Microsoft ushered in a new era of Windows computing this week but still pledged its allegiance to Windows desktop applications.
Microsoft unveiled its Metro style user interface inside Windows 8 this week at the company’s BUILD conference. The new interface will support a new type of Metro application and will fall back to the standard Windows desktop for legacy Windows apps. Despite the introduction of new Metro apps, the company still feels that the keyboard and mouse combination is far from being dead. Julie Larson-Green, corporate vice president of program management for Windows, compared the mouse and keyboard to a surgeons tools during a Q&A session with journalists earlier this week. Larson-Green said there is no timeline in mind for when Microsoft will stop supporting desktop applications.
“As long as you need the high precision of using a mouse, that’s a lot more precise than using a finger, there’s always going to be applications,” said Larson-Green when questioned on Microsoft’s desktop application support. “Just like a surgeon has different kinds of knifes for different kinds of cutting things, you should have different kinds of tools depending on what you’re trying to get done. I think the mouse is around,” she added. Steven Sinofsky, head of Microsoft’s Windows and Windows Live Division, claims that desktop apps will “absolutely” always be a part of Windows:
“The reason we made the bet that we did, the bold bet on saying ‘hey we should build on windows’, is because we looked around and we just don’t see these apps being replaced by something else. The technology that is there is not an accident. People had problems to solve and they developed tools to solve those problems, other tools come along and they don’t necessarily solve the same problem. In this case you can imagine just taking precision typing and precision pointing – as screens get bigger and bigger and bigger and pixels get denser and denser and denser, mouse and pointing devices only become more important not less if you take advantage of all of that. So your finger with the resolution of say 40 DPI compares today to amounts of 1200 DPI. Mice is like lasers that stuff so they’re going to get way more precise and your finger is only a few million years of evolution and it’s going to take millions of more before it becomes that precise.”
Microsoft’s persistence on keeping the Windows desktop but opening it up to a new world of Metro applications designed for touch and other new devices will be the key selling point for Windows 8. Businesses and consumers both have existing legacy applications that will need to have a Metro counterpart to work in the new Windows 8 world. There’s still a number of scenarios, like Photoshop or Excel, where precision computing and mouse and keyboard input are the best ways to achieve a solid and accurate output. Microsoft isn’t ditching these kind of applications anytime soon, it’s just preparing for a new generation.