back to article I need to multitask, but Windows 8's Metro won't let me

What is multitasking? Different people seem to mean different things when they use the word multitasking. The definition chosen has implications for accepting or rejecting the prevailing design choices of modern user interfaces. I have been a vocal critic of Windows 8's Metro interface. My chief complaint is that it does not …


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  1. Bob Vistakin

    You're making too much of this

    Microsoft knows better than you what you want, so get with it or get to another platform.

    Oh, wait...

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: You're making too much of this


      50% for firefox, to browse the forums for answers

      30% to create/ edit config files in gedit

      20% for the good ol' terminal

      I've been using Ubuntu for the last 5 yrs at home... (But Linux Mint 13 with Cinnamon beckons now)

      1. GitMeMyShootinIrons

        Re: You're making too much of this

        Or for a Microsoft bias version -

        50% for Internet Explorer to 'Bing' for answers

        30% to create/ edit config files in Notepad

        20% for PowerShell

        The principle is the same. Metro might be nice for Grandma browsing the Daily Mail website, but for proper work, I'll look elsewhere, be it Linux or windows XP or 7.

      2. Goat Jam

        Re: You're making too much of this

        "But Linux Mint 13 with Cinnamon beckons now"

        Do it, you know you want to.

    2. ItsNotMe

      Re: You're making too much of this

      "Microsoft knows better than you what you want,..." Taking a page from Steve Jobs' handbook are they?

    3. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: You're making too much of this

      Cinnamon. It's tasty.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You're making too much of this

      Metro yes. But windows 8 is in the background so ditch metro unless you are going ARM.

      Besides, blame apple for metro and the likes. I'm sick of seeing iPads. I now associate ipads and iPhones with chavs, like McLaren prams and burberry hats.

      Win 8 is so overdue! die apple, die apple!

      1. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

        Re: You're making too much of this

        "Metro yes. But windows 8 is in the background so ditch metro unless you are going ARM."

        Oh, Windows is inferior to everything else on the market even if you are going ARM. Android? Better. OSX? Better -- I don't like Apple products one bit, but iPhone, iPad, etc. are essentially OSX for ARM. Linux? You can run a FULL desktop on ARM, not some crippled mono-tasking thing with no apps available. (I've seen it, if you had an ARM netbook you wouldn't know it wasn't x86 until you bring up the hardware info.) Or (for a tablet) something like Unity or the like... which although awful on a desktop is meant for touch screens.

        As for OP: multitasking has a definite definition, which Windows does meet. However, I must agree the interface for Win8 looks hideous, and allowing just 1 app or a limited split (as opposed to arbitrarily resizeable and relocatable windows) is a step back to about the early 1980s. Even Works for DOS (this had like a word processor, spreadsheet, and modem app all in one) allowed for 3 or 4 things onscreen, and limited repositioning of those windows.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: You're making too much of this

          Windows wasn't built in a day. Don't buy the metro only version that's what I'm saying. And to add to that point, this hasn't and his Chav from buying iPads has it.

          Android better than windows? Now that's a laugh. You are comparing a cupcake to a full sized chocolate gateau. Windows is so so much more than what you are making it to be.

          Most of the time I can't even get the.cursor to line up in Android. Its

          1. It wasnt me

            Re: You're making too much of this

            @terra 04:39

            "Most of the time I can't even get the.cursor to line up in Android. Its"

            It appears from your post that on your wonderful windows machine you also can't get your fingers to line up with the keyboard.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You're making too much of this

        Blame Apple for Microsoft's inability to dare move away from Windows?

    5. beep54

      Re: You're making too much of this

      Personally, I've never really thought that ANY version of Windows was very good at walking and chewing gum at the same time.

    6. mfritz0

      Re: You're making too much of this

      Back when Windows (ME) (More Errors) came out I was running a Dell desktop and had so many problems multitasking I bought the newest version of SUSE Linux and installed that. I immediately found I had 12 complete different desktops that would run simultaneously, what an improvement! I used that until the computer became outdated and the new HP Pavilion I bought had Windows Vista OEM. It's been working fine for my usage presently, but I'm getting ready to upgrade to a 64 bit machine. Judging from what I'm hearing about Metro, I'm going back to Linux. I wonder if I can upgrade the SUSE 6.0 version I have? Anyway, Microsoft had better take heed, because I'm not the only one contemplating this. It seems the new upgrades Microsoft come out with, cost more, and have less! That is just plain wrong!

  2. George 20

    Multi-tasking includes proof-reading?

    "Multitasking may not always a good idea," yes.. it may not always a good idea. Do you take the time to proof-read what you write?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Multi-tasking includes proof-reading?

      No. He absolutely requires the ability to not pay attention to any one task.

      Nice argument, shame the results speak for themselves.

      "Jack of all trades" comes to mind.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Multi-tasking includes proof-reading?

        > "Jack of all trades" comes to mind.

        what version?

        Jack of all trades


        Jack of all trades,

        master of none.


        Jack of all trades,

        master of none,

        Certainly better than a master of one.,_master_of_none#.22Master_of_none.22

      2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge


        Actually, as much as I would like to blame such silly errors on multitasking, I was not multitasking when I did my final proof-read. I had in fact maximised the window and shooed the cat away so I could concentrate. But I still missed it. Embarrassing; doubly so in context.

        It is however proof of nothing more than that we are capable of mistakes even when focused. While research agrees that multitasking does raise the error rate of our activities under certain circumstances, this particular error in writing only proves one thing: that I am in fact human after all.

        …who knew?

        1. Gil Grissum

          Re: @Obviously!

          You get to make mistakes. You're human.

          That being said, if Microsoft is going to go down the Vista path of thinking that we'll all just get with the program and buy into their "Crap is Good" OS interface philosophy, they are likely to find more people sticking with Windows 7 than they'd like and I will certainly be one of them if Windows 8 absolutely does not allow the Metro Interface to be turned off and give me my choice of usual Windows Interface. I'm in no hurry to move from Vista. I have a Macbook Pro running Mac OS 10.7.4 like a champ (and won't upgrade that to Mountain Lion if it brakes or doesn't like, my Mac OS apps).

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: @Obviously!

            "Just stick with Windows 7" you say. I ask you: why?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @Obviously!

              Why? Boring reasons generally. Vendors that only release software for windows, developers that only write their front end in vb5, lack of 1st line support staff for anything else, domain management, all the boring things. Sure they can be worked around if you're in a company that has any concept of strategy where there's some collective vision and such like. Most companies will be on the windows tread mill till someone does away with the entire mid to senior management chain.

            2. kb

              Re: @Obviously!

              I don't know about him but I can tell you why I am sticking with Win 7, because it IS a major upgrade over XP thanks to breadcrumbs, jumplists, MUCH better memory management, Readyboost (great for netbooks like mine) and all in all just a better built solid OS, oh and not having to run as admin because XP couldn't handle non admin worth spit.

              As for why I will NOT be going to Win 8, Metro UI is awful and feels like I'm fighting the OS instead of it getting out of my way, its "always on" social crud slams the network,I often have multiple tasks going (because what's the point of having a hexacore if you don't use but a single task at a time?), without a touch screen it is a step backwards, I have NO desire to poke at my screen all day, the cost of replacing my screens with touch screen of similar caliber would be prohibitively expensive, its lack of customization irks me, and frankly it just doesn't "feel' good when i'm using it, and finally the obvious contempt MSFT is showing by ignoring their customers by not giving you an option to simply use the Win 7 UI.

              Look we're all geeks here, right? We ALL know what this is, its a "Hail Mary" by Ballmer who has seen that while X86 is a mature market where folks won't replace the last one before it dies ARM is undergoing a MHz war like what made MSFT rich in the 90s. what Ballmer seems to forget is nobody runs Windows for MSFT software, they run it for the wealth of X86 third party stuff that simply won't be there on ARM. If I were to buy an ARM mobile device tomorrow it'd be Android as that is where the apps are NOT Win 8. Since Win 7 is good until 2020 I'm advising my customers to just skip it, although I'm sure i'll make out like a bandit for a good year while people who bought a Win 8 device have me wipe it for Win 7, just as I wiped Vista machines for XP.

    2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Multi-tasking includes proof-reading?

      Well, that is rather embarrassing, now isn't it? Not only speaks to multitasking's issues (which I highlighted in the article,) but also the "mythical man month" concept. After all, three others read this through before it was handed to a sub-editor who didn't catch it either.

      Humans! We have heuristic autocorrection built into our brains!

      The older I get, the more I come to believe that these autocorrection sequences correct for such minor errors without out conscious attention. Similar perhaps to how dyslexic people learn to read without having to concentrate.

      It’s a truly fascinating topic to me; one I thoroughly enjoy researching. Given the number of my family members and friends involved in neural research lately, maybe I’ll even get the chance at some answers.

      For the moment however, yes. Facepalm indeed. And egg on my face. So on and so fourth. Cheers!

      1. GreenOgre

        Re: Multi-tasking includes proof-reading?

        Hey Trevor!

        Amazing how we can produce "minor errors without out conscious attention", eh?

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Multi-tasking includes proof-reading?

          Far more interested in why we seem to produce them with full conscious attention on the task at hand. Not to mention why our brains purposefully skim over the errors, reporting to the conscious mind "everything is a-okay" when it is in fact not.

          It is an interesting and difficult concept for most people to grasp: what we perceive with our conscious mind is not in fact reality. Just because you see something does not mean it is there. Just because you don’t see something does not mean it isn’t there.

          Our minds are heuristic processors that perform all sorts of different layers of filtration on raw input before presenting it to our conscious minds for consideration. Out vision alone is a great example: there are dozens of different layers of filtration required to provide us with what we perceive to be a single, homogenous, three dimension view of the world around us.

          In reality, each eye is seeing a curved single-dimensional image with differing levels of resolution at the center to the edges, in addition to things like our blind spot. Many of us (myself included) actually see colour differently out of each eye. Furthermore, we don’t actually “see” (as in have enough photons from a given object strike our eye) everything that we “see.” A lot of what we “see” is in fact provided us by our memories of what an object “should” be.

          Add to this that movement changes things. When something moves, some of these filters are actually bypassed to allow quicker access to the raw data by both our conscious minds and our brain stem. (So the endocrine system can make fight-or-flight decisions asynchronously to our relatively slow conscious decision making process.)

          Our conscious minds are a high-level application running on top of a rather buggy kernel. Worse: the kernel is in love with Bayesian analysis, and the hardware sensors kind of suck. 10Mbit/sec for our shitty vision? And it requires ~2lbs of our brain dedicated to post-processing before it is even provided to applications for analysis?

          Pffft. Back to the drawing board, random processes of evolution that resulted in the complex chemical interactions that allow me to bitch about things on the internets. Back to the drawing board!

          1. Kobus Botes

            Re: Multi-tasking includes proof-reading?

            In my previous life I had extensive experience in writing complex documents. A major part of the exercise involved reading it numerous times afterwards, testing for different errors.

            We usually roughly followed the following regime:

            Read for spelling mistakes

            Read for grammar

            Read for logic

            Check cross-references

            Check bullets and numbering for consistency

            Check headings for correctness

            Give it a final scan and then hand it over to a colleague for more of the same.

            You finally end up with a perfect, flawless document that you are proud to sign off, only to discover that there usually are numerous errors that most embarrassingly jump out at you when you re-read the thing (that is, if the client had not pointed them out at you already).

            This used to greatly worry me, until I worked out that we read what should be there, not what is there.

            The best way to avoid, no reduce those errors, are to give the thing to someone with no or little experience or knowledge of the topic - they tend to read what is there.

            <== Refers to those infernal errors, of course.

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

            2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: Multi-tasking includes proof-reading?

              The best way to avoid, no reduce those errors, are to give the thing to someone with no or little experience or knowledge of the topic - they tend to read what is there.

              There are various tricks proofreaders employ which can help. One way to catch spelling errors, for example, is to read the text backwards, from last word to first. That makes it more difficult to read them as what you expect rather than what's actually on the page.

