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September 15, 2011 5:17 PM   Subscribe

Microsoft announced today that Internet Explorer 10, part of Windows 8 and a massive UI and structural redesign, will come in two flavors: a desktop app that will continue "to fully support all plug-ins and extensions, " and the flagship version intended for touchscreen devices called Metro, which will be as "HTML5-only as possible, and plug-in free". Specifically, Metro won't support Adobe Flash.

More from Microsoft's blog announcement:
The reality today is that sites are already rapidly engineering for a plug-in free experience. Google, for example, recently launched their HTML5 YouTube site for phones. A previous IE blog post discussed how plug-in free sites are becoming more mainstream, and what sites can do to run plug-in free. We examined the use of plug-ins across the top 97,000 sites world-wide, a corpus which includes local sites outside the US in significant depth. Many of the 62% of these sites that currently use Adobe Flash already fall back to HTML5 video in the absence of plug-in support. When serving ads in the absence of plug-ins, most sites already perform the equivalent of this fallback, showing that this approach is practical and scalable. There’s a steep drop-off in plug-in usage after Flash, with one control used on 2% of sites and a small collection of controls used on between 0.5% and 0.75% of sites.

On Windows 8, consumer sites and “line of business” applications that require legacy ActiveX controls will continue to run in the desktop browser, and people can tap “Use Desktop View” in Metro style IE for these sites. For what these sites do, the power of HTML5 makes more sense, especially in Windows 8 apps.

Plug-in free browsers today already deliver great experiences with well-authored HTML5 content. These experiences get even better with touch in Metro style IE.
This announcement follows an open letter posted by Steve Jobs to the Apple website, dated April 2010, explaining why the iPad and iPhone lines would never support Flash (previously).
posted by 2bucksplus (157 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
How will I install Adblock+ ?
posted by mikelieman at 5:19 PM on September 15, 2011 [12 favorites]


Everything I've seen about Windows 8 has convinced me of one thing: I need to get comfortable using either OSX or Linux, and I need to do it soon.

Although from what I hear about Lion, I should probably just cut that down to Linux.

Hey developers, stop crippling our next-generation PCs with tablet-hobbled interfaces!
posted by Mitrovarr at 5:23 PM on September 15, 2011 [20 favorites]


Everything I've seen about Windows 8 has convinced me of one thing: I need to get comfortable using either OSX or Linux.

Or just not upgrade?
posted by smithsmith at 5:25 PM on September 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


Linux isn't immune. Ubuntu went all tabletly with their new Unity interface, and Gnome 3 is also going down that road. Of course, the cool thing about Linux is you can change the UI fairly easily.

I'm sticking with Ubuntu 10.04. It works, I don't see any reason to upgrade.
posted by COD at 5:27 PM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Although from what I hear about Lion, I should probably just cut that down to Linux.

I haven't used Lion yet, but from what I know about it it's got all the same functionality as Snow Leopard with extra things added on.

What have you heard?

Regarding the FPP, it's interesting that Flash is running out of time on a wide scale. Overall, I'm okay with that. I've never really liked the proprietary "you must have this" nature of a lot of websites, even if the plug-in is free. I got even less okay with it once I learned about flash cookies and their ability to track activity.
posted by hippybear at 5:29 PM on September 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


Interesting. Seems like IE 10 Metro will not run Silverlight either, so MS is hobbling their own plugin. I know they are supporting XAML for Metro style apps so all the time I have wasted on XAML may be useful one day.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:30 PM on September 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


smithsmith: Or just not upgrade?

Realistically, stuff stops being usable eventually, from lack of updates. I'm hoping that after Lion and Windows 8 are rejected by their respective userbases, developers will re-learn the lesson they had to learn to make successful smartphones and tablets; PCs are not the same as smartphones or tablets, and any interface that is good on one is bound to be crap on the other.

Honestly, what's with the whole tablet craze? The entire reason the iPad succeeded where earlier tablets have failed is because it didn't try to copy the PC interface. Did nobody learn anything?
posted by Mitrovarr at 5:30 PM on September 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


The entire reason the iPad succeeded where earlier tablets

They succeeded partially because of form factor. Earlier tablets were gigantic, several inches thick, they were not much more than gimmicks.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:33 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey developers, stop crippling our next-generation PCs with tablet-hobbled interfaces!

The Desktop IE is not going to be limited like this. All the plugins you want. It's the Metro version that'll be plugin-less.

In other words, there'll be two IEs. You know how Apple has iOS Safari, and Mac Safari, and they're the same rendering engine, but behave differently in important ways? Same principle.
posted by Tomorrowful at 5:34 PM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]




Tomorrowful: The Desktop IE is not going to be limited like this. All the plugins you want. It's the Metro version that'll be plugin-less.

In other words, there'll be two IEs. You know how Apple has iOS Safari, and Mac Safari, and they're the same rendering engine, but behave differently in important ways? Same principle.


As long as IE 10 can download Firefox, I don't care what else it does. I was mostly complaining about Windows 8 interface being the world's largest and ugliest iPhone.
posted by Mitrovarr at 5:36 PM on September 15, 2011


Adobe has done very little to address the problems Steve Jobs identified so long ago, particularly with respect to the performance and usability of Flash on touch devices. If they are making HTML5 development tools, it seems like they even see the writing on the wall.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:37 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Everything I've seen about Windows 8 has convinced me of one thing: I need to get comfortable using either OSX or Linux …"

Remember how when Apple left flash out of iOS, everyone (except those dismissed as "Apple shills" or "fanboys") said it was a sign of them locking out programmers & ignoring users wants?

Remember how when Apple incorporated UI elements from iOS into Lion, the Windows brigade said it was a sign of them dumbing-down computers and that real computers soon be replaced by computer-sized devices running iOS?

Remember all that being propagated around the 'net as gospel, despite Apple saying that wasn't on the cards?

Yeah, I'm laughing about that right now… ;-)
posted by Pinback at 5:37 PM on September 15, 2011 [11 favorites]


What a tragedy that Metro users won't know the joys of loud animated ads, battery life reduced by 60%, and a casing hot enough to cook steaks on.
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:38 PM on September 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


Lion is fine, just a couple of minor tweaks away from a great linux-based os. The iOS stuff is easily fixed.
posted by Huck500 at 5:39 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think with Adobe's announcement a few days ago of Flash Media Server they know the writing is on the wall for Flash (at least video) on tablets/phones. If Adobe can't get Flash to run well on Android devices, they might as well shut off the lights and go home. It seemed Google was ready to let go of Flash in Chrome a while back but then decided later to let it live.

I use the Skyfire app for the occasional need to see a flash video like the Daily Show or whatever on my iPhone. Other than that, I haven't missed flash. The way Flash can often peg my CPU on my MacBookPro, I wouldn't mind not having it there either. Would I miss MeFi Flash Fridays? No. I don't click on them now.

Sites like that new Boston Globe site and the Google Music web app that works just like a native app on iOS are good proofs Flash isn't really necessary. Adobe has to be shitting its pants. Of course not publicly, but internally, they got to keep that cash cow alive as long as they can.
posted by birdherder at 5:39 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Microsoft isn't the kind of company to make grand principles-based statements like "Modern apps will never support Flash". If there's enough demand for it, a future version of the Metro browser might still change that. Modern apps can only access a subset of the Win32 API, so there are real practical limitations on porting existing browser extensions -- whether developed at Microsoft or elsewhere.

Disclaimer: I work at the b0rg but don't remote speak for it.
posted by Slothrup at 5:40 PM on September 15, 2011


This is what scares me..

HTML5-only as possible

What does "as possible" mean, and what kind of jury rigged craziness will web developers have to wrestle with to make the non HTML5 stuff work. I'm already losing sleep.
posted by tittergrrl at 5:40 PM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think you'll find that people are complaining that the metro interface and lack of flash are bad things.

I think sometimes the respective fanboys forget that opinion on the other side can be divided.
posted by seanyboy at 5:41 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


In the future children will line up to smudge the dim screen of your 12 year old laptop with their grimy little fingers, laughing in disbelief at a screen that doesn't serve as a input device, not because it is broken but by design.
posted by 2bucksplus at 5:42 PM on September 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


Nah, Adobe can figure out a way to make flash studio or whatever it is called emit SVG and javascript or whatever they need to run without a plugin. They will be fine.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:42 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


What does "as possible" mean, and what kind of jury rigged craziness will web developers have to wrestle with to make the non HTML5 stuff work. I'm already losing sleep.

