Now Microsoft's annual Build conference (formerly known as PDC) has arrived and with it the Windows 8 Developer Preview, answering many -- though not all -- of our questions. The trouble is, with all the hype that's flying around, it's hard to grasp what we're really being told.
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The biggest news for developers is surely Metro, a new, pared-down UI that Windows 8 borrows from Windows Phone 7. Metro is optimized for touchscreens and for running simple apps in what Microsoft calls a "fast and fluid" way. Gone are the traditional Windows desktop menus and controls, replaced by simple tiles and gestures.
Metro is the first thing you see when you boot a Windows 8 PC, and my initial reaction to it was similar to that of several of my friends and colleagues: I hated it. Scratch that -- I abhorred it.
But I kept using it anyway, and as I did, I began thinking about where Metro fits into the overall Windows 8 user experience and into Microsoft's platform strategy as a whole. And wouldn't you know it, some things started clicking. I'm not going to say I like Metro yet, but I've begun to realize its true value and potential -- though it might not be what you think.
The Windows 8 Metro "desktop" is the new Start screen.
Metro: Start here
So what is Metro, anyway? Simply put, in the context of the traditional Windows desktop experience, it's your Start menu.