              Similarly, some people mark up hardcopy of the text in various ways as they read, as a way to help catch fine (word omissions, homonyms, etc) and gross (structure, logic) errors.

              Others find that reading aloud helps.

          2. Hooksie

            Re: Multi-tasking includes proof-reading?

            This man is albtseoluy rgiht in waht he is syanig. It's the vrey rseaon taht you can sitll raed the wrods in this snetence as qiukcly as if they were slpleled crorctecly

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Multi-tasking includes proof-reading?

        Best I can tell, the brain's auto correction feature is somewhat selfish. It will happily gloss over my own typos, omissions and grammatical errors, but if I then re-read e.g. an email I wrote 5 minutes later (and there does seems to be some sort of minimum delay) I'll spot all of them easily.

        Same with things other people write, I'll spot their problems immediately.

  3. Captain Underpants

    I suppose if they've nicked the Dock idea and the App Store idea from Apple, it was only a matter of time before they nicked the idea of telling you to shut up and do what you're bloody told.

    I dislike the Metro UI for much the same reason as Trevor. It seems a shame after finally introducing some decent keyboard-shortcut-based Window snapping functions in 7 (which combined with the Desktops add-in from Sysinternals makes 7 a very decent multitasking environment) they're ditching it in favour of Metro's "Giant Mobile Phone" approach. I've tried it repeatedly and frankly it can %^&* off.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      It solves the focus stealing problem that has plagued Windows for many years. Or perhaps it makes it worse. Maybe instead of a background window suddenly appearing in front of you the entire bloody desktop changes.

      1. jai

        I've long suspected that MS don't see the focus-stealing as a problem, but more of a feature. It seems I'm correct and Metro is their next evolutionary step in developing this feature.

        1. AndrueC Silver badge

          You might be right. If they don't expect people to be 'multi tasking' then yeah focus stealing makes more sense. Still damn stupid though especially if a password entry dialog is replaced by a text editor. Or a confirmation dialog saying 'Do you want to kill yourself and wipe out all living things within ten miles' appears just as you finish typing 'today' :)

        2. Captain Scarlet

          i agree

          It always happens to me when I go to type in my password when I am stairing at the other monitor going WTH why no *'s and then realise focus has been stolen (Applications which continually do that are deleted, or I whine to support if its something I have paid for and force them to tell me a way to stop it then I delete it and moan on the internet).

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            But why use an OS...

            which allows applications to handle window management functions? Things like focus are supposed to be controlled by the window manager.

          2. MJI Silver badge

            Re: I wiped an accounts system once

            Pegasus Opera

            Accidentaly went into the clear system option, so hurredly clicked no.

            HOWEVER Pegasus Opera reverses the yes and no - so I wiped the system.

            Good use for backup tapes!

            ( I was testing invoice posting from our software)

    2. Bob Vistakin

      I think you need to clarify one important point there. "Giant Mobile Phone" implies they're all the same, whereas "Giant Shit Mobile Phone" is the one they've gone for.

    3. Armando 123

      "it was only a matter of time before they nicked the idea of telling you to shut up and do what you're bloody told."

      Oh, MS have been doing that for YEARS.

  4. Silverburn
    Thumb Up

    Multi-tasking in the real word

    And example of real world multi-tasking, which can occur easily:

    - download a torrent

    - playing a music (or video) playlist

    - email and/or IM

    - Typing a report.

    While typing the report, you would like to be kept abreast of what the other apps are doing, and likely all at once. This does not take much cognative power, as monitoring can be done "passively". This is also not a strange scenario, and is actually very likely.

    So MS is correct, and the OP is correct. The apps will stilll run, but you can no longer monitor them all at once via Metro.

    Personally, it sounds like MS is trying to justify metro as a useful tool. It's not. If you want to do the above, just switch back to "normal". How much time the average user spends in normal vs Metro, will utlimately dictate who (MS or OP) were right in the end.

    (My personal view: OP)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Multi-tasking in the real word

      For me multi tasking in the real world is something like this (note I have two large screens attached two my machine in the office plus two large monitor screens on the wall.)

      Having six servers open in putty running tail -f on the logs when I know the servers are being a touch flakey and I want to catch the horrible stack trace as it happens so I A: have the stack trace at hand and B: can restart that server. Behind them I'll have a window with my load balancer so when the incident occurs I can bring that to the fore and drain the server to perform B. While vaguely paying attention to them in the right hand screen I will often be switching between a primary task, normally between email, ticket queues, documenting a process (e.g. how do you install blah software correctly for our environment), this document may be on half the screen while I have one or two more putty screens open for say actually installing the software.

      I'll likely also have a window open for incident logging for when the error I am waiting for on the other screen so I can log the error and time and various metrix about the server when the error happens.

      I'll also have the rich client for the monitoring software in the back ground. At the same time on the wall mounted screens the monitoring software is running in overview mode, if I see something change state I'll swap to the monitoring on my desk top and see why the state has changed, possibly resulting in me going off into a machine somewhere to fix the issue. Also on the wall monitors are ticket queues which will prompt me to go into my ticket system when required.

      All the while I'll be talking to collegues about how awful our systems are, how rubbish our main vendors are and, questioning what kind of person thought it was such a great idea to get a such a large bunch of useless providers together in the first place.

      Sure I could use classic mode, but what's the chances of that working properly?

      End result? Use office in krossover, get the linux version of citrix client, no longer worry.

      Get into IT they said, it'll be fun they said!

    2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      "So MS is correct, and the OP is correct"

      I'd agree with that ^

      Does Metro multi-task - Yes

      Does Metro multi-task in a way a user wants - Not for all, no.

      To me multi-tasking is when all tasks are doing their thing and not prevented from doing that. That is, if you have a stock tracker and it is tracking stock while you are doing something else, even if you cannot see what it is doing, it is still multi-tasking. If it stops tracking stock when minimised or hidden then it's not multi-tasking.

      The confusion is perhaps in Task Switching where Task Viewing is perhaps a better term, not the suspending and un-suspending of tasks.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "So MS is correct, and the OP is correct"

        My home use, 50% of the time I'll have either a browser or media player open, often part screen, sometimes full screen. I'll then bring my messenger clients to the fore when they start flashing at me in the task bar. 20% of the time I'll be writing or some other thing with a similar set up. Some of the time in these situations when I'm really only talking to one person I'll have the messenger app on the right hand of the screen at minimum width, if talking to two people I'll have them slightly over lapping so I don't need to use the task bar or alt+tab to switch (I can either click on the top of one, or the bottom of the other to change focus). The final 30% of the time I'll be playing games.

        That's for my main pc which is plugged into the TV, my work pc at home (by work I mean the pc that doesn't have games of movies on and I can't see the TV from) I use in a similar way to the work PC, except I'll also have a number of rdp sessions to the virtual box machines on my TV connected desktop and I'm not needing to monitor anything.

        The only time I really only have a single program, full screen, is when I'm playing games or when I'm at home and all my friends are at work. It's probbaly A-typical but it is the way I do things.

        1. Gordon 11

          Re: "So MS is correct, and the OP is correct"

          The only time I really only have a single program, full screen,...

          I'm appalled at the arrogance of some applications (i.e. their writers) who reckon that applications must run full-screen.

          I often need to keep an eye on several screens at the same time. I may wish to cur&paste between them - although the fact that the MS Windows window manager will always pop a window to the top of the display stack if you click on it can make that a nightmare, so perhaps its not surprising that the "full screen" is so common on Windows, given that it is pretty useless at letting you handle multiple windows in a reasonable manner. Linux has no problems - you can configure it the way you want. MS Windows has the capability, but MS doesn't give you the ability to use it.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Gil Grissum

      Re: Multi-tasking in the real word

      Yes but will Metro "Focus Steal" and come to the forefront on it's own? Can we just disable Metro or is there a way to opt out of it somehow? Can we choose normal over Metro and have that choice remain without auto-changing somehow via Skynet?

    4. PingLess

      Re: Multi-tasking in the real word

      Isn't the entire point that you cannot "just switch back to normal"?

      Yes, there is the "classic Desktop", but that's another Metro app and doesn't have the taskbar we're currently used to. There's no switching, and that's where the problem lies -- that Microsoft isn't even allowing us to turn off Metro.

  5. wowfood

    i second this motion. Generally while doing stuff on my home PC, I have around half the screen on teh left for a dev environment, half on the right for a web browser to refresh what I'm working on and then a sliver at the bottom of the screen with a different web browser so I can keep track of javascript snippets etc.

    And everyone does it differently, justsplitting the screen in 2 with 66 / 34 won't work for 80% of us (arbitrary percentages make it sound official.)

    1. Paul Shirley

      Yes, even Metro dualtasking is often worse than useless. When I have Eclipse running in debug mode it barely squeezes enough information onscreen in fullscreen 2048x1152 mode.

      If I need an external target window open (typically the Android emulator) I want that window stealing the absolute minimum screen area from Eclipse, not some arbitrary large Microsoft decided fraction. If I put it on a 2nd monitor I don't want Metro's piss poor multimonitor support getting in the way either or having to squash or replace the apps pinned there already.

      That's just dualtasking. Before I got a smartphone I'd leave just enough of the email client exposed to track incoming mail, put an IM client in a tiny window in a corner, a browser tracking something else and still have plenty of space for several working windows. Now I use the smartphone as a 3rd monitor handling all that crap, maybe Metro is really about getting everyone to work that way as a way to sell Win8 devices ;)

      1. Daniel Harris 1

        One thing you haven't realised...Eclipse isn't a metro app, it runs as a traditional desktop app does. There is no difference when it comes to running traditional desktop apps.

        It's clear reading the comments on ANY Windows 8 related post on El Reg that most people haven't actually spent any decent amount of time trying the very thing they are complaining about.

        I didn't realise it was still "cool" to hate everything M$ does without even trying it properly.

        You can still run your normal desktop apps in the same way, this isn't changing. They (Microsoft) also aren't saying everything should be a Metro style app.

        It's fine to have an opinion and there will genuinely be things a lot of people won't like. That's allowed, but at least try things before randomly bashing them.

        Dual monitor support may need some work doing to it, but the OS isn't even out yet....

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          [$application] is a Metro app.

          For now. But for how long? Microsoft are pushing WinRT hard. Your argument presupposes trust and a continuation of "the way things are today." I don't think that's a good plan anymore. Microsoft have made it very clear through their actions that "the way things are today" is not remotely how they envision it being tomorrow.

          1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

            Re: [$application] is a Metro app.

            Good. The WIMP-based desktop metaphor is an anachronism and the mouse has been a pain in the arm (literally) for decades now.

            Also, forget using Windows 8 on a traditional desktop, because traditional desktops haven't been selling in any great numbers for years now. The vast majority of computers sold today are laptops, or related form-factors.

            Windows 8's Metro on a laptop fitted with a decent multi-touch trackpad makes a hell of a lot more sense than Windows 7's ageing lipstick-on-a-pig WIMP system does. As others have pointed out, Windows has a major issue with focus-stealing—that's one of the reasons I eventually gave up and made the switch to another platform. I hate that focus-stealing.

            Furthermore, every f*cking Windows application seems to insist on adding yet more icons to the system tray so it can notify me whenever it's done something right—"Hi! I'm your anti-virus scanner! I've just finished scanning your drive and slowing down everything else! I hope you don't mind my interrupting your 'flow' by making this utterly pointless announcement!" Shut the fuck UP! I'm WORKING you arrogant, incredibly annoying bunch of bytes!

            Every bloody program insists on using its own updating framework too, so every goddamned time you open a PDF, or view a website with a Flash element, or open a Word file, or start Open/LibreOffice, instead of just letting you get on with it, the damned thing insists you install the latest update. And then it makes you wait while it does so.

            Would it kill developers to have their application offer to quietly download and install these updates behind the scenes, so when you next start the application, it's already bloody updated and you need never, ever be nagged again?

            And people wonder why Apple's App Store model is so popular: it unifies the updates too, so you can see if any are available at a glance from the icon in the Dock—a "pull" process—without the nagging, and you can choose to install any, or all, of them at a time of your choosing.

