rounds today of the launchpad for Office 15. It also included the new Office 15 logo which has had a Metro makeover. As mentioned a couple of weeks ago Microsoft now intends to release Office 15 with its soon to be launched Surface tablet, along with support for the RT or ARM based version of Windows 8.

Microsoft Office 15 on Surface

Office 15 running on Surface

Observing the screenshot above (which is not a lot to go on I know) you could come to the conclusion that Office 15 exists within a “sub menu” of metro. A nested app experience that in my opinion lends itself to iOS deployment. It makes sense, if Microsoft have re-designed Office from the ground up for Windows RT it makes sense that there is a version available for iOS as well. I have no doubt that the Windows 8 experience of Office 15 will be the best experience of any platform, but Microsoft must acknowledge that there are other hounds snapping at its heels thanks to Google’s recent purchase of Quick Office for iOS and some 400 Million Customers.

Tight integration with Microsoft’s expanding cloud services, Skydrive for consumers and Office 365 for business and education, is the name of the game. It’s in Microsoft’s best interest to break down the barriers to adopting its cloud services and it shouldn’t matter what device is used. Note the lack of Office 365 or Sharepoint tiles in the screenshot above, but I have no doubt this will be included in future “leaks”.

Microsoft needs to simplify the current 2010 experience, Metro is an excuse to do so, allowing for a completely different design language to be used when addressing one of their biggest revenue sources.

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Sharepoint with a dash of Metro

One of the frequent posters on the Office 365 Grid community Matt Hughes, has posted a free Master Page template for Sharepoint online… sharpening up the experience with a Metro overhaul. Read more here : http://community.office365.com/en-us/blogs/the_grid/archive/2012/06/29/free-sharepoint-office-365-master-page-amp-css-grid-user-post.aspx

This could be the first in many free templates to update the existing Sharepoint Online experience to the new world of Metro sharpness.

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It’s hip to be square!

Bill Gates and a Tablet PC in 2002

Today Microsoft pulled one out of the bag. Something that has long been predicted but never executed upon. They have announced a Tablet PC named “Surface” and will release it later this year in time for Windows 8. Microsoft have been talking about slate or tablet PC’s for years now, and to be honest had more intent around tablet computing than Apple ever did. On more than one occasion in the early part of the 2000’s Steve Jobs was quoted to say that Apple had no interest in Tablet computing especially given the Newton was a flop. Microsoft on the other hand dabbled with pen based computing in Windows XP and improved on the technology over time although it remained an after thought. It wasn’t until Windows 8 came along that Microsoft became touch focused. The Windows 8 interface (Metro) is built on the strengths of Windows Phone 7 and created an entirely different way of interacting with the Windows operating system and its apps.

Personally I like the Metro interface and so it would seem do other people. Recently I have noticed more and more interfaces seem to “fall in line” with the Metro mantra… clean sharp lines with a minimalist approach to delivering information. Hey even the recently refreshed Gmail interface lends itself to a metro-esque experience! Having recently installed Windows 8 (both server and client) Release Preview the Metro experience permeates through to every aspect of the operating system, from the installation to the device management. Metro is more than an interface for touch computing its a sharper, smarter way of doing things.

This sharpness will deliver a better user experience in my opinion, removing noise from day-to-day tasks, giving users a more focused interface to work with. This sharpness has been carried through to the Surface tablet released today, with sharp lines it delivers on Microsoft’s vision of the future. If the edgy new TV spot by Microsoft is anything to go by… I am looking forward to it!

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