What is going on with Metro?

Published on 30th May, 2013 by Brad K

Recently, I have come across a very interesting report provided by Soluto. You can read it here. The most interesting part of the report to me is:
Among desktop and laptop users, 60% of users launch a Metro app less than once a day. This number significantly improves with tablets, but still 44% of Windows 8 tablet users launch a Metro app less than once a day.
This of course is just a little bit of the data from the report. I suggest you read the entire report, there is a lot of interesting data there. In some ways I am sort of shocked at how low metro app usage is but at the same time is this really surprising? Microsoft, per usual, seems very confused about how to transition to the future. As more and more applications move to cloud services, desktops are becoming more and more irrelevant for your average users. The big two OS developers (Microsoft & Apple) understand this. What I find most interesting is how both companies are approaching this trend from completely different angles. The cloud is slowly but surely making operating systems irrelevant and at the same time software licenses and hardware refreshes. How many have you noticed the trend that the hardware refresh cycle is getting longer and longer. This is all revenue I am sure Microsoft has counted on in the past. In my business, we went from mostly a 3 year refresh cycle with our clients all the way up to 5 years. People simply aren't running much software on their desktops anymore. So then how are the two companies are approaching the problem? What Microsoft is trying to do with Metro is start a revolution. Forcing an interface most people aren't sure they want and making it damn hard to switch back to what they know. This is a stark contrast to how Apple is approaching the problem. Apple's approach has become apparent to me in the last two releases of OS X. Applications have been added to OS X that started out on iOS and a lot of the UI elements have started to be brought across. Think of apps like Launchpad and iMessage. Microsoft could learn a lot from Apple in this regard. Apple's is slowly transitioning to a metro style, unified interface and in the next 2 - 5 years I wouldn't be surprised if iOS and OS X are one in the same. Apple realizes doing this in one shot would alienate their users that rely on a desktop environment and for the past 2 or 3 years have been slowly merging these two platforms. This is an evolutionary approach to the problem. Besides the revolution vs evolution strategies, Metro also faces the same problem that the Android platform is facing. Apple's developer ecosystem is top notch. Almost every application is written on iOS first and then they port them to the other platforms. For instance, every major mobile competitor makes apps for iOS. Apple doesn't make a single app for any other mobile platform. To me, the main issue with Metro is that change is always traumatic for users. Especially when it comes to business clients, big or small. A switch to Windows 8 means a lot of retraining and hand holding for very little benefit. The Windows 8 release gives me deja vu, reminding me of something called Windows Vista. Most businesses didn't switch to Vista simply because there was not enough reason to switch from XP. By the time Vista rolled out, XP was stable and well entrenched. There was no additional benefit for the businesses to upgrade. Windows Blue is just going to be more of the same old Metro mess, just with a little different face.

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