I think it means exactly what you're afraid it means. They'll be totally standards compliant except when they aren't. Which means what works on Safari/Chrome/Firefox may need tweaked to run on IE10.
posted by birdherder at 5:42 PM on September 15, 2011


Also - Windows 8 will still have a desktop. Like OSX still has a desktop. I know it's fun for us to take pot shots at each other, but lets at least temper our disgust with facts.
posted by seanyboy at 5:43 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Mitrovarr: "Hey developers, stop crippling our next-generation PCs with tablet-hobbled interfaces!"

The people at GNOME and Ubuntu seem to think otherwise. It's depressing.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:44 PM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Which means what works on Safari/Chrome/Firefox may need tweaked to run on IE10.
posted by birdherder at 1:42 AM on September 16 [+] [!]


Isn't it standard now to have browser specific css tags start with a "-" and the name of the browser engine?

I don't think this will be the problem people think it will be.
posted by seanyboy at 5:45 PM on September 15, 2011


I'm going to paraphrase this conversation for you:

"Get off my lawn. And by lawn, I mean desktop."
posted by seanyboy at 5:46 PM on September 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


Speaking as a Mac guy by choice (switched half a decade ago because it presented itself as a better choice to someone who Is Good At Computers), I'm pretty excited about Metro. It looks really cool and interesting.

My main fear is that it will get BOBed by people who just absolutely insist on remaining with the Desktop interface, the way that people move to foreign countries just to spend all their time with other expatriates, and that people will complain that Windows 8 doesn't work well on their tablet computers because they insist on forcing it to run Desktop mode all the time instead of the new, well-designed interface.

Perhaps they should have just made Metro the v1.0 of something big and new, and kept Windows Classic as a sort of backward-compatible thing for big companies or something. The people who are deeply invested in No Change.
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:46 PM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


The idea with Unity et al. is that if you want a desktop on which you can drag icons around, you use the dashboard. You can put regular icons there if you want. There are even old skool hierarchical menu widgets.
posted by LogicalDash at 5:47 PM on September 15, 2011


In the future children will line up to smudge the dim screen of your 12 year old laptop with their grimy little fingers, laughing in disbelief at a screen that doesn't serve as a input device, not because it is broken but by design.

People in the future don't type anything?
posted by kmz at 5:52 PM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Not to derail on Ubuntunity too much further, but I'm with COD. Ubuntu 10.04 LTS is where I stayed. Every so often I forget and liveboot 11 and say, "Oh FFS, that's right, this is completely fucking broken."

It's too smart for me or I'm too dumb for it. At least I can find the reboot button, that's about it though.
posted by Edogy at 5:54 PM on September 15, 2011


People in the future don't type anything?

They will also pick up the mouse and say "hello, computer" into it.
posted by Phssthpok at 5:54 PM on September 15, 2011 [30 favorites]


What does "as possible" mean, and what kind of jury rigged craziness will web developers have to wrestle with to make the non HTML5 stuff work. I'm already losing sleep.

I think it means exactly what you're afraid it means. They'll be totally standards compliant except when they aren't. Which means what works on Safari/Chrome/Firefox may need tweaked to run on IE10.


Any particular basis for these claims? I'm a guy who has strong sympathies towards open source that has to keep up with MS because of his day job, and nothing I've read suggests that IE10 is for some reason going to be less standards-compliant than the excellent IE9.
posted by Jpfed at 5:54 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Unity is that bad, huh? Hmm... Maybe it's time to look into Xfce or KDE again.
posted by kmz at 5:55 PM on September 15, 2011


So does this mean that Silverlight is dead?
posted by humanfont at 5:56 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ok Win8 haters (h8ters?), face it. You're going to do the same thing you did when you cried about Win7, if you were forced to use it. You turned off all the bullshit, and downloaded a better browser.
  • Metro can be turned off with a registry setting.
  • IE will still be the best way to download Chrome.
  • You'll get used to the Explorer ribbon.
I did all these things with the developer preview, and life is good.

Babies.
posted by hanoixan at 5:56 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


unity is a goddamned command line with graphics on

what is wrong with you
posted by LogicalDash at 5:57 PM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I predict Metro on the PC will go over about as well as Windows Media Center.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:58 PM on September 15, 2011


(I take back the babies part--your crying is warranted, as being abused by UI designers is still abuse)
posted by hanoixan at 5:59 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


DoctorFedora: My main fear is that it will get BOBed by people who just absolutely insist on remaining with the Desktop interface, the way that people move to foreign countries just to spend all their time with other expatriates, and that people will complain that Windows 8 doesn't work well on their tablet computers because they insist on forcing it to run Desktop mode all the time instead of the new, well-designed interface.

I did consider that my disgust at Windows 8 might be a fear-of-change thing, but I like to think I have a real basis behind it. The problem is, the Metro interface is a tablet interface. PCs are not tablets. Tablet interfaces are designed for touchscreens, and small screen sizes; this leads you to things like multitouch gestures, big icons, and one app/screen. All of those work horribly on the PC. Mice are way faster than touchscreens and result in far less fatigue, so multitouch is out. I use a magic mouse at work and I don't like it at all (I'd rather have a fast, intuitive scroll wheel than slow, careful finger-dragging). Metro wastes screen space like a champ and has huge icons and big text that might work great on a phone but looks idiotic on a 24" monitor.
posted by Mitrovarr at 5:59 PM on September 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


"I think you'll find that people are complaining that the metro interface and lack of flash are bad things."

My point was that when people made up rumours about Apple doing it, the prevailing opinion was "Apple Evil!"

Now that Microsoft have demonstrated they want to head down that path, it's split between "nah, we don't like that" and "Cool!"
posted by Pinback at 6:00 PM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


So does this mean that Silverlight is dead?

The very question I want answered. I suppose it will limp along as a plugin for Windows 8 Desktop for a while, the best possible outcome I can hope for is that Silverlight will run native on Windows 8 Metro, even sell silverlight apps in Windows 8 store.

You guys getting the pitchforks ready about standards should go have a talk with Google, they want to push our beloved javascript off a cliff.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:02 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


But that's only because Microsoft isn't relevant enough to be Cool To Not Like Because They're The Popular Thing. It's not rocket surgery.
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:03 PM on September 15, 2011


(to Pinback)
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:03 PM on September 15, 2011


I still haven't gotten the damn preview running, I somehow ran out of space downloading the ISO then got sidetracked.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:06 PM on September 15, 2011


Lion is fine, just a couple of minor tweaks away from a great linux-based os.

BSD based.

----

On the windows 8 stuff, everything I've seen about it so far, I like. Windows 7 seemed so half-assed and half thought out. Windows 8 actually seems like they're starting from scratch and it actually seems to have some innovative and gutsy ideas -- they aren't just copying apple.
posted by empath at 6:08 PM on September 15, 2011


Despite provocative article titles on every page-view whoring tech news site imaginable, I don't see how this is like the Apple situation, where Jobs all but accused Flash of eating live kittens. The Metro version of IE is basically a home screen widget version of a browser. And no, you wouldn't want any plugins running in your home screen widgets for all of the obvious reasons. You'll still have the regular version of IE where you can run whatever security nightmare plugins you want.

I'm not sure why this story has gotten such legs, especially since most articles seem to be spinning this as somehow legitimizing Apple's stance on Flash.
posted by JaredSeth at 6:10 PM on September 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


Don't worry, all your favorite Internet ads will now be done in standards-compliant html5, css3, and jquery. You haven't punched monkey until you've punched a canvas monkey!
posted by condour75 at 6:11 PM on September 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


In the future children will line up to smudge the dim screen of your 12 year old laptop with their grimy little fingers,

What do you mean 'in the future'? My 4 year old already does this when forced to use his Ubuntu laptop instead of my iPhone.
posted by signal at 6:11 PM on September 15, 2011


People in the future don't type anything?

There are a lot of activities we do (like magnifying pictures or just moving things around on the screen) that a keyboard is not well suited for.

