Updating live tiles without draining your battery


One thing that is becoming far more commonplace across all of our “screens” is the idea of lightweight notifications. Originally, Windows Gadgets were to offer this type of functionality—the idea is a quick heads up display for some critical information (news, weather, sports scores, or line of business events are a few examples). However, the startup time and model of Gadgets are not compatible with reducing overall power consumption (something that is important in a desktop and a laptop) or working to deliver the full-screen platform for developers. In addition, the Start screen of Windows 8 provides a much larger surface to have more of these notifications as well as a user-in-control interface for managing the updates (including usage of networking resources). In a modern experience where more and more information is available via push and in structured snippets, this provides a unique opportunity for developers and end-users. In this post, Ryan Haveson writes about the development of Metro style live tiles and how the architecture scales to large numbers of tiles while also reducing the overall power consumption and system load.
–Steven Sinofsky

We all know that performance and battery life are critically important for a successful release of Windows, and your comments continue to emphasize these attributes. @KISSmakesmeSMILE summed it up well by writing:

“…try matching or better yet, surpassing … [competitor’s] battery runtime achievements on light/low load use.”

At the same time, we know that all modern environments (from PCs to TVs to phones) have some form of gadget, widget, or plug-in model that enables at-a-glance information consumption. Watching TV news, sports, or weather shows a structured screen of information with many sources coming together in real time. People expect to be able to quickly check their stocks, weather, email count, next appointment, line of business status, or even social networking status in a matter of seconds before getting right back to whatever else they were doing. In many ways, one could argue the PC has some catching up to do in this area compared to other devices. As we set out to design our notifications infrastructure, our challenge was in how to make the PC feel alive with activity and remain extremely efficient with respect to power and bandwidth usage. @AndyCadley’s words express the goal well:

“Treat all your “Metro” apps as if they are always running (but at zero impact to battery/performance)”

The Start screen also makes this efficient from a user model perspective by giving you a full screen heads up display without interfering with you desktop or Metro style apps while you are focused on those. In addition, not only did we want to make it efficient, we wanted to make sure that you could install as many notifying apps as you want, without having to worry about the impact on performance or battery life.

One thing we have noticed as we are using Windows 8 internally is that the ability to use the Start screen as a unified and highly readable heads up display for line-of-business applications has become a productivity enhancer. We are seeing a lot of interest in apps that are primarily about notifications. With the scalability of our new push notifications platform, Windows 8 can deliver this capability with minimal system impact, which is a big improvement over the multitude of mechanisms that exist in Windows today. It is not hard to see a scenario, especially early on, where even the most hardcore desktop-only person will find a lot of value in the Start screen as a centralized and well-presented (and controlled) notification area that is just a keystroke away.

Goals of the notification platform

Allowing hundreds of app tiles to be alive with activity, and simultaneously making sure that we don’t degrade performance makes it seem like we have contradictory goals. After all, “activity,” by definition, consumes resources: getting a notification from the cloud uses the network, and rendering the notification on a tile uses GPU/CPU resources, etc. In order to get the design right, we knew we had to stay focused on the goals we started out with:

  • Allow hundreds of live tiles without degrading performance
  • Go beyond balloons, badges and text, with beautiful images
  • Make it easy for developers so they can just “fire and forget”
  • Achieve real-time delivery so delivering “instant messages” is instant

Based on these goals, the first fundamental architectural decision that we made was that the platform would be data-driven, that is, no app code should run in the background to power the Start screen.

If you think about the anatomy of a notification delivery system, it involves several pieces: logic for when to connect, authentication, local caching, rendering, error handling, back-off algorithms, throttling, etc. In addition, the system has to deal with service-side issues such as knowing when you are connected or not, so it can cache undelivered content and handle complex scenarios for retrying. Can you imagine if every single app with a live tile had its own version of all that client/server code? Not only would you have different bugs in each implementation, but you would have duplicates of essentially the same code for each app loaded in memory, with code that is constantly being paged in and out to the disk. This would be really inefficient because it would mean all of your apps would be running all the time to keep the Start screen alive. Even on a machine with lots of memory, system performance would eventually grind to a crawl.

If you read Bill Karagounis’s post on how we reduced the memory footprint in Windows 8, you know that performance degrades as you increase the number of processes, DLLs, services, etc. that are running. If each live tile was running with its own code, we would not have been able to achieve our first goal of allowing hundreds of live tiles without degrading performance.

Our solution was to build a data-driven model. This means that a developer can express their tile using a set of predefined properties and templates, in this case, using an XML schema. The XML tile data is then sent to the Windows Push Notification Service (WNS) via a simple HTTP POST and then we take care of the rest. All the code for connecting, retrying, authentication, caching, rendering, error handling, etc. is done in a uniform and power-efficient way.

Here is an example of one of the many tile templates that developers can use for their Windows 8 apps. This one consists of a text field and a single image, but there are many other templates to choose from.

Image of a surfer, with RSS feed icon, and text "First ever surfboard kickflip recorded in Santa Cruz"
Figure 1: Example template (TileWideImageAndText)

Here is the corresponding XML code that describes the above tile:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<tile>
<visual lang="en-US">
<binding template="TileWideImageAndText">
<image id="1" src="http://www.fabrikam.com/kickflip.png"/>
<text id="1">First ever surfboard kickflip recorded in Santa
Cruz</text>
</binding>
</visual>
</tile>

The decision to use a data-driven model allowed us to achieve the first two goals (performance and a high-fidelity experience), but we still had to figure out how to achieve real-time delivery and fire-and-forget-it efficiency.

There are two high-level design patterns with client/server content delivery: polling & push. Polling means that the client checks with the service on a regular basis (for example, every 90 minutes) to see if there is new content. Push means that when there is new content, the service sends the data down to the client directly.

The only way to support instant notifications with a polling model would be to poll on a sufficiently high frequency (like every 5 seconds), so if a new message arrives, you’d see it pretty much instantly. But doing so would kill our performance goals—with a 5-second poll interval, the network radio stack would never be idle, battery life would be horrible, and desktop machines would always be powered up. It would be a little like talking on your cell phone all day long—your phone’s battery wouldn’t last long. On top of that, it would be extremely wasteful to check the server every 5 seconds for content, since most of the time there would be nothing new. Historically, system tray notifications and desktop Gadgets introduced in Vista have been implemented using a polling mechanism. But with any polling mechanism, the interval is still not short enough for today’s real-time services that are instant.

Thus, for Windows 8 we architected a push-based service. This was a big decision because it meant we would need to build a platform at a global scale, eventually powering the tiles for hundreds of thousands of apps and over a billion people. But the value was clear: developers would get super-efficient real-time notifications to their customers for free, without having to build or maintain their own persistent connections to the client.

The push notification platform

Let’s take a closer look at the various components of the platform to explain some of the more subtle parts of the design. In the diagram below you see three key entities:

  1. Windows Push Notification Service (WNS): This powers live tiles and toast notifications.
  2. App service: This is the web service that a Metro style app runs (e.g. from their existing website), which sends toast notifications and tile updates via WNS. Examples of this would be the back-end service for the Weather app that shipped in the Developer Preview, or a back-end service hosting photos for a social networking app.
  3. Windows 8 client platform: This represents the actual PC and the sub-components in the OS that form the plumbing for the end-to-end experience.

Three graphics shown: App Back-End Service, Windows Push Notification Service (WNS), (which also contains a "Cache"), and Windows 8 Client Platform (which also contains "Tile renderer," "Image Cache" and "WNS Connection" boxes). An arrow marked "1. Push notification" points from App Back-End Service to WNS. Arrow marked "2. Notification" points from WNS to the WNS Connection on the Client Platform. A bi-directional arrow marked "3. Fetch images" runs between App Back-End Service and the Image Cache on the Client Platform.
Figure 2: The push notifications platform

Let’s walk through a typical usage scenario to illustrate how this works. Suppose that the app service is a social networking site that sends a tile update when someone comments on your photo (this could just as easily be a line of business app that updates me when a bug is assigned to me or an expense report needs attention for example). When there is an update, the app service sends a notification to WNS (Step 1 in the above diagram). From there, WNS pushes the notification down to the client (Step 2). When it is time to show the tile update on the Start screen, the OS fetches that image from the app service based on the URL contained in the notification XML (Step 3). Once the notification and the image are downloaded, the app renders the live tile based on the template specified in the XML, and presents it on the Start screen.

As stated earlier, one of our goals was “fire and forget.” So, to ensure that developers did not have to write complex caching and retry mechanisms for when the PC is not connected (e.g. if it is a laptop that is sleeping), we cache one notification per app in the WNS cloud until the next time that PC is online.

As we designed the client platform components, we wanted to make sure that everything was engineered for high performance and low power consumption. One of the key parts of this was separating the notification payload from the image payload. A typical notification XML is less than 1KB of data, but an image can be up to 150KB. Separating these allowed us to save significant network bandwidth for scenarios where there is a lot of duplication of the images. For example, the image for a tile may be a profile picture of a friend, which your PC can download once and cache locally to be reused. Separating the notification from the image also allowed us to be smart about discarding unused notifications before we go through the expense of downloading the image. If my device screen is off and is sitting in my bedroom while I am at work, there is no point in downloading images for tiles that will just be replaced by subsequent updates before the next time I use the device.

The authentication model

Because live tiles and notifications represent a key part of the app experience, it is important that the communications channel is authenticated and secure—all the way from the app service to the tile on your Start screen.  It would be pretty bad if an app or a rogue web service could just update any tile on your machine.  For that reason, we use an anonymous authentication mechanism that uniquely identifies the connection between the PC and WNS. Apps and app services also authenticate when communicating with WNS.  Authenticating both connections to WNS helps to protect against abuse of live tile updates, such as spoofing attacks. The authentication mechanism used by WNS explicitly ties the application and service together in a way that keeps other applications (or nefarious individuals) from sending content to a tile that they do not own. And of course, all communication takes place over a secure channel.

All of this works regardless of whether or not you sign in to Windows using a Windows Live ID. Of course, as Katie Frigon talked about in her post on signing in with a Windows Live ID, Windows 8 is best when you have a connected account as it enables a lot of enhanced experiences such as app cloud storage, roaming Windows and app settings, and single sign-on to multiple apps.  Because the push notification platform uses an anonymous authentication mechanism, even if you do sign in with a Windows Live ID, the developer of the app can’t use the notification pipeline to discover your Windows Live ID, system info, or location.

Building the service to scale

Earlier in this post we mentioned that we had to engineer the platform to support an incredibly large number of users and apps. To give you an idea of this scale, the graph below shows the number of notifications that apps are sending to Windows 8 per day. As of a couple weeks ago, we were already sending almost 90 million tile updates per day, and we are not even at beta yet!

Graph shows notifications at 0 on 9/12/2011, spiking to about 64 million on 9/16/2011, dropping back to 36 million on 9/18, and gradually climbing to the 80 to 85 million range in early October.
Figure 3: Notifications per day sent to Windows 8 Developer Preview build

The Stocks app is one of the popular test drive apps from the Developer Preview build. The following graph shows the total number of live tiles registered with this app in the first month since release of the Developer Preview build.

Total live tiles for Stocks app
Figure 4: Live tiles registered to the Developer Preview Stocks app

When the Developer Preview was released, we started watching traffic coming through the data centers, carefully monitoring our scale-out. Here is a visualization of the actual geographic distribution of notifications in the first few days after the Developer Preview was released at //build. Note that the data represents units per square mile and was fitted to a logarithmic scale to account for a wide range of density values.


Download this video to view it in your favorite media player:
High quality MP4 | Lower quality MP4

The design of WNS is based on the Windows Live Messenger service architecture, and in fact, the service part of the notifications platform was built by the same team. There are not many teams in the world with the expertise and knowledge to be able to build a globally scalable service that can ramp up to such large numbers so quickly. Here are a few statistics to give you an idea of the scale of the Windows Live Messenger service today:

  • 300M monthly active users
  • 630M daily logins
  • 10B daily notifications
  • Over 40M peak SOC (simultaneous online connections)
  • Over 3000 machines routing messages around the world

Transparency into tile resource usage via Task Manager

We were so passionate about the performance aspect of notifications platform that we added metrics in the new Task Manager to allow you to keep track of how much bandwidth the tile platform is consuming for each of your applications. In general, resource usage for tiles should be relatively low. For those of you running the Developer Preview build, go to the app history tab in Task Manager and look at the “Tiles” column to see how much bandwidth each of your live tiles has consumed over the last 30 days.

