back to article Microsoft picks up shotgun, walks 'Modern apps' behind the shed

Microsoft looks to have decided that the “modern” apps it gave the world with Windows 8 were a confusing mess, at least in the case of Skype, and will replace it with normal, boring, desktop Skype. “With the upcoming release of Windows 10 for PCs, it makes sense to use the Skype application optimized for mouse and keyboards …

  1. Douchus McBagg

    hopefully they've given the management team who pushed the "modern interface" onto the world, the same shed+shotgun treatment. (afaik this is the same team behind the birth of the 'ribbon'...)

    1. jason 7

      Well the leader of that project left a few days after it came out...with a huge wad of cash in his back pocket.

      Almost like he planned it!

    2. nematoad Silver badge

      "...hopefully they've given the management team... the same shed+shotgun treatment"

      Nah, I reckon they will jump ship and move to the Unity and Gnome 3 camps.

      They'll feel at home there.

      1. Fatman

        Moving On...

        Nah, I reckon they will jump ship and move to the Unity and Gnome 3 camps.

        They'll feel at home there.

        Unity: WHO gives a fuck


  2. Jason Hindle Silver badge

    Modern Skype is good, in terms of efficiency

    Especially on the very low end devices. Unfortunately, the positives stop there.

  3. David Roberts

    Are there W8 Skype users out there who DIDN'T immediately install Skype for the Desktop?

    1. Paul Shirley

      I tried using my tablet first but echo cancellation was terrible in Skype on it... then I went straight to desktop Skype. The morning conference call works much better if you can access work windows while using it.

    2. joed

      I've never had a "pleasure" to use "modern" version of Skype as desktop version was easily available. I bet sure that there's fewer metro Skype that Media Center users (it also died behind MS shed, BTW, this place is littered with corpses).

      If anyone installed modern Skype it had to happen by mistake. It's standard routine for Windows 8 users to remove all traces of Metro junk of their machines after initial login to the system.

      1. Pigeon


        I love your image of the shed of doom. It made my day

    3. Vincent Ballard

      Now all we need is the option to go back to the previous desktop UI. The new one, which is apparently based on some iOS chat app, wastes far too much space. (Not to mention that putting my messages on the right and other people's on the left is just plain confusing).

  4. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

    Thank you, Microsoft!

  5. Schultz

    Giving the user what he wants...

    How come it took MS years to find out that the big unified touch interface is a piece of S**T when it took me only 2 hours to come to the same conclusion? And I am usually not fast to make up my mind. Now if they'd consider removing the Ribbon I might even return to a halfway modern version of their office software. Best hand it over with that complimentary copy of Windows 10, thank you very much.

    1. Metrognome

      Re: Giving the user what he wants...

      You're asking the wrong question. MS knew what you knew. Their misplaced gamble was that they could force it down users' throats on account of their ubiquity. Sadly for them, gladly for us, this is not the 1990's.

    2. Amorous Cowherder

      Re: Giving the user what he wants...

      1) They had invested a GDP sized amount of money into it and couldn't kill it off without justifying that to the shareholders, so they have to pilot this doomed course right into the jagged rocks, having jumped off the boat just before it crashed!

      2) They're MS, they can make people do things the MS way...well they used to be able to but in these modern times, people power seems to carry a lot of weight. Companies are learning quickly that with everyone now online and communicating all the time ( as these companies demanded that we do! ) that people power is even stronger when we're united against a common enemy.

      1. Myvekk

        Re: Giving the user what he wants...

        It works for Apple!

        Phone not working? You're holding it wrong!

        Any large company does the same...

  6. ratfox

    Windows RT users – both of you

    Thanks for this

    1. RyokuMas Silver badge

      Re: Windows RT users – both of you

      Hey! We've finally found out who the AC is that keep on posting that tired old "both of them" joke!

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Windows RT users – both of you

        We've found both of them.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Windows RT users – both of you

          Here too. I even use Modern in my user account in Windows Server 2012 R2, touch screen (20") or no (30" quad-HD). Solitaire if nothing else. 20" is on a long ass cable run to my bed for those days I'm bedridden due to pain. The on-screen keyboard is pretty nice as it matches my hands.* I've never had a problem ripping out the desktop complete down to replacing explorer.exe. I've left Windows 8 and 2012 alone whereas everyone else was off into the bit bucket. Modern is a 2-D dock and docks, contextual menus, and virtual desktops are standard here since Windows 95. Actually before that on a multiple operating system device which happened to run Microsoft since 1986 my way. Over a decade, that machine had way over $15K invested in it and it devoured pretty much any operating system on the planet. My new setup finally starts to do the same again.