There are other things (like typing comments on Metafilter) that a keyboard is exactly the right tool for.

In short, touch screens and keyboards can complement each other very well. The mouse may stick around, but particularly on laptops I could see them fading into history.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:12 PM on September 15, 2011


Unity may be more tablet-y, but they made sure it was still reasonable to use as a desktop. It's nowhere near as horrid as Gnome 3, which seems to have adopted "why do anything with one click when you can have three?" as a motto.

I do dislike the "here are little pictures of your windows" thing both desktops do, though. News flash: all of my windows look pretty much the same. They're windows. Title text (a la the taskbar, which both desktops got rid of because "no one needs the taskbar") is a far better way to distinguish multiple windows than graphics.
posted by vorfeed at 6:12 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the Metro UI is pretty nifty. *shrug*
posted by andreaazure at 6:13 PM on September 15, 2011


empath: On the windows 8 stuff, everything I've seen about it so far, I like. Windows 7 seemed so half-assed and half thought out.

You didn't like windows 7? I thought it was great - it was basically an updated, more secure, and better looking windows XP, which is what everyone wanted. Or a debugged and accelerated windows vista. I really liked it, and I hated vista, so I don't necessarily like everything Microsoft makes.
posted by Mitrovarr at 6:13 PM on September 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


What does "as possible" mean, and what kind of jury rigged craziness will web developers have to wrestle with to make the non HTML5 stuff work. I'm already losing sleep.

HTML5 is a whole mess of standards in varying degrees of completeness. I believe the design philosophy (other than trying to replicate where Firefox and Chrome were in terms of standards-compliance years ago) in IE9 and beyond is to incorporate anything that is finished, and not mess much with things that are not quite finished yet.

Though the phrasing sucks and easily leads into other, more sinister interpretations, which are (of course) wholly unfounded because it's not as if Microsoft has a history of just making shit up and ruining it for everybody when in comes to browser interpretation of standards.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 6:14 PM on September 15, 2011


You'll get used to the Explorer ribbon
I've pencilled this in to just after I get used to being punched in the dick. I thought I'd try a more pleasant experience tackling the ribbon.
posted by fullerine at 6:18 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


*before
my fear of The Ribbon is affecting my typing
posted by fullerine at 6:19 PM on September 15, 2011


Who said anything about Silverlight being a plugin? Within Windows, wouldn't it be a system component available to IE10 just as it would be to Outlook, Office, media players and any other app?
posted by ardgedee at 6:20 PM on September 15, 2011


You didn't like windows 7? I thought it was great - it was basically an updated, more secure, and better looking windows XP, which is what everyone wanted. Or a debugged and accelerated windows vista. I really liked it, and I hated vista, so I don't necessarily like everything Microsoft makes.

I didn't touch vista, and i would never have used 7 if i wasn't forced to by work. Windows in general just makes me itch.
posted by empath at 6:24 PM on September 15, 2011


Windows 7 seemed so half-assed and half thought out.

In terms of what? I run that and OSX 10.6 and work on Ubuntu some. Windows 7 feels like the natural successor to XP; it was pretty much seamless for me (skipped Vista). I would also point out in re:

I need to get comfortable using either OSX or Linux, and I need to do it soon

Really? MS sunsets operating systems after like 10 years. So you could basically skip 4 major versions and still have app support for most anything. Plus they're starting to offer built-in VMs of older OS versions, so you can run old apps or whatever.
posted by yerfatma at 6:25 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


What's with the Ribbon hate? This really IS just a matter of people who learned stuff that was kind of difficult back in the past being full of fear of the new and unknown, isn't it.

The Ribbon is clever and works well. It's like the CVT of computer interfaces. Once you get over the fact that you won't need to push the clutch down just so like you've learned to in twenty years of driving a Geo, it's pretty well thought out.
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:25 PM on September 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


Who said anything about Silverlight being a plugin?

That is a good thought, but it is currently implemented as a plugin, to make it available to Firefox and Chrome. There is an Out Of Browser mode that runs in a stripped down version of IE. Would be kind of neat as an OLE object, then I could drop silverlght into PowerPoint!
posted by Ad hominem at 6:28 PM on September 15, 2011


Everything I've seen about Windows 8 has convinced me of one thing: I need to get comfortable using either OSX or Linux, and I need to do it soon.
Really? Everything I've heard is that it's basically Windows 7 with some goofball tablet/browser 'experience' tacked on in a really clunky and non-integrated way.

Anyway, Ubuntu 11 with the Unity interface is actually pretty nice.
Remember all that being propagated around the 'net as gospel, despite Apple saying that wasn't on the cards?

Yeah, I'm laughing about that right now… ;-)
The fact that someone doesn't like Apple doesn't mean they love Microsoft. Frankly, Microsoft is mostly irrelevant these days.

----

So what's the deal with Microsoft supporting WebGL? Last I heard they weren't doing it, but now that they're dropping silverlight did that change? They resisted adding the canvas tag forever.
The idea with Unity et al. is that if you want a desktop on which you can drag icons around, you use the dashboard. You can put regular icons there if you want. There are even old skool hierarchical menu widgets.
You can't even right click though, which really boggled my mind. Also, Ubuntu 11 will run fine without unity. When I installed in a VM it said it didn't have the performance needed to run unity, I guess because I hadn't enabled virtualization or something. It has a simpler menu based system which I guess was used in previous versions.
Windows in general just makes me itch.
You know there are people who feel the same way about OSX, right? They just don't want to use something they don't already know.
posted by delmoi at 6:29 PM on September 15, 2011


I'm sticking with Ubuntu 10.04. It works, I don't see any reason to upgrade.

I'm on Ubuntu 10.04 at home, but it's getting long in the tooth (i.e. missing some newer versions of stuff). At work, I upgraded. To Debian. Soooo much better.
posted by DU at 6:31 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


"The problem is, the Metro interface is a tablet interface."

But...you don't have to use the Metro interface on a PC. You can just use the Windows desktop. Am I wrong about that (I don't have a spare box to try the Win8 preview on)? I thought on a PC Metro was more of a pumped up Start menu.
posted by MikeMc at 6:32 PM on September 15, 2011


Metro is meant as a computer interface too. It won't work as well as it does on a tablet, which is okay, because personal computers (as contrasted with Personal Computers, with "PC" meaning "not Apple") are generally moving in the direction of tablets. Take a look at the iPad sales numbers sometime and try to convince yourself that Microsoft doesn't want a cut of that.
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:34 PM on September 15, 2011


You guys getting the pitchforks ready about standards should go have a talk with Google, they want to push our beloved javascript off a cliff.

The memo was very explicit that Google was going to push for the evolution of JS and develop Dart simultaneously. Google isn't interested in harming JS; they're just pessimistic about its prospects. They acknowledge that Dart might not be adopted by anyone else, and to that end they are also working with standards bodies on improving JS. None of this qualifies as "push[ing] our beloved javascript off a cliff."

/derail
posted by Jpfed at 6:36 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


The release of Win8 like this is a PR coup for MS.

They have just undermined the Android tablet market even further.
posted by sien at 6:36 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Frankly, Microsoft is mostly irrelevant these days. "

That's a bit much wouldn't you say? Almost half a billion Win7 installs, X-Box 360, hell even Apple's iCloud is going to run on Microsoft's Azure platform (at least the part that Amazon isn't handling).
posted by MikeMc at 6:38 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


DoctorFedora: It won't work as well as it does on a tablet, which is okay, because personal computers (as contrasted with Personal Computers, with "PC" meaning "not Apple") are generally moving in the direction of tablets.

While not inaccurate, I consider that trend to be a cancer on the face of computing, and generally would like to fight it tooth and nail. I need to be able to do real work on computers, and tablets are useless for real work, so any progress in that direction is a bad thing.
posted by Mitrovarr at 6:39 PM on September 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


In the future children will line up to smudge the dim screen of your 12 year old laptop with their grimy little fingers, laughing in disbelief at a screen that doesn't serve as a input device, not because it is broken but by design.