Heat map of usage history of Metro style apps from 9/17/2011 to 10/17/2011. The "News" app shows 71.9 MB used for Network, 57.2 MB for Metered Network, but only 0.1 MB for Tiles. There are 18 apps listed, and all show either 0 or 0.1 MB usage in the "Tiles" column.
Figure 5: Resource usage of live tiles shown in Task Manager app history

Summary

In Windows 8, we set out to design a notifications platform that would provide at-a-glance information, without all the performance and battery life concerns that face traditional plugin and gadget-based models. To that end, every design decision we made was viewed through the lens of performance and battery life efficiency. To make it easy for app developers to participate, we built the Windows Push Notifications Service so they could create live tiles without having to write complicated network connectivity code. And because WNS uses standard web technologies, such as HTTP POST, it’s easy for developers to integrate notifications based on their existing web services.

The result is a notifications platform that delivers at-a-glance information while allowing you to install as many apps as you want without worrying about the impact on performance or battery life.

–Ryan Haveson

Comments (151)

  1. AMS says:

    Great work!

  2. Luke Aussie says:

    Good work guys,

    Great post!

    Am very much looking forward to Windows 8!

  3. Great to see the result of your hard work. will you remove the windows gadegt plattform? It is useless now with Startscreen of Windows 8 and also developers cannot upload the new Gadegts, so leave it out.

    thats my opinion

  4. Sam Sabri - gowindowsgo.com says:

    Loving these posts! I just checked a few hours ago since it had been awhile. Lets aim for two a week 🙂 Can't wait for W8 !

  5. UCFw00t says:

    Polling is still a very necessary method. Windows Phone implements a great methodology (TileUpdateSchedule as well as background services). This is even more needed on a tablet/laptop/desktop. PLEASE add this! One of my apps absolutely requires this.

  6. Nothing withe topic, but could you remove the shadow of the Menubar, like you did in IE9, that would fit better woth a clean design in all apps of windows 8.

    In basic windows 8 design the Menubar looks already like in IE9.

  7. @Steven Sinofsky and @Ryan Haveson

    Interesting. I was upset when I first found out that you were getting rid of gadgets, but now it kind of makes sense. Despite this, I still disagree with you on the idea that Live Tiles can repace gadgets. When I first found the "Looking for gadgets?" web page, I was not happy.

    Here is a forum post on the issue that I wrote a while ago:

    social.msdn.microsoft.com/…/064825b8-2bb5-4073-aef9-e11a92c0beda

    Is there any possibility that you will expand this system into a new version of Gadgets? It's been almost two months and I still think Metro on the desktop is a bad idea. However, this notifications service seems like it could be a worthy replacement for Gadgets if implemented properly. Is there any possibility that this could be expanded to include Aero-style tiles for the desktop, which work with desktop apps? Also, please bring back the Sidebar as an option (though not as default). I think that the Sidebar is a much more effective way to use gadgets or tiles than free-floating gadgets, and I still don't like Metro-style design.

  8. FremyCompany says:

    Will there be a system for applications to update their tiles "when they're running" as in Windows Phone 7?

    This has proven to be bring much more "live tiles" because small developers can't afford a push notification service for their apps. Sometimes, only the app itself can change the status of the live tile, and it makes no sense to use a server for that. Or the developer may have too few financial revenue to setup a scalable push notification server.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Just testing to see if the comment system is working; it has been having problems and I want to see if I can post anonymously.

  10. Hmm, perhaps I wouldn't dismiss gadgets (aka widgets) so quickly. (have you seen the link below?) They're just little boxes of buttons/info/functionality (not all of them "live"), and, as such, I think they'll be around for the lifetime of all computing. (It's quite easy to say that. Try to imagine any computer or smart-thing in the future that doesn't have widgets of some kind – or at least a very open door for them.)

    The Start Screen, on the other hand… 😛  THAT I don't see lasting the lifetime of all computing, if even several more versions of Windows. That said, I think the IDEA of the Start Screen, just presented in a more widget-like way, can still hit every mark that Microsoft has set out to hit with it, and bypass all the controversy and risk that has surfaced:

    http://www.alphaila.com/…/windows-8-concept-dariod

    (I think you could kill 3 birds with 1 stone, just using a more… 'expected' format, like shown above. 1: zero controversy, zero risk… 2: all the touch/tablet functionality you want… 3: all the newbie-friendliness you want, even with extra power for techies. 'Perhaps there'd be a tad less battery life, if gobs of the widgets constantly update stuff… but even simple checks like "disable updates if anything is maximized" could be used.)

    (wish I could edit my comments if needed)

  11. @FremyCompany:  Yes, apps can update their tile locally.  Even apps that use push should use this so that their tile always stays in sync with the app content which may be fresher than the last push update.  Check out Kip Olson's //BUILD talk for more details: channel9.msdn.com/…/APP-396T

  12. Anonymous Commentator says:

    @Steven Sinofsky and @Ryan Haveson

    I'm actually WindowsVista567, but I've been having some trouble posting comments and this is my fourth attempt.

    Is there any chance that this feature could be updated to include an Aero-style version of Live Tiles for the desktop? I still do not think that Metro-style design or Metro-style apps are right for users with desktops or laptops.

    Also, I'd like to see an option to turn the Windows Sidebar back on, to be used in conjunction with Live Tiles on the desktop. This system seems like it could be a better system than either the Start Screen (which is designed for touch) or free-floating Gadgets (which is not an effective way to actually organize gadgets).

    Do you have any idea why I have been having trouble posting? I'm sorry if this is the foruth in a series of comments from me on this topic.

  13. @Steven Sinofsky

    Is there a problem with the comment system right now?

  14. Bryan says:

    What about apps that need to update a tile without internet? Like, say, my calendar. It knows my appointments without having to talk to a service, and it should be able to update the live tile even when the tablet or pc is offline.

  15. Appieflappie says:

    @Bryan

    Thats what you call local live tile.

  16. Bryan says:

    @Appieflappie: Understood, while your app is running, sure. But what about closing my app? I don't want to run the entire calendar app all the time just to update the live tile for my next meeting or popping a toast. I'd rather have a background service option that just occasionally runs some code I wrote. (For instance, look at calendar, update tile, ask for a callback when you next need to update or toast)

  17. pmbAustin says:

    As with others, this sounds great but I'd love more detail on local updates… cannonical examples are not just the given calendar app (where all data is local), but things like, say, a CPU monitoring "live tile" or a disk-full monitoring "live tile", or just something that updates a live tile when a background process is running or complete.

  18. jader3rd says:

    I hope you make it very difficult for applications to poll. I've actively changed existing polling code into event driven code. Even then I have team members who are afraid that an event will somehow not get generated and put in backup long polling code. Of course, for live tiles, no information being displayed should be considered to be immensly critical.

    I love this approach. Hamper polling by all means possible.

  19. Alan Jowett [MSFT] says:

    @Bryan: You may wish to take a look at the following white-paper that discusses how to create background tasks that execute (even when your foreground application is suspended) in response to various triggers, including time and other system triggers. http://www.microsoft.com/…/details.aspx

  20. 7acids says:

    Why is this blog not covering the more interesting stuff about Windows 8? This thing is not moving forward. Just like the Task Manager heat map post… because sooo many people do have computers like this, it's sooo important to write about.

  21. LD says:

    @7acids

    What are they supposed to write about?  There is very little for desktop users and the "big thing" is metro, which is horrible.  They are trying to give out information and I'm glad.  But Metro is awful and for power users is a step backwards in usability.

  22. HikariSeven says:

    Off-Topic: Can we get rid of the menu bar in the Task Manager?

  23. Ryan says:

    I have 3 gadgets running on my home Win7 PC – a Gmail counter/shortcut, a nVidia Graphics card performance monitor, and the Recorded TV gadget. While Start screen tiles might be able to emulate these gadgets, the 'at a glance' and 'only one click away' features are lost, so I'll add a +1 to keep the Windows Gadget platform.

  24. That’s really interesting. My biggest disappointment in this respect, however, is that notifications won’t be visible from where I am working. I will have to look by myself if there are new notifications and, in order to do that, I will again have to switch from the screen I am working on to the Start screen. Once more, this seems to me really inefficient.

    On a Windows Phone, having notifications delivered through live tiles on the Start screen works pretty well since we all land on the Start screen each time we open the phone anyway. But on a PC, the Start screen isn’t (and shouldn’t be) that present. Most of the time, one opens a certain number of programs and then works on them for a good while. We shouldn’t have to switch to the Start screen to receive notifications. I’d rather have live tiles on the task bar or, better, live notifications simply delivered directly on the screen as I continue to do my things.

    On my phone, I’m ok with having a big square with a big number in it to tell me how many new emails I’ve received. But on my PC, this is irrelevant, as is the metro News app or the metro Weather app. On my PC, I simply need full efficiency: a fully-fledged email program (like Outlook or at least Live Mail), an efficient news reader for my 20+ feeds, etc.

  25. Sven says:

    Please make the start screen like Launchpad in Mac OS Lion: make it an optional, additional way to launch apps and not a replacement for the desktop start menu. Find another way to open the start screen and keep the start menu on the desktop with the start button and the keyboard start key.

    With Launchpad Apple did not remove the dock or the desktop or anything else. They took it from the iPad and added it optionally to the desktop. Do the same in Windows: take the WP7 start screen and add it optionally to the PC.

  26. I know that there are many opposition from desktop users regarding the metro's implementation.  Making it optional and replacing it with the former start menu is not a solution for this issue as they are not aware that in time all desktop monitors will have touch capabilities.  I would be very disappointed if MS would submit to these request as the decision to make metro optional is very counter innovative.  The metro style UI will bring new form factors to the PC industry and I am very excited to see how it will mature in the future.  People who oppose change are people who have no vision of things to come.  I have been using windows 8 both on the slate and on the desktop and it does not take long to get accustomed with the new start screen for both scenarios.  It is evident that there are many who oppose this learning curve but this is not due to bad implementation or a bad product but rather to their stubborn attitude.  We who wish to learn new things on a daily basis will suffer greatly if MS would comply to the request of those who lack imagination.  We who strive for innovation will be denied of the motivating force of what makes product like Windows 8 possible.  MS is on the right track with unifying the Metro UI for all form factors and this will only be evident once application starts rolling out.

  27. @tpettijohn says:

    Please tell me you're dogfooding Azure for the backend notification service 🙂

  28. WindowsVista567 says:

    @Steven Sinofsky

    Interesting, that one of my previous posts has now appeared. I only intended to post one comment, though, not the two that state the same thing.

  29. Stepan says:

    I'm amazed at how vast the opportunities for user tracking are. I suppose there is some kind of a database that remembers all tiles and all their updates along with the info about who sent the update and who received it.

    I envy the body that has access to this database and I don't think I'll be using much beyond that weather app 🙂

  30. LD says:

    @calingasan

    Just because we disagree with you.  We are aware touch on monitors is available, but holding my arm at 90 degrees for an hour is uncomfortable, and I like multiple large monitors.

    I disagree with MS's Vision, and yours, that doesn't mean I lack vision. My foresight has made several employers millions so I don't feel you have any ground to stand on there.

    @MS

    Although the start screen will work as a command center, I won't be spending much time there.  I'll be in apps or (more likely) on the desktop.  I do resent Microsoft's assertion that, "It is not hard to see a scenario, especially early on, where even the most hardcore desktop-only person will find a lot of value in the Start screen"  When reading the numerous comments from developers using Windows 8 strongly disagree. It's a little too much hyperbole.

    We don't need to be sold on a good interface., metro is fine for tablets and phones, it's horrible for power users on desktop computers.  The trackpad is a hell all its own at the moment.  While this will improve, critical things will not

    Taking over my screen to start a calculator is asinine.  Running a calculator full screen on a 30" monitor is just moronic. Metro is the "big thing" in windows 8, it forces me out of my work environment to start applications and is still jarring.  With 20 apps all trying to vie for my attention on one screen it's more an irritation than anything.  There are apps I use frequently that I DON"T WANT INFORMATION FROM.

    I can just see AD tiles on the start menu…. how annoying can you get?  Metro should be an app on the desktop on PC's.  Touch first means mouse and keyboard last and it shows.  I don't want my screen flashing over to a new UI to launch a small widget.

    Right now I get information from 3 desktop gadgets, all of whom I want and I don't have to use them to launch an app.  You are killing what I do want and use and forcing an ugly annoying UI that makes me go through more steps to get my work done.  Metro needs to be an option, not a mandate.

