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9:12AM

Goodbye Windows Aero?

Microsoft wants to replace the ‘glass’ effect used in title bars and windows borders in Vista and Windows-7 with white.

The new UI looks like day One of writing a new UI when the programmers get the OS to draw a rectangle with a default background and some controls on. Only this time they called it a day and went for pizza.

The stated reason for this is that aero is now ‘cheesy’ – after  6 years of the windows 95 UI, and 8 years of the XP UI, the sudden rush to kill off Microsoft’s best looking UI is a little strange.

However, Paul Thurrot explains that it’s a this is what I’m interpreting as a twofold lie.

  1. The blank, flat UI uses less power to render, therefore increasing the battery life of tablet devices.
  2. It thematically integrates into the flat and kind of ugly Metro UI used elsewhere on Windows 8, which gets suddenly dropped by the much more pleasant looking desktop.

As a side note, I suspect the desktop exists in it’s current form because the Microsoft Office team insisted that the tablet experience included Office, but were unwilling to create a thematically consistent UI for Office – It’ll be available for ARM tablets but will use a UI that you won’t be able to comfortably access with your fingers, suggesting that the Office branch of Microsoft still expect people to carry a mouse and a keyboard around with their tablet, or at the very least, a stylus…

The main problem is that MS seems to have decided that the absolute best thing to do is homogenise the Windows experience on all platforms, so that for desktop users, the actual desktop will not have Aero, it’ll have the new ugly, badly designed UI to match the tablet and netbook experience, but without the option to revert to Aero if you choose.

This is the sticky wicket – If the flat UI was the default but Aero was an option this would not be a problem. As it stands right now, Windows has three  different UI schemes:

  1. Classic
    AKA Windows 95 style. This is a little unfair as it’s actually been updated with each release of Windows, and is still the most customisable, so it’s often used for high contrast colour schemes for the visually impaired, as well as for businesses who assume that once their staff learned to use a program using one UI they are somehow blocked form using an app that is the same but has a different colour title bar.
  2. Basic
    The nice powder blue UI you get when windows freaks out and decides your graphics card can’t handle Aero. This is actually the non-hardware acellerated UI that ship with Vista and Win 7.
  3. Aero
    Aero without transparency and with transparency (Aero Glass). Without you get a solid colour base that you can alter the hue and saturation of, which has some diagonal gradients to indicate abstract reflection. Enabling transparency adds in the familiar blurred glass effect.

The point of Aero Glass is that it makes your wallpaper become the wallpaper of your taskbar and title-bars, giving you some pleasant colour – And indeed, in Windows 8, the glass colour can be set to automatically change to match your wallpaper as it goes through a slideshow routine.

This is a pleasing and user friendly approach to decoration.

Would it be so hard to just declare that in Windows 8, the ugly, user unfriendly Metro UI is replacing Windows Basic, and will be enabled by default on ARM and tablet machines, but can be switched for the other UI schemes at the user’s discretion?

Look for a redaction of Microsoft’s fiat declaration as more people complain about losing Aero.

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    Information and Art - Journal - Goodbye Windows Aero?
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    Information and Art - Journal - Goodbye Windows Aero?
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    Information and Art - Journal - Goodbye Windows Aero?
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