In the future? My son already does this to my laptop, in frustration.
posted by Jimbob at 6:40 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure which of the two groups I fall into, the old dogs or the fan boys. Neither one has an option for having a genuine opinion that matters. Old dog I guess.
posted by nervousfritz at 6:43 PM on September 15, 2011


they want to push our beloved javascript off a cliff.

beloved? beloved?? Are you serious? By people who have never used anything else, maybe.
posted by Mars Saxman at 6:45 PM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Mitrovarr: "DoctorFedora: It won't work as well as it does on a tablet, which is okay, because personal computers (as contrasted with Personal Computers, with "PC" meaning "not Apple") are generally moving in the direction of tablets.

While not inaccurate, I consider that trend to be a cancer on the face of computing, and generally would like to fight it tooth and nail. I need to be able to do real work on computers, and tablets are useless for real work, so any progress in that direction is a bad thing
"

How do you define "real work," and how would that be inherently prevented from being done by having a computer built around a touch-based interface?

I've honestly yet to be convinced that most of the people who are opposed to, say, Metro or no Flash or the friggin' Ribbon aren't just afraid of things that aren't familiar, even if they're potentially actually better.
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:46 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


You heard it hear first, but soon the Flash lovers will be claiming they hated it all along and that it was Windows that killed it.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:47 PM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Lion took a bit of getting used to, but wheee it's so zoomy. Swish I'm on a new desktop, swoosh I'm moving through web pages, boom I can zoom in. Maybe it's not for everybody. But I'm having fun.
posted by fungible at 6:47 PM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


And what reason is there to believe that the trend toward tablets for PERSONAL COMPUTING (i.e. in the sense of a computer that is used by a person, for personal things, and thus by definition NOT A WORK COMPUTER) would cause a detrimental effect on workstations? There's gonna be a big market for that stuff in perpetuity anyway.
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:47 PM on September 15, 2011


What's with the Ribbon hate? This really IS just a matter of people who learned stuff that was kind of difficult back in the past being full of fear of the new and unknown, isn't it.
I've been learning GUIs for a couple of decades now and The Ribbon makes me yearn for the days of tiny pictures of a Teletype or some shit.

"We've made 76% of all possible commands into massive fucking buttons. That's much better, right?"

No, no it's not.
posted by fullerine at 6:48 PM on September 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


What's so much better about hidden items in menus? You can still use keyboard shortcuts for Ribbon stuff. It's just laid out in a manner that's easier to find.

I've still yet to hear a compelling argument here that doesn't boil down to GRAR IT IS NEW AND DIFFERENT AND SCARY ± GRAR
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:50 PM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


I bet you guys will never find the forks and spoons in my kitchen. They're hidden, in a place you'd never guess to look for them.

Just kidding, I keep all the utensils distributed across the countertops.
posted by nervousfritz at 6:53 PM on September 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


The Ribbon is clever and works well. It's like the CVT of computer interfaces.

I do not think that your analogy means what you think it does. Virtually no one likes CVTs.
posted by pmurray63 at 6:54 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


The release of Win8 like this is a PR coup for MS.

They have just undermined the Android tablet market even further.


I'm definitely waiting for Win8 tablets before I decide if I want to pick up a tablet. I was messing around with a friend's Acer Iconica and I'm honestly not impressed with Honeycomb and iOS doesn't allow direct access to the file system without jailbreaking (that's a deal breaker for me). Of course I may just end up saying "screw tablets" and buying an ultrabook.
posted by MikeMc at 6:56 PM on September 15, 2011


beloved? beloved?? Are you serious? By people who have never used anything else, maybe.

Well,it is MeFi's Own Javascript now so we have to at least be nice to it, I am referring to the sidebar.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:56 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


And again, why don't they like CVTs? They get better gas mileage and provide maximum torque at any given moment.

I feel like I'm coming off as deliberately contrarian just because I'm not afraid of redesigns of things that we're used to the brokenness of the old designs of.
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:56 PM on September 15, 2011


Will windows 8 still have the "Classic" theme so that I can make it look like Windows 95 with the blue title bar and the hard square buttons? It's the only thing that makes 7's GUI tolerable.
posted by octothorpe at 6:57 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've still yet to hear a compelling argument here that doesn't boil down to GRAR IT IS NEW AND DIFFERENT AND SCARY ± GRAR

But I can't find anything, all my tubes and wires, careful notes, antiquated notions... I really can't find anything GRAR Ribbon GRAR
posted by MikeMc at 6:57 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've still yet to hear a compelling argument here that doesn't boil down to GRAR IT IS NEW AND DIFFERENT AND SCARY ± GRAR

Muscle memory seems to be very, very strong. I've sometimes wondered if the current versions of operating systems are so hard to learn that some never ever want to have to learn a new or different way of doing things.

That said, it took me a while to get around ribboned Office apps. The part I liked least was how limited the customization options were. I guess that was to force people to deal with the ribbon, even though many workflows & trains of thought were built around the menu bar. The whole process seemed hamfisted to me. So I guess I have strong muscle memory too.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:01 PM on September 15, 2011


DoctorFedora: How do you define "real work," and how would that be inherently prevented from being done by having a computer built around a touch-based interface?

Real work = anything that requires significant input. Either significant, complex mouse movements, or lots of typing.

Why a touchscreen device is bad for real work:

Does it have a keyboard? You can't type quickly on a touchscreen, nor can you type while looking at anything else.

Does it have a mouse? Mice are significantly faster than touchscreens. Also, I can type with one hand while using a mouse with the other; I can't do that with a touchscreen (you need to make sweeping gestures, not small wrist movements).

If it has a keyboard and a mouse what does the touchscreen actually add to the equation?

Does it have a upright monitor? My arm is going to be awfully stiff at the end of the day, from holding it up the whole time.

Does it have a flat monitor? That's going to take a ton of desk space and it doesn't adapt itself well to an ergonomic viewing position.

Is the touchscreen large? If not, I won't be able to keep nearly as much on the screen as I do now. If so, then the large arm movements needed will be exhausting and cause repetitive stress issues.

There are many, many excellent reasons you can't do real work - at least not work involving heavy mouse or keyboard work - on a touchscreen. Or at least you can't do it quickly or comfortably.
posted by Mitrovarr at 7:02 PM on September 15, 2011 [12 favorites]


You heard it hear first, but soon the Flash lovers will be claiming they hated it all along and that it was Windows that killed it.

I don't think there are many Flash "lovers" out there. More like people who accept that Flash, at this time, is in such heavy use I would like to have a device that supports it.
posted by MikeMc at 7:03 PM on September 15, 2011


Microsoft is going to rise up in to reign supreme in the tablet kingdom!!!!
posted by AmandaDay at 7:03 PM on September 15, 2011


As for tablet OSes, the impression I got from iOS is that they were targeting an audience that doesn't necessarily deal well with traditional desktop systems. These are people who get lost installing applications, barely have a concept of filesystems, and just don't think that way. It has its drawbacks (lack of scalablity), but it does have a point in targeting new audiences, especially with the iPad.

Where Lion and Win8 seem to be going is leveraging one platform to build sales for another. Lion incorporates tablet/touch OS features to make Macs appealing to iPad owners, gambling that current Mac owners will just put up with the changes. Win8 seems to be building from Windows Phone work to jump start tablet sales and possibly desktop->handheld sales.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:07 PM on September 15, 2011


Mitrovarr, you've explained pretty well why you're going to be buying regular workstation computers for a long time. How does that in any way have anything to do with the fact that for everyday casual computer stuff, people seem to be fine with something that doesn't have the mouse, keyboard, and desk that, say, Facebook doesn't require? Consider what you're saying, and what I'm saying.
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:08 PM on September 15, 2011


Microsoft is going to rise up in to reign supreme in the tablet kingdom!!!!

I can see Win8 tablets going over well in the enterprise market "Compatible with all of your current systems unlike that colossal failure from RIM!"

I should work in advertising.
posted by MikeMc at 7:08 PM on September 15, 2011


Yes, Unity is dreadful muck. But you can upgrade to 11.04 or (next month) 11.10. At the login password screen, just select "Ubuntu Classic Desktop" at the bottom. You'll never have to deal with Unity pain.