          * voice command is waiting in the wings as I steadily degrade to quadraplegic staus. On the bright side, I'm supposed to be dead as of 2005. Not that they have any right to pat themselves on the back. My doctor always says, after refusing any kind of treatment (level 10 pain or suicide attempts), "you're a bright boy, you figure it out." It's a wonder that more Veterans haven't ever taken to go "Postal" on our VA. (It's not their fault. System, idiot politicians, and now that marijauna is being legalized, a bunch of fucking DEA agents micromanaging VA doctor's prescriptions. Sorry. I'm pretty much livid about all of this.)

          1. Chika

            Re: Windows RT users – both of you

            Hmm... I tried that as well on Windows 12 server for a little while. Then I tried installing Classic Shell on it. Got my sanity back.

        2. Longtemps, je me suis couche de bonne heure

          Re: Windows RT users – both of you

          What RT?

          Here's what the Verge said about RT...

          It is clear from this article that at one time there were at least 3 users

    2. Hellcat

      Re: Windows RT users – both of you

      Wait... there are 3 of us?

      1. Kristian Walsh

        Re: Windows RT users – both of you

        Hang on, I'm not any of you guys either...

    3. Tcat

      Re: Windows RT users – both of you

      I guess you just mean me since I keep a GSM and CDMA Lumia 2520 hot all day and night.

  7. DrXym Silver badge

    Nothing wrong with the modern interface

    It's perfect for touchscreen devices like tablets and phones and some apps put it to really good use. Netflix has a nice interface in Windows 8 and the email app is pretty good too.

    Perhaps Skype was a bad example although I wouldn't know because when I installed it refused to go any further unless I tied my Windows Live account to my Skype ID. It's one thing to ask (nicely and optionally), it's quite another to force me to do it and I resent consolidating IDs without a good reason. The desktop app didn't care so I used that instead.

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: It's perfect for touchscreen devices like tablets and phones

      Indeed, you wonder how users of Windows Phones (both of them, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!) would get on with desktop Skype. How well does it work without a keyboard and mouse?

      1. Tom 35

        Re: It's perfect for touchscreen devices like tablets and phones

        Yes it's fine... on a phone.

        The people who thought putting a phone UI on a laptop (forget a desktop with dual 24" screens) was a good idea need a boot to the head.

        1. DrXym Silver badge

          Re: It's perfect for touchscreen devices like tablets and phones

          "Yes it's fine... on a phone."

          It's fine on a tablet and a laptop too. Of course nobody forces you to use the tablet app - go install a full blown email client if you want and forget the app even exists.

    2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      Re: Nothing wrong with the modern interface

      There are things missing from the mail app though. (same with Outlook on Android) namely folders and rules.

      I like have all my eBay receipts in one folder and other odds and sods filtered out into others but the mail app is missing what's been perfectly functional for the 10+ years through the Web site. (and yes I know it's passe to have any ms email account but it's been going for 17 years and I'm loath to push that many emails elsewhere.)

      1. Timmy B

        Re: Nothing wrong with the modern interface

        Folders are there. In the mail app just above the people and flag options on the left hand side there is the word folders.Press on that and all the folders slide out. You can move items to other folders by picking the move entry in the menu.

  8. AMBxx Silver badge

    Modern Applications

    I don't understand - why wouldn't someone working on a 30" monitor want a full screen calculator application that covers all the rest of their work?

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Re: Modern Applications

      Maybe some manager in Microsoft told his team that he wanted bigger numbers for modern apps, and they misunderstood him?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Modern Applications

      Exactly. It makes no sense. If you want to have another application available at the same time, you just get a second computer placed next to it. This enables you to multi-task too, increasing your productivity.

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        Re: Modern Applications

        It's even more pointless on 2+ screens. Always seems massively disjointed when the tiles menu only covers one screen.

        Always felt like it should cover the whole lot so you've got less horizontal scrolling to sort out.

    3. Omgwtfbbqtime

      Re: Modern Applications

      You mean there is a calculator on win 8.1 that isnt accessed through Start>Run>Calc.exe?

      1. Vince

        Re: Modern Applications

        Save time, hit windows key, type calc and hit enter.

        Less typing sir...

      2. Peter Simpson 1

        Re: Modern Applications



        // RPN 4 LIFE!!`1!

        1. easyk

          Re: Modern Applications

          4 RPN LIFE?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Never enough..

    beta testers, how many million of us does MS have? but still it takes years for something obviously ill considered to be changed.

    I've only fired up desktop Skype a few times in the last few years when checking where to enter settings for supporting others (I mainly use skype on a landline/skype dect phone).

    I tried the Modern app a few times and simply thought if this is the future interface and the DECT handset stops working I'm going to find something else, just not worth trying to work with those gui decisions.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Never enough..

      "beta testers, how many million of us does MS have? but still it takes years for something obviously ill considered to be changed."