            But I like Metro. Seriously. I've used it on Windows Phone 7 devices too and it works even better there. It still has a v1.0 feel to it, but even the first versions of iOS and Android had their rough edges. As a first effort, I think it's a good one. It's certainly more original than Android.

            1. Richard 12 Silver badge

              Re: [$application] is a Metro app.

              WTF is it with you and this "multi-touch trackpad" malarkey? I'm really starting to think you don't actually know what a trackpad is!

              TrackPADs are one of the worst pointing devices known to man, the primary limitation being that you cannot move the pointer very far before you have to pick up your hand, move back to the other side of the pad to move further.

              Multitouch for a trackpad means that a few shortcuts can be built into the pad - eg right-click, scroll wheel - as it can tell the difference between one, two, many and lots of fingers and a limited number of gestures.

              Metro is optimised for a touchSCREEN, and is possibly the worst interface ever developed for use with a trackPAD, multitouch or not.

              That's because the Metro 'start menu' requires you to move the pointer further across the screen to get to the thing you wanted than the Windows XP/Vista/7 one, and is therefore considerably worse for trackpad users.

  6. Vince

    Sorry what?

    Um... are you seriously saying that if I have multiple screens, and I want my copy of Word, a copy of Excel, a browser and a copy of notepad all open and visible, if they're metro apps (as I understand MS want all apps to be).... I can't, or did I misunderstand?

    If Microsoft were not smoking something potent before they are now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sorry what?

      > multiple screens

      From what I am reading Windows 8 supports multiple monitors but metro doesn't. You will have metro on one screen only and the rest fall back to classic mode.

      I would guess they are smoking something strongly dissociative. Like PCP.

      1. h4rm0ny

        Re: Sorry what?

        Well that sort of answers one of my questions about how this will work with multiple monitors, but it raises more. I've tried Win8 out on my laptop. I still don't like it much - it's a step backward from Win7, imo. But on a laptop where I'm generally just browsing or doing a single thing such as a word document or reading a PDF, it's not a disaster, just a nuisance. But on my Desktop I am a power user. I will frequently have a VM running on one monitor and Windows visible on the other containing, e.g. my email client, Skype, maybe a browser window. If I don't have the VM up, it's typically because I'm doing more management stuff, e.g. I have MS Project up on one screen, Excel or Word or my email client in another. Will this sort of set up be possible in Windows 8? I assume with the Desktop I can do this (and Metro will merely be an annoying nuisance when I start up or need to launch a new program). But what about full screen progams such as my VM that take over the whole monitor as if it were there own? Does anyone know how Win8 will affect all this?

        1. Greg J Preece

          Re: Sorry what?

          I've got an even better, one-word question, thinking about my setup at home:


          Ooooooh, that's gonna be bad.

        2. HarryBell

          Re: Sorry what?

          You can have as many desktop "non-Metro" apps open on each screen as you need. i.e. full screen RDP session on 1 screen and whatever else you need (email etc) on the other. If you hit the Start key your nominated default screen will fill with the Metro start screen again. Toggle back to the desktop and you are back to full desktop mode across both screens.

          1. h4rm0ny

            Re: Sorry what?

            Thanks. That is a relief. There seems to be a lot of confusion here between Desktop and Metro "Apps."

            1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge


              Worse: many desktop apps will be "Metro style," while still being full-bore desktop apps with Windowing and everything!

              Users are going to be so confused...

      2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: Sorry what?

        Metro supports multiple monitors. The consumer preview does not do multimon correctly. However Microsoft have made some huge strides in multimonitor support in Windows 8. Both in Metro mode and the legacy desktop.

        There are many valid complaints to level against Windows 8, but please read the provided link...Multimonitor support is no longer one of them.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sorry what?

          > Metro supports multiple monitors.

          I don't think so; Windows 8 supports multi monitors, but metro seems to be only active on one screen at any one time. The other screen(s) revert to classic mode. You can't seem to have two monitors showing metro apps simultaneously.

          Do metro applications run in classic mode? If not then MS are effectively deprecating multi monitor support with their push for all applications to be written using metro....

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: Sorry what?

            You are correct; Metro is active on only one screen at a time...but it can be any screen. What's more, if your Metro app was open on screen 1, it will be available to you on screen 2 when you open metro there, etc.

            So it is not "true multimon support" in the way that the desktop can present windows in a multimonitor environment. But it is still way – way – better than being restricted to “Metro on the primary monitor only” as it was easier in this game.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Er, Microsoft? Multi = more than 2"

    No, Trevor, it isn't.The counting goes like thus:




    (open research question)

    Or at least it does in SSDs.

    1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      Re: "Er, Microsoft? Multi = more than 2"

      I thought it was one two many lots.

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

        Re: "Er, Microsoft? Multi = more than 2"

        It depends how long you spend in the pork futures warehouse...

  8. Sil

    Fake multitasting

    I couldn't agree more.

    While it is easy to see why Microsoft is choosing this option, I assume battery life, it is a nasty design decision, and it seems Microsoft keeps forgeting every design rules validated over decades of experience in its haste to force Metro on the desktop users: (color-free VS2011, MENUS ALL CAPS, changing decades-old windows shortcuts, mouse & keyboard as second class citizens for touch-free desktop users, 2 IEs without the same capabilities e.g. an impotent metro IE without flash and without favorites, contract-breaking 'multitasking in WP7.5' with terrible tombstoning philosophy)

    Just try and watch a video with the metro viewer, or use the channel9 app and then switch to IE for additional information, a very popular use-case. Or watch a video in metro IE then switch to another app. The video and sound are instantly paused. We just went back 30 years in the past at the very least. As for me, this isn't only annoying, this prevents from working productively. So if you want to you'll have to use a desktop app such as VLC.

    This is all the more annoying that Windows 8 promises to be a great OS and that ironically the multitasking, parallel, async, vectorized, CPUs+GPUs support was never better than it will be in W8.

  9. stu 4

    first concorde, now the UI

    crazy isn't it ? I mean, I remember when I had my Amiga, I'd have various CLI windows doing things, maybe a game open in another window, etc.

    Technical people especially like to work that way - on my mac I tend to have a browser open with one or more windows, each with multiple tabs, Mail open, and also might be working in Aperture, PS and Final Cut. I'll have my spaces set so that each 'productivity space' has the apps I need to work concurrently on all available at the same time to hop back and forward, monitor, etc.

    Nothing special about the mac here by the way - linux, windows just as capable of doing this.

    And now Windoze 8 take us back to a windowless (DOS?) world where you do one thing at a time.

    utter mince. you do wonder what they are smoking sometimes.

    It seems like the dumbing down on tv, news, society has finally reached the OS.

    1. John Sanders

      Re: first concorde, now the UI (It is called Cargo -Cult)

      MS and many people in the IT industry see the iPad and its big success overnight.

      They do not understand why that toy computer is so successful, but they do want to succeed too, and it looks like they see a nice market opportunity.

      Here read about cargo cult, change the natives for MS (and others, I'm looking at you GNOME!!!!) and the god's gifts for the iPad:

      1. h4rm0ny

        Re: first concorde, now the UI (It is called Cargo -Cult)

        It's hardly a cargo cult. The thing about Win8 and Metro is they are shaping up to be absolutely fantastic on mobile devices and tablets. The problem is the deployment of that GUI onto the Desktop.

        1. hplasm

          Re: first concorde, now the UI (It is called Cargo -Cult)

          "...The thing about Win8 and Metro is they are shaping up to be absolutely fantastic on mobile devices and tablets."

          fan·tas·tic (fn-tstk) also fan·tas·ti·cal (-t-kl)


          1. Quaint or strange in form, conception, or appearance.

          2. Unrestrainedly fanciful; extravagant:

          3. Bizarre, as in form or appearance; strange:

          4. Based on or existing only in fantasy; unreal: fantastic ideas about her own superiority.

          5. Wonderful or superb; remarkable:

          1 out of 5 ain't bad...

    2. Wensleydale Cheese

      Re: first concorde, now the UI

      "It seems like the dumbing down on tv, news, society has finally reached the OS."

      Now we have your full attention, you can watch these adverts too :-)


  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Simple, dont run win8 metro!


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sadly microsoft is pushing developers towards metro only apps.

      1. pete23

        Unless they pay for VS, of course.

        Microsoft is pushing amateur developers towards Metro only apps.

  11. John Sanders

    You're complicating it too much

    We need to use more than one application simultaneously.

    In the same way that a computer really doesn't run two apps at once but in sequence (I know multicore improves this, but it is not the point!, so shut up) we do not do two things at once, but alternate continuously from one app to another.

    Some times we have evolved our daily routines as to use chains of tools in sequence, and some times, specially when things take a turn for the unexpected, we need to be able to show more than two windows/applications at the same time in our computers.

    All was fine and dandy in computer-land until all the iPad cargo-cult started on the IT industry.

    Check "cargo cult" in the wikipedia, you will understand a lot of how our modern world works.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: You're complicating it too much

      Funny, I multitask on my iPad just fine.

      And, oh like a hot damn on my Android-based transformer too.

      Multi-view windowed multitasking: even Chromebooks can do it.



  12. AndrueC Silver badge

    Which is why Metro will not be for me. Right this very moment I'm monitoring Star Team as it chugs through a big upload (..oh, just finished..) whilst also tracking the progress of a related very large build that VS2008 is doing. My primary attention is on Chrome reading the article and (..VS just finished the build so pardon me if I just launch the app now..) now posting a comment. I also have three Remote Desktop windows open because it's a client/server app and I want to watch the logs and status on the server while exercising the clients.

    Luckily my employers have only just got around to issuing me with a new machine so it'll be years before I have to worry about Win8. Maybe by then Microsoft will have pulled its head out of its arse. Either that or I'll be able to claim early retirement which is barely a decade away.

  13. hypernovasoftware

    So you can only have 2 applications tiled at the same time?


    1. dogged

      No, you can use the desktop and have as many as you like.

      Bogus argument is bogus.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Bogus argument

        The article is about Metro. The clue is in the title.

        1. dogged

          Re: Bogus argument

          Are you suggesting that all of MS's server monitoring tools are going to be Metro apps?

          The clue in the Task Manager. It most definitely is not a Metro app.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            Indeed, which is a problem by itself.

            If you get stuck in Metro and hit control-alt-escape, guess where the task manager appears ?

            In the desktop app, where you're not switching to because well.... you're stuck in Metro.

            Such a wonderful design.

            1. dogged

              Re: @dogged

              Why do you think you're stuck in Metro?

              You haven't used it, have you? You've just listened to commentards. You're never "stuck in metro".

              Jesus, don't pay attention to these people. They're morons.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: @dogged

                "Why do you think you're stuck in Metro?"

                I'm not saying you're stuck, if you /get/ stuck. I know reading tends to be hard, but come on here :-)

                FYI: even metro applications can crash and even metro, as a whole, can stall. That's what I've been experiencing a few times when checking up the CP. As such: if you press control-alt-escape I know nothing happens because the task manager pops up in the desktop app. but since the desktop is now degraded to an app. and the task manager only supercedes everything on the desktop...

                If you get stuck in Metro you remain stuck. Because MS has never bothered to think about a security line / option which is capable of superceding Metro.

                Yet another disadvantage over plain Windows. And they keep stacking up.

                1. Daniel Harris 1

                  Re: @dogged

                  Isn't the key combination Ctrl + Shift + Esc

                  Maybe that's why it's not working for you ;-)

                2. dogged

                  Re: @dogged

                  Windows key + power button.

                  It's CTRL+ALT+DEL's new flavour.

              2. h4rm0ny

                Re: @dogged

                Actually agree with most of your posts here, and I concede I am a moron sometimes. But ShellLuser is right on this one as it happened to me as well. I had a a Metro App crash on me and there was nothing I could do. It wasn't until ShellUser's post just now that I realized what was happening - that the TaskManager is appearing on Desktop but because the crash happened in a Metro App, it wont release the screen back to Desktop. Because Metro is a its own GUI (I think), the Task Manager wont appear over it. That's a problem. Hopefully something they've fixed for this preview. They need Ctrl+Alt+Del to bounce you back to the Desktop automatically.