(kmz, KDE Plasma is a visually dazzling disaster zone. Anyone fleeing Unity is going to be further annoyed by it. Xfce, on the other hand, is lightweight and non-bizarro. Two thumbs up.)
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 7:11 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


> it is currently implemented as a plugin, to make it available to Firefox and Chrome. There is an Out Of Browser mode that runs in a stripped down version of IE. Would be kind of neat as an OLE object, then I could drop silverlght into PowerPoint!

Another possibility is that it's not necessarily going to be a system component as a standalone object accessible through the Contracts model. (Which looks nifty, but what little I've read about it gives me flashbacks to OpenDoc)

Microsoft will continue to author plugin versions of Silverlight for Firefox and Safari support - if for no other reason than to extend Silverlight content viewership to Mac users and Firefox users; regardless of Microsoft's collective attitude regarding supporting other browsers, it's fully aware that it's got to do this in order to convince major media companies to use Silverlight and associated Microsoft technologies for web-hosted services. I honestly doubt that Silverlight is being sunsetted any time soon.

This might also be a hint to Adobe that things are changing: If Adobe wants Flash in the browser, it had better start boning up on on Contracts documentation.
posted by ardgedee at 7:14 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


DoctorFedora: Mitrovarr, you've explained pretty well why you're going to be buying regular workstation computers for a long time. How does that in any way have anything to do with the fact that for everyday casual computer stuff, people seem to be fine with something that doesn't have the mouse, keyboard, and desk that, say, Facebook doesn't require? Consider what you're saying, and what I'm saying.

I do, but think about where Microsoft makes their money. They need to not screw up the workstation interface, because that's the interface that all of their business clients use. The one that actually makes them money.

Also, I have no idea how anyone can stand posting on Facebook, etc. without a real keyboard. I get about 20 letters into typing on a touchpad before I start hunting around for a real computer.
posted by Mitrovarr at 7:15 PM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Does anybody do substantial Metafilter posting on touch-only devices? I mean something more than just a single-link/one liner type post or comment.
posted by kmz at 7:18 PM on September 15, 2011


Another possibility is that it's not necessarily going to be a system component as a standalone object accessible through the Contracts model.

That is a very cool idea. My company bought into silverlight hook line and sinker for LOB apps as it is C#+XAML so our existing devs were comfortable with it and it make web deployment super easy so we don't have to muck with deploying to desktops.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:20 PM on September 15, 2011


Color me skeptical about this notion that all screens will be touchscreens. There are actual reasons that interfaces like the mouse. keyboard and trackpad/nipple-thingy work well. Sitting with your hands on a keyboard/mouse and looking at a screen are very natural things. It requires very little movement of your big, heavy arms to use a mouse or keyboard. Even if your iPad is sitting flat on top of your desk, it takes a lot more movement to use the touchscreen than it does to use a mouse. As others have pointed out (obliquely), a keyboard also allows you to achieve very high speed input.

I think touch screens will be far more prevalent, and it's totally possible something will come along and complete replace mice and keyboard, but I don't think it will be touchscreens.
posted by !Jim at 7:29 PM on September 15, 2011


is this the right thread to say how much I love fluxbox?
posted by kaibutsu at 7:32 PM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


My honest opinion, in the short term there will be a convergence, think a tablet in a dock. Work on your desktop and pull the tablet out of the dock and go. How elegant this will be I don't know, but I would love to be able to dock my ipad to do some shit, pull it out, commute to work and plug it back in and keep going. We are going to need an OS that handles a desktop with a mouse and a keyboard as well as touch and gestures. In the far future I don't know, probably a device that projects a display on your retinas as well as recognizes standard human gestures such as pointing and shrugs and understands speech.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:45 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm hoping that after Lion and Windows 8 are rejected by their respective userbases, developers will re-learn the lesson they had to learn to make successful smartphones and tablets; PCs are not the same as smartphones or tablets, and any interface that is good on one is bound to be crap on the other.

Lion isn't being rejected by its userbase, so save your hope.
posted by justgary at 7:46 PM on September 15, 2011



Tell Me No Lies writes "The mouse may stick around, but particularly on laptops I could see them fading into history."

Never going to happen until you can be as accurate with your finger as you can be with a mouse. I shudder to think of using AutoCAD on a tablet/touch interface combo. Or as far as that goes using AutoCAD without at least two screens, one of which goes to at least 1600x1200.
posted by Mitheral at 7:51 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


The reason a touchscreen will be great on a laptop is simple: currently laptops have touch areas: touchpads. Imagine if your touchpad was your screen. Imagine how much easier that would be. Otherwise I have to go and find my mouse and plug it in. Touch screens will replace touchpads, not mice.
I think people will love touchscreen laptops. The markets will probably converge: tablets and laptops. Laptops will just have detachable keyboards.

Of course there will be the need to have a laptop almost as powerful as a desktop, but that's not going to be something in high demand, and may end up having a completely new form factor we haven't even considered yet.

I hope Kinect will also mean that eventually won't have to physically touch the screen at all.

I think there'll be a market for screen cleaning products!
posted by niccolo at 7:58 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Metro is meant as a computer interface too. It won't work as well as it does on a tablet, which is okay, because personal computers (as contrasted with Personal Computers, with "PC" meaning "not Apple") are generally moving in the direction of tablets.

GROAN.
posted by JHarris at 7:58 PM on September 15, 2011


Yeah, I'm not going to hold my arm up to poke at a touchscreen 8 hours a day.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:11 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]




My honest opinion, in the short term there will be a convergence, think a tablet in a dock.


Lenovo has already announced it.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:11 PM on September 15, 2011


Yeah, I'm not going to hold my arm up to poke at a touchscreen 8 hours a day.

Well, of course not. That's why ST:TNG has touchscreens which are built into the console / desktops. That's why Apple has strong touch/gesture support in Lion, but it all uses the Magic Touchpad and not the screen itself. Vertically mounted touchscreens could be useful now and then on a desktop unit, but generally people aren't going to want to poke at a vertical surface for any length of time.
posted by hippybear at 8:15 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


niccolo: The reason a touchscreen will be great on a laptop is simple: currently laptops have touch areas: touchpads. Imagine if your touchpad was your screen. Imagine how much easier that would be.

Why would it be easier to wave my whole arm around instead of move my finger slightly?
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:38 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


That's why ST:TNG has touchscreens which are built into the console / desktops.

Still no. touch controls are worse than mice because: they're much, much less accurate; and the screen need cleaning every day or so. Until at least the first problem is solved, touch interfaces will continue to be second-class. Spend a day working on photo-retouching or on a large spreadsheet if you don't believe me. They just aren't ready for primetime yet.

For something requiring lower sensitivity, like browsing, playing music or reading books, touch interfaces are usable. For gestures commands, they're a clear win, but that does not work forfor text/numerical entry, selection or pixel-painting. Maybe we'll reinvent Palm's Graffiti, but I doubt it.

Likewise, touchscreen keyboards are ok if you don't have anything else, but god help you if you need to write more than a paragraph on one.

I can't see a touch pad replacing a mouse/trackpad and keyboard for the foreseeable future. They need to get a lot better than they are right now.
posted by bonehead at 8:42 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hope Kinect will also mean that eventually won't have to physically touch the screen at all.

Does this mean we'll all have to learn ASL?
posted by bonehead at 8:44 PM on September 15, 2011


Still no. touch controls are worse than mice because...

Why does it have to be either/or? There are some things a touch screen is brilliant at. Anybody who disagrees should go play Plants vs. Zombies on an iPad, or move around in Google Maps and use pinch-zoom. And at the same time, they're bloody awful as keyboards. Let's have both.

Microsoft's huge tablet failure from last decade was to expect people to just use normal Windows applications with a stylus. As long as we don't repeat that horrible fucking disaster, maybe touch screens can coexist with other input devices.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 8:56 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


No flash? A million bad restaurant websites just cried out in pain and were suddenly silenced.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 9:10 PM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why does it have to be either/or?

Because, unless you're talking about secondary screens as a touch-pad like device, like a Wacom Cintiq, normally screens are at eye level, about 50-70 cm away from your body. To touch the screen, one needs to raise one's arm and hold it, unsupported at shoulder level. That's fine for short term-interactions, like a kiosk, but it's not reasonable to ask someone to do that for 8 hours a day.

