When Microsoft first shipped the Metro interface, there was tremendous pushback from desktop users. Metro was designed for a touch screen, not for a keyboard and mouse environment. Windows 8 removed the Start button, arguably the anchor of the Windows desktop interface, but brought it back in Windows 8.1. Now it looks like the upcoming Update 1 to Windows 8.1 will bring the desktop interface back as the default for desktop users.
The update is still in development, and Microsoft could alter this further before it ships, but it’s currently being changed to appease desktop users. It may seem like a minor change, but the move reverses parts of Microsoft’s original vision for Windows 8. While some critics argued Microsoft simply forced the Start Screen interface onto desktop PCs with little regard for keyboard and mouse users, the company pitched its “Metro” environment as the future of Windows. With the interface booting by default, developers had an opportunity to place their apps front and center on millions of PCs.
That last sentence is a big part of the value of Metro for developers. It’s a billboard for pre-installed apps. This was not an easy decision to make, I’m guessing.
The Windows Store continues to grow with applications, but we understand that Microsoft has been paying close attention to telemetry data that shows the majority of Windows 8 users still use a keyboard and mouse and desktop applications.
This puzzled me from day 1. Who owns a desktop machine with a touch screen? Can’t be many people. That’s why the Mac has Mac OS X and the iPad and company have iOS. Metro on desktop just never sat right with me.