                1. Miek

                  Re: @dogged

                  "They need Ctrl+Alt+Del to bounce you back to the Desktop automatically." -- Try Alt+F4

    2. hypernovasoftware

      Remember 'Bob'?

      Shades of Bob.

      Talk about dumbing down the interface.

      Instead of screwing around with the User Interface, how about making Windows secure once and for all.

      Probably because it's too hard and it's easier for MS to just continue patching the 3.1 code.

      (not really but it sure seems that way sometimes).

      1. dogged

        Re: Remember 'Bob'?

        Instead of screwing around with the User Interface, how about making Windows secure once and for all.

        Probably because it's too hard

        That bit is the reason I downvoted you. No. Not "too hard". Try "absolutely impossible on any system to which executable programs can be added", you retard.

    3. John70

      Metro Apps

      When you have a Metro App in the foreground, your previously opened Metro Apps go into sleep mode.

      If your system requires more memory, sleeping Metro Apps are terminated without warning to release memory.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      IF your screen resolution matches the requirements. Even that is an issue these days; because being able to do this in 640x480 (for example; if you're doing rescue maintenance) is SO passe.

  14. Big_Ted

    My standard desktop use at work

    I have one window open for mail, a second for monitoring a telemetry system, athird with Excel for cofiguring data and a forth for editing data in the telemetry system.

    On top of this I could have IE open for data from the web plus CS5 as well. This is spread across 2 large monitors.

    How the hell am I supposed to work with metro ?

    MS have made it clear that windows 7 is the upgrade we will roll out at work and can't even think about windows 8 at all. This also means we will not bother with Windows RT for tablets but will support only iOS and Android for phones and tablets. BYOD again will not allow Windows RT.

    Are MS really that stupid that they are cutting off companies from the windows upgrade route or will they see the light and sort this mess out ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: My standard desktop use at work

      Are MS really that stupid that they are cutting off companies from the windows upgrade route or will they see the light and sort this mess out ?

      They are in a blind panic, running around like headless chickens. After using Office 2010 which I daily tried to fool myself into believing it was an upgrade I reverted back to 2003 and my productivity has soared, particularly because of the menu system as well as the appalling IMAP response times per email on Outlook 2010, like 5-10 seconds to delete an email. Even on the free Windows Live Mail client the delete is instantaneous. It's a known "design feature" and unlikely to be addressed. I could go on....

    2. dogged

      Re: My standard desktop use at work

      I really do not understand all this blind panic among people who should know better.

      Let's spell this out once and for all.



      fucksakes, people. The sky is not falling.

      1. Tom 35

        Re: My standard desktop use at work

        So it sounds like you are saying Metro is totally fucking useless, just use the desktop.

        More or less what everyone is saying. Or just stick with Windows 7 might be even better.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: My standard desktop use at work

        So what is the point of Metro then?

        1. dogged

          Re: My standard desktop use at work

          On a desktop pc, the point of metro is to get people used to metro. It's just a launcher and metro apps are trivial, unimportant things (excepting email, maybe).

          It's not any worse than the Start button, just different. It's not any better either.

          It is wholly there to sell tablets and phones, in my opinion, but that doesn't make it a bad thing.

          On the other hand, the rest of Windows 8 is really very, very good. You'd be a fool to spurn it on the grounds that you don't like using a launcher. On the grounds that Win7 is good enough and upgrading is an unnecessary expense, sure. If you can live without the optimizations and frankly scary speed boost.

          It is, as always, entirely your call. But the launcher is an idiotic thing to worry about.

      3. Anonymous Coward


        "fucksakes, people. The sky is not falling."

        Your desktop is NOT fine. Because inside the desktop you no longer have Aero at your disposal. This is a very big thing for me; the simplicity of being able to look at the status of a program (copying, downloading, other stuff) by merely looking at its icon to see the progress bar there as well.

        Its not merely Metro alone these days, its also because they took valuable options away from other places.

        1. dogged

          Re: @dogger

          @ShelLuser - you can still mouse over an application in the task bar to get its status, progress etc.

          Calm down.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @dogger

            "Calm down"

            If I weren't you'd be seeing exclamation marks and such :)

            Sorry but it doesn't matter if there are ways to circumvent the now coming limitations. Fact of the matter remains that valuable features get removed "because". And users will have to cope.

            That's hardly user friendly and IMO reason enough for people to get upset.

          2. Richard 12 Silver badge

            Re: Mousing over for progress?

            What use is that?

            Right now I can glance at the taskbar, or see it out of the corner of my eye and know that my video rendering task is less than half done.

            Thus it can be safely ignored, I don't need to go there and can keep on writing this bitchy post.

            If I had to move the mouse on top of it to see that same information, I've got to move my hand over to the mouse, move the mouse pointer, place it over the application's icon, wait for the popup and find that it's less than half done so doesn't matter yet, then move the mouse back to my actual bitching task and my hand back to the keyboard.

            In the meantime I could have bitched about many different things on the internet, or even done some actual work.

        2. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: @dogger

          Woah, they threw away the taskbar completely?

          Bloody hell, the sky HAS fallen. From a usability perspective, ITaskBarList2/3 is by far the most useful API in the whole of Windows 7.

          The idea of being able to tell how far gone that massive download/upload/rendering task was and when it/they finished is simply beautiful.

      4. the-it-slayer

        Re: My standard desktop use at work

        Shame your brain can't compute that M$ will most likely force applications to be written in the Metro way. The desktop mode is only there for compatibility sakes for god knows how long.

        Metro is as useless as your infomation :). Go play with a penguin then come back.

  15. Mage Silver badge

    maybe... 7"?

    Perhaps they forget that some people have large screens, some people have screens that are really HD (PC CAD & DTP outstripped TV HD resolution over 10 years ago), some people have tiled screens making a single large desktop.

    Metro sounds like it's for 7" Tablets.

    It was stupid putting the Explorer interface on PDAs and Phones. It's equally stupid forcing everyone to use a UI designed for Phones and 7" Tablets.

    You really need about 6 styles of GUI


    Less than 4.5"

    4" to 8"

    7" to 12"

    11" upward

    Media / consoles / TV via remote/game controller, much longer distance

    SD TV (for 4:3 and 16:9)

    HD TV larger than 37" and 16:9 only

    Somewhat depending on DPI and how good your eyes are and personal preference / kind of task at the "boundaries" between sizes.

    MS have been doing this for a very long time. Why are not able to get it right?

    Computer Media SW (Windows or Linux) often assumes ONLY TV Media centre use and is then a pain to use at desktop distance on Mouse /Keyboard. PC Media SW needs to always be able to switch between "living room TV mode (HD or SD)" and Desktop mode and Tablet mode.

    One size will never fit all.

  16. TheOtherHobbes

    Ah. So.

    A version of Windows with no actual windows.

    That'll sell well then. Won't it?

    1. hitmouse

      Re: Ah. So.

      just one big pane

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    932 words of utter twaddle... say you don't like Metro's windowing capabilities, or lack thereof.

  18. janimal

    As an avid F1 fan

    On GP days I find myself using i browser window for the driver tracker, a second for the in-car view a third for the pit-camera and a fourth for the live timing screen, all across my dual screens, whilst watching the TV coverage on er...the telly.

    Can someone from microsoft tell me how I will achieve this under metro?

    1. Isendel Steel

      Re: As an avid F1 fan

      Not from Microsoft - but obviously you require multiple devices and more importantly licenses to boost the coffers (bulk purchase deal perhaps ?)

    2. HarryBell

      Re: As an avid F1 fan

      You wont. You'll use the desktop in the same way you do now.

      Jesus, why is this so difficult to understand..?

  19. mathew42

    Average Intelligence

    I appreciate that computers need to be designed for someone of average intelligence, but is an interface designed for a phone (800x460) the right interface for my laptop 1920x1080 + 2560 x 1440 second screen.

    Unity works well on my 10" laptop, but on my development machine with global menus it is a disaster. I've switched to LMDE and Cinnamon because it is a least semi-sane. It might be time to look at KDE again.

    I'm also wondering how long my Win XP VMs will keep running.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So programs multi-task, but the user isn't allowed to,

    personally I usually have 6-7 windows of one kind or another open at a time, and being used when I am working.

    chat room (for work), 3-4 SSH connections to develop in, 2 browser windows..

    So my screen space is fully used, on my 4 x 23" monitor system, or my 23" & 32" monitor system.

    clearly I will not be upgrading, might even be the push I need to shift my home desktop over to linux

  21. Troy Peterson

    Why are we going backwards?

    Am I to understand then that Windows 8 will not support windows? I don't understand why the UI creators these days think the desktop paradigm is broken. It isn't. I have to use Windows 7 at work and I can't stand it.. I've been a long time Linux user at home and have recently switched to KDE after the demise of Gnome 2... Now I'm looking at Cinnamon or MATE as potentials for my primary desktop...

    I know I may be old-fashioned, but I _HATE_ tabbed browsing. I have three 24" monitors and I use them. I detest maximized windows and believe that windows should be sized to hold their content and no more. I never maximize a window to full screen... I have lots of screen real-estate and I use it like a desktop. How many people have a large desktop but keep everything in a single neat stack in the middle? Do you just move papers from the stack to the top to look at them and then shuffle them down the stack? Maybe you do... but I tend to spread them out over my desk so I can scan across them with my eyes.

    When I browse the web and something catches my attention I open it in a new window somewhere else on the screen.... When I'm ready to read it then I just have to move my eyes to that window's location. I don't even need to focus it until I'm ready to scroll. At the moment I have 12 windows open - 5 different consoles connected to various servers, a Java IDE, my email client, and a couple of browsers. I like to always keep my email client visible taking up about 1/3rd of one of my 3 monitors. My consoles are spread variously around the screen so I can see what's on them and refer to them. I also need to copy data between them - How can you drag and drop if you can only see one at a time?

    To me, a minimalist GUI is ideal. I like a task bar to display a clock, and events tray and a task list is nice... A launcher menu needs to be easily accessible somehow... But mostly I want a big empty desk space with pretty wallpaper.

    If I had time and inclination to write my own gui it would not have maximize buttons.



    1. John70

      Re: Why are we going backwards?

      Windows 8 will have classic Windows Desktop as well as Windows 8 Metro.

      You will still be able to use normal Windows applications in Desktop mode.

      Windows 8 Desktop no longer has Aero so its all grey. Search for the complaints about Visual Studio 11 and how grey that is.

      1. the-it-slayer

        Re: Why are we going backwards?

        A desktop mode without any way of loading apps. You have to go back to the Metro Creptro screen to do it AFAIK (unless you can litter your desktop mode with desktop icons).

        One question though; most business desktops have two or more monitors. If you have a metro app running on one screen, can you run another metro app on another? This would half solve the issue, although I guess it may not and the singular metro app will take over all screens until you switch to another.

        M$ is almost there to launching a nuclear bomb in it's own backyard. Can't wait to see the fireworks when consumers and business turn their back on Win8.

      2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        maybe not

        Reports the things like the Start Button is being ripped out and not only from Win 8 but from Server 12

        1. TonyHoyle

          Re: maybe not

          Not even microsoft would be stupid to stick metro on a server.


        2. Wensleydale Cheese

          Re: maybe not

          @Steve Davies 3


          Reports the things like the Start Button is being ripped out and not only from Win 8 but from Server 12"

          Yes, the default installation is without the GUI. I gather that the intention is that you now run the GUI-less version and use the shiny new Powershell extras to control your servers from elsewhere.

          The trouble with that is that I get the feeling you now get to write your own GUI to do it, albeit that GUI can run on the platform of your choice (Linux et al).

    2. Anonymous Coward


      I've given this much thought myself because its hard to understand and all.

