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The origins of Metro UI

Posted: , by Michael H.

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The origins of Metro UI
Like it or not, the Metro UI has moved beyond the Windows Phone experience, and will soon become the standard interface for just about any Microsoft product, and now an attendee of a "Behind the Tiles" event is giving the origins to this design ideal. 

Apparently, the idea for the Metro UI was inspired by the Swiss Movement of the 1960s, which had a core philosophy to "communicate to people through design, while being different yet direct." This was definitely a solid idea to have as a main aim for Microsoft, because of course the company wanted its new products to stand out from the other mobile platforms, which all followed a general template of having pages of icons and perhaps some widgets. Microsoft wanted a simple, but iconic UI. For this, the Metro UI was essentially built upon a modified version of the Segoe font, which was inspired by Helvetica and the Swiss Movement. 

It's certainly an interesting story, and we would agree that Microsoft has succeeded in creating a new visual style that sets it apart from the competition. However, we have found that sometimes the simplicity can be pushed too far, and the icons without text labels can be a bit confusing for some users. And, of course we still can't say just how well the style will work as a full release in Windows 8, because that will be a very big change for PC users. Still, Microsoft has done a pretty good job with the design, and we're looking forward to hearing more about the history of it. 

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posted on 24 Apr 2012, 15:57 10

1. tward291 (Posts: 559; Member since: 14 Feb 2012)


it works great for certain people no os will appeal to all but they got my money

posted on 24 Apr 2012, 15:57 11

2. CivicSi89 (Posts: 348; Member since: 23 Jul 2011)


I love the way Metro UI flows. cant wait to see it across more tech! Im running windows 8 CP on my XPS and it looks amazing on my TV

posted on 24 Apr 2012, 16:14 9

3. AppleConspiracy (Posts: 629; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)


Metro UI for Windows Phone is the most advanced UI yet, but I think it's so ahead of current habits that it seems a bit overdesigned, and therefore it won't be understood by masses. At least until it spreads the new habits through Windows 8. Great number of users are still calling it ugly. I hope this will change, however a large part of me believes that Windows Phone will fail, unfortunately, because of the distribution politics, closed system and bad marketing and timing!

posted on 24 Apr 2012, 17:34 8

10. ahhxd717 (Posts: 317; Member since: 08 Dec 2011)


I completely agree. I love windows phone. It just flows like a phone should. Well to me at least. Still love Android though. But yeah, hopefully it won't fail. I've got that feeling too.

posted on 24 Apr 2012, 16:19 5

4. Joshing4fun (Posts: 1047; Member since: 13 Aug 2010)


Icons without text labels? Where are ya getting this from? The W8 demo shows text labels and photos.

posted on 24 Apr 2012, 16:21 3

5. tward291 (Posts: 559; Member since: 14 Feb 2012)


if windows went open they would fail there is no way they can challenge google in open source

posted on 24 Apr 2012, 16:27 2

6. AppleConspiracy (Posts: 629; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)


It doesn't have to be fully open, but now is completely closed in some crucial segments, like file management. Of course, that is already the thing of the past, so it might be irrelevant...
The main problem remains its slow adaptation to standards conditioned by Apple/Google and bad marketing/distribution.

posted on 24 Apr 2012, 23:24 1

13. DIYguy (Posts: 190; Member since: 27 Feb 2011)


Apple?! Standards?! Apple and standards don't mix... Apple never does anything standard if they don't have to.

posted on 25 Apr 2012, 03:53

15. Veigald (Posts: 238; Member since: 13 Jan 2012)


What are you even trying to say here? That people are willing to pay for Microsoft products but not Google products?

posted on 25 Apr 2012, 17:42

20. sgtdisturbed47 (Posts: 168; Member since: 02 Feb 2012)


There is no way Microsoft would bother with trying to "challenge" Google in the OS department. They wouldn't waste their time. It's not about going against Google or Apple, because their approach is to stand out from them. A different, more direct UI is MS's goal, and they are succeeding in it. Their only downfall is the lack of advertisement.