  31. LD says:

    @Stepan

    You have to take it with a grain of salt.  Let's say after windows 8 launches 95% of people use the start menu to launch apps.  That's because it's forced down their throats, of that 95%, 90% can hate it but the telemetry data says it's a success.

    You can make that data support any conclusion you want, even the wrong one….. like Metro!

  32. Sven says:

    I like the idea of having live tiles also on the desktop as a gadget replacement. I won't use the start screen that much on my desktop computer and it makes Aero Peak useless without Gadgets/Tiles on the desktop. Desktop apps should also be able to use live tiles on the Metro start screen and desktop.

  33. Unbelievable how many seems to be paid or fed by the polished eloquence.

    Is just an illusion in beautify the underlying purpose and some doesn't even know what they heading to.

    Lets have a briefing 15years ahead and see if there's the same opinions of Metro, the Start screen and how Microsoft tried to lock down the market in make it as their own.

    I think it'll be a boring future with much less creativity and new innovations from this point.

    Not actually what the world out there expecting right now when we need stability and help away from recession. Come on guys – now or never – take it or leave it – or someone else does the job!

    I am jelling as Microsoft have shown us many great things through the years.

    Microsoft shown us that it's a company of the future with potential in make things happen in bring everyone forward in technology but it looks almost that we lost speed now.

    What you having around you seems moves faster in development than your own stuff.

    Please, time to shift to another gear and something more consistent.

    Thanks for reading another well created post but would be more funny see a few signs we coming somewhere in discussion of PC and desktops and not only money saving phony architectures.

    BTW,  Why did Microsoft close down Windows Live Gallery ?

    How can a company suddenly just leaving the support for Vista and Windows 7 only because of a new transition – Incredible gadgets can't be supported like it was

  34. All I want to know ( its the question many want answered)  is can the metro ui be turned off ? It seems to be a question Microsoft seem reluctant to answer

  35. Paul Coddington says:

    Considering it from a portable device perspective, it is all excellent.  For the desktop, I can't help but feel that there is a problem in not being able to see notifications while working. That is, you have to plan a break to go to the Start screen to review your notifications.  Will desktop notifications and widgets be able to tap into this new feature set?

  36. Purpose of Start screen:

    Thanks for clearing up the main purpose of the Start screen – wth respect to the differnce from many other availble "screens" in Windows – including the desktop:

    Quote 1: "In addition, the Start screen of Windows 8 provides a much larger surface to have more of these notifications as well as a user-in-control interface for managing the updates … "

    … and quote 2: "One thing we have noticed as we are using Windows 8 internally is that the ability to use the Start screen as a unified and highly readable heads up display for line-of-business applications has become a productivity enhancer. We are seeing a lot of interest in apps that are primarily about notifications. With the scalability of our new push notifications platform, Windows 8 can deliver this capability with minimal system impact, "

    Start screen: The HUD – Pilots view (being in control and flyving/navigating Windows):

    Let's understand it as the HUD Screen (or the Windshield or the Canopy) – but now I understand its main purpose and use :o). Piloting Windows or the ideally the web seamlessly. Putting the user in the pilots seat flying Windows. Hm, the Pilot screen.

    I actually think the heads up display or something similar is a better name for the "start screen". Of course using that versatile display you can always decide to "start" some (legacy) programs from it if it fits. Most new WinRT apps will provide info for heads up.

    I hope tiles for local resouces i.e. performance monitoring will be ther complementing the new Task Manager for legacy Windows.. Or we could of course develop such tiles. I.e. my defragmenter starting like Perfect Disk would probably put a tile there dynamically to show me status (if I want it).

    Example of other special purpose screens:

    In the future I see myself and others starting i.e. Visual Studio from some other screen, i.e. development screen i.e. provided by Visual Studio i.e. hitting [winflag]+[d] – also integrating other 3rd party programming tools probably upgraded to WinRT at that time.

    The HUD in that context – where do you want to go?

    When I hit [winflag] I get the screen with the heads up display ("start screen") showing notications from i.e. Visual Studio application domain – really the development domain I in. May be several tiles pr. project. As well I can always read other info on that "heads up display".

    But a special workbench or "screen" for special app domains like development would be noce.

    Like in a jet – I have the HUD – but for that special broad application use I have some versatile screens. That's already available virtually in new Windows (immersive/fullscreen). So I would like to use one such for development i.e. [winflag]+[d]

    The Tech:

    Quote: "The Start screen also makes this efficient from a user model perspective by giving you a full screen heads up display without interfering with you desktop or Metro style apps while you are focused on those. In addition, not only did we want to make it efficient, we wanted to make sure that you could install as many notifying apps as you want, without having to worry about the impact on performance or battery life."

    Cool. Beyond the broker and breaking of notications so we get onto an actual verge of orchestration from now on, especially the thinking for performance (I am really looking forward to be always on beyond sleep) and the impressive workload you're able to handle for realisering this interactive system for i.e. delivery of information.

    Thanks.

  37. LD says:

    @SAPaleAle

    Supposedly metro can be disabled  via profiles so IT shops won't have to support two UI's and a lot of confused and angry business folks.   The problem happens when apps become metro only and won't work in a window.  It's lousy for the users.  If all metro apps could run in a desktop window and the start screen could be suppressed (ie. using the current windows 7 UI).  I'd be fine with Windows 8.  There's nothing to justify an upgrade if you do this, but I wouldn't downgrade to metro. Linux is looking better and better.

  38. @Paul Coddington

    Yes, I also think it would be nice if I could at least configure some chosen tiles to "popup" or come forward if I need to take a look at the HUD. I.e. in an aviation scenario if the plane are calling for my attention and I need to abort my current workflow because we're going to crash. Some of those tiles may be extremely important.

    Just some more thoughts on the HUD metaphor – thinking latest issues in Skunk works Lockheed project releases now coming up with JSF/F35 (allthough they're actually on the verge of robo-planes … there's a bit way to go yet with software automation and all business operations, before we all become unemployed :o):

    Taking aviation and the refrence to a HUD (Heads Up Display) as a referenceframe for rethinking a kind of Start Screen (or main really screen),  you turn your head and get different views. That could be similar to switching the view. In flying there is a limit on the information load you can deal with.

    In JSF/F35 beyond the HUD, the legacy screens with workloads I think has been switch with one major display instead of several small displays all calling for the pilots attention in the "mission impossible" kind of rich complex view.

    In this scenario the collaboration has been automated between infrastructure (plane) and pilot so plane does the flying ("runs the engines") while pilot can concentrate on the workflow on that versatile screen.

    He can always look up and get instant general and important feedback from that HUD.

    Looking at the HUD he is in the role a pilot. Look at some other screen he is in the role of the application of the plane focused on his mission for which the plane is just a technical provider.

    Thus in a business scenario the HUD or Start screen in Windows can be configured to just pin those tiles that are either general and mission critical (specifically important) to some role in a business.

    At the desktop wou work focused. You can always "look up" if you're thinking about retrieving wide info outside your current focused workflow.

    For multitaskning, that versatile screen (Windows immersive fullscreen display abstract) should connect those apps. It will happen through WinRT eventually orchestrating apps and services. I.e. in legacy Windows we can have several windows aligned.

  39. @Paul Coddington

    >>Yes, I also think it would be nice if I could at least configure some chosen tiles to "popup" or come forward if I need to take a look at the HUD.

    The way to do that I think – considering the importance of looking at the HUD itself in imporant scenarios would actually be to be able to set a trigger on tiles relieasing the HUD view (giving it precendence). It would mean, that your head is forced up to look at the Start Screen.

    If not "it is not a HUD issue" – no need to steal your attention like a new email dropping in.

    But if we could check a trigger on a tile the HUD would now to "alert us" if we want to abort our workflow in such a case.

    Process or role/workflow is everything – by todays standard going from tech into business (also consumer) results in IT :o)

  40. Insider stuff. Just another mindfull think referencing previous 10 years of work on orchestration of web services:

    I recall UDDI work, the whole WS-stack work, the WSI body and deliberately initially coming out with web services for putting i.e. COBOL stuff online. Meanwhile the issues was how to make the web services perspective a reality realizing the complexity and demands put on application programmers. Then the work started to moved that responsibility into the middleware. Then it was interesting to see WCF come out in a new .NET release. Now with WinRT and the new Windows infrastructure it seems much more like a reality. Great.

    But I can see that the problem also went into understanding a new rethought UI also preparing for this integration of service and resources.

    I remember when OO came around kind of replacing imperative programming a study was made of engineers in Denmark on whether we initially used OO. May be the class construct (those popular langs are still not full-OO like Beta 😉 but much of the programming was initially still if-then imperative – and not dynamic binding and differential programming as in OO.

    Now we have a versatile screen in Windows? It can be anything you want it to be riding on top of everything resource – if we write a program converging those resource into an application. We're kind of leaving them many overlayed Windows – and taking the consequence of a dynamic actual screen  – ideally.

    So like going from imperative if-then to dynamic binding in OO – do we need to unlearn the old stuff to clear our view? I.e. may be someone at Microsoft or somebody else could write a publication "Unlearning legacy Windows" for different audiences – if somebody wants to shorten the curve and user style …

  41. Nick says:

    Please fix Direct2D so it can be used with GDI on all computers. At present, it only works on some.

  42. Kalpesh Chheda says:

    Tiles are too big for app's and folder's shortcut's which do not update themselves.

    It would be nice if u cut them into half so they look like rectrangle and take less space and easy to find them between live tiles

  43. So … at the end of the day having unlearned legacy "windows" – then may be i.e. Microsoft Windows 10 or 12 will be rebranded i.e. Microsoft Screen 10 :o) … or Microsoft Surface 10 :o)

    Who knows what will make better sense at that time?

    But right know there is still legacy Windows Desktop in there without any note on deprecation. Currently Windows 8 will be a hybrid of old an new – windows or screens – however emphasizing the new where possible taking users forward hopefully. The desktop with the windows will be on one screen representing the legacy and backward compatible trail to not block existing apps.

    If you want to benefit on the web services stuff and the users as well go with WinRT. For devs do a screen for your app converging services and other resources (if a rich app with features beyond just a gadget). It's all in the middleware now  – the OS. Great. Was not possible before.

    This isn't going to happen overnight. But an important change has been made – a reference solution for doeing this integration of web services stuff in practice.

    Personally I have been waiting for something like this for over 10 years now originating from UDDI. It's a game changer, hopefully. Then comes user adoption and market openings for them cloud apps.

    It will take time – but evnetually it takes off like it took off with phones. Took some 7 years from initial discussion in phonemakers businesses around 2002-2003 whether to go more with the software. They stagnated on the electronics – conservative, meanwhile the software industry came around with much better software and the semi-conductor industry also with cheap integrated prints. Bye Bye electronics-focused phone makers. The phone is a comodity and old news. We warned you leaving that big gap hanging around ignoring software businesses interest.

    So nice to see Microsoft is starting to push their new technology instead of keeping it behind doors. Let's get on with the web services game beyond web sites and old operating systems technology locally like Windows NT and PC-Unix (Linux: Android, BSD: MacOS and many more). Now we get a nice big shift in them OS components. It will also need to happen for Linux and stuff in they want to keep up. It probably will. But competition moves stuff forward. I was getting really tired of waiting …

  44. B8Blog says:

    @7acids — Howdy, we have done 33 posts so far, 17 of them pertain to "desktop" topics and 11 are new to the Metro style APIs and experiences.  There have been 5 housekeeping and team related posts.  There does not seem to be trend in engagement based on topic–that is all the topics we've posted generate about the same level of engagement (views / comments).  

    We've also done posts from most of the different teams as well.

  45. DavidT says:

    Please don't make me stand up, maintain, and pay for a web service just to publish an app with a live tile that, for example, aggregates information from an existing service.

    I was so happy when Windows Phone "Mango" let me run a background task to get this data and create a tile from it. It finally made it possible to create a free or inexpensive app that doesn't require a continuous stream of income to pay for the live tile web service.

    It also makes it possible to create live tiles for data local to the machine and decreases the frustrations for customers who purchase apps with live tiles that "go dead" when the developer can't afford to (or simply decides not to) maintain their live tile web service anymore.

    Windows can still create a model that restricts the tile update code to protect the battery life (like Windows Phone), and probably even go further to handle downloading, etc., as necessary. Just let us write some code to transform the downloaded data into a tile on the client, rather than forcing us to render the tile on a server.

  46. Chris says:

    I really like that your giving us the chance to read what you done with windows 8. I just wish you did it more often and on wider range of topics. Also don't get annoyed of reading feedback regarding our "precious" deskopt but what did you expect after using deskopt for so many years. 🙂 Just try to understand what and why we are having so many issues with the current state of windows 8 and therefore we are trying to find out if it's going to be changed in beta.

