Many of the extended screen designs rely on left-to-right scrolling because people with tablets are accustomed to swiping their fingers from right to left in a "turn the page" gesture. For example, you browse the new Microsoft Market (which opened yesterday) in this manner. With a touchscreen, this is easy, but with a mouse, it isn't comfortable at all. You scroll from top to bottom with a mouse, not side to side.
These are fundamental UI problems. Everyone knew it would be a tall order to combine Metro with the Windows desktop in an elegant way. What I've seen so far is barely usable.
I've often said that every other Windows version has to take a bullet for the next release: Windows Me before XP, Windows Vista before Windows 7, and now Windows 8 before Windows 9. But I'm not sure Microsoft can afford another Vista.
How Microsoft can rescue the situation
Here's what I'd like to see Microsoft do with Windows 8: Release it as a tablet-only OS. Continue to offer Windows 7 for desktop deployments or offer a Windows 8 desktop version (with a Start menu) that allows you to turn off the Metro UI and stick with a traditional Windows 7 look.
It's not like this would hurt Microsoft sales in any way. What difference does it make if Microsoft sells Windows 7 or 8 for the desktop? The phone and tablet market is where Microsoft really needs to catch up.
Another approach would be to incorporate the best aspects of the tablet UI into the desktop, without pushing Metro in the user's face. Let users opt into tablet UI elements or touch elements as they like. It doesn't make sense to put the tablet design in the foreground if you're not using a tablet.
Windows 8 Consumer Preview is more than a disappointment -- it creates a serious situation for Microsoft. I've been so loyal to Microsoft over the years that I regularly receive nasty comments from readers accusing me of being paid by Redmond. So when I'm unhappy and willing to say it, it's time for 'Softies to listen.
There's still time between now and the RTM of Windows 8. Will anything really change between now and then? It had better.
This story, "Windows 8 Consumer Preview: 'Windows Frankenstein'," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.