If you are talking about Cintiq-like devices, touchpad screens, then all the problems I mention above apply.
posted by bonehead at 9:11 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


My point was that when people made up rumours about Apple doing it, the prevailing opinion was "Apple Evil!"

Now that Microsoft have demonstrated they want to head down that path, it's split between "nah, we don't like that" and "Cool!"


I'm just glad that we're headed towards a future where we'll use a ST:TNG user interface. I loved that show.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:27 PM on September 15, 2011


Remember when games like Ms. Pac-Man were built like a table with two people sitting across from each other, and the table top was the screen? That should be the future of touch interfaces, while continueing to have an additional vertical screen.
posted by BurnChao at 9:35 PM on September 15, 2011


DoctorFedora:

What's with the Ribbon hate? This really IS just a matter of people who learned stuff that was kind of difficult back in the past being full of fear of the new and unknown, isn't it.

The Ribbon is clever and works well. It's like the CVT of computer interfaces. Once you get over the fact that you won't need to push the clutch down just so like you've learned to in twenty years of driving a Geo, it's pretty well thought out.

[...]

I've still yet to hear a compelling argument here that doesn't boil down to GRAR IT IS NEW AND DIFFERENT AND SCARY ± GRAR


Why do you denigrate people who disagree with you as being fearful and full of screaming GRAR?

I'm not afraid of the new interface. I've learned more new interfaces than I can count. It's a simple matter of math to me: If the new interface if well designed it will save me time X. Relearning and acquiring the same level of proficiency I currently have will cost me time Y. Based on my previous experience with Microsoft interface updates I believe that time X (the savings) will be approximately zero. The Office ribbon certainly hasn't saved me time. Also based on previous experience I believe time Y (learning curve) will be large. Further, time Y will be extremely front-loaded.

If I personally get no benefits from the change to a ribbon, and in fact lose time, why, exactly should I welcome it?

To continue your analogy, I'm a cab driver. Any time whatsoever spent relearning how to make the car go is wasted cost to me. If the new automatic transmission also reduces my fuel economy, and raises the price of my car, it makes no sense for me to welcome it. I'm not afraid of it. I simply judge that it is disadvantageous to me personally.
posted by tyllwin at 9:36 PM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


The very question I want answered. I suppose it will limp along as a plugin for Windows 8 Desktop for a while, the best possible outcome I can hope for is that Silverlight will run native on Windows 8 Metro, even sell silverlight apps in Windows 8 store.

MS will never come out and completely EOD Silverlight; they have too much equity with the brand "Silverlight" to simply kill it off. But Silverlight on-the-web certainly seems to be dead, or at the very least, overkill at the very least; why would you want to serve two flavours of your (let's say) vector-graphics-ized LOB web-app when doing it in HTML5 alone would be sufficient?

However, XAML (consequently, SL-on-desktop, ie the OOB experience) as a technology clearly isn't dead; MVVM, VisualStateManager and all that stuff seems to live on in phones and in the Metro-style apps.

Also, WPF is _clearly_ dead now, or rather, has been finally engulfed by the expanding Silverlight balloon. Not pulled out of life-support - again, MS won't EOD the brand immediately - but unlike SL, this is for real: WPF is not where you'd like to position your product.
posted by the cydonian at 9:38 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a collector of fucking dumb ideas I love silverlight.

the whole world was moving away from flash, HTML5 was on the horizon we don' hear from microsoft for ages then they pop their heads up and say - look what we've developed, isn't it cool? guys? hey guys? OK, fuck you then, we won't support canvass on our shit browsers then.
posted by the noob at 9:44 PM on September 15, 2011


This looks like the opportunity for a new operating system to enter the market.

OS/3
posted by TwelveTwo at 9:45 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Because, unless you're talking about secondary screens as a touch-pad like device, like a Wacom Cintiq, normally screens are at eye level, about 50-70 cm away from your body. To touch the screen, one needs to raise one's arm and hold it, unsupported at shoulder level. That's fine for short term-interactions, like a kiosk, but it's not reasonable to ask someone to do that for 8 hours a day.

Oh, I agree about that, mostly. I played with one of those HP touchscreen desktops at BestBuy once, and the idea of sitting at a desk with arms raised to move around photos was really ergonomically unappealing. But with laptops it could work alright -- just tilt the screen back when you want to touch it.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 9:49 PM on September 15, 2011


Imho, Mac OS X Lion is fairly well suited for MacBooks, Mitrovarr. I'd imagine many complaints were directed towards the changes in Spaces, which I found initially annoying but ultimately useful. You might find them more annoying on a desktop though.

There might be bitching about Apple's new counter intuitive spelling corrector. too. It annoyingly flip-flops between suggesting an valid correction, and suggesting the incorrect spelling it just fixed without asking.

Apple's major change in Lion however was the Restore functionality, which sounds nice, but fails utterly in practice. In brief, you're machine will no longer hibernate after an extended sleep, but instead just shutdown with plans on restoring, i.e. silently crash. You should probably skip Mac OS X Lion if your usage habits that depend upon stability, but .

You'll observe this behavior when, instead of the locked screen prompt, you're created by the login prompt. After login, you're machine will attempt to restore the various applications, mostly unsuccessfully. Your favorite text editor might handle Restore correctly, but not necessarily. Safari will reopen all your windows but fails to record the actual pages, which inevitably leaves you wandering down strange dark alleys waiving your computer around looking for wifi so that you might reload the map to your hotel. Firefox won't even try. Terminal applications will obviously crash without saving their data. I suppose the only applications that handles restore well are those that depend only upon their screen placement, ala IM, Mail, Preview, and iTunes.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:57 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


The thing about Lion is that you need a computer with a multitouch trackpad, in order to make the best use of touch gestures. For that reason, older computers or laptops without a multitouch trackpad do not make good upgrade targets.

I found Lion a bit clumsy at first, but after I stuck with it for a few days, navigation and other gestures became second-nature, and I have to "retrain" myself on older laptops where those same gestures do not work in the same way.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:39 PM on September 15, 2011


BurnChao: Remember when games like Ms. Pac-Man were built like a table with two people sitting across from each other, and the table top was the screen? That should be the future of touch interfaces, while continueing to have an additional vertical screen.

Why? So I can have an extra keyboard without touch typing or tactile feedback? I really don't see what a touchscreen offers a computer that already has a touchpad, and I think mice destroy either of them. A lot of people favor them over mice, but (as with trackballs) they always seem to be much slower than a skilled mouse user. Having both is just pointless - you don't want to be constantly taking your hand off one pointing device to use another.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:54 PM on September 15, 2011


This is interesting but you guys know that if Flash disappears the same crappy developers will just write the same stuff in javascript to max out your CPU, right? Literally the only difference is that you won't be able to turn it off without losing all the the useful stuff JS does too.
posted by dickasso at 11:01 PM on September 15, 2011


Tyllwin, thanks for providing the first actual reason not to like it ("I use it and it has continuously slowed me down"). At least, I assume that you used it for long enough to find it slowing you down long-term.
posted by DoctorFedora at 11:01 PM on September 15, 2011


This is interesting but you guys know that if Flash disappears the same crappy developers will just write the same stuff in javascript to max out your CPU, right?

NoScript will let you enable JavaScript on an opt-in, per-domain basis.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:13 PM on September 15, 2011


NoScript will let you enable JavaScript on an opt-in, per-domain basis.
Sure, but then on any given site you lose a lot of core functionality (to the extent that you may not even be able to navigate around it in extreme cases) as well as the annoying advertising crap. Trust me, people will look back quite fondly upon the days when they could just block the banners.
posted by dickasso at 11:45 PM on September 15, 2011


In my previous post, when I said "EOD" I meant, errr, EOL - End Of Life. Am fasting today and am wishing the day would end soon, that much is true.
posted by the cydonian at 11:45 PM on September 15, 2011


Everything I've seen about Windows 8 has convinced me of one thing: I need to get comfortable using either OSX or Linux, and I need to do it soon.


