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View Full Version : Microsoft have a go at Apple, and may have a point




Moonjumper
Apr 12, 2012, 02:12 PM
I read an article about Microsoft Metro because a site linked to it saying a Microsoft designer insults Apple’s Ugly, Skeuomorphic Apps. I was expecting to have a bit of a laugh at it, but they make a good point.

http://mashable.com/2012/03/29/microsoft-metro-is-a-philosophy/#56229Microsoft-Metro--Fast-and-Fluid

Skeuomorphic is referring to digital graphics faking real life objects.

All those glassy shines that Apple puts on apps, but which most other apps now prefer to avoid (quite rightly I think) are not too bad, but I would prefer them without.

What really gets me is the baize, wood, leather and other materials that have appeared in Apple apps over the last couple of years. Game Center being particularly hideous.

I quite like the look of Metro on Windows phones, and it seems to work OK, but is a functional disaster on the desktop from what I have heard, far worse than what the iOS elements have done to OS X (I don't mind the iOS bits being there, I do mind them not being optional).

Do you think Apple could learn something from Metro's digital honesty?



LorenK
Apr 12, 2012, 02:44 PM
Sorry, but I don't agree, the new Metro looks like something designed for people with a vision impairment. While there is a certain simplicity to it, the design is just a few steps removed from street signs, no elegance or art to it. I am trying to think what else the style reminds me of, maybe the color and style of a child's game, like the oversized buttons on a toy phone or a Speak and Spell. While there is something to be said for that simplicity, is that a style reflects a sophisticated, technical company? Microsoft should go back to the drawing board, and not an etch-a-sketch.

lucidmedia
Apr 12, 2012, 11:33 PM
Not going to make this into a windows vs. mac thing as I have not taken a good look at Metro. I fully agree that the skeumorphism that is creeping into apple software is a serious step backwards.

Jim Campbell
Apr 13, 2012, 04:02 AM
I fully agree that the skeumorphism that is creeping into apple software is a serious step backwards.

Yep. Address Book is an abomination, the faux leather of iCal is ugly, but the one-page-per-month paradigm inflicts a limitation of a desktop calendar onto an application that should be able to offer more flexibility… I find it hard to believe that either of those would have got anywhere near a final release in the OS under Jobs in full health…

Cheers

Jim

jrichie
Apr 13, 2012, 06:24 PM
One of the reasons I dumped my iPhone and went for a Nokia lumia was these awful fake timber / paper graphics in ios.

As others have said, iCal and address book are pretty bad in osx due to their graphical nature, and I really hope it is culled.

Even though I love my macs, I really love win phone 7 interface and it's use way over iOS and am starting to wonder whether I will eventually end up in windows land again given the cheesy taste of recent apple changes to the interfaces.

Moonjumper
Apr 14, 2012, 10:21 AM
One of the reasons I dumped my iPhone and went for a Nokia lumia was these awful fake timber / paper graphics in ios.

As others have said, iCal and address book are pretty bad in osx due to their graphical nature, and I really hope it is culled.

Even though I love my macs, I really love win phone 7 interface and it's use way over iOS and am starting to wonder whether I will eventually end up in windows land again given the cheesy taste of recent apple changes to the interfaces.

I certainly wouldn't dump my iPhone for a Nokia Lumia. I think it is because there is so much I like about iOS, that when something is wrong it is very jarring. I just wish the software had the honesty, clean lines and beauty of the hardware.

chrono1081
Apr 14, 2012, 07:50 PM
Although I agree about things like Photobooth and iCal that are made to look like real life counterparts, I don't think Microsoft has a better looking system than Mac.

Personally the tiles just look like a jumbled mess to me. The colors mean nothing (at least nothing I can tell, they just appear to be randomly assigned) and the lack of contrast means I have to look at each tile to figure out what it does, that and sometimes they flip which I don't like.

It makes for a confusing mess in my opinion.

That being said I don't mind it on phones, we have winphones at work and I prefer them over our android phones.

JoeG4
Apr 14, 2012, 09:30 PM
Microsoft doesn't have a leg to stand on, with this remark. xD

Honestly, if you're going to complain about iCal having leather trim or whatever (and I agree, it's stupid), you'll hate metro. Metro takes 20+ years of GUI refinement and throws it all out the window for a crappy looking iPad-esque UI with all of the same limitations and almost no benefits.

All I have to say about it is this - I was using a circuit design program a few weeks ago and wanted to see how well it worked in Windows 8. In fact, it worked fine (in Aero), but when I double clicked a PDF to check specs in a data sheet, it hogged up the whole screen. Lovely!

It's like you're forced to do everything - including checking the weather in full screen. What, was the designer suffering from massive ADHD? I understand it on a 10" tablet with cooling and battery use restrictions, but on a computer? Seriously? Come on!

As a matter of fact, I don't even understand it on tablets - we're about to hit a point where iOS and the others are starting to allow you to do multiple things at the same time as the hardware gets more powerful to handle it. Personally I think a lot of programmers are a little bit too lazy to keep up, but whatever.

If MS was going for a massive disruption they should've ditched NT for a unix core and spent the massive waste of marketing dept design $$ on engineering time to transition everything else over smoothly. Aero, with a little bit of refinement would have been just fine and I think it would be a boom for MS in the science market, too.

thejadedmonkey
Apr 14, 2012, 09:51 PM
Metro takes 20+ years of GUI refinement and throws it all out the window for a crappy looking iPad-esque UI with all of the same limitations and almost no benefits.

uh, what? I think the point of the article was actually that Metro takes 20+ years of GUI refinement and starts over, creating something that's nothing like an iPad-eqsue UI with tons of benefits.

Having used Metro UI extensively on Windows Phone, I can say it's superb. Windows 8 needs some work, but WP7 is fantastic, and I don't miss faux