  47. TechDud says:

    Speaking of color rendering; what is the future of WCS, & will ICC v5 profiles be implemented?

  48. Craig S says:

    Since performance was discussed but not how notifications work, some people don't realize that 1) updates can be done via some local service (background agent?) and 2) we still get toast notifications sliding in wherever we are, so we don't have to go to the Start screen just to get notifications (like Dany Rodier thought).

  49. Fleet Command says:

    There is one thing that I am concerned about when it comes to tiles: Security! Will I still be able to tell my firewall to prevent unidentified/malicious tiles providers from contacting Internet? I certainly do not want my stocks title to hijack my corporate documents.

    Currently, Firewalls have program control modules that work on a process basis. But are titles separate processes or are they DLLs loaded by start screen process?

  50. What you are doing for developers with the Windows Push Notification Service so they don't have to build their own solution for authentication, caching, throttling, errors and retries is great but the tile-based UI is not suitable for a device such a laptop or desktop where content creation is the primary focus, in contrast to a tablet or phone where content consumption is what most people do. Because the Start Screen is now the exclusive UI where these services are available, the desktop gets "ignored". When you say the new tiled based model is data-driven because no app code runs for each tile, some base code to power the Start screen does run as part of Explorer.exe (or some other system file) doesn't it? You could have built it all for desktop users as well such that instead of tiles, the apps are presented as icons on taskbar or notification area, thereby preserving the familiary, context and ease of app switching Windows users have enjoyed for years. Icons and overlays on the taskbar can also deliver critical at a glance information and the taskbar's 1-click switching between apps can allow the user to immerse himself in the app without going full-screen.

    Why is the entire focus on getting and showing live notifications *in full screen*? Notifications are valuable to me but they are just one aspect of my workflow, there are a dozen things I do with my desktop or laptop computer and for that I need the most efficient way to switch between app windows, something that Start Screen does far less intuitively than the Taskbar. The apps that I run either from the tray (Messenger, Outlook and system notifications) or the main program running from the Taskbar (browser with tabs and RSS feeds) are enough for me on the desktop to very efficiently provide notifications without going full-screen and covering other apps. On a tablet, it's a different story where the tiled based UI is appropriate.

    I have some requests to make identification of apps or tiles easier on the Start Screen:

    –  App tiles need some introduction in the form of a tooltip. Like Start menu shortcut tooltips in comments which give an idea to the user what the app does. The App Store may give this overview but if the user installs the app and forgets about it, the tooltip should be there to remind him. I don't want to start an app just to find out what it does.

    –  Some apps only have icons or pictures and no textual names especially when the tiles are small. Textual name is very important.

    Another area where Windows hasn't evolved after Windows 95 is sound notifications. Sound notifications can be extremely effective at letting the user know something has taken place but new sound events themselves have hardly been added to Windows after Windows 95 (e.g. when long file copy finishes, firewall blocks an app, or when taskbar button flashes and I'm in a fullscreen app, when something is copied to the clipboard or when the power source changes from AC to battery and so on.) I want more sound events (For folks who hate sounds and prefer a completely silent experience, they can just set the sound scheme to "No sounds". As long as a silent sound scheme exists, more sound events won't be annoying but can instead be of great use). The sound for the balloon notifications also did not play in Vista and Windows 7 (but does play in Windows 8).

    Lastly, regarding the future of the desktop gadgets: Gadget platform is the runtime engine for thousands of gadgets already written and used by people, so I hope and expect to see the gadget platform supported in Windows for backward compatibility and respecting the time and effort people have put into building gadgets. You have already taken away the service hosting the gadgets, please don't take away the ability to run gadgets from the OS just to FORCE us to the Start Screen. And what is the future of SideShow? Microsoft is not obviously not investing any more into it either but at least will you allow existing SideShow devices to work in Windows 8 or they will go waste?

  51. It's all very well putting a lot of effort into making live tiles efficient and effective but what about desktop icons? I still have an issue with Windows 7 icons getting corrupted. I run my desktop with larger than default icons and find that for no discernible reason shortcuts will get corrupted and revert back to XP-era 32×32 versions. If I try to manually change the icon it has no effect, nor does deleting the shortcut and recreating it – the only way to 'fix' it is to select a duplicate of the icon (sometimes a secondary .exe has the same icon or there are several icons within the same .exe file). What's most annoying is that it only seems to affect some icons. I've pretty much given up using desktop shortcuts because I hate seeing tiny images inside a boundary box.

    Also, can you please stop resolution changes – like those that occur when I update my AMD graphics drivers – from rearranging all my desktop icons and resizing all my Explorer windows? It seems strange that a non-user initiated change could result in permanent changes being made to my desktop. I deliberately set my Explorer windows to a particularly size for consistency and productivity and find it inconvenient to have to change it back frequently.

    Still, I'm liking some of the changes made regarding file transfer dialogues and the fact they'll remember your preferences. I know you're moving away from the traditional desktop but I'd still like to see some of the issues that remain addressed with Windows 8. I'm looking forward to the beta and hope I'll be able to use it as my primary desktop. I tried the Developer Preview but it was incompatible with the majority of my games – largely because of the swipe functionality messing up fullscreen functionality in Crysis 2 and stopping me scrolling left in games like Civilization V. Some of that I'm sure is developers taking shortcuts but that doesn't help when me when they work fine in Win7.

  52. @Fleet Command, be assured – Windows runtime metro apps do not have access to your personal/corporate documents (unless you explicitly pick a document file when prompted from within the app via a dialog) as they run in a sandboxed environment. The live tiles and background services are even further locked down for security/performance.

  53. @ Dany Rodier

    @ LD

    Great posts about the useless tiles when working in Desktop.

  54. Wound says:

    I find it astonishing (and frankly bizarre) that Microsoft are putting this much effort into the start screen live tiles which will be on a screen just long enough for me to find my little used, non-pinned app. (i.e. almost no time at all) or switch to the desktop at boot. If these notifications are so important, why aren't they visible where the user will spend 99.9% of their time (i.e. in normal desktop windowed applications)? Just what is going on at microsoft?  Why is it that a company that used to be so customer experience focussed is now ignoring the cries of anguish of some of it's most important and loyal customers by removing much used and loved functionality, and adding useless and intrusive operations. Of course, enterprise customers will demand, and get, the ability to disable metro entirely because they won't want their employees distracted by non work related trivia, so I wonder why Microsoft are acting so pig-headedly now. Don't they know that "the customer is always right, even if they're wrong"

  55. Nicole says:

    "The Start screen also makes this efficient from a user model perspective by giving you a full screen heads up display without interfering with you desktop or Metro style apps while you are focused on those."

    I think Dany and LD have said it very well.  It's not a head-up display if the user has to stop what they are doing and manually check it.  Worse, if the Start Screen is popping up all the time to open a quick notepad doc (to, say, copy ones comment into because the MS comment system will probably lose it) and THEN the Start Screen is vying for attention, it's too easy to lose ones train of thought.  Any entire office full of workers with computer-inflicted ADD.

    The first thing the entrprise is going to do (if they use Win 8 at all, which I doubt) is turn off the live updates to the tiles anyway.

  56. JSM says:

    Why is so many people complaining about having to switch to the start screen to see the live tiles ?

    Live tiles are dedicated to Metro.  They don't remove the need for developpers to add notifications to the desktop (as they did before) for the desktop applications.  Tiles in the start screen is a new added functionality it removes nothing from the previous situation.

    If it looks useless to people who will be 90% of the time in the desktop,  they just don't use it,  that's it.  Same as today.  If you don't want ot use the start menu,  use icons on the desktop or pin to the taskbar.  It will not be a problem to switch to the start screen in the rare cases where you will need it.  You'll just miss the live tiles, that's all.

    Also,  I can see smart people finding a way to gather the tiles information to show it on the desktop if MS don't do it  🙂

    Any way,  congrats to MS for its amazing engeneering skills.  This notification system is really smart.

  57. NotImpressed says:

    @JSM Have you not used the Windows 8 Preview yet? I'm confused. It's not a case of not switching to the Metro Start Screen, that thing is the first thing people see and it's a real conscious effort to get to the proper usable Desktop.

    Now if Microsoft were to make the Metro Start Screen optional and not mandatory, then Windows 8 might stand half a chance in the real world of computing.

  58. 7acids says:

    @LD, Steven

    It's just that it feels a little like there's nothing really new covered in most of the posts in this blog, what we haven't heard before but in less detail, or they are overloaded with information (I remember this endless post about the Start screen including math equations etc.). Maybe I'm wrong. I'd be interesting to hear more about WinRT architecture and the fate of the legacy Windows API. The Windows Store, how it works and your intended conditions for using it. And finally an answer to the question if we are gonna be forced to use Metro on desktop computers.

    But that's off-topic now.

  59. buxton says:

    It seem most of the negative comment get through.

  60. buxton says:

    It seem most of the negative comment get through.

  61. GaryJP says:

    @Ryan/@Steven

    Will the WNS service be rolled into the server product (Server 8?)?

    I'm just wondering how large organisations will be able to take advantage of the new notification architecture without punching holes in the firewalls.  Can the WNS service be hosted internally, so that the back end service, WNS service, and the client can all sit in the same secure network?

    I guess a primary exaple of this would Outlook, email recieved messages (assuming a metro version is on the way 🙂 )

  62. Why not make it so that when I'm looking at an application in desktop mode the task bar shows the live tile of the application instead of a dumb icon? Also, allow me to pin live tiles to the task bar as I can with icons in Win 7. This way, from a desktop, I can get access to my most frequent applications and they can be notification centers too. Granted that might take a little more space, however, you can also have the option to revert back to dumb icons.

    Having the option for a few live tiles to be docked to the task bar and other live tiles for running applications appear in the task bar I think would not only increase productivity but also allay concerns about the jarring effect of the start screen and the hidden nature of the new notification system (though I realize there are still toaster notifications).

    Finally please comment on how the multiple version issue will play out. I don't want two icons in my start screen, one for the full-screen metro version and one for the windowed desktop version. I also want to know how I might use a single code-base to support desktop and metro style applications. These comments about the UI are fine, but we're talking about 'Building Windows 8' and that has to involve more than the reason you 'put up brick instead of siding'. Talk about how the 'rooms are arranged' or something internal that developers/sys admins can sink their teeth in to once in a while.

  63. uh.eh.huh? says:

    Great (power saving) features for phones – what about real computers that are plugged into AC for real work to be done?

    Also: as a single point of failure, this WNS 'feature' will soon be exploited.

    Also: yeah, @Stepan – with a central database that is 'tied' to specific machines/users – there is no anonymity for anyone.

  64. PrivacyLost says:

    If all the notifications are routed through Microsoft's WNS infrastructure, Microsoft will be able to monitor, log, mine, resell and profit from this data at the expense of our privacy.  One reason to block polling is performance, but another is to force the use of Microsoft's WNS servers in order to capture your usage data.  When combined with LiveID authentication and integration with IM, HotMail, content-scanning of your SkyDrive files, XBox activities, Windows Phone apps usage, and other cloud-integrated services, Microsoft will have a complete and total picture of your true identity, interests, social network, income bracket, political interests, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, and other demographic facts.  This will be a goldmine for Microsoft, but a loss of privacy for hundreds of millions of people on a vast scale.  And we thought G00GLE was bad…

  65. @Microsoft. Why should I upgrade my desktop from Windows 7 to Windows 8?

    1. Metro (doesn’t integrate with my desktop)

    2. Improved Task Manager  (Great improvement, but I can live without it)

    3. Hyper-V (So I can run Windows 7 full screen without Metro)

    4. Windows Store (so I can buy Metro Apps that are more limiting than desktop apps)

    5. Under the hood improvements (but my Windows 7 experience is fine and my biggest complaints about Windows 7 are not being addressed by Metro, I mean, Windows 8)

    6. If I don’t upgrade I’ll stop getting support and updates (XP’s eventual fate)

    7. Improved startup time (so, I can switch from Metro to my Desktop sooner)

    8. Removed start menu (Not sure why this would be a reason to upgrade, oh yeah, we weren’t really using it, that much, or enough)

    9. Improved file copy (It should never have been degraded in the first place. Really, how can you spend billions on R&D, paying salaries for real computer scientists, and screw up file copy?)

    10. All the really cool and new apps run full screen by default with no way to change them(Wow, there’s really nothing I can say to that).