I started on Unix (4 years), then went to Mac (9 years), then Windows (10 years), now back to Unix (LinuxMint, the past 3 years) and I feel like I'm home again after an epic, lifetime journey through weird alter-worlds full of strange creatures and stranger customs.
posted by telstar at 12:38 AM on September 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


While I agree that the mouse is intuitive and accurate for our generation of computer users, I hesitate to assume that it is the best human-computer interface available. Having given tech-help over the shoulder to older relatives and the (relatively) computer illiterate, I've come to realize that mouse navigation requires hand-eye coordination and muscle memory that is non-trivial; so much so that I doubt that Xerox PARC would have gone with the mouse/trackball as the default pointing for Alto if they had access to some of today's technology. And this makes sense - the UI, after all, is an attempt to make the abstraction between a human being and computing hardware more understandable, so reducing the inherent disconnect between navigation and visuals should theoretically make things easier for us.

Of course, a common trope in user interface development is that you have to consider what the user has seen before, and try to build on that rather than to go with the most efficient UI solution. I think objectively, a mouse is a suboptimal way to navigate about a graphical interface, but I've grown up with it and learned it over many, many years of practice (while my brain was nice and plastic), so I'm comfortable with it, efficient with it, and it (along with the keyboard) is simply the best way for me to interact with a computer. But even reading through these many comments, I was struck at how there were multiple stories about children, having been exposed to touchscreen devices, intuitively gravitate to direct manipulation of graphical elements by hand. Additionally, the tablet market is (generally) scorned by experienced computer users, but embraced by the greater public. Even in an age of ubiquitous computing, many, many people are extraordinarily clumsy with the standard desktop setup. Maybe this should tell us something.

Granted, in order to do very specialized things, we have developed cryptic, eldritch tools. This is because complex tasks necessarily require more control, and we're forced dig a little deeper into the abstraction. But computers are pretty much essential to everyday life now, and just as we don't expect everyone to drive high-performance cars with manual transmission, we shouldn't expect the most popular operating system in the world cater to specialists and professionals. And really, I love my stick-shift cars and (sanctioned) amateur racing, but I still take the bus on my daily commute and I like it (it's convenient). In computing, it's not even a zero-sum game; popular, professional devices like the Cintiq indicate to me that technology that more closely mimics physical actions can maintain the complexity required of specialist tools, while simultaneously reducing the gap between computer and user. We can do both.

From what I've used of the Developer Preview so far, I think MS has done a decent job of trying to be relevant to both audiences/usage scenarios. You can flip back to the familiar desktop environment at will, and additions such as the ribbon interface exist side by side with all the old keyboard shortcuts that a power user might know and use daily. I was actually delighted with the Quicksilver/Launchy/Ubuntu-style text launcher that seemingly runs constantly and invisibly over the Metro interface - this is clearly aimed towards keyboard-based power users and is useless to tablets. Finally, while YMMV, the UI is pretty enjoyable, to be completely honest.

THEREFORE, I am okay with things the way they are going.
posted by Tikirific at 5:08 AM on September 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


I've wondered about exactly that point, dickasso. JavaScript and Browsers being more open still helps enormously though since you can disable whatever behavior you desire.

First, you might obviously add termination condition that prevent scripts from running amok, prevent games, etc., heck even HTML5+CSS alone is Turing complete, no JavaScript needed. Apple has actually done this under Safari, except they do so stupidly, forcing all pages to reload, again leaving you stranded without some google map.

Second, you might restrict the scripts access to local resources, like preventing scripts from reading or setting cookies. I've just posted a stackoverflow question regarding this.

Btw, Google has just introduced an alternative to JavaScript that might or might not be more constrained. In theory, you could design an object oriented language like JavaScript where all local data access was handled through signed library objects, well you could impose that upon JavaScript too.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:31 AM on September 16, 2011


I hesitate to assume that it is the best human-computer interface available. Having given tech-help over the shoulder to older relatives and the (relatively) computer illiterate, I've come to realize that mouse navigation requires hand-eye coordination and muscle memory that is non-trivial;

I absolutely agree, based on my own experiences showing seniors how to use a computer. A mouse/pointer UI isn't intuitive. Touch screens are easier for novices, but only if the interface is big enough.

My arguments above, however, are that touch screens, in their current form, provide only marginal benefits and some very significant drawbacks compared to a mouse/keyboard system for someone who needs to do something complex with a computer. Show me a "Star Trek" interface that's useful for more than activating an icon: creating a complex piece of art in photoshop, assembling a presentation with charts and tables, working with a 100-column pivot table. I've tried to do a number of those things on the current generation of tablets. It ain't fun.
posted by bonehead at 5:46 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


This announcement follows an open letter posted by Steve Jobs to the Apple website, dated April 2010, explaining why the iPad and iPhone lines would never support Flash

And, of course, Google's huge role, for years, in reducing the use of Flash. We've long recommended not using Flash well before the iPhone came out because Flash sites cannot or could not be well indexed for searching.

Add to that the rise of open source CMS applications that have allowed our clients, and the clients of many, to update their content themselves. Also not easily done with a Flash site. It can be done, but the time and budget is larger.

These days, Flash means video only to a lot of people and frankly, for years, it was the best alternative as it worked on pretty much most devices. Now HTML 5 video is a bit of a mess since MS and Apple won't support a revenue free codec and the Mozilla foundation and Google won't support a revenue based codec. Fortunately, due to the cost of streaming servers and the popularity of sites like YouTube (again largely for search reasons) the solution is to use a service that detects which codec to serve up and you're done.

New technology over time, newer versions of JS, HTML, CSS, Google making searchable, standards compliant sites popular, CMS's that don't cost an arm and a leg, iOS, and now MS, are all part of the factors that are making Flash less relevant, but Flash was around precisely because these holes had not yet been filled and of course if you look at some HTML 5 showcase sites, we're back to the land of hideous custom interfaces, and in some cases, awful semantic code. The HTML 5 animation tools I've seen produce some of the worst code we've seen in years (but it's still in it's infancy of course).
posted by juiceCake at 5:55 AM on September 16, 2011


dickasso, the cool thing about NoScript is that with the per-domain permissions, you can allow the asks that provide you with the content and layout (on the New York Times site it's nyt.com) while blocking all the adds and other cruft from loading.

I only block adds on their site because I'm paying for my web subscription and should not be having to look at ads, goddamnit.
posted by Aizkolari at 6:09 AM on September 16, 2011


The idea of the Flash platform dieing...moreso the fantasy of Adobe as a whole going the way of the dodo...just made my day.
posted by samsara at 6:10 AM on September 16, 2011


Of course, the real irony here is that the Metro UI itself looks and feels like it was badly hacked together in Flash.
posted by fifthrider at 7:16 AM on September 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's too bad Metafilter can't discuss technical issues without everyone's baggage getting in the way.
posted by smackfu at 8:33 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


You could say, there's been a baggage overflow.
posted by seanyboy at 9:11 AM on September 16, 2011


smackfu: "It's too bad Metafilter can't discuss technical issues without everyone's baggage getting in the way."
posted by Chrysostom at 10:36 AM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


They will also pick up the mouse and say "hello, computer" into it.

That'll suck in a room full of computer users.

My (limited) experience with tablets have left me with the following impressions:

1. Tablets, at least as they are configured today, involve too many compromises for power-users. They are hugely under-powered. A lack of a real keyboard truly sucks. They are dumbed down and passive - Want to watch a video? Great. Want to actually accomplish some work? Too bad.

2. If making a tablet more powerful involves some kind of docking arrangement, then what's the fucking point? We already have laptops.

3. Wiping my greasy fingers all over the screen just strikes me as dumb.

4. Tablets are not small computers - they are big phones.

I'm not looking forward to the way interfaces are moving. As long as they don't completely erase my ability to customize how I use my computer, though, I'll deal with it.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:45 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


And, of course, Google's huge role, for years, in reducing the use of Flash.

By embedding Flash in their browser, Google has done a lot to keep Adobe in the game, as well as keep the Flash corpse alive and on the web.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:47 AM on September 16, 2011


By embedding Flash in their browser, Google has done a lot to keep Adobe in the game, as well as keep the Flash corpse alive and on the web.

Oh come on. Chrome has a 10% market share.
posted by empath at 11:03 AM on September 16, 2011


I was under the impression that Chrome on a Mac sucked pretty hard.