      Right now my only conclusion is that Ballmer has seen too many episodes of Dr. Who and is now under the impression that going backwards will eventually by some weird twisted timeloop mean they'll run forwards again and thus make LOTS of money.

      Its the only logical explanation I can come up with ;-)

    3. Some Call Me Tim

      Re: Why are we going backwards?

      Nobody who works in IT will upgrade to Windows 8 because of this (well nobody who actually wants to get any work done that is!)

      Typically do do my job I have several applications running in windows across 2 sometimes three monitors, I need a web browser open to read info or manage applications along with notepad++ SQL Management Studio, RDP sessions, command and powershell promts usually along with excel and word to write up documents and I go and I need to be able to view all at once and copy and paste between all of them. How I'm supposed to be able to do this efficiently viewing just one or two apps at a time in the new world of metro I do not know.

      I like many have worked for years in this way and will not go back to the dark ages of doing one thing at a time. I get paid by the hour and I doubt my employers would be happy when I tell them it's going to take five times as long to do anything because I can now only do one thing at a time.

      It just shows that MicroSoft are cocooned in their own world and do not even understand how their current user base use their own products. Any company that doesn't listen to its customers is doomed to failure.

      1. Nigel 11

        Doomed to failure?

        Microsoft are not doomed until their customers realize that there's nothing left for them with Microsoft, and start moving to Apple or to Linux. So far they're only at ther stage of bitching loudly and hoping, praying, that someone at Microsoft will listen.

        Microsoft will be doomed the day they announce the Windows 7 support termination date with only Windows 8 as an upgrade path. On that day IT departments all over the place will commit to their plan B and it'll all be over for Microsoft.

        If Microsoft shareholders are smart, Ballmer will have been sacked before then, and the new boss's first pronouncement is that Windows 7 will be maintained until there is something acceptable to replace it with.

        1. GitMeMyShootinIrons

          Re: Doomed to failure?

          The replacement?

          Easy - Windows 8 SP1 - the return of Aero.

          One can hope.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Enter the smug penguin brigade

    Or more accurately, those who don't rely on any single vendor's whims to get a usable environment. I'm not saying "linux is the answer", for it isn't. I am saying that an important concept of the X Windows design is useful here: Provide mechanism, not policy. Bring your own window manager to provide that policy as you see fit. I have my favourite and it works equally well under linux almost entirely regardless of distribution, FreeBSD or another *BSD, or most any other X environment I'd like to use.

    There are several problems with how this approach was implemented and certainly, a well-thought out single environment would give a smoother overall "user experience", but at a price. Just look at all the guidelines developers on macosx its aqua environment have to follow. The X interop specifications are possibly worse, but at least you don't get a new spec every OS release. And the whole thing works reasonably well across multiple vendors, platforms, and so on, and with a suitable WM you can have almost any behaviour you want, and it doesn't matter a whit that on the next desktop over it all works quite differently, though running the exact same applications.

    This isn't quite true for the one-size-fits-all vendor-fiat approach rolled out across millions of enterprise desktop machines.

    The downside? Not suited for people who don't know what they want and are operating under an intuitivity expectation, actively fostered by certain vendors and even free software projects (like various desktop environment projects). It is easy to see why you'd want unitarian homogenity soup if you have to support that sort of audience, of course. Personally, I'll never stop being vaguely disappointed at the poor level of control people choose to have over their own computing environments, such that they'll always need ready access to a helpdesk and never can do without the training wheels.

    Maybe in a generation or three, four. Sooner if we teach our young'uns concepts instead of rote. Maybe.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ex-smug penguin

      I was a smug penguin until I saw what they did with Gnome 3 and Ubuntu's Unity, all of the progress of Gnome 2 to usability, then pissed away with the promise of fondleslab sales.

      Seems the that GUI designers are like artists - when they get it almost right: kill them, and stop them going on to ruin it!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Gnome and Unity...

        ... are both "desktop environments" that also seek to provide a comprehensive environment and also do that complete overhaul thing that upsets the natives. Altough they do it on a base that can equally well function without. My preferred way to install ubuntu is to take the server-no-gui version, and on a desktop add X and a suitable wm (NOT a desktop environment), then configure it to my liking. Comparable procedure for, well, anything else that provides a GUI through X. Other systems I tend to avoid. Of course, that's just me. But the point was that you can have that freedom, you just need the skills to deal with it, for you suddenly have to understand the difference between mechanism and policy, and then pick a policy you like to work with. In some cases the system designers don't even understand that distinction, or even forget that what might work in one environment just completely doesn't elsewhere.

        1. Nigel 11


          Gnome 3 really p*ssed off Gnome 2 users because it went against the whole Open Source ethos by denying them CHOICE. The Choice to stick with Gnome 2, or to instal both Gnome 2 and Gnome 3 on the same system until they decided which they liked most. It's as if Microsoft had inflicted the Metro UI on us not as a new product (which is bad enough) but as an automatic upgrade to Windows 7. Gnome should have forked Gnome 3 and looked for a new maintainer or developer for the Gnome 2 project.

          However, although Gnome made life hard for Gnome 2 users, there is still choice. Scientific Linux, Centos and RHEL6 all stuck with Gnome 2. There's Cinnamon. There's Trinity Desktop (which is derived from KDE 3, but I believe that it can happily coexist with KDE 4). There are more than a few other window managers.

          In the Windows world, there's no choice, just whatever UI Microsoft supplies.

          1. FrankAlphaXII

            Re: Choice

            >>In the Windows world, there's no choice, just whatever UI Microsoft supplies

            Not true. At all. Remember there are accessibility shells for visually impaired people for one, and other shells for people who just dont like what MS provides for two.

            On every version of windows so far you could always install a shell replacement. Go search for "Windows Shell Replacement" on any search engine and you'll be able to find something besides what Microsoft provides. Personally I use Windows Aero on my Laptop and Classic on my Desktop when Im using Windows, and KDE when Im using Fedora, but there's alot more out there for Windows than just the MS defaults, just as much as there are other desktop environments and Window Managers for X for the various flavors of Unix and of course Linux.

            I dont know if Windows 8 will be able to do that, but I know people running Luna or KDE on Windows 7 with no issues for example.

          2. bailey86

            Re: Choice


            I can't get on with Unity or Gnome 3.

            Thankfully, I've found Xubuntu which uses XFCE - and it's brilliant. And it will be usable by ordinary users as well.

  23. Donald Miller

    Simple multitasking

    Now that I'm retired from system duties, I've been working in publishing. Let's see, Libre Writer working document, Live mail with a revision, CorelDraw web version, CorelPaint to edit web pictures, another Writer window with a related document, IE for searching and definitions (Does each tab count as a window, as it shows in Task Manager?), Live Mail BONG for sudden IMMEDIATE revision, window showing printer tasks and status, Windows Explorer window to find related docs & previous versions. Does the second monitor count as a task? How about the third one I've been considering adding? As I've said in other comments, stock up on Win7.

    1. dogged

      Re: Simple multitasking

      None of those are Metro apps.

      Do you have any clue what the topic is?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Stock up on a system that won't be supported going forward?

      In that list of things you're using, there's very little function that's actually bound to that platform and plenty where replacing with software that does the same thing, only better, would do the world a favour, regardless of underlying OS. The so-not-a mail client and only-recently-become-a-halfway-decent web browser come to mind; directory tree traversal and file searching utilities abound, libre writer is already "cross platform". That leaves the pixel manipulation, and that can be had elsewhere too, or run under wine if you have to.

      I mean, if libre writer is good enough, it's not the file formats that're keeping you bound to redmond.

      I'd say you could try a different OS altogether, and it doesn't have to change your normal routine all that much. Doesn't have to be linux or another free unix either, though it (in a suitable configuration you like, as opposed to whatever someone else thought was neat) could fit the bill, possibly, but macosx at least has the upshot of a rabid user community that won't accept apple take away their nice and consistent keyboard shortcuts and the like, and where having multiple apps open never was an anathema.

      On another note, I wonder how much of that would already be doable on haiku. Should try in the near future, just for kicks.

  24. lurker

    You could accuse the developers of Gnome and Ubuntu's unity of making many of the same mistakes which MS are making. It seems that in their rush to get up-to-speed with mobile devices everyone is forgetting that most of the actual work is still being done on desktop PCs with large TFT screens.

    As you say, in Linux there are at least many alternative desktops, however.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'd say that if your running in the metro environment, you'd being using the device for "tablet" applications (checking your mail, watching a video clip, quickly scanning web pages).

    If you’re running "productivity" applications, you'd be doing so in the normal windows environment.

    This dual personality seems to confuse. If can see the benefits clearly.

    Metro isn't going to be used much on my desktop, where my aims are producing content/responding to content from others. I want to be able to view/produce content from multiple applications.

    Metro would be used on my tablet where I’m going to be consuming others content, and not primarily producing content. I don’t really need to produce content whilst the primary function is to consume.

    1. Paul Shirley

      Which would be a fair point if Microsoft hadn't laced Win8 with tripwires to fire up Metro mode with common actions. FFS they deliberately disabled the register hacks that let us lock it into desktop mode, they really are intent on tricking or forcing everyone to get used to Metro as the primary interface.

      If it were good they wouldn't need compulsion, desktop would wither on its own.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Have they?

        Are you a developer? Have you worked on it?

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You're missing the real objective...

    ... if you want to keep an eye on 3 apps at once, you obviously need 3 tablets - it's a ploy to sell more!

    It could make it difficult to cut-n-paste from one app to another, but they'll come up with a way to 'flick' from one tablet to another :)

  27. Efros

    Multitasking = doing more than one thing with less than 100% of your ability.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Couldn't agree more.

      So much of a regular person's day job however...simply doesn't require 100% of their ability.

      …or are you saying you need 100% of your ability to focus on that progress bar as a VM is moved from one server to another? Do you need to watch as your file manager reads and caches thumbnails for every single file in that folder of 80,000 JPEGs? Do you feel the burning requirement to devote 100% of your attention to reading an e-mail about a project three departments down that has only a 2% chance of ever affecting you in any way?

      Perhaps you do. The question to me would be…why?

      1. Wensleydale Cheese

        Re: Couldn't agree more.

        "So much of a regular person's day job however...simply doesn't require 100% of their ability."


        I used to run software which monitored a whole bunch of servers for a variety of things (jobs failed, disks getting full or going offline, security violations etc). Once I had completed my early morning routine of checking messages generated overnight, I could minimise the monitoring app windows and settle down to doing other work, but if one of those monitoring icons changed colour, it got my immediate attention.

        P.S. This was done on a large for the time CRT monitor. The box it came in had large warnings that this thing took 2 people to lift :-)

  28. JimmyPage Silver badge

    The year is 1987

    I am a spotty undergrad, in my sandwich year, attending the IBM roadshow in some hotel in London. I see a PC running DESQview with it's screen quartered, and one of the quarters was a DOS window that had crashed. The other 3 carried on running.

    We appear to be living life backwards.

  29. ForthIsNotDead

    Of course, you are ALL wrong

    YOU are all TECCY NERDS. You don't get it do you? You're WAY outside of Microsoft's demographic. Microsoft doesn't care about you, you pathetic nerds with you're "oooh look how many windows I have open" cock-measuring contests.

    STFU and realise that MS are going after the "NU Generashun". There's only one criteria:

    Does FaceFart look really frickin' cool? Yes? Woohoo! That'll do then!

    Clearly the "Gelled-pointy-hair-brigade" has taken over at MS.

    "If it aint a fone, it don't matter, man."


    Having said all that, Win8 can STILL run in normal mode, just bloody calm down, okay?! :-)

    1. captain veg Silver badge

      Re: Of course, you are ALL wrong

      > There's only one criteria

      Was that supposed to be ironic?


    2. Wensleydale Cheese

      Re: Of course, you are ALL wrong


      "STFU and realise that MS are going after the "NU Generashun". There's only one criteria:"

      Then they should forget about the server market.

  30. TeeCee Gold badge

    Much as I really hate to defend Metro.......