    11. Because I like running the latest version of Windows no matter what! (Gee, it looks like once I’m ready to embrace change, this type of behavior should be on the top of my list)

    12. Because since I’ve bought a new computer or Software Assurance I’ve already paid for Windows 8, it would be a waste not to use it. (More bad behavior in need of correction)

    So far, in the developer’s preview, you’ve given us no good reason to upgrade our desktop systems. There are plenty of good reasons to buy a Windows 8 tablet; thanks for that.

    If it’s obvious to me that the desktop experience needs to be more compelling in order to sell, it will become obvious to everyone at Microsoft as well. Many businesses skipped Vista to go to 7. Very few will skip 7 to go to 8 (based on what we have seen so far).

    Prediction:

    Windows 8 will be about the tablet in unified form factor clothing

    Windows 8 SP1 will be about Metro/Desktop integration (Just bug fixes as the current lack of integration will be seen as a bug not a missing feature)

    Windows 9, Metro will be enhanced enough to replace the desktop instead of merely integrating with it.

    Windows 10, Metro with virtualization (see Qubes OS). Enhanced security by use of hardware enabled sandboxing. Backwards compatibility provided by SEAMLESS virtualization.

    Windows 11, the first windows platform worth its retail price. When people ask me if I’ve seen Windows 8 DP, I say, “Of course, but what really I’m really waiting for is Windows 11.”  

    Disclaimer: Unfortunately the success of Windows and Microsoft is not dependent on technology. It’s dependent on the use of the most efficient project management paradigm for platform development. Where Windows has fallen short is not in the area of technology, but in the feature focused project management system used to create it. The platform of the future, to rule them all, will deliver the most choice and by extension the most features. As opposed to the most features with very little choice (see Metro’s baby pictures, also called Developer’s Preview).

    The biggest strength of Windows is that my Windows looks and behaves pretty much like your Windows. The biggest weakness of Windows is that my Windows looks and behaves pretty much like your Windows, even if I really, really, don’t want it too.

  66. R.I.P Desktop Gadgets…

    We'll miss you… 🙁

  67. How well does WNS work through a typical corporate proxy server/firewall?  I suspect there are going to be a lot of problems with it on corporate networks.

    Further, a lot of networks are not connected to the Internet at all for security reasons, including all of our customers.  So, WNS based live tile updates are basically useless to us.  We need a Private Cloud solution for pushing notifications!  (This applies to a lot of Win8 features that are over-dependent on the cloud).

  68. You said the PC has some catching up to do. Please support push notifications on the desktop too. This is really an exciting development but limiting it to Metro UI isn't fair.

    Any plans to support PubSubHubbub or RSS Cloud protocols for RSS in Internet Explorer? Syncing my RSS feeds takes longer and longer these days.

  69. @Bill “Genius Boy” Gates. The monster of feature based project management (The monster you created and got rich off of):

    I read some interesting articles today about power toys for Vista & Windows 7. I didn’t know that power toys existed for those products. I had given up; I thought the wonderful idea of power toys had died with XP (which is still quite alive, actually). When Vista and Windows 7 were release, I was disappointed to find that the functionality that was delivered with XP power toys was nowhere to be found in Vista or Windows 7. The first thing I do after installing XP is install the power toys, but this functionality was never put in the Windows project plan. It became an operating system specific add-on.  

    Now, Windows is being re-featured for the tablet first… and also the desktop and other devices. The improvements in notification are great for the tablet, but fall short on the desktop. Metro wins big on the feature count, but is limiting in choice. The features I love about XP power toys, PStools, etc… don’t natively exist in this new platform. But, opportunity cost dictates that if they improve or natively include those old things, they  won’t have time to work on new features like Metro, the anti-Power toy.

    Metro! Get it, after your Ipad wears out!

    Metro! Upgrade your existing… wait, buy it new!

    Metro! Because you’ve already paid for it!

    I’m not knocking Metro as a necessity. I’m only knocking the reason why it’s necessary now in the first place. You focused on features instead of providing choice to the platform.  

    With some other company I would be afraid to write something like this. But, with Microsoft I can rest assured that no one cares what I think.

    @Everyone. You think you’ve so smart? Well, try to find a way not to buy Metro. No matter how much you don’t like it on your desktop PC or you complain about it in these blog you will end up paying for it; with both your time and money.  

  70. plusREP says:

    @Aryl Ether Systems,

    Great Post!  (Agree with most of your points).

    MS Please Read carefully.

    MS Please Read carefully.

    MS Please Read carefully.

  71. pmbAustin says:

    I'm hearing a lot of interest in the ability to add a "live tile" to the desktop, as if it were a gadget.  I assume this would be in addition to being on the Start Screen.  It makes AeroPeek useful, and answers many of the criticisms, without being intrusive.

    I wonder if Microsoft would give some thought to this idea?  Seems reasonable to me.

  72. Scott says:

    @Ryan Haveson

    Could you provide more information on how the authentication works?  

    How does the app register for notifications from whatever service it normally works with?  To use your example of a social networking app, how would the app and associated social networking site register with WNS for the notification?  Besides the content of the notifications themselves, what information would be given to WNS?

    You said Windows updates the live tiles.  Does the app itself ever receive these notifications?  If the user opens the start screen, sees an app has an updated tile, and opens the app, does the app get the notification or does it have to go to its associated service (e.g. the social networking site) to get the notification?  What prevents a malicious app from attempting to to impersonate or fake another app and get it's notifications or tile updates?

    Microsoft is on a path to get more and more user data flowing through its servers.  This obviously presents privacy concerns, especially on a scale as big as Windows, and especially if every Windows user who installs an app that uses live tiles now has some of their data going through Microsoft servers.  What is Microsoft doing to address these concerns?  What steps are being taken to ensure anonymity?  What steps are being taken to prevent data from being gathered in a manner that could later be correlated to form a bigger picture of the user?  (For exmaple, correlating notifictations for a stock ticker with notifications from a social networking site.)  Many little bits of information which by themselves don't tell you much about a person, can tell you a lot if you can put them all together. If a mountain of personally identifying data exists in Micorsoft's servers, that's a pretty big target for hackers to go after.  

    Another concern is that every user who uses Windows 8 could potentially have some notifictation data for them going through Microsoft's servers.  True, many services, such as flowing my settings between devices, require the user identify himself to the application provider (in this case Windows Live) in order for the provider to provide the service.  The user's identity is inherent in the nature of the service being provided.  A user who doesn't want to identify himself simply forgoes the service.  However, there are many uses of a computer that don't require identifying oneself to the OS manufacturer and them his data.  A user should be able to use Windows 8 without having his data routed through Microsoft's servers.  And any use that would require his data to go to MS should be clearly stated.  

    I'm sure Microsoft must have considered all these points during their design.  Would please privide another blog post that addresses security and privacy?

  73. B8Blog says:

    @Scott — There's quite a bit on MSDN and in the //build/ sessions.

    channel9.msdn.com/…/APP-396T is a good video session

    msdn.microsoft.com/…/windows.ui.notifications is the API reference

  74. KMWoley [MSFT] says:

    @Stepan, @PrivacyLost, @uh.eh.huh? & @Scott

    We’ve made every effort to make sure WNS is safe, secure, and respects your privacy. As called out in our privacy statement for Notifications and Tile Updates (windows.microsoft.com/…/privacy-statement) you will have choice and control over which applications can use WNS to send information to you, and what happens with the data that is delivered to your PC.

    As Ryan called out in the blog post, Windows uses anonymous authentication when connecting to WNS. The authentication does not tie your LiveID (or any other personal information) to the WNS delivery channels. All addressing between WNS and the PC is done via anonymous tokens. This is done precisely to avoid the concerns you raise around tracking users and user data. Our desire is to prevent anyone from taking malicious advantage of this connection.  

    It’s also important to note that WNS is a relay service – there is no long-term storage of the notifications sent through the service. WNS only caches notifications long enough to deliver them to the client, after that they are deleted from WNS.

    Hopefully this helps to address your concerns.  

  75. Arvind says:

    With notification services , the barrier of entry for a smaller developer to create great apps is very high.

    I think you should build some services , which can take the code that I want to execute on the client every so often and run it on the microsoft server and push it to the client. just a idea…

  76. Andrew F says:

    Off topic but can we get a post at some point about security and sandboxing with Metro apps? This has become something of an issue with Mac OS X's sandboxing requirement for App Store apps in Lion. See arstechnica.com/…/apple-pushes-back-sandboxing-deadline-as-devs-struggle-with-tradeoffs.ars.

    So I wanted to build, say, a Metro-style FTP client with two panes, how will sandboxing affect my app's ability to browse files?

  77. Sorry says:

    It’s an apology we are looking for Stephen, you are touting a basic tablet/touch interface platform as the next version of Windows, and for the serious professional desktop user it’s quite offensive.

  78. Sorry says:

    Steven, sorry, even I feel wound up and I am a loyal Windows fan,

  79. LD says:

    @Steven (& MS)

    While I don't think I'll change to windows 8 (or develop for it) unless metro becomes optional and metro apps can run in windows, I do have some questions about Metro vs. Desktop:

    1. Will Microsoft suppress tiles that turn into ads?  I can see software updating tiles to become an ad platform. I really don't want my start screen to become an ad screen.

    2.  How will we be able to suppress apps from updating.  I can see tiles using RSS and acting as a blink tag and act as a constant distraction (lets assume I actually need access to the app).

    3. Can metro support drag and drop in some form?  I know users that rely on this a lot and Metro seems to make it impossible.

    4.  While I like the new task manager, does Microsoft see the average user relying on it more in the future because of the "windows decides when to close" model.

    5. On non-touch screens there is a real lack of visual cues without chrome.  Most users don't read manuals, so how does Microsoft plan to make functions more apparent to end users

    6. I'm running this on an old laptop as well as a VM, the laptop tends to slow drastically when launching the start window animation. It's probably below spec, but what is being done to ensure this doesn't happen when the system is under significant load?   It really slows down any attempts to launch small apps (e.g. calculator, Wordpad, etc)

    7. Are there plans to change behavior for trackpads.  Windows 7 isn't great on them, but Windows 8 is terrible. Can you share any plans on how you will improve the experience

    While I don't think I'll change to windows 8 (or develop for it) unless metro becomes optional and metro apps can run in windows, I do have some questions about Metro vs. Desktop:

    1. Will Microsoft suppress tiles that turn into ads?  I can see software updating tiles to become an ad platform. I really don't want my start screen to become an ad screen.

    2.  How will we be able to suppress apps from updating.  I can see tiles using RSS and acting as a blink tag and act as a constant distraction (lets assume I actually need access to the app).

    3. Can metro support drag and drop in some form?  I know users that rely on this a lot and Metro seems to make it impossible.

    4.  While I like the new task manager, does Microsoft see the average user relying on it more in the future because of the "windows decides when to close" model.

    5. On non-touch screens there is a real lack of visual cues without chrome.  Most users don't read manuals, so how does Microsoft plan to make functions more apparent to end users

    6. I'm running this on an old laptop as well as a VM, the laptop tends to slow drastically when launching the start window animation. It's probably below spec, but what is being done to ensure this doesn't happen when the system is under significant load?   It really slows down any attempts to launch small apps (e.g. calculator, Wordpad, etc)

    7. Are there plans to change behavior for trackpads.  Windows 7 isn't great on them, but Windows 8 is terrible. Can you share any plans on how you will improve the experience?

    8. Will metro apps be able to be run in a window on the desktop or will I need to run them in a VM to run them in a window?

    P.S. There's a review of windows 8 you may find is a worthwhile read. the author sums up many of my feelings as well:

    http://www.networkworld.com/…/do-nearly-half-americans-really-want-windows-

  80. Abhishek Gupta says:

    Great work Guys.

    This is the main thing for which i was little worried when I came to know the concept of live Tiles earlier, but now I can say you guys have done good Job.

    I think that you guys are sending so much detailed descriptions here online for every minor or major functionality, perhaps competitors are also monitoring this and will definitely come up with similar much better solutions .

    I m very much impressed by near about all general and popular Microsoft Products. But I m so much sorry about IE still even IE9 or IE 10 preview.

    I hope you guys will do more to improve IE , but IE is currently very serious problem for Microsoft , anyways keep up the good work guys 🙂

  81. Siddhartha says:

    I just wanna suggest you that whenever any other app is open you shoul deliver the notifications to the top of the screen like you get in an iPad and Windows phone(I don't have a win7 phone but have seen a video where at the top there was a notification or something like "Wi-fi networks available") I liked the system. Make it on desktop two so it just takes 1 cm of the top portion for 15 seconds and then slides off!!