It's a great experience on a PC, probably the best of any browser, but it's support of Flash there is pretty much a non-issue, all the browsers support it. Android doesn't use Chrome at all, though it may be being ported according to rumor.
posted by bonehead at 11:33 AM on September 16, 2011


Oh come on. Chrome has a 10% market share.

I'm surprised it isn't more. Look, I use Chrome daily (and Safari) so its not my usual GRAR when I point out that Adobe should be thanking Google for keeping it relevant. Anything that Google can do to keep Flash around hurts iOS and helps Android. It's just business sense.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:40 PM on September 16, 2011


My honest opinion, in the short term there will be a convergence, think a tablet in a dock.

Lenovo has already announced it.


And ASUS has already manufactured and sold them.
posted by MikeKD at 12:55 PM on September 16, 2011


I was under the impression that Chrome on a Mac sucked pretty hard.

You should probably not develop impressions about things you haven't experienced yourself.

Chrome on a Mac is pretty spiffy all around.
posted by hippybear at 12:58 PM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, WPF is _clearly_ dead now, or rather, has been finally engulfed by the expanding Silverlight balloon. Not pulled out of life-support - again, MS won't EOD the brand immediately - but unlike SL, this is for real: WPF is not where you'd like to position your product.

Wait, what? If WPF is dead, what's the canonical way of building a GUI application? Windows Forms?
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:03 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Chrome on a Mac is pretty spiffy all around.

First thing I installed when I got my macbook air, but it kept crashing, so i switched to safari, and safari's touch controls make me happy, so i stuck with it and haven't reloaded chrome..
posted by empath at 1:23 PM on September 16, 2011


I've tried to do a number of those things on the current generation of tablets. It ain't fun.

I've had the same experience, so we agree there. However, touchscreens are useful for some things - navigating that 100 page Powerpoint in a presentation setting or displaying portions of that pivot chart you worked on for a coworker, for example - and I think power users will continue to find appropriate usages scenarios in which such devices excel. Plus the popularization of tablets leads to technology like MS Surface, which I think is potentially very useful in a professional setting. Is it not a win-win situation? For a power user tablets are just another tool for specific cases, like a digitizing tablet, scanner, plotter, what have you. Novices have a more intuitive way to access the internet or read their e-mail.

I think a lot of people have animosity towards tablets because they have the perception that tablets will somehow replace the conventional PC. I don't think is true - tablets are essentially replacing a component of computing (mobile web browsing and e-mail), and maybe some other appliance-like tasks (ebooks, e-periodicals, pdfs). Clearly, for a work-related context, they are lacking... which I think is okay. Everyone should have access to the internet and e-mail, in a manner that is intuitive and easy to learn. If you already have a nice laptop or desktop, it's your choice whether you buy one or not (personally I have no need for a tablet, so I don't have one). I don't see laptops and desktops fading away as a result of this - people that need real computers will demand them, and the market is plenty large enough to support them.

I realize I'm sounding a bit like a unusually well-spoken marketing bot for tablets, but honestly I'm not trying to endorse or deride them. I'm just not that concerned about it and it's difficult to see how making technology more accessible is, in the end, a bad thing.

First thing I installed when I got my macbook air, but it kept crashing, so i switched to safari, and safari's touch controls make me happy, so i stuck with it and haven't reloaded chrome..

I've been running the Canary nightly build and it's actually very nice. Bugs here and there of course, but Chrome for Mac is by no means a crappy experience.
posted by Tikirific at 3:14 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


By embedding Flash in their browser, Google has done a lot to keep Adobe in the game, as well as keep the Flash corpse alive and on the web.


Disagree that this is helping Adobe to keep in the game or being alive and well on the web. It's simply Google recognizing and respecting their users. A lot of their users got the Flash plugin for Chrome. Google made it more stable. Google isn't trying to control the choice of their users when it comes to Flash, but for search engines, Flash just simply doesn't work well, particularly opposed to an open file that can be parsed easily, as in HTML.

Google's search engine in the commercial culture of the web, as well as the non-commercial culture of the web, coupled with .swf's not being indexable has done a lot to have developers and clients move away from Flash. We've been preaching no Flash to less Flash for years (it's not always easy, and funnily enough our Mac heavy using clients are the worst for wanting Flash on their fashion and gallery sites but we've convinced all but one to abandon it). This isn't some sort of corporate conscious decision to stick it to another technology and their users, it's just the way it happened due to the nature of the technology in use.
posted by juiceCake at 3:27 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


JuiceCake, you should try to convince that remaining one to try Hype instead of Flash then. ; )
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:41 PM on September 16, 2011


> I was under the impression that Chrome on a Mac sucked pretty hard.

It's perfectly okay. Aside from the welcome news of ever more diversity in browser options, I'm not overly enthused about Chrome itself for better or worse. It's a browser, it works pretty well, and if its idiosyncrasies are in concordance with what you like in browsers, you should check it out.

The worst I can say about it is that it gradually consumes excessive resources if I run it uninterrupted for a few weeks, but Firefox up through version 5 has been far worse in that regard.
posted by ardgedee at 4:53 PM on September 16, 2011


dunkadunc wrote: The people at GNOME and Ubuntu seem to think otherwise. It's depressing.

Unity looks like a shitty tablet interface, but it actually works very well with a mouse and keyboard, primarily because you can tap the windows key, type the name of a program, document, media file, etc. and have it open.

God help you, though, if you don't remember that your music editor is called blarglefloogleneuton, browsing applications sucks. In short, it's not that bad. (I believe that's what they call "damning with faint praise")
posted by wierdo at 5:14 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think a lot of people kind of aren't seeing where iOS and Windows 8 are taking us.

This is the end of having a computer where you have files stored and applications installed. The traditional heirarchical file system and desktop metaphor is over.

All of these input devices and display devices (tablets, consoles, set-top boxes, phones, whatever) and superfast internet and wireless means that your tablet doesn't need to be a powerhouse to run the latest video games or photoshop. You should be able to, in the future, load up the game on any device and your home and whatever has the juice to run it should run the game and take input from whatever device and output it to whatever device you want.

You're not going to care where you last worked on your files, or where you saved that mp3 you were listening to, because it's just going to be everywhere you can get to any kind of computing device -- your phone, tablet or whatever.

You're never going to have to organize your fail folders or clear up hard drive space on your laptop. Files will be local when you're working on them and 'out there', when you aren't. You won't even need to look at file names or extensions, because it'll all have usable metadata.

That's really the big change that's coming, not touch screen and not fancy new interfaces. It's just a fundamentally new way of thinking about computers and our relationship with them.
posted by empath at 6:53 PM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's not that I don't like the idea of the cloud, empath, it's that I just don't see it working well. Cloud computing places all of the strain on the very weakest part of the entire system - the internet connection. If the internet connection is slow or unreliable, everything is slow or unreliable. I have trouble with my internet connection now, and I don't think placing a huge amount of strain on the system is likely to improve things - particularly since the telecommunication companies seem to have little or no motivation to improve our connections anymore.

Cloud storage I can almost see, but running applications remotely over a WAN is going remain a slow and buggy matter for a long time.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:34 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mitrovarr--

Said over an application run remotely over a WAN ;)
posted by effugas at 11:47 PM on September 16, 2011


Wait, what? If WPF is dead, what's the canonical way of building a GUI application? Windows Forms?

This is a great question, Anyone here ever written a WPF app? I am comfortable with XAML but I still use WinForms.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:10 AM on September 17, 2011


This is the end of having a computer where you have files stored and applications installed. The traditional heirarchical file system and desktop metaphor is over.

That's something I'll work to prevent for myself, personally, for as long as I can.

I want to know that I have my stuff, and do not have to rely on having an internet connection or trust someone else to caretake my stuff for me.

Maybe things have improved a whole not, but I've seen entire domains disappear from the internet and people scrambling to try to save as much content from them as they can before they disappear. It was only with HUGE outcry that Google relented and didn't just disappear everything on Google Video, and that wasn't even all that long ago. Why should I trust them with cloud storage of anything?

I have 4 external hard drives, and will be happy to buy more as time progresses. But it'll be a very cold day in hell before I entrust data that I own or that I have created to someone else as a place to keep it.
posted by hippybear at 6:07 AM on September 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


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