Windows 8 Designer Defends 'Metro' Interface

Brandon Dimmel's picture

A software designer who claims to have contributed to the creation of Windows 8's "Metro" interface has taken to in an effort to explain why Microsoft ultimately made the decision to implement its controversial new interface.

The designer in question is Jacob Miller, who says he worked as a designer for Microsoft prior to the release of Windows 8. Miller says that Metro (which Microsoft now calls "Modern") was created with casual users in mind.

Metro: Designed for Faster, Easier Access

Miller says the goal of the design is to make it faster and easier to access content.

For example: the hope was that Metro would allow a user to check their Facebook account, post photos, and take a 'selfie' (self portrait photo image) in less time and in fewer steps compared to previous Windows operating systems.

In other words, Windows 8 was designed to be the ultimate "multitasking" operating system. (Source:

Non-Casual Users Left in the Cold

However, Miller says that Windows 8 clearly does not work as well for developers or power users.

In fact, he suggested that using Windows 8 to run virtual machines and perform other complex tasks - those which are not typically carried out by "casual" users - remains downright difficult with Windows 8.

Miller says Microsoft had little choice in making the decision that ultimately led to Metro's implementation. He calls Windows 8 a "rented tuxedo coat," meaning it was meant to fit many different users. In short: Windows 8 was built for the masses, not hardcore users.

Miller went on to say that Microsoft ultimately decided to create two different "playgrounds" for "Casual" and "Power" users, including the Metro interface and the traditional desktop. That said, accessing the desktop (let alone booting into it), is awkward - especially if you've never used Windows 8 before.

"All the casual users would have their own new and shiny place to look at pictures of cats - Metro," Miller said. "The power users would then have free reign over their native domain - the desktop." (Source:

Looking down the road, Miller says Microsoft will continue to work hard to improve the Windows 8 experience for everyone.

"Right now we still have a lot of work to do on making Metro seem tasty for those casual users, and that's going to divert our attention for a while," Miller says. "But once it's purring along smoothly, we'll start making the desktop more advanced."


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xena's picture

In an attempt to get more users (from Apple), Microsoft is ignoring those who have faithfully updated since Windows 3.11. They don't care about businesses, tech experts or power users and Windows 8 is just another example of it. But what makes it even worse is that even "casual" users are lost. Unless you are using a touch screen it simply is not user friendly. My father is the epitome of casual user and he hates it too and asks me "Why did they have to change everything?"

I will admit that I have not seen Windows 8.1 but, as the person making the decisions at my company on whether to upgrade or not, I don't see us going to Windows 8 until we are forced to. I am hoping the next version is geared toward business.

Boots66's picture

I hear Xena's comment and feel her pain - I have brought Win8 Pro into my house as I have been forced by MS to either go this route and hope that nothing happens to my old WinXP boxes when all support is gone - Nobody would have hated the speed upgrading or better code that is the backbone of doing computing, but what was the need to so massively change the way things look, operate and and are organized that even a seasoned Windows user is left scratching their head - I know I am one and I have been working with it since Aug, and still need to go back to WinXP to return to a 'window' in a more well-known OS.

gi7omy's picture

Let's face it - MS is in the business of selling software, but they're being slightly dishonest about what they're selling.

Vista was Windows 6, that's fair enough, but the so-called 'Windows 7' (which is really Vista SE) and Windows '8' are 6.1 and 6.2 respectively.

To me they're fudging the 'new' releases and simply patching the existing OS

drstove's picture

Total rubbish. The Win 8 interface was designed for an extremely few number of users with touch screens. Microsoft ignored 95% of its audience in order to appeal to potential tablet users. They purposely went out of their way to make it difficult for users to boot to their familiar desktop. An interim solution that they offered was a Microsoft Mouse for $40 that could be clicked to switch to the desktop. More money for Microsoft by breaking something and then charging people $40 for a solution. If it were not for the freeware software that is available through 3rd parties to make Win 8 look like Win 7, I wouldn't be running it on the one machine I do use it. The Metro interface was nothing more than a gimmick to try to convince Win 7 users that Win 8 was different enough to induce them to spend the money to upgrade. Otherwise, Win 8 should have been a free service pack to Win 7. To add insult to injury, they employed Indians who you can't understand in Tech Support to try to help you understand an interface you can't understand. In my opinion, Win 8's greatest accomplishment was to cause long time users to dig in their heals or switch to Linux, which I did on the rest of my computers. To say that Metro was "built for the masses" should make his nose grow at least 5 inches.

DavidFB's picture

It's useful to note that Microsoft had already lost over half their market share on devices. Everything is going "smart", but not with MS smarts. Desktop PCs are not where many eyeballs rest now, so the old PC vs Mac debate is history. They needed to make massive changes to try and address the rise of devices in a market they were flopping in. Only they failed the market they still had in the process. Sure Metro, but why make desktop hard? You could change to an older style even in Win7.

Was the gamble a success? Time will tell but I still see few Win8 devices in stores - except on traditional platforms, often where it's least effective such as on a non-touchscreen laptop.

As an example, I have an Android tablet, cell phone, and (smart) TV. (not to mention the related router and game console OS) I plan to upgrade my Win7 laptop next year. Have no plans for Win8. Touch is not how I do serious work.

randyh2's picture

Miller is nuts. I have Windows 8 on 2 machines and love it.
I haven't found anything that is "downright difficult in Windows 8".
Miller does give any example (at least here) of a difficult item.
And the Metro/Modern/whatever interface??? I have mine set up
so that one press of the "Enter" button takes me to the Win 7 type
desktop AND starts Windows Live Mail.

LouisianaJoe's picture

My son had to use Windows 8 on his business laptop. He changed jobs and bought an iMac for personal use. His new job uses iPads. My wife has a Windows 8 PC but uses a third party program that makes it look like Windows 7. I still use Vista to develop software for my customers. None of my customers want to switch to Windows 8 because of training issues.

darylhutchins's picture

I can't figure out whether these discussions are generated from Apple's backroom to make MS look bad or vice-versa ... maybe just self-appointed experts who can't think of anything else to say.

Install Classic Start Menu and get on with it. What is so difficult about clicking the top-left tile to get to the Desktop?

Dennis Faas's picture

I think the issue that most folks have with Windows 8 is that it's broken out of the box. Certainly this is true if you intend to use Windows 8 on your PC like you did any other previous release of Windows in the last 13 years (XP, Vista, 7). Sure, you can get a third-party program to 'fix' what's broken, but Microsoft should have known better, and hence the backlash.

ronc32's picture

I got Win 8 on my new PC about 10 days ago. I promptly upgraded to 8.1 and I have become very comfortable with it. I've had XP on one machine and Windows 7 on another and while I have been busy with both, I'm enjoying the new environment. I have no problem moving back and forth, when needed, to my original desktop on this new one and can't understand that problem. I'm a 72 year old reactionary so it puzzles me that there has been such vehement reaction to this interface.

gi7omy's picture

I can give you three years LOL and I'm probably as reactionary as anyone. What bugs me about 8 is simple - it's the Windows 6 kernel with eye candy.

All MS seems to have done is stick a touch screen interface (and pushed it down everyone's throat whether they have a touch screen monitor or not), but a 'new' OS it certainly isn't.

And I'm not a Mac fan (I hate the things). I run Windows XP, Windows 7 and Gentoo Linux on a multi-boot setup