  82. Come to think of it, isn't this like Active Desktop's concept of "Channels"? Active Desktop had 'Subscriptions' was like a pull-based/polling model (which is now replaced by RSS) and 'Channels' which used push technology. Gadgets are also based on a polling model. Active Desktop content ran on the desktop in a non full-screen view but left it to developers to build their own end to end Channels. The key killer technology here is Windows Push Notification Service. WNS is definitely a better idea wherein you do a lot of work to make it easier for app developers and the overall UI and experience obviously is far superior to Active Desktop. Only disappointment is that it's not available on the desktop, but only on the Start Screen. It should be available to both, Metro as well as desktop developers.

  83. Shankar says:

    Why does microsoft will have to manage all the notifications for the applications developed by users.

    This will create a single point of failure for all the applications around the world.

    There should be option for the developers to host their notification service (either in the cloud or inhouse)

    So that their notification service can handle notifications for their apps or what ever apps subscribing to that NS.

    Please create a Notifiication server and allow people to deploy them.  

    And let Application developers decide on which Notification server to subscribe to.

    This way we can avoid single point of failure for all the applications.

  84. Jagannath says:

    @LD, Windows is not just for Americans. There is world outside of the US.

  85. I don't plan to use tiles live or not so I just have one question.

    Who judged Metro UI and tiles beautiful? Possibly the ugliest color scheme I ever saw on anything and it is without the slightest attractiveness. Hard corners, no dimensions, rectangle over rectangle.

    I hope you realize that eventually you really need to hire a good designer.

  86. NP says:

    What about Windows accessotires like Notepad, wWordpad and bove all Windows Media Player. No updates for them? Don't tell me not. I hate this concentration on Metro. WMP at least should be updated.

  87. @Stephen & MSFT –  I find it amazing. Even here in a blog about battery life, the comments against Metro abound. How could our feelings be any clearer? I've been reading this blog for weeks now & the feelings of the group in general are divided right down the middle. Are you willing to ignore 50% of us?

  88. Waseem says:

    @Steven

    There's something I noticed while reading the post and the same issue is on WP7 !!

    You guys are assuming that each new notification overrides the previous one even though the previous one might be not-dealt with (this might be true for some apps not all though).. Assuming that an app sends a notification when the PC is sleeping and then sends another one after, well the live tile will only display the latest (not enough)!

    You guys can argue that a badge can be updated, again this is just a number and doesn't really match the glance and go model.

    Solution: Notification Center (that shows a history of missed notification)

    It has been one of the most requested feature on the WP suggestion blog.

    Apple had to implemented because it was much requested too!

    I hope you guys seriously consider implementing this !! or explain why it is not important

  89. Stefan says:

    Against MetroUI ? Occupy Microsoft ! Or ?

  90. Alex Verboon says:

    Looks all nice and interesting, BUT 🙂 when are we going to get blog posts about enterprise management, Group Policy etc. I'm sure there's new stuff from those areas to tell right?

    Alex

  91. LD says:

    @Jagannath

    I didn't name or write the article.  🙂

    The world doesn't need metro on the desktop IMHO.  It's fine for tablets.

    I just feel, as does the author, that Microsoft needs a Tablet interface for business reasons but they are trying to force it on the desktop, which alienates a huge portion of their customer base. They are catering to developers right now because without software Metro is doomed to fail. This is the only way to force users to adopt a UI that doesn't work for desktops.

    Touch first means keyboards and mice last.

  92. Hamid Arzaghi says:

    I'm waiting for Windows 8 day and night.

    how will be Windows Media Player Or Windows Media Center In Windows 8 ? will they have a metro style?

    execuse for my bad english!

  93. B8Blog says:

    @WindowsVista567 — The folks who have written the previous posts on the UI all report to Jensen so he has been involved in writing all the posts.  

  94. magicalclick says:

    I am guessing Word Metro will support multiple documents within the app and the Live Tile will tell me what I am still working on? It is important for me to know which Word Doc still requires attentions. And I am guessing the best way is to Pin it (no Pin = unknown working docs), and assume I pin it to the front page so I don't have to scroll the Metro list to locate Word Live Tile?

  95. @Steven Sinofsky

    I was not aware of this. I knew that Harris was in a key role in the user experience team, but I was not aware that he had any connection to the previous posts. This blog (blogs.msdn.com/…/jensenh) is extremely well-written and detailed, and the Office 2007 Ribbon still ranks as one of the best UI's I have ever seen in a software program.Oddly, Office 2007 is great, and yet I don't like Metro. Perhaps it's the touch-first design that bothers me? If you aren't doing so already, you might want to consider more Office 2007-like ideas for Windows 8's design. If you are doing so, I would be interested in hearing a comparison between the Ribbon and Metro. "Straightforward is better than clever," and this is a good philosophy to apply to Windows 8.

  96. magicalclick says:

    @Shankar

    There shouldn't be a single point because it is a cloud service. It is done so because if you don't control the server, then, some evil dudes would just spam their notifications. Maybe that's the intention of getting notified every 10 seconds. But, then, the ecosystem is unstable. You can no longer expect the Tile to be low battery usage when it updates every 10 seconds.

  97. magicalclick says:

    Does the Live Tile have restricted layout similar to Mango? I like the Mango way. It would be disorienting when the Live Tile layouts are different from each other.

  98. a lot of people are going off topic and expressing their rage at the lack of information regarding the use of windows 8 in a desktop environment and unfortunately im on their side on this one.   all the information ive seen online and in these blogs is almost entirely focussed on metro and touch devices but microsoft have clearly stated that this is a multi device operating system that works on phones, tablets and desktops and we know how it works on phones and tablets which are obvioulsy touch based devices but how about giving some information/blogs on how it will work in the desktop non touch environment.

    i would like to know about the benefits of using the start screen instead of the start menu and how it will benefit professionals, businesses and productivity and also what is new apart from metro and task manager that makes windows 8 so much better than 7 and excite businesses and home users to immediately run out and buy windows 8 to install on all their systems as soon as its released because so far like many others I havent seen anything about windows 8 that would make people do that.

    why does everything have to be fucussed on touch devices and metro when your biggest customer is the desktop user and 90% of us dont have touch screens. x

  99. WindowsXP says:

    Hey, these changes are bothering me. It's neat, but the changes are from the Windows Phone! Why do it that way? I support you but the changes have gone out of hand. But, I may not support you, but, hey, do what you want.

  100. @Steven Sinofsky – A bit off-topic, but I have a suggestion regarding the Lock-Screen on Win 8.

    How about allowing BING Daily Images to be optionally set as the background? Especially as a default option, to make it much more attractive to first time users & to also promote BING Search (your ecosystem).

    Please consider this suggestions and let me know what you think of it 🙂

  101. K9_win_idea says:

    1. Big corporations will block these WNS connections on their proxy / firewall. Maybe they can use it, if it will be part of win-server (service) in their local network.

    2. After login i want to run desktop first ! (or add it somehow to After_Startup menu). I dont want to see the start screen first (but i am OK with switching as it is). Because it can be used (only) as launcher for rarely used aplication (as you said in another post). And you will have less start-screen haters.

    3. When i use start screen as launcher, i dont want to see live tiles. In work i need to stay focused on what i do and sometimes lunch aplication i havent pin on taskbar. It can take a second. But live tiles distract attention – i spent more time to watch all that moving stuff and i forgot what i want to do … (but i read all the news around the world that interest me) 🙂

    And i allways want to start a desktop app (or prefer it) – like Control palel or IE (and more apps may have bouth variants).

    4. When i have an important (corporate) live tile with notifications, i want to be able to set up a notification popup on desktop (like outlook with e-mail) with options: full info / basic info (only name of tile / app and text "new notification received") … so i can decide if i stop current work or not.

    5. start screen has 2 functions. Launcher and HUD. It can be 2 pages (second page can be on the right side). When i lunch app i dont want to see HUD. When i want to see HUD (notifications) i dont need to see luncher. And it would be nice, when i take a brake in a work, to see notifications, to see on first look which live tile has changed from the last time i watched (maybe some color rectangle around tile). It makes sense even if i lock comp, be some time away, come back and want to quickly check notifications i miss.

    6. luncher must have an icon / button to shut-down comp 😉

  102. el zorro de las siete colas says:

    lo mejor va sera lo que uno quiero desear un manjo de exploaracion de metodos mejores

  103. Stefan says:

    Could You please consider give up all this c-r-a-p and do a normal Windows that can be used in a corporation. Skip MetroUI on desktops. As a business owner i want a Windows that is P-R-O-D-U-C-T-I-V-E, not this slow C-R-A-P !

  104. Stefano says:

    @Amy Gx: you're right. Improved Task Manager (even if it's a thing people won't use much everyday), a backup program or utility or service, like Time Machine (a sort of, bad copied by Microsoft) that is on every Mac, no exciting features in Windows 8 desktop. I'm rather more curious about the next Office versions, both Windows and Mac.

  105. Confused says:

    I'm confused to why my post was filtered, when it was a serious question coming from a developer. There are so many off topic posts on here (and they get responded too) yet my serious question (well worded, no bad language, not offensive to anyone) has been deleted.

    Thanks Microsoft, but if you want to make your developers feel welcome here, stop replying to off topic questions and don't delete on topic questions.

  106. GregH says:

    @Stefano – you are obviously failing to mention the ton of improvements across the entire system which was clearly displayed at build and you can’t possibly believe that out of 35 teams of highly skilled engineers that there would be just Task Manager and a backup utility. Well, whilst I think there is a lot to discuss and some things wrong with the current preview – I hope we get there Microsoft and resolve some of the concerns.

  107. miguel says:

    uummm  not aero  , mmmmmmm i hope in windows 8  include aero,for this very wanderfull and nice.

  108. "Can you imagine if every single app with a live tile had its own version of all that client/server code?" … "This would be really inefficient because it would mean all of your apps would be running all the time to keep the Start screen alive." … "Our solution was to build a data-driven model."

    The new model is obviously much more efficient from a technical point of view, but the existing model has an important advantage for the end user. In the existing model, the cost of implementing live data is borne by the app vendor, whereas in the WNS model, the app vendor no longer pays a cost for implementing a live tile, other than the small amount of xml coding required to specify the live data. This is not a user-pays model – someone else is paying to not only supply the data, but all the data logic is also taken care of. So the commercial benefits of having a live tile accrue to the app vendor, just as they do with gadgets, but the costs do not. This amounts to a spam model of notifications. The phrase "fire and forget" perfectly sums-up the behaviour and attitude of an email spammer. The word 'spam' obviously has negative connotations, but i'm not saying that users will necessarily be inundated with unwanted live data, but in the economics sense, if the live tiles are assumed to have at least minimal utility for the end user, and consequently increase the commercial value of apps that use them, then the marginal revenue resulting from the creation of tiles with live data will be greater than the marginal costs. The consequence is a permanent state of oversupply. It will *not* be adequate for Microsoft just to admonish anyone complaining about this consequence that they can turn-off unwanted data, because the underlying model is inherently biased towards excessive supply, and therefore should not be seen as only users responsibility to deal with .

    An even more important issue raised by the tile data feature is the affect this will have on the average size of tiles, and therefore on how many tiles can be displayed on the intial Start screen, and therefore the consequence for the net "Fitts-Friendly-Factor" of Start. Readers of this post have to keep in mind that Microsoft's denigration of the start menu and its replacement by the Start screen is essentially based on the superior Fitts' Law nature of Start. Both more and larger, yet close-by app launch targets are the raison d'être of Start. That is a valid design goal of course, but adding app content, notifications and images to tiles takes us in the opposite direction, because the general result of this will be to increase the average size of tiles, and as a consequence more and more tiles will be pushed offscreen. To make matters worse, oversized tiles are not the only factor that will degrade the Fitts-friendliness of Start. If you look at the heat map of Start displayed in blogs.msdn.com/…/reflecting-on-your-comments-on-the-start-screen.aspx (figure numbers were not used in that post) – no account is taken of the gaps required to visually distinguish groups, nor is the irregular shape of groups, as a recognition feature (outlined in the same post in the section 'Taking advantage of spatial arrangement on the Start screen'). This amounts to "double-dipping". Now compare to the start menu, which has relatively poor Fitts-friendliness, except that alternatives now exist to compensate for this, including those that have been covered in these posts, like the "Startbar", and one that has not – multiple onscreen windows (that act as large, close, Fitts-friendly targets). So the Desktop UI has evolved to overcome the Fitts-unfriendliness of the start menu, whereas the Start screen is starting well ahead, but due to the fact that the tiles are being exploited from day one to provide other unrelated benefits, it's theoretical advantage falls in this regard, and will continue to fall as more and more vendors add more and more content to tiles, in their competitive efforts. I predict the ultimate outcome of insisting that the PC has to catch up to other devices in terms of notifications, that these notifications should belong within app launch targets, and of going "beyond balloons, badges and text, with beautiful images", will be that the Fitts-Friendly-Factor of Start will be little or no improvement on what we already have. In two posts in this series ('Designing the Start screen' and 'Reflecting on your comments on the Start screen'), readers have been advised to look beyond the short-term impact that learning the new UI will incur, and to focus instead on the long-term benefits to productivity. Invoking the "J-curve" metaphor is fine if there is confidence that the upward swing of the curve will more than compensate for the temporary downswing. Problem is, we are not getting adequate reason to suppose that an overall improvement *will be* the ultimate outcome.