    I may be working on one primary task (or switching between a handful of them,) but I am skimming the datastream presented by the dynamic information sources looking for anything more important than I am doing at the moment.

    Er, surely that's Metro's strong point? Your other data streams are represented in the "live tile" approach. Of course, you'd need Metro versions of the applications presenting those data streams for this to work, but by the time 9 comes out, which is what we'll get in the real world, that should be less of a problem.

    1. Paul Shirley

      Re: Much as I really hate to defend Metro.......

      How do you see the live tiles with a fullscreen app covering the entire screen?

    2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Much as I really hate to defend Metro.......

      Actually, I think live tiles are bloody brilliant. Believe it or not, I like a great many things about Metro, especially the early-phase design concept of "information at a glance."

      The issue is simple: We need to be able to "pop out" Metro apps into Windows. And I would pay cash money to be able to make Metro Start my desktop background, or "Pin" it to a second monitor.

      Microsoft has a great many truly unbelievable ideas attached to Metro. Honestly revolutionary stuff that I believe would make computing more productive and enjoyable. Their execution however is [expletive deleted] pants. It is really poorly thought through, poorly assembled into a working interface, and the result is something that is functionally unusable.

      Worse to my mind is their attitude about the whole thing. Metro is bad, but how they are responding to valid criticisms about it is essentially the last straw for me.

      It wouldn’t take much effort to take the excellent ideas and code they have in place right now and make something truly worthy of a flagship operating system. Instead, we get Windows 8. How unfortunate.

      1. FrankAlphaXII

        Re: Much as I really hate to defend Metro.......

        Well Trevor, you do realize that this is going to be like an American College entrance exam analogy.

        Windows Vista is to Windows 7 as Windows 8 is to Windows 9.

        They'll tweak and "improve" Windows 8 after listening to a ton of pissing and moaning about how it is, and then release an incremental update for the price of a new OS.

        After the Vista/7 fiasco Im surprised people arent seeing through this already.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Much as I really hate to defend Metro.......

      No one gets it. They are all lost in their "i" or "X" land (or penguin) and can't see the bigger picture!

      Get your self a winphone and EXPERIENCE the 'tile.

      Win8 seems to be such a HUGE shift for everyone, on one wants to even give it a try.

      'They' are just trolling before even experiencing it. Way to go! Thats some "considered" shit.

      1. Jamie Kitson

        Re: Much as I really hate to defend Metro.......

        @Obviously! ahem, I've been using dwm, a tiled window manager, on Linux for years.

      2. Anonymous Coward


        As a matter of a fact I happen to own a WinPhone myself (Samsung Omnia W) and actually enjoy its usage. I wholeheartedly agree that Metro definitely has a place there.

        But a 3.8" touch screen is hardly comparable to a 19 - 24 " static screen where the PC gets all its input from a keyboard and mouse.

        Another important difference: On my phone the Metro screen /is/ the main interface. Because of its nature my phone only runs full screen (Metro) apps and nothing more. Bit obvious since you don't go move Windows about on a 3.8" display.

        But on my 24" screen PC? My desktop (where all my stuff resides) is my main interface. That's where most of my stuff gets started.

        WHY would it be a good thing not being able to start something as calc.exe and have it sitting on my desktop (where I also have Word & Excel) but instead being taken away from all that and get it full screen ?

        I don't like having to use alt-tab all the time merely to type over a number which I've got through means of a calculation. That's not progress; that's totally absurd.

  31. Jamie Kitson

    Simple Solution

    Since Windows 8 will apparently allow you to configure multiple monitors as you wish you just need as many monitors as you will have tasks.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      You're holding it wrong.

      Just buy a bigger house. Simple.

      Sent from my Winphone


  32. john devoy

    MS taking GUI design tips from fisher price

    Microsoft have a history of announcing their next big UI idea as the next coming; then admitting a few years later it was a steaming heap. for example the SDI/MDI Gui thing they tried to enforce.

    So far from what ive seen win8 does nothing but cripple windows for people who took the time to learn it in favour of those who 1. insist that tablets are the holy grail or 2. expect to use things without any form of learning curve.

    Hopefully they wont come up with some fake crap like dx12 being win8 only to force upgrades from win7.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: MS taking GUI design tips from fisher price

      "Hopefully they wont come up with some fake crap like dx12 being win8 only to force upgrades from win7."

      Why not? I've lost count of the number of fuckwits who say that DX10 is impossible in Windows XP.

  33. SMabille

    Multi monitor, multi windows

    Any OS that doesn't allow me to have multiple windows across my multiple monitors won't get anywhere close my PC (OK, in a VM so I can "ahh, ahh" finger pointing at it before freeing some disk space).

    If Microsoft consider Vista a failure wait until they release that retarded UI...

    If I want to poke/play with large cube around I'll get some Duplo (Lego for babies).

    1. Nigel 11


      Can I mount a Rasberry Pi in Duplo blocks?

  34. Tim Walker

    There's more than one way to a tiled desktop...

    ...and MS didn't invent them all:

    According to this article, tiling window managers (as opposed to the "stacking" type we're familiar with) date back to the early 1980s, with Xerox Star and CEDAR. Modern UNIX systems (including Linux) offer a number of tiling WMs - dwm, Awesome, Ion, Xmonad, etc. - and let's not forget MS Windows has had a "tile windows" option more or less throughout its many versions.

    I'm thinking of trying out Awesome ( on my Raspberry Pi - you can have a "primary" window (e.g. a browser) on one side of the screen, and others (e.g. xterms) can tile across the other side. That said, MS' Metro may well excel (pun not intended) on the eye-candy front...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There's more than one way to a tiled desktop...

      "According to this article"

      Quoting from Wiki? Really?

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apart from dogged,

    Everyone else on this thread appears to be too thick to be allowed to use Windows 8. As for the author, words fail me. I have not seen anyone miss the point so convincingly since Germany invaded Russia in 1941.

  36. Codeus

    The operating system formerly known as Windows.

    Since it no longer allows the user to use mutliple windows, they need to stop calling it Windows.

    Tablet OS on Desktop fail.

    Finally time to move to a mac at home

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The operating system formerly known as Windows.

      W O W!

      Moving to Mac without even experiencing win8.

      I bet you have an iPhone too.

      Yet another "considered" consumer, BAAAA.

      1. Seb123

        Re: Sheep?

        Isn't that like the pot and the kettle?

  37. Sean Houlihane

    Simple example

    Web browser and photo browser open for reference, blogging tool open for writing content, or spreadsheet for capturing data. Already tried this on android, it's a right pain and I resorted to using my phone camera as a scratchpad.

  38. tempemeaty

    My two cents...

    The way I look at it is that WIndows 8, like android or iOS is now a "Consumption" OS not a "Content Creation" OS. That is the serious difference. Some one has to create that content being consumed and the associated music, graphics, and what have you. If the OS is getting in the way of that then people will have to switch OS's. MS is to big and technologically savvy to say they are stupid and don't get this, so I have only to conclude that MS doesn't care about content creation side of computing anymore and/or is perusing another agenda. Of course where the content is going to come from if you can't have multiple associated programs open at the same time(more than two) in the content creation process I don't know. We still have Linux I guess? Mac OSX 10.6 maybe even?

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sick of all you h8ters

    I'm sick of all you haters spouting the usual BS arguement "oh this is a step backwards" HARDLY

    Engage your brains for a second. Windows 7 is currently available and this is Windows 8 we are talking about. Well it's one forwards isn't it? Hardly a step backwards. I

  40. heyrick Silver badge

    Background services are multitasking, now?

    Windows 8 is a multitasking operating system in which applications and services can run in the background to perform tasks independent of what is occurring in the foreground application.

    The BBC Micro could do background stuff (print spooling, network handling etc), running off events or interrupts. While this could technically be considered "multitasking", I think only a clueless marketing bod would actually label it as such...

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Background services are multitasking, now?

      [Author deleted] at [publication deleted] is ardently convinced they are, yes. His argument during out latest back and forth on Twitter was that "if you are compiling your code in the background, and doing something else in the foreground, you are multitasking." Followed by telling me to grow up when I made the argument that - no - that is the computer multitasking. You are still doing one thing at a time.

      Apparently this is a touchy subject.

      1. Wensleydale Cheese
        Thumb Up

        Re: Background services are multitasking, now?

        "if you are compiling your code in the background, and doing something else in the foreground, you are multitasking."

        Ah, that's what I did 30 years ago on a dumb terminal. I couldn't say that I was multitasking, but the computer certainly was, for the rest of my team of 15 were doing the same thing.

        OK, I'll admitt I was multitasking in the sense I might read my newspaper while waiting for a compilation to complete, but that had nowt to do with the computer.

        It was another half dozen years before I got an editor which supported multiple windows. Yes, still on a dumb terminal but by that time I had 2 of them, and that is the point where I can say I started multitasking on a computer.

  41. Dire Criti¢

    Has anyone actually emailed Ballmer...

    ...along the lines of "Are you fucking nuts?"

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Has anyone actually emailed Ballmer...

      Windows 8 isn't Ballmer's baby. Windows 8 belongs to Sinofsky.

    2. Nigel 11


      You'd have to be the CIO of a company worth billions to get past his e-mail filter. You'd probably have to add another order of magnitude to get past his PA.

      Anyway, it's completely clear from MS's strategy that HE thinks WE are fucking nuts. We'd do better mailing the Microsoft analysts at the big investment houses. Get rid of Ballmer before he kills the golden goose!

  42. This post has been deleted by its author

  43. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

    "But Windows 8 still has the desktop, and also, you can just use Windows 7!"

    At this point, it is no longer just about Windows 8, and those arguments just doesn't hold enough water. Trust has become an issue as well. Windows 8 - and Microsoft's reaction to critisism - makes it unwise to keep the faith.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't see what the problem is...

    Simply switch to windows classic, get the taskbar back, and remove all those stupid square buttons.

    How difficult can it be? The techies must have left a productivity back door in, so real people don't have to put up with all the stupid shit marketing have put in to justify their existence.

    I can't believe there is no way to make it productive.

  45. Andy Enderby 1

    missing the point....'s not about increasing productivity or functionality. It's about moving all the furniture, doors and windows to the extent that folk need retraining, earning MS a wedge of cash over and on top of what they'll earn for the product itself. In addition it's going to be about making your employers hardware obsolete as it will not be able to cope with running Win 8/9/[insert version here], thereby driving the upgrade cycle that so many hardware manufacturers rely on. For gods sake, have some honesty.

    Fanboi icon, since many here are in danger of forgetting the true purpose of an OS and veering into "my OS is better than yours" pissong contests.

  46. David Jackson 1

    What is the point?

    I, like most people, have no interest whatever in smartphones, or tablets. I've no intention of ever using either. Why then should Windows inflict 'features' meant for that market on people using real PCs? If Metro were something which could be entirely switched off, then 95% of users would simply do just that, and there would be no complaints.

  47. Luke McCarthy

    Not necessarily about multi-tasking

    The assumption being that 1 application = 1 task. You may be using multiple applications for 1 task (or 1 application for multiple tasks!)

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Not necessarily about multi-tasking

      An interesting viewpoint! So then, are we to blame the application developers for not integrating everything into each application? Should Metro productivity apps have IM clients, e-mail and so forth built into each one?

      I thought we liked the modularity of "one app per task" while letting the OS present us with multiple apps if we had multiple tasks. Something about cutting down on redundancy. Not to mention not having to enter your credentials for each e-mail/IM/Twitter/whatever account you have into every single application.

      But I could be wrong.

      Or are we back into the semantics debate? Where “well if I can do two things in a single metro app, and one thing in the 33% app, now I’m multi-tasking, even by your definition! So :P!”

      Alternately, you could be on a totally different track.

      Honestly curious as to your take, and your rationale. Please elucidate. Regardless of the approach, it is actually a fresh injection of argumentation into an otherwise stale topic, and I honestly welcome it. Thank you!