posted on 24 Apr 2012, 16:51 3

7. tward291 (Posts: 559; Member since: 14 Feb 2012)


true either way its going to be tought for them to gain market share when people already have some great choices apple if you like simple an not that much customization and android if you life open and max customization. it seems they choose to go after apple an hopefully sway the people who have tried both and want something new

posted on 24 Apr 2012, 16:53 4

8. Credo (Posts: 695; Member since: 19 Apr 2012)


I love the Metro UI !!

posted on 24 Apr 2012, 17:33 6

9. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5775; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


The greatest challenge facing MS is their product obsolescence strategy for WP. Not having support for even high-end handsets just one generation back is going to frost adoption of the WP environment. Nothing like arrogance in the presence of weak sales volumes.

posted on 24 Apr 2012, 18:57 2

11. Bluesky02 (Posts: 1439; Member since: 05 Dec 2011)


Have you seen how elegantly groups of fishes move in the ocean?
I think the Metro UI smoothness and flow was inspired by that also.

posted on 24 Apr 2012, 19:45 2

12. master0fursinz (Posts: 104; Member since: 26 Apr 2010)


Metro UI looks nice, but prefer my icons on Droid, dont know why but maybe its cuz im accustomed to it, to the point where nothing really matters, i wouldnt mind playing with a WM8 phone if VZW had one. Needs to be 4G though, wont accept anything less. It's nice they have a story to back up the UI, so that apple wont sue them for the smooth effects and feel of the iOS.

posted on 25 Apr 2012, 01:10 2

14. thelegend6657 (unregistered)


Metro is so awesome ! I am using windows8 on my laptop and I am never going back to vista .
Btw my father is using metro too on his gs2 . There's an app call launcher 7 that can convert your home screen into metro

posted on 25 Apr 2012, 04:46

16. Cyan3boN (Posts: 425; Member since: 23 Feb 2012)


unlike the consumer preview, i might like the final release."i might"

posted on 25 Apr 2012, 07:28

17. Glim12808 (Posts: 393; Member since: 26 Oct 2011)


I love the metro UI both in the W8 I installed in a partition in my W7 desktop; and the first WP7 device I bought more than 4 months ago!

posted on 25 Apr 2012, 09:59

18. 7thspaceman (Posts: 1085; Member since: 14 Feb 2011)


I have been using Windows 8 comsumers preview since it was released to the Public. I even got a tip on how to make a computer shutoff icon and put it on my windows 8 ask bar and have a metro tile computer shut off tile which is a needed improvement for windows 8. there are going to be a lot of people confused about how to use this OS therefore Microsoft must have a built in video tutorial that is programmed to play automatically when the computer boots up to the metro start screen. once the New to Windows 8 computer user learns the basics of how to use the start screen and how to navigate windows 8 they will be OK. Otherwise a lot of People will steer clear of Windows 8. Personally I like it and there are resources on the Web to show a person how to use it. but Microsoft has to do more to show a person how to use it or else they will get angry and not want to use it this will cut deeply into microso sales and cause Microsoft to issue a software fix that cause's Windows 8 computers to boot up into the OLD DESKTOP MODE and have the Metro Start screen as an additional screen a Person can use or refuse to use. Windows 8 works well if you take the the time to learn it

posted on 25 Apr 2012, 10:16

19. 7thspaceman (Posts: 1085; Member since: 14 Feb 2011)


I urge Microsoft to put in Windows 8 a built in Utility program in it's settings of Windows 8 called "Screen boot change" so People can set up Windows 8 to boot right up into Desktop mode. The metro start screen will still be available. you can get to it by simply clicking on a Desktop Icon shortcut this Utility Program will save Windows 8 from being another Vista because Windows 8 on desktops and laptops booting into the metro interface screen may not be Popular to some People. Folks the "Video Professor" Company People are going to make a lot of Money off of Microsoft selling windows 8 Tutorial disks. microsft should issue one with a windows 8 computer to help people get to use it properly

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