    There is also the question as to how much benefit end users will actually derive from these notifications – that is, whether the Fitts' law deoptimization is remotely worth the cost. If the vision is to "Allow hundreds of live tiles without degrading performance", it seems very odd to be juxtaposing that design goal with the following statement:

    "It is not hard to see a scenario, especially early on, where even the most hardcore desktop-only person will find a lot of value in the Start screen as a centralized and well-presented (and controlled) notification area that is just a keystroke away."

    Translation: Beyond the "textbook" examples of stocks, weather, and email, we are actually struggling to think of any good examples of notifications, other than those that benefit us internally, except for trivial examples like in Figure 1. Please attempt to imagine some further good examples, so that this feature of Windows 8 will seem worthwhile and a valid reponse to our competitors who already have equivalent technologies in their existing products.

    Without even venturing beyond the commonly used notification examples, there is reason to doubt how much benefit end users will actually derive from this stuff. Watching your stocks go up and down won't make you any richer, frequent updates on the weather won't make you any more comfortable, and even more frequent checking of email updates won't make you any more productive. If anything, probably the converse in each case. There is also the use-lifecycle of apps, to consider. Research on competing platforms like iPhone/iPad indicates that the average timespan downloaded apps are actively used is around *three days*. Apps are almost disposable/run-once entities from the PoV of users. If this usage pattern is replicated for Metro apps, it will mean that an overwhelming majority of the hundreds of live tiles on users systems, as envisioned by Microsoft, will be of no interest to the user at any moment – the problem however, being that their sheer number will probably outway the passionate efforts of the worlds most gun data services team to minimize resource consumption, with a result that will be no absolute improvement on what we currently have (albeit with many less data clients), and possibly worse.

    In a later comment, i'll try to provide my own ideas on what can be done to keep these new UI features from clashing, and/or undermining other design goals or the user experience.

  109. @confused: Your comment probably just fell into the ether, the msdn blogs system has a nasty habit of just losing comments randomly. It really ought to be fixed.

    @drewfus: If Windows 8 had something like the iOS/Android notification lists where missed notifications were queued up, you'd have a point. However the whole model as is means that there is no guarantee a user will ever see notifications, so simply sending a huge flood of them won't get you anywhere (even assuming MSFT themselves don't then start rate limiting you). This is also why you don't want, as some have suggested, live tile notifications to "pop up" on-screen when you're working on other tasks. Instead Live Tile updates are really a way of passively representing the recent activity of an application and that's the way to think of them when developing applications.

    As far as tile size goes, that is again under the control of end users, so how they use screen real estate is entirely up to them – similarly with their on-screen arrangement, it can be as dense or as sparse as the individual desires.

  110. @Confused

    Your comment probably never appeared due to a technical problem. If your comment contained no foul language, was well-worded, and on-topic, it is highly unlikely that anyone would have deleted it. Steven Sinofsky himself has stated that moderation of comments here is minimal and that most of the "you deleted my comment" complaints are based on technical errors that were assumed to be intentional. If you look through the comments above, you will find that I attempted to post several comments that never appeared, as evidenced by the phrase "I'm sorry if this is the foruth in a series of comments from me on this topic," in one of my previous comments.

  111. B8Blog says:

    There's a lot more information available from the //build/ sessions on the details of the model.  There are assumptions built into some of the comments that tend to create a scenario/reality different than the implementation.  For example, nothing forces a developer to use the mechanism and has been pointed out there is an ability to locally provide notifications and an end-user has the ability at the app level to control things (and at the global level).  You can certainly assume we designed the WinRT to provide services that make it easier for developers to provide rich new functionality while at the same time making sure end-users and administrators are in control of the experience they see on their PC or PCs they manage.  

  112. @Steven Sinofsky

    You might want to upload lower-quality versions of the BUILD videos. They are slow to load, even on a Core i5 760 computer with a high-speed cable Internet connection. This inlcudes the mid-quality versions. I suspect that more people would watch these if the videos were smaller. I don't know if you remember the Windows XP vs. Windows 95/98 videos that used to be on the Microsoft website, but I was able to watch those on a computer from 2001 that could barely run Windows XP. The BUILD videos struggle to play properly even on the latest hardware.

    As for the notification platform, I don't see anything wrong with it. It looks like a great idea to me (though my suggestions for a desktop version of this still apply).

  113. @WindowsVista567 If you use the "format" button in the bottom right corner of the Channel 9 BUILD videos and switch it to use Smooth Streaming, you'll get the Silverlight player which works better in low bandwidth situations when the picture quality is less important.

  114. @AndyCadley

    You're right. I didn't know that. I guess a low-quality WMV isn't necessary.

  115. @Steven Sinofsky

    Are you going to add a feature that will allow me to snap the start screen into a column like i can do with others apps. If you allow this then i could have the startscreen open while im in desktop mode and it would actually increase productivity, it could be like the wP7 home screen but with more  detail and option; also for the live tiles, on the desktop when i right click on them to get more options i have to drag my mouse to the sides of the screen…it should be made so that when i right click an app i get the options for it in a drop box; you should also include this for the charms…instead of having the charms stay at the side, their should be included in the drop box for whereever i right click

  116. I just took a peek at the Android app store – got myself that kind of phone too for development beyond the WP7. Did an unprejudice install of anything of interest. Raised expectations. But most apps are not even release ready. My point is that the usability is completely out of control. Most apps are just experimental programs reflecting programms trying to learn. of course those were free apps. I found 1 in50 useful. I did a critique for myself on what to watch out for.

    I.e most socalled AR apps are not really augmenting – a "usability" thing. They are just overlaying the camera feed with graphics as a sort of technical proof of concept. But there is no concept? Many apps are better of as websites, some should just be an rss-feed, some should just stay with the GPS sensor. Some apps recognizes like Adobe Photoshop Express we're onn a basic messaging device – and just offers to do funny effects on camera shots before sending them in messages to friends. What a waste of time. A few ones fit the mobile messaging device form factor. For tablets may be different. I guess they browser is just best for viewing recipes in the kitchen. May be a remotel control or a sensor aggregator for home automation. Still workstations or PC's are best for graphics and a lot of other stuff. Those devices does not really compute — do they?

    Different form factors, like technical huh? I would rather say different use case scenarios where the device has become variable – thus variable UI. But not a real computer. So you need to think hard when you develop.

    Also the app stores need to think harder. I.e. no publishing workflow is probably the reason for the reviewing sites also trying to do some taxnomy projecting crap out (experiments, alfa releases and similar prototypes)? Also a sorting on role i.e. the device reflecting that – would make it easier to just grap relevant apps.

    Instead of hearing those telemetry numbers for app storaes like quantity and downloads – I would rather hear how many apps were uninstalled. That would reflect real interest – and not just the visibiliity (popularity) of app stores. I.e. before going completely with this – i.e. building the os around it, I would think quaility (usability) have to come before the technical validations when uploading to app stores. It may be so in the future.

    It's the same now with music. Theres just a lot of crap around – everything is visible. So you really do not understand how stuff fits … it's just complex, flat and without any red thread to it at all. Very weakly organized.

    Is that better than where we are at now? One thing is that Google went with the visibility-based pagerank algorithm. A problem they need to fight as well as other search machines. So why should the app stores now work that way too? isn't that just a waste of time?

    Right now its not like them apps are recruiting users – they are just trying stuff out – becomes there is no way of doeing that beyond downloading. But recon they will grow tired of that soon – then the app storres get destroyed that way (sudden lack of visibility or popularity). It just takes too long to find stuff of value except just a very handfull ot two of apps. And that was for Android.

    So I just hope the Microsoft app store will be better. It's just like 2-3 search machines for app right now. But they're all real lousy at discriminating apps. However, they can not do that, can they? That would be controlling the market. However, everything has to go central to get deployed? Is that great then? Or is it going to become a big problem?

    A big repository of major waste and crap – and in minor some good stuff. Just like the Internet. And mostly it will be all the crap getting advertised.

    Is that good for cloud computing? Is that great for software publishing? They are asking themselves those questions in the music business right now. A world of crap music. Now coming up – a world of crap software. We publish anything.

    That world is there already – on the net. Now at least we get all the crap in one place. "For all" decides. And "for all" decided they want one place where they can look at the crap. We are just going to guareentee them – that it will not be malware? Or wiil we?

    On the Android store I saw something called Microsdft Live for download. However that 'd' made it non-Microsoft. I threw in a message at that store about that being malware. So does app stores fix that problem – can they be the Echelon of all software apps. No way. Way to much software.

    It's great the legacy Windows Desktop is still around. Hopefully Google won't tie Linux (Android) to their crap and gadget Appstore either.

    I do recon some apps have professionel quality. But it's like with defragmenters – only 2-3 in the world for Windows PC's worth their buck.

    So how can a store be a store if almost everything there is "crap" and not packaged quality for consumers?

  117. I still hope to get them triiggers for launching apps if they are not there already. On the phones some apps offers to tell you nearby IP's – however you need to go and start that app. Thus – it's not an app. It's a service. So it should be running all the time and use discovery – or the OS should do that for it – thus the app subscribes to the OS and internal launch (pseudo-service).

    Some apps on the stores are just wallpapers? Is that apps? Everything zipped is an app? Hey … technical stuff. Let's get it usable. What user concept is that "deployment" container ("app" is now the new popular word for that).

    But event-triggering making those services based on discovery (active) rather than passive technology (user launch) would be fine. Those are services. Them tiles as well. I will look into if I can program tiles that way. They should be able to do what … so great. Then they can post that information somewhere.

    As others already said. Would be great if those tiles are not just bound to the Start Screen.

    Hopefully somebody will write, how you can do your own Screen with tiles or another kind of charm in Windows

  118. App stores … huh. For the moment I would rather call it houses of deployment containers of everything crappy.

    It's like TV. Loads of free crap syndication – but crap. So people stopped watching TV and now watches quality movies instead. A movement in progress. Also they have started thinking about "time" – i.e. exhanging those 2-5 hours a day into a whooping 14-35 hours extra a week.

    So let's be careful here about making a house of crap. It can be the end of software visibility long term – like TV. People will stop using it expecting crap and be very discriminate about the software – and then opertunities are gone. The consumer market dies out …

    Except going nano  or bioinformatic :o)

  119. I still think having a full size Start Screen is a big mistake. Start Menu enable user to see their current work, while they are searching for another applications to compliment their current work process.

    Start Screen is alright for tablet, but it is too intrusive and clumsy for desktop.

    There are pinned application at taskbar, it might be cleaner to use them as live tiles.

    I understand alot have been said regarding Start Screen. I feel that the screen designer has miscalculated the effect of application transition. Sad to know, the feel of disjoint UX will likely remain.

    i hope Softie see it and tweak their Start Screen. Despite all the post, it still feels like a clumsy implementation.

  120. If the individual user is in control of their Start screen, then who controls the general outcome of increased efficiency and productivity that the Start screen is supposed to provide, and which justifies the change to the new user interface?

    @Steven Sinofsky: "…nothing forces a developer to use the mechanism…"

    Does anything force the developer to follow the Metro app style guidelines, or will end-users and IT departments be in control (via the market) of Metro styling also?

  121. When Windows 8 is released there will be very few metro apps as compared to the iOS or Android platforms. Therefore Microsoft included the desktop and desktop apps in their new mobile OS in order to claim to consumers that there are millions of available apps on their new mobile platform.

    Also, very few Windows 8 mobile devices will be in use within 6 months – 1 year of the release of Windows 8 as compared to iOS or Android. Therefore, in order to claim to developers that it is worthwhile to develop Metro apps, Microsoft will include metro on their desktop OS and force desktop users to use it in order to further justify their claim.