      1. Invidious Aardvark

        Re: Not necessarily about multi-tasking

        I think you're missing the point that was being made - that the user may be working on a single task that requires multiple applications to be running, thus even a single task could require more viewable apps than Metro provides. Or, to put it another way, the user doesn't need to be multi-tasking to require that multiple applications to be running concurrently.

        As for the slightly snide "one app per task" comment, I take it you think that Outlook shouldn't exist? After all, it is providing a diary, address book, task list, and an email client. Surely we should have at least 4 applications for this in your "one app per task" fantasy land (conjured up, it seems, to belittle the person to whom you were responding)?

        I usually find your responses to comments helpful; this one falls well below your usual standard.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Not necessarily about multi-tasking

          I was not belittling Luke! Far from it! I honestly find his take refreshing, and I legitimately am interested in hearing his thoughts as to how applications could take on the responsibilities for multitasking.

          And should they? Why? Why not? This is legitimately a whole new take on the argument and I think it needs to be explored!

          Outlook (and Trillian) were the applications I had in made while making that comment. I use these applications specifically so that I don't have to punch my credentials into a bunch of different applications.

          Trillian is my IM client (covering all IM platforms,) my IRC client and my Twitter client of choice. Outlook is currently managing gods only know how many e-mail accounts now, and runs my calendar and contacts. (I have never – ever – found a use for the journal.) I tried using the “task list” but found “unread emails” a better way of marking that. (Make email unread if it can’t be dealt with right away.)

          Either way…no, I don’t view these apps as dealing with “multiple tasks within a single application.” Or, more accurately, I consider them to be so good at doing this that they collapse an entire category of tasks into “a single metatask.”

          Trillian has ceased to be something I think of as “doing more than one thing” in my mind. That occurred about 10 seconds after I finished configuring it. It may connect to multiple different services, but in my mind it is quite simple “real time communications application.” All the things, in all the real times, they go in there.

          Outlook is “buffered communications application.” Communications, tasks, calendar items, etc that are stored in Outlook do not have to be addressed on an interrupt priority. (That could be a function of usage; I tend to set reminders for my calendar items fairly far in advance of the actual event.) Things that hit outlook are things that I can queue up in my mind as “deal with this after the current task is completed,” and Outlook is simply the place where all of that lives for me.

          So, do I believe these applications shouldn’t exist? Not at all. I adore them. I require them to function. I would be lost, adrift, cast upon a sea of madness without them.

          My point was more “does the functionality of these things needs to be integrated in to my browser/image editor/POS application/etc” in order for me to be able to do multi-view-based multitasking in a Metro world? Will Adobe CS Metro have to replicate the functionality of Outlook/Trillian and/or Firefox for me to be able to have my imaging, comns and browser running at the same time?

          Do we start integrating comns into the browser? A browser into the comns app? Where does it end?

          To me, the idea of attempting to use multi-purpose applications as the solution to multitasking woes in Metro sounds like a terrible band-aid. It sounds like a step backwards.

          I am not against a great multi-purpose app. I endorse and embrace them with open arms. What I am against is the idea of using multi-purpose apps to restore functionality to Metro that should damned well have been available in the first place.

          But I don’t know what Luke said, or implied. It got my brain running, but I really do want him to respond with more information, and preferably for the thousands of highly intelligent commenters here on The Register to join in the debate and present their ideas and opinions.

          We could, after all, be discussing the necessary future of Windows on the desktop!

  48. tempemeaty
    Big Brother

    Another thought...or another angle on this

    Perhaps this is a business strategy to introduce the consumption tablet OS on PC with the intent of PUSHING computer users off the PC platform and into tablets in place of their PCs?

    Perhaps they intend to kill the "consumer" PC market then offer a Enterprise or Business OS that still has multi-tasking but priced to keep it out of the consumers range and not sold retail. That would keep admins in large companies happy and servers going while keeping evil consumers away from PC tools the entertainment industry is saying are being used to steal content. This could be a way of pushing consumers off PC platforms and onto tablets to keep the entertainment industry happy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Another thought...or another angle on this

      They have an enterprise OS. Just enable "windowed" Metro apps on Windows 8 Pro or Windows 8 Enterprise only.

      Or hell, Bring back Ultimate, and charge more for it! Finally have an Ultimate edition with an Ultimate feature.

      There isn't a need to "push" consumers off the desktop. they all bought iPads a few years back, many are on their second one. Those left using desktops aren't "consumers." They are hobbyists, professionals and businesses.

      If they want to charge more for the ability to multitask properly, fine. Believe it or not, I am far more accepting of attempts to drive up ARPU than I am simply "balance by nerfing."

      It’s bad enough that this has become standard practice in the gaming world. I do not need Microsoft nerfing my operating system! (In case youa re wondering, you are supposed to buff operating systems. At least, if you don't want your users to hate you...)

      A decade of public relations aimed at building Microsoft's image as "the good guy" amongst the Big Tech titans. For what? They are pissing away that investment in the hope to raise how much more through tablets? Will it even come close to the amount they spent trying to reform their image int eh first place?


      1. Richard Plinston

        Re: Another thought...or another angle on this

        > There isn't a need to "push" consumers off the desktop. they all bought iPads a few years back,

        You have noticed why MS are forcing Metro into the Windows desktop PCs. They did make a claim the 'soon Metro will be the most common UI'. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your view), MS are a year or two late with this as iOS and Android are already entrenched in the mobile market and many are moving away from desktops entirely.

        It will also take more than a couple of years, if ever, before Win8 is more than 50% of the Windows desktop, a factor that Ballmer doesn't seem to understand. He thinks that it will only be a few months and everyone will have 'upgraded' to Win8.

        MS's 'vision' is that once they have gotten used to Metro on the desktop they will demand Metro (WinRT) on their tablets and WP7/8 on their phones and will need all three. Thus MS's revenue will soar as Apple loses market share and Linux/Android is eliminated.

        It has taken MS 12 years to realise that Windows desktop OS and UI will not be everywhere, as they had thought in the 90s. Windows (XP/7) has failed on tablets. WM6 failed when better alternatives became available, WP7 has failed on phones.

        Metro is MS's new future, it is in Windows 8 to try to save the desktop market and to try again for some traction in mobile. The user's future is likely still to be iOS or Android.

      2. David Jackson 1

        Re: Another thought...or another angle on this

        While there obviously are people who use toys like the iPad and the like, there is no substitute for a real PC for most people. Trying to get people to abandon real computing is not a sensible option. Moving to tablets etc is very much a move backwards and not something to be encouraged, although for some people having a tablet in addition to a real computer may be a sensible option.

  49. Joe Montana

    Task switching

    Task switching has always been the microsoft way, it has always been common and even seems to have been encouraged for users to run apps maximised and switch between them.

    By contrast, i have frequently seen macos and x11 users with large screens and lots of small applications scattered around them.

  50. jonathanb Silver badge

    At work, I may be performing only one task, but I use multiple programs running side by side to achieve that task.

  51. AnoNymousGerbil

    Metro UI is perfect!!!

  52. Bucky O' Hare

    Hmmm, maybe I won't upgrade to Windows 8

    I've been a firm Windows fan for the past 15 years, and have upgraded to each OS as soon as it has een released. However, from what I've read of Windows 8 so far, i think I will wait a while before jumping in.

    I am the biggest multi-tasker I know. I have 3 x 24" screens on my home desktop (I work from home), and I am on the PC for approx 10 hours per day.

    My middle screen is my main screen, containing my main development apps, and my main browser (aligned to the left of the screen, approx 60% wide), but I also have subsquent browser instances on both the left and right monitors.

    I restart my computer probably once ever 2-3 weeks as I have OODLES of apps open and like to have their taskbar icons and windows arranged perfectly. I run Display Fusion to have a taskbar on each monitor, with Aero functioning taskbar icons on all three monitors. At any one time I have about 15-20 apps open.

    My job (web designer, developer, manager, blogger) entails that I use:




    SQL Server Management Studio



    Notepad ++

    Remote Desktop (2/3 instances)


    Command Prompt


    Windows Explorer x 2

    + a few more

    on a daily basis, many times per day. These apps stay open, all of the time.

    How am I supposed to run that lot in Metro? Or is Metro not meant for me. I class myself as an extreme power user.

    Do I need Windows 8?


  53. darkfire79

    Couldnt have said it better myself..

  54. Christian Berger

    So...? And...?

    Just because you and perhaps 99% of the users want multitasking that's no reason for Microsoft to implement it. People will buy the Windows 8 no matter if they like it or not, just like they did with Vista and Windows 7. So why should Microsoft go the extra mile to please them?

    If you would actually be serious about your operating system, you'd be working on trying out your legacy software on Wine or Reactos instead of messing around with Metro.

  55. Jeff 11

    Did Steven Sinofsky work for Apple? Because it looks like Microsoft is getting a taste of deliberately incomptent leadership... kind of like Microsoft did to another large company, also courtest of a different Stephen.

    I'm looking forward to the day in the distant future when Windows is no longer the default option. Although that's perhaps not so distant with this sort of craziness.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Metro is not aimed at us

    What most people seem to utterly miss is that MS has done the sensible thing and designed an interface for the majority of people that use Windows. Metro is not aimed at power users, it is aimed at normal people who just want a computer to be simple and easy to use, without spending their whole life learning how to use it.

    Hurrah to MS for taking this onboard and actually doing something about it.

    If you don't like Metro, then stop moaning and stick to the desktop - you have the choice. Don't spoil the chance of normal people of getting a powerful, easy to use PC.

    1. Peter W.

      Re: Metro is not aimed at us

      @AC "Metro is not aimed at us":

      What you fail to realize is that we are still forced to navigate through Metro Start to launch programs, the various Metro-esque side-bars triggered off of hot corners for certain task switching elements, and in the situations where it comes up, Metro apps when some developer decides they are going to build their new version as "Metro only", abandoning development and/or support for the old "desktop" mode version.

      Microsoft really do need to provide an option for "desktop mode only", even if it's only a configurable option on Windows 8 Ultra-Expensive Edition.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Metro is not aimed at us

        Don't be afraid of Metro Start. It's just a bigger start menu, but much more flexible.

        You can of course still pin programs to the task bar on the desktop.

        How will providing a "desktop only" mode help if this mythical developer decides to create a Metro-only app?

    2. Christian Berger

      Re: Metro is not aimed at us

      Hmm, I doubt "people who just want a computer to be simple and easy to use, without spending their whole life learning how to use it." would still use Windows, those people have moved to Linux years ago since its considerably simpler. There's no DLL-hell since libraries are installed by an easy to use package manager. There's no 2-3 decades of legacy ideas to learn before you can understand how a certain feature is supposed to work. There's even a help system which works.

    3. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Metro is not aimed at us

      So who is Metro aimed at on the desktop or laptop PC?

      It's not us "Power Users", because we run multiple applications simultaneously.

      It's not novice users because "hot corners" and "charms" are undiscoverable and nothing looks "clickable".

      It's not the intermediate users because they are used to how things look now. They are confused by minor changes (like "Start" becoming a blue blob), and find major changes genuinely frightening.

  57. Kev99 Silver badge

    MS Multitasking is like Chevy Volt...

    in that both have technology equivalent to that which existed at the start of their respective "ages". For Chevy, that means the Baker Electric, circa 1914. For Microsoft, that means Quarterdeck's DESQView, circa 1985.

  58. keithpeter Silver badge

    Most learning is informal and results from interpreting feedback on routine tasks

    From original article. "Outside of academia – and a handful of other professions – the day is taken up with implementing what we already know."

    Not sure I agree with that. Processing the feedback from the implementation of what you already know may well lead to learning. Feedback can be the 'thermostat' kind (too hot?, switch off radiator, too cold? turn on radiator) or the kind that causes a process change. The second kind is harder to do and therefore your brain resists it more.

  59. Sergey 1

    What did you expect from a mutated CP/M ?

  60. MIc

    Total Crap

    You can split the desktop with a metro app giving access to the normal multi tasking we are used to. Or you can just use the desktop mode and forget metro for most things. And if you have more than one monitor it gets even less like what this author is saying.

