Okay, I can’t use the term “we” to refer to Microsoft anymore, but I still have a rough idea of how things work, so here’s the answer to that endlessly repeated question – and rather often demand – of why can’t we disable metro / why don’t you bring back the Start Menu?

Basically, Microsoft has always been supportive of users having choice when it comes to their own systems; with one notable and very important exception. Choice is not supported when it gets in the way of industry progress. For example, Windows Millennium – as a transitory product between the 9x and NT codebase – fully dropped support for real mode DOS. The explanation at the time was ostensibly that it would speed up boot time and increase overall stability, which was true but was in fact a secondary issue; the main reason was to prepare people for the transition to the NT codebase which never has – and never would – support real mode DOS. By pushing people into finding alternatives to their legacy applications, Microsoft paved the way for an easier transition to Windows XP when it launched.

Metro is, to a certain extent, an exercise in the same. If Microsoft felt that people would give Metro a fair crack of their own free will, then allowing it to be voluntarily disabled wouldn’t necessarily be out of the question. However, the vocal opponents of Metro – often without ever giving it a fair go – sabotaged their own choice to a certain extent. Especially people who stated flat-out that they would disable Metro on every system they had access to, especially on those that they “administered” for less technical users.

The fact is, Metro is the long-term strategy for Microsoft on ALL platforms… there hasn’t been as big a re-design of the user experience in over 30 years, and that’s something which both usability studies and plain common sense showed had to change. Metro is somewhat akin to the LCARS interface used throughout the Star Trek series’ since Next Generation, with a focus on content rather than interface, something which makes sense in today’s content consumption world. Within 3 release cycles, the Desktop itself will be more or less dead, with no significant applications being created or released for it; assuming, of course, that replacement applications have been built – and used on a regular basis – in the WinRT environment. This is reliant on both user and developer adoption, something which the opponents to Metro would have significantly hampered.

Basically, if the naysayers had kept their mouth shut, they would’ve had personal choice for at least 1, if not 2 release cycles. As it stands now though, they’ve talked themselves out of that choice, which is a shame really.


One thought on “Personalization

  1. Knowbody says:

    So, what you’re saying is that Microsoft is not giving people a choice because people aren’t choosing what Microsoft want them to. Knowing full well that people hate it.

    Also, I don’t think DOS is a valid analogy. There were valid technical reasons to move away from DOS.
    Metro is a UI. And the value of a UI essentially depends on whether people like it.

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