    Now, it should not be a mystery why you will be forced to use metro on your desktop even given the fact that it is not the best use case for metro. Simply put, forcing metro on you appears to Microsoft to be in their best interest.

    It is a fact that people in general will ignore evidence that contradicts their beliefs whereas evidence which supports their beliefs will stand out like a lightning bolt in the night’s sky. Unfortunately, this fact is truer for really smart people.

    Remember the saying, “God doesn’t paly dice.” Well, modern physics (quantum mechanics particularly) demonstrates that god is addicted to gambling.

    Microsoft just isn’t listening to you because they believe it’s in their best interest not to. Unfortunately for all of us that make a living supporting this platform, their belief will be proved to be horribly wrong.

  122. Windows 8 is the exact opposite of Vista… like ying to Vista’s Yang.

    Whereas Vista was poorly executed and delayed, Windows 8 will be excellently executed and ahead of schedule.

    Whereas Vista presented a compelling new vision of the desktop experience, Windows 8 overlooks the desktop and desktop users completely. Windows 8 offers great enhancements to touch usability at the expense of the desktop experience.

    Windows 8’s design philosophy is, win on the table and maintain the current desktop experience. Or maybe that should be the strategy. However, what we have seen so far degrades the desktop experience.

    The actual design philosophy seems to be, win on the tablet at all costs. The implementation of that strategy is ingenious but, flawed. The costs will be greater than anyone expects.

  123. Has anyone noticed that if you hold down the back button on Windows phone 7 mango you get a much better way to task switch than what is currently available in Windows 8 Metro? Is this an example of the dangers of re-imagining? Does re-imagining mean making mistakes, just in a different way?  

  124. I feel very sorry for the folks at Microsoft that agree with a lot that is being said against the use of metro on a desktop OS. Surely the company itself is split 50/50 in regards to Metro, but who would speak out and lose all those stagnant stock options? Just say, yes boss, and lock your customers into an experience that they don’t want and prey that monopoly power will be enough to survive until the next service pack or release. It’s worked before, right? It might just work again.

    Really!? Aren’t you guys too smart to be going down this road? Whoops, we’ll fix it later development. That’s what I do, that’s not what I expect from the biggest software company in the world.

  125. I understand the limitations in metro. They are completely logical for the development of a mobile user interface. But, if Windows if being re-imagined, would it not have been better to truly design metro to replace the desktop and also be able to be customized for the desktop?

    Wait… before you answer; the feedback in this blog provides the key of how metro could reproduce the key elements of the desktop experience without reintroducing the bloat.

    1. Multiple, resizable Windows

    a. Easy to implement a switch where metro runs in DP mode (full screen) when required by the user, or when running on a certain type of hardware. But better if you just ask the user, do you want the metro mobile experience or the metro desktop experience?

    2. Displaying the essentials (tiles) from the start screen without completely obscuring the users’ current work

    a. Easy to implement a switch where start screen runs in DP mode (full screen) when required by the user, or when running on a certain type of hardware. But better if you just ask the user, do you want the metro mobile experience or the metro desktop experience?

    3. Taskbar in Metro

    a. Easy to implement a switch where taskbar runs in DP mode (only in the desktop) when required by the user, or when running on a certain type of hardware. But better if you just ask the user, do you want the metro mobile experience or the metro desktop experience where taskbar displays in metro?

    I believe that you didn’t do it this way because of time constraints. If we are to have a really honest conversation about building Windows 8, then you must provide us with the true rationale for the choices, which in hindsight, miss the bar.

  126. Release Windows 8 Mobile edition for the tablet now, with Metro mode VM free for Windows 7 users. Fix the problems with the desktop/metro integration, and then merge the 2 versions in say 6 months by releasing Windows 8 SP1 for mobile and the desktop alongside Windows 8 Server SP1.  

    This way, we won’t have to wait for Windows 9 for a winning OS.

    In writing this it made me realize that Windows 8 wouldn’t have been a win on the tablet if you didn’t initially sacrifice the desktop experience. But, now that you have significant feedback it’s time to change the plan. We and everyone at Microsoft know that you can execute your current plan and do it on time, but doing so would be a mistake. You won’t find this in Project+ or PMP but, some projects are better late. Don’t you guys have enough money, isn’t it time to get it right the first time?

  127. WaveyDavey says:

    Is is possible to spread the comments across pages, say 100 per page?  Browsing the comments is painful when the pages get to long.

    Interesting to see the WIndows 8 develop though.  I don't like many of the changes but many I do.

  128. Josh the Nerd says:

    @Aryl Ether Systems: Can't they just as easily fix Desktop/Metro intergration in the next six months without releasing a Metro-only version ahead of schedule?

  129. @Josh the Nerd:  I was being a little dramatic when I suggested that they should release Windows 8 Mobile now. You should read now to mean as soon as possible. Meaning that it would take six months before it’s in the hands of consumers. I can’t say what if any changes have been made in light of the feedback provided by this forum but let’s assume that Microsoft hasn’t made any significant progress towards changing the way metro and the desktop interact.

    Developers already have the tools to make metro apps in its current form. In metro’s current form it’s perfect for mobile devices. So, why delay? Focus on the mobile experience, release products soon. Add to the API so that metro works with the desktop experience and then release that portion when it’s ready. Make sure that devs would only need to change their code if they want to fully take advantage of the metro desktop experience. The mistake would be to tie a mobile experience oriented metro UI to desktop form factors before it's ready.

    As I stated before the ideal situation would have been if Microsoft designed a tablet first UI (the metro we have today), fixed the desktop integration, then released the Developer’s preview. Assuming that could have been done in time for Build, we would have had an incredible Developer’s preview and still be on track to make the ‘before holiday 2012’ release date. But, what’s done is done. Getting a product out sooner rather than later is important. At this point, that product is Windows 8 Mobile or Windows 8 Metro. Not the half baked desktop integration we see today. Have any of you installed the Server Developer's preview? If you think Metro is awkward on your PC, imagine it on your server.

    Windows Server 2008 was made from the same code base as Vista but never suffered the same stigma as Vista. Windows Server 8 should definitely drop or fix metro before release or it and the entire platform will suffer.

  130. GregH says:

    @Aryl Ether Systems – its a backward idea – I want Metro on my computers, its only the same as Launchpad on the Mac but better, its time for Windows to show em who’s boss.

  131. @Josh the Nerd: On the other hand, if Microsoft has been steadily using our feedback to make significant changes to Metro and its desktop integration, then you would be right; better to release one product that just works on all hardware, providing a slightly different experience based on the resources you have available.

    A former manager once told me that the most unfair thing you could do is treat all people the same. This is also true for hardware. My tablet should not provide me with the exact same experience as my multi-monitor workstation. The experiences should be congruent but not identical. Similarly, my server should not work exactly like my tablet… not by default anyway. The choice to alter my experience to match my needs is what I’m looking for in the next Windows release.

    Also, I don’t want desktop user’s to turn metro off. I want a metro that desktop users would want to run and not leave. The currently isn’t what we have. So, until that can be delivered, I’d prefer metro as an app on my desktop instead of vice versa.

  132. @GregH: Have you installed the Windows Server 8 Developer’s Preview?  The current implementation of metro on my Sever is a backwards idea. Launch pad on Mac is an optional tool. One can choose how to start programs, with launch pad or without. In addition, all apps are equal; meaning that regardless of if they came from the apple store or were installed in the traditional manner, there isn’t any difference in how the apps are accessed. Metro apps cannot be run from the desktop. If metro and the start screen were optional I would be inclined to agree with you. But that isn’t the case today.

    Again, I would prefer if metro worked well with the desktop experience. But as of today it falls short.  

  133. LD says:

    @gameForMonster

    I agree the full screen start is a horrible UI.  MS doesn't seem to be open to reverting that decision.  It really feels like they've started down a road and they're not willing/able to realize that most of the users I know that I've shared it with hate it.

  134. Sachin Joseph says:

    A deep call to Microsoft on your poor new UI and some suggestions:

    Can't it be beautiful, Steven? Doesn't Microsoft yet realize that their new Metro UI is far from "appealing" (as you would say), thanks to those "ugly" rectangles without rounded corners. Not forgetting to mention poor transitions on those live tiles.

    Simplicity doesn't mean that the UI should be just as "ugly" as it is. May be you (the Windows Team) should hire a new designer. None of my friends like your new UI… 🙁

    Please make those live tiles more beautiful. Your concept of live tiles (I mean the concept of dynamism rather than static icons) is beautiful, but not your design. At least use rectangles with rounded corners, optional shadows, and good transitions, full customizability so that developers can even write apps that can change the Metro UI transitions and tile sizes and shapes. Then developers will show you how beautiful it should have been.

    Also, remember those Microsoft fans posting their own Windows 8 concept videos all over the internet. Some of them showed really beautiful UI – fast and fluid. Also, there are now a few concept future metro videos and images on the internet. Please do consider them before delivering the beta.

    Also, include an option to close a Metro style app.

  135. Sachin Joseph says:

    A deep call to Microsoft on your poor new UI and some suggestions:

    Can't it be beautiful, Steven? Doesn't Microsoft yet realize that their new Metro UI is far from "appealing" (as you would say), thanks to those "ugly" rectangles without rounded corners. Not forgetting to mention poor transitions on those live tiles.

    Simplicity doesn't mean that the UI should be just as "ugly" as it is. May be you (the Windows Team) should hire a new designer. None of my friends like your new UI… 🙁

    Please make those live tiles more beautiful. Your concept of live tiles (I mean the concept of dynamism rather than static icons) is beautiful, but not your design. At least use rectangles with rounded corners, optional shadows, and good transitions, full customizability so that developers can even write apps that can change the Metro UI transitions and tile sizes and shapes. Then developers will show you how beautiful it should have been.

    Also, remember those Microsoft fans posting their own Windows 8 concept videos all over the internet. Some of them showed really beautiful UI – fast and fluid. Also, there are now a few concept future metro videos and images on the internet. Please do consider them before delivering the beta.

    Also, include an option to close a Metro style app.

  136. Confused says:

    Quote: "If your comment contained no foul language, was well-worded, and on-topic, it is highly unlikely that anyone would have deleted it."

    This is what happened.  It still hasn't appeared.  I was hoping Microsoft hadn't thrown it in the trash, and they'd eventually put it up.  Apparently not.

    This is the sort of behavior I expect from Apple.

  137. Chris says:

    look here as well, a list of windows 7 bugs

    http://www.askvg.com/microsoft-windows-seven-bug-report

  138. @All Just wait for the Beta and see the difference.. New tile animation/transition, improved UI, Semantic Zoom and the Start Screen is now customizable..

  139. july says:

    i have one problem.

    when i turn off clear type some fonts in windows 7 become Illegible.!

    when i turn on clear type again some other fonts become illegible.!

    why is it thus?

  140. Bladehawk says:

    @SuperJaycee13

    Unless the start screen can be disabled it will still be ugly and annoying.

  141. Greg says:

    Try not to listen to @Sachin Joseph – no rounded corners, shadows or gel like glazes – these Mac users don't really have a clue, I think you are on to something and the hateful Mac fans want to sabotage it at every opportunity, stay true to the vision.

  142. @Steven Sinofsky and the Windows Team

    I'm trying to get a better idea of how people see the Metro UI and Metro experience, so I've set up a poll.

    social.msdn.microsoft.com/…/c804830b-95fe-41f1-a66b-a2c29fe4db76

  143. @Confused

    No, there is something going on with the comment system. The comment I posted directly above this one was supposed to be posted yesterday, but it never appeared. I had the same problem happen a minute ago. This definitely looks like a technical gitch and not an intentional decision.

  144. @confused If you don't see the green "Your comment has been accepted and will appear shortly" box after the page refreshes, the MSDN blog system has almost certainly lost your comment somewhere along the way. Typically I find it takes three attempts to get one comment to go through.

  145. Greg Tom says:

    Great Job Guys, looking forward to the new windows, just wanting to know when its released will there be a update or something to update windows 7 to 8

    thanks

  146. HAPPY says:

    i've got a GOW3 background for my Netbook from Windows 7 but everytime i log off or shut down from my page it always asks to wait for background to finsih, how can i stop this ?

  147. emre akcin says:

    bana göre windows sadece yazılım değil bilgisayarlarıda geliştirmeli mesala konşarak bilgisayarı yönetme.

  148. Bob says:

    So, since there's no way to avoid the Start Screen, is there a way to prevent live tiles from turning into a succession of ad banners?

  149. rtimi says:

    my only request is to see the live integration that was presented so I can test on my pc.