    Its a crap article that tries to draw a nuff-said hard line and say it can't be done. It should however focus on things such as how frustrating it might be splitting the desktop with a metro app. There are gripes to be had in win 8 but the one outlined in this article doesn't exist.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Total Crap

      Thank you for your comments. You'll notice that the article talked about Metro, and not Windows 8's desktop at all.

      Your attempt to defend Metro by claiming that you can still use the desktop is quaint, but irrelevant. Your argument does not address the topic at hand and is nothing more than a sad attempt to justify a UI change that has seen a significant negative response. Furthermore, you leave out issues like "Metro screen splitting only goes 33/66," something that seriously impinges upon the ability to use large productivity apps at the same time as the desktop.

      Additionally, it is not my job to publicise your concerns about Windows 8. Write your own damned articles, if you have your own beefs with the product. But don't you dare denigrate the concerns of others simply because you don't feel they apply to you.

      I talked about the issues I, personally have with Metro. I talked about the issues my clients and users have with Metro. I talk about Metro, specifically because it is the future of Microsoft’s design, and Microsoft has very much so made it the favoured child.

      So you can take your “the desktop is still there” and your “if you don’t like it, just stick with Windows 7” arguments and shove them. I've been over that territory many times times in this thread.

      Your solution to what I call multitasking is to rely on the traditional desktop. It is a solution that isn't available in all versions of Windows 8. It is a solution that isn't relevant if the application you are trying to use is a large Metro app that requires more than 33% of your screen. And most damning of all, it is a solution that has every possibility of simply not being available forever.

      So I’ll be very blunt with you here: if you believe any of the following:

      1) Microsoft is a company that you can bet your business on for client OS continuity

      2) The legacy desktop in “pinned” mode is the solution to my multitasking woes

      Then just don’t bother reading any article by me regarding Windows 8. The man you want to be reading is Peter Bright at Ars Technica. Those are the beliefs he espouses with fervor. You will find my analysis far more cynical, and significantly less attached to the idea of blind faith.

      If you want to convert me, derision and ad homs aren't going to do it. You need to prove to me that Microsoft have earned my trust. You are going to have to show not only that what is on the table now will do everything I need it to do, but that there is a firm commitment to preserving that capability for 5, 10, 15 and 20 year timeframes.

      You need to show me that continuing to invest in the Microsoft ecosystem, developing applications for Windows and supporting developers who choose this proprietary route is a sound investment.

      Because as it stands, right now, Metro does not allow me to do mutltiasking as I have described it in my article. The legacy desktop does, (though even that has been nerfed somewhat,) but having Metro apps and desktop apps coexist and and participate in a multi-viewable environment is broken to the point of “completely fucking useless.”

      Worse, “the legacy desktop” can absolutely no longer be counted upon to exist past the (Hopefully brief) shelf life of Windows 8. We’re back to “trust” here. You obviously have it. I don’t.

      No, I’ve heard the argument from the fanboys at this point: “why worry about something that hasn’t been announced? Microsoft haven’t said they are getting rid of the desktop, so that’s not a valid concern.” Bullshit. I still have systems running NT4 built into machines that are the size of a bus, cost over $1M and have been running for 15 years. I have similar machines with Windows 2000 and Windows 7.

      I have a massive XP embedded estate that probably won’t be replaced until 2018. We have point of sales apps that are based on code that largely hasn’t changed in 20 years. There is industry specific software from companies that have gone out of business, or who maintain some 10 year old Frankenapp with 3 devs and have zero competition, thus zero reason to improve upon things.

      Eventually, all of this will be replaced. With what? How long will whatever I replace it will be supported? If I invest in some application today that has a Windows desktop client software bit, will users 5, 10, 15 years form now be able to use that software and use it in a remotely reasonably and efficient fashion?

      How well will it work in a world where an unknown number of other applications are Metro only? What will context switching be like? Multitasking? How does it all fit?

      No, I will not wait for the final product. No, I will not wait for Microsoft to slowly reveal to me the roadmap for Windows 9 and 10 one goddmaned morsel at a time over the course of the next decade.

      Microsoft have just engaged in a massive paradigm shift in how computers are used. On the one hand they are periodically trying to ease concerns about the future role of the desktop, and then in the very next sentence talk about how Metro – and very clearly only Metro – is the future.

      You trust them if you want. You bet your business on them. You invest thousands of your personal dollars into their new OS, and apps to go on it.

      I’m done. Metro doesn’t do what I need it to do. Metro/Desktop interaction is pants. Worst of all, Microsoft have basically told everyone who raises concerns about this to go to hell.

      So, Metro is okay? Dragging the desktop around on life support is the solution? Microsoft can be trusted with my future?

      Convince me, sir.

      1. Quxy
        Thumb Up


        for hanging in there with Microsoft for so long. I'm obliged to run Windows 7 at work, but I've reached the point where, to bypass its sluggish response and limited capabilities, I do all of my work under Linux running inside a full-screen VM.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Total Crap


        Love your article if only for the amount of discussion it has started.

        I work for a large systems integrator and had similar concerns for Windows 8 after the success of Windows 7. Speaking with Microsoft last week they relieved my concern. Their position is that tablet use is growing faster than desktops, and they don't have an OS that works on tablets particularly well. The Metro interface is their answer, and WindowsRT on ARM the direct competitor for iOS and iPad. Metro isn't replacing the desktop, it's complimenting it.

        It's horses for courses. You wouldn't commute from Brighton to London on a bike, and you wouldn't catch a train from Southwark to London Waterloo. But that doesn't mean those forms of transport aren't valid.

        Take the fact that you can run apps on your phone, your tablet and your desktop, which one are you going to run lots of full screen apps on? The Metro interface on Windows 8 is there to bring the experience of the phone/tablet to the desktop, not to replace it. Your argument about Metro taking over the desktop seems to be unfounded, do you have any evidence of this?

        I use and like using iPads, but don't know how you can multitask on one at all, but I can on my MacBook. Were Apple wrong to change part of their interface in Lion to match iOS? Using an earlier poster's comparison, Launchpad is to Lion as Metro is to Windows 8. It brings the OS experience together across the different form factors.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Total Crap

          I never said that Metro was useless. In fact, as I have stated elsewhere in this thread I think certain elements of Metro are absolutely brilliant, and I would pay cash money to be able to use them in a different manner. (That's another article for next week, I think.)

          To further elucidate that point: Metro is fantastic for tablets, and it is potentially usable, with some tweaks on an ultrabook. I do not believe that the current incarnation has any place on a real notebook or a desktop at all. For all the reasons I have stated in this article and in this thread.

          It is never black-and-white. And Metro contains some truly revolutionary (in the old, non-Apple-mangled sense of the world) technologies.

          But the implementation (on any productivity-based device) sucks. The lack of customisability sucks. And it gets in the way of doing real work…especially once the things becomes mandatory for various critical day-to-day apps. Spectacular consumption interface though.

        2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Total Crap

          Also: Launchpad in Lion isn't the equivalent to Metro. Launchpad doesn't promise a future of fullscreen-only or 33/66-only applications. Apple has made very strong commitments to preserving the ability to window all applications on the platform and pursue a multi-view-based-multitasking environment for the foreseeable future. What's more, they've made these commitments in a way that I can believe them.

  61. Anonymous Coward

    What was the point of making screens bigger, just so some daft sod can tell us all we only need to be able to see one app at a time? 24 inches of screen filled withe one horribly coloured green app.

  62. Bram

    i dont think thi guy has used the previews

    You can do both kinds of multi tasking and you have to have the 66/34 split. If you get the arm consumer version then you can't do any of the normal multiple task viewing things.

    Buy an x86 platform and you can do pretty much anything.

    If you still can't understand the difference no one is forcing you to use it, Linux works just fine.

  63. shadybarry

    I didn't know Sheldon Cooper wrote articles for The Reg.

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I regularly run multiple apps in multiple windows on multiple monitors. The more screen real estate the better. When want to be able to see multipls database views, text editor views, web page views on screen at the same time.

    For me metro makes absolutely no sense. If I can't disable it, I'm not going to switch from Windows 7. Even if I can, there would have to be some compelling benefits which I just don't see. If I switch any where it will be to Linux.

  65. The Brave Sir Robin

    Finally !

    We have the successor to DESQview. I've been waiting 20 odd years for that.

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Plebs, Peasants,

    Windows users,

    thou shall use the browser as UI.

    You are frog marched to use the likes of Office 365.

    Local applications? God forbid, it's pay per click.

    Multitasking was a fad, now use that other browser tab.

    Personal computers are so dead, think of the enterprise instead.

    Don't cry for a replacement aloud, bring your own and use the cloud.

  67. Stevie


    I got as far as "monotasking" and gave up. Inventing new words for the sake of it is fun, but the people who do it just to be clixby have nothing of interest to communicate.

  68. tekgun


    I got to "dualtasking" and thought the same.

  69. R Cox

    So we have had multitasking since 1986

    In MS DOS, you has terminate and stay resident. This allowed you multitask an large number of apps. The Apple Mac was actually more powerful at the time with control panel devices. These allowed amazingly useful utilities like talking moose to pop up randomly and remind you of important things, like pizza time and the love that the computer felt for the user.

    I am glad we are making such progress. And remember, just because Apple does it(launchpad) does not mean it is a good idea. That is why so many of the new Apple stuff is optional.

  70. DavidP

    Another "Real World"

    Well - this whole thread seems to consider only what you all call "Multi-tasking" in an office (Perhaps Software-development) environment.

    To me, Multi-tasking involves a real-time set of software processes controlling some sort of industrial process.

    (Say, loading a ship with liquid gas ?)

    Each hardware process carries on simultaneously, and continuously, (in real time) whilst the software processes monitoring or controlling it run intermittently, controlled by a scheduler module.

    Real time computers are ALL Analogue computers.

    The CPU Multi-tasks (Now called Multi-Threading, I think), running each software process in sequence.

    This sequence varies, as the needs of the Industrial processes dictate.

    Multi-tasking occurs (seen simplistically) at two levels:

    1/ The CPU runs multiple tasks cyclically.


    2/ The operator views various "Windows" on the screen, each of which may be updated either continuously, or intermittently. He "Multi-tasks" between windows, viewing display changes.

    He also may be called on to use judgement and change the changes imposed by the software processes.

    A MS Windows PC lacks an in-built task scheduler which is able to be used adequately by the Systems Developer. Ergo - Windows cannot properly be made to Multi-Task in a way which permits any one program (process) to promote itself in the Task Table.......

    Well, I'm rattlin' on too long.

    If you want to make Windows Multi-Task, you have to first write a Task Scheduler module, I thought.

    Or am I out of date ?

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Another "Real World"

      I think you are talking about thread scheduling. Or at least, that's the closest that Windows comes to what you are talking about; scheduling granularity occurs at the thread level. Threads can be assigned differing priorities, and mapped to specific cores, but that's as far as it goes. (The introduction of multiple cores combined with core affinity and priority allows Windows to "fake" being a real time OS "good enough" for a lot of industrial processes.)

      There is a reasonable high-level overview here, and the in depth deep-dive information is available in pay-for-the-book format here.

      The last major update to scheduling (that I am aware of) was done with the introduction of NT 6 (Vista) and include some revisions to I/O prioritisation. (here and here.)

      Now, I will be 100% up front and honest with you here by saying I am quite simply am not remotely qualified to have a debate with anyone over whether or not Windows’ scheduling is "adequate" for a given use. We’re off into the weeds there where people who program kernels for a living lie. There be dragons in those woods. Also; people who haven’t seen the sun in 15 years.

      From what I understand, however, all modern Windows implementations use a Multilevel feedback queue for scheduling, which according to some at least, can be considered as a "Real Time Operating System."

      However, the debate over exactly what kind of scheduling algorithms are truly real time, and what level of granularity is required to qualify for that seems to have armed camps with differing viewpoints, and I try to stay away from kernel programmers with pointy things.

      Hope that can provide you a starting point for further research!

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