Currently, Microsoft is a mess, actually let me rephrase that, its synergy is a mess. Microsoft is slowly transitioning away from their current UI to a new, modern sleek UI called Metro, this UI will be the new face of Microsoft. Every product or service from Microsoft will be getting the Metro treatment, and it all begins with Windows 8.
Don’t get me wrong, Windows Phone is already fully Metrofied, and has been since the launch of Windows Phone 7. But Metro didn’t begin there, oh no. In fact, Microsoft has been using hints of Metro in some of it’s products for years. Principles of Metro can be seen in programs and services such as Encarta 95 and MSN 2.0, which strongly suggests that Microsoft have been familiar with the Metro design language for quite some time.
Metro really came into light with Windows Media Center back in 2004, when Microsoft launched Windows XP Media Center Edition. This specialized edition of Windows XP introduced Media Center, a hub for all your entertainment needs. Media Center was the first program from Microsoft that used Metro in all it’s glory.
Later, Microsoft also updated Zune, the company’s entertainment store with a brand new user interface. Guess what they used to design the new interface, Metro. But this wasn’t the Metro we saw in Media Center, this new iteration of Metro had been cleaned up. Designers wanted to focus on clean typography and remove Chrome on programs all together, and in doing so gave birth to the Metro we all know today.
We then saw the launch of the Zune device, which was also heavily influenced with Metro. Windows Phone took note of the UI used on Zune and built upon it, introducing “tiles” as a dashboard to your personal apps and information. The tiles featured live updates, which is very popular in today’s mobile phones.
So, it looks like Microsoft had fallen in love with this new design language, but that still hadn’t influenced them to change the look of Windows. Windows 7 launched with the usual Aero themed desktop, which didn’t stand up to par with Microsofts other products. At this time however, the majority of Microsoft services and products still hadn’t been Metrofied.
After the launch of Windows 7, Microsoft had a clear idea on where they were taking Metro. It was going to become the face of the company, synergizing everything from products and services with Metro. This will make users feel more at home when using multiple products from the company.
Moving along, Windows 8 had just begun development. Microsoft was already certain that Windows 8 would include Metro as default. Giving Windows the Metro treatment appeared to be a bit of a task for the company, it even resulted in the removal of the famous start button and menu. Microsoft had removed the main menu from Windows, and replaced it with a Metrofied Start Screen, which was designed to act like a dashboard for your personal apps and info. This was the new Start Menu in Windows 8.
At the same time as designing Windows 8, the company began getting the design team at Office familiar with the design language. Microsoft wanted Office to also receive the Metro treatment. With the next version of Office, we expect to see a fully Metrofied Office experience, with a brand new clean experience.
Microsoft are also planning on rebranding Windows LIVE, and giving it a new lick of Metro paint. With recent leaked screenshots, we expect Hotmail, SkyDrive and more to fully influence Metro.
The Xbox 360 too received a Metro overhaul, its dashboard had been updated with a cleaner design for gamers to find the content they wanted more quickly. It was also Kinect compatible, so that was also a plus for the company.
Microsoft also recently announced their own hardware to compliment Windows 8, making your Metro experience the best it possibly can. The tablet also uses some elements of Metro, keeping the sides, back and front simple and clean. The hardware has no bumps or gaps, it all just fits. Just like Metro.
Services such as Windows Azure, Mesh, and others also received Metro treatment. Visual Studio 2012 is also expected to launch with a brand new Metro design. So Microsoft is truly moving into the Metro would, but it isn’t quite there yet.
Taking a look today, Windows LIVE is still using a horrible design, Office is still using the Ribbon, and Windows is still using Aero. Yes, I know newer versions of the products and services listed above are coming, but currently, synergy across Microsoft’s products are all wrong.
Microsoft have already launched some products with Metro, which has unfortunately left some consumers unstable when it comes to synergy. If Microsoft had launched Metro all at once, it may have been received by users with more open arms, but because the UI had launched with some of Microsoft’s failure of products, the design language has been given a bad name, or at least the touch side has.
Metro will ‘Click’ when Windows 8 launches, I just know it. Everything will be fully influenced by Metro when Windows 8 is released, all the companies websites, programs, services and more will have a new Metro influence. Will this be a noticeable change? Yes, I think it will. Since the company is practically changing the face of itself, people will notice how everything looks, and I personally think they’ll love it.
Microsoft is now (or will soon be) Metro. Microsoft’s look will be Metro. When you see anything related to Microsoft, whether it be products, documents or slides for keynotes, they will all resemble Metro, and we love it.Further reading: Microsoft, Windows 8