      Perhaps they are harking back to the original meaning of beta test -- the software is pretty much in its final state but we need to find the rest of the bugs. It's far too late by then to be thinking about architectural changes. You will see bug fixes and you will probably see cosmetic changes, like moving buttons around or trying out a few new colour schemes. Hmm, actually, that does pretty much describe the last six months of the Windows Insider Fast Track.

      The real question is just how they went so badly wrong in the meetings that decided on the original architecture. I mean, how did *any* group of people who have used computers before reckon that is was acceptable to have hidden UI, or for half the necessary controls to be in one "control panel" and the other half to be in another, or (as already mentioned above) to use the same UI on a 4-inch touchscreen as on a multi-monitor mouse-and-keyboard setup?

  10. Robert E A Harvey

    simple response


  11. Measurer

    I'd be happy...

    If they could get the desktop app. to shut down elegantly when you shutdown windows (7 that is).

  12. Andrew Jones 2

    I was originally quite happy with the Modern Skype - and then I started to realise that I wasn't getting messages as soon as they were sent - the delay averages around 10-15 minutes. Once I switched back to the modern app all the delayed messages would come through and then when I went back to the desktop they would continue coming through for about 5 minutes and then start becoming delayed again. I had to give up and install desktop Skype.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Anecdotally, at least, this seems to be a problem with Modern Apps in general. I don't have Windows 8, but a couple of people I know have complained of having only intermittent access to email through the "modern" client - sometimes it works, sometimes days can elapse before email appears. No errors reported, of course. The only fix that worked was to install a "proper" desktop client.

      The web seems to be littered with complaints about Modern Apps getting "stuck". This does seem counter-intuitive, given that the framework is supposed to make developing interactive network-based applications easier and more reliable. Can't help feeling their demise might reduce Microsoft's support load significantly.

      1. James Anderson

        What support load. The reason the web is littered with posts about "modern" apps freezing, not loading, disappearing etc. is that there is no effective support from MS. After the first couple of attempts you ignore the "MS"posts on google and look for "joe_the_geeks" blog as they have some real answers usually involving hacking registry entries and running powershell commands.

        Currently along with a few thousand other users I cannot access the "Store" application. MS don't seem to care (I never buy anything) and neither do I really ( the machine is set up in "Windows 7, but without the 10 minute boot up time" mode).

  13. Crip-tonight

    Windows 8 interface

    I would suggest that the main problem with Windows 8, and any other touch-screen-style OSs, is the focus on apps.

    Users in a workplace are document-centric, not app-centric. They look for "this invoice" or "that customer proposal" or the other "minutes from that boring meeting we had with the lawyers several months ago that we'd completely forgotten about but is suddenly the most important document in the business."

    They don't care (sorry, shouldn't care) which app a particular document opens in. Users don't open Word and then go searching for the document they need. They search for the document and it opens in whichever app is the default.

    I do see that Skype might be an exception but for the whole OS to focus on apps is misguided, at least in a workplace.

    1. Tim 11

      Re: Windows 8 interface

      Thank you thank you - this is what I've been harping on about for years.

      Why on earth do new versions of Windows group the windows together by app, meaning 2 clicks (or at least one hover followed by a click) are required to switch documents even within one task.

      Personally I have the taskbar on vertically down the screen, with small icons+text and "never combine", and I use 7TT (highly recommended) to group windows together by task. It really frustrates me when I have to use someone else's PC and go back to the default way of doing things.

      1. Frank N. Stein

        Re: Windows 8 interface

        Why would you ever have to "use someone else's PC". You don't expect other people's PC's to be set up like you normally set up yours, do you?

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: Windows 8 interface

          "Why would you ever have to "use someone else's PC". "

          Because you both work for the same company and they've asked you to help?

          Because they are your paying customer and they've asked you to help?

          Because they are family and they've asked you for help?

          My day job is writing software and yet I still find myself in these situations at least once a week. I'm a big fan of people who don't customise their Windows PC to the point where you wonder whether they've started using an obscure Linux distro. I'm also in the habit of wiping and restoring test machines every few days and I always test on a bog-standard installation of Windows because that's the only assumption I can make about how my customers' machines will be set up.

          The "personal" part of personal computing is slightly evil.

    2. Christian Berger

      Re: Windows 8 interface

      Well I don't even think that's the fault of the touch interface, but the business model set by Apple where the owner of the phone gets a cut of all app purchases. The owner of the phone mostly cares about them as that's where the money is. It doesn't matter what the user thinks as users usually don't own their phones.

  14. jb99

    Still don't understand how this happened

    Almost every single person when they saw windows 8 UI said that it was an utter disaster. Not just that they didn't like it, but that it was an unusable utter disaster. And not just the UI but all the missing functionality. I still don't understand how it got past early beta when the feedback was so utterly negative to all of it.

    Even now the feedback is overwhelmingly to just abandon the new UI and the new "apps" and go back to how windows 7 worked. But they are still largely ignoring that even though they've managed to hide it all a bit.,

    1. Tim 11

      Re: Still don't understand how this happened

      I suspect that even the top brass in MS new it was an utter disaster, but they knew they had to do something drastic to get in the tablet game, and couldn't think of anything better.

      They took a gamble, and largely succeeded, that their foothold in windows desktop+server was strong enough that even Windows 8 wouldn't cause most users to abandon Windows, and they probably had a very good idea they'd be undoing a lot of these changes in the next version.

      Whilst I've personally been pissed off immensely by the whole w8 debacle, I'm not sure what else MS could have done which would have been accepted by the shareholders and top brass desperate to compete with apple and android. On the other hand, are they in a better position now or in a years time than if they'd never done windows 8? I really don't know.

      cue the downvotes please...

      1. James Anderson

        Re: Still don't understand how this happened

        They could have written a decent tablet OS/UI and left the windows desktop alone!

        Tablets are used for play -- Facebook and Angry birds.

        PCs are used for work -- Word, Excel, databases, custom applications etc.

        There main cash cow is called "Office" after all

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Excellent observation

    Please, have an upvote.

    I'm old enough to remember the hype surrounding Windows 95. About how easy being 'document centric' would make our lives and work. Then they dismantle some of that idea, at least as far as real computers are concerned. Why? Cos they see apple and google making money from their 'app stores' and they want in. People still use real computers, and they therefore want a real OS interface to run on it. MS seriously dropped a bollock by forgetting that.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As a famous philosopher once said...

    "Even the thickest of skulls cannot be entirely impervious to the persistent knocking of reality."


  17. Fat Northerner

    I personally love nothing more...

    Than having to remember 90% of what I'm working on, while I focus on the one thing that Microsoft thinks I'm most involved in, at any given moment.

    There's nothing so useful in fending off Alzheimer's as having to remember a map in detail for instance, while I'm trying to explain a route to someone.

    Thank god Microsoft know what's best for me. I don't need windows. Great race, the Romans.

  18. IGnatius T Foobar

    We have keyboards and mice

    Hopefully this will be the first of MANY applications to lose the UI design idea that assumes "all the world's a tablet." Computers with an upright screen, keyboards, and mice, just don't fare well with "touch optimized" user interfaces. We don't like ribbons and obtuse full-screen UI that only looks good on a tablet or phone.

    It seems that Microsoft, of all people, forgot that their operating system is called "Windows" for a reason -- it's supposed to display windows. I would like to see all of their software return to UI that is optimized to display in a window. Imagine that.

  19. Peter Simpson 1

    Oi! Microsoft!

    Hire some competent architects, stop letting the marketeers run your company!

    Executives: start listening to the architects and stop ruling by fiat!

    And, please, if there's ONE thing you do...stop changing the UI!

    If you want your OS to be taken seriously, pick a UI and stick with it. Users see your OS as a necessary evil, required to get their work done. You're not helping them get their work done by having them spend all their time looking for where the "whatever" button has moved to, this week.

    Honestly, if I had a hammer...I'd use it to pound the above idea into Microsoft execs' brains...if I could find them, that is.

    1. Not That Andrew

      Re: Oi! Microsoft!

      You do realise that Ray Ozzie, the guy who inflicted Lotus Notes and Metro/Modern/Whatever it's called upon us is a software guy, not a marketroid?

  20. Tom 13

    Re: therefore looks rather a lot like running up the white flag

    Nope, this is only a retreat. I'll only consider them to have run up the white flag when they do away with the drive to the subscription model.

  21. DryBones

    Skype Desktop Sucks Too

    Mandatory ad-space, no ability to have multiple chat windows showing on the screen at the same time, totally unable to pull them out so can look at them all at a glance. Basically everything gets forced into one mold. Oh, also their killing support for any third-party access. I'm pretty sure that was what made me stop using them entirely.

  22. Roger Mew

    Hi all, Well I suspected THAT and others are slower with the useless aps that one has to change pages to look up soon after I got 8.1, in fact I suspected it when I redid my daughters machine. Most "apps" are now on my desktop, certainly the ones I use.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The idea is not flawed, they just messed it up

    The idea of running phone/tablet software on a desktop, or running a desktop OS on a tablet, etc. is not fundamentally flawed.

    I use the iOS Simulator on my desktop for app development and it works well. Multitouch gestures are not easy to do but those are in the minority. It would be very convenient to be able to run certain apps from my phone on my desktop. I can only assume this will be Apple's strategy at SOME point.

    The problem is running this stuff full-screen by default. The idea to throw out the biggest revolution in computer UI (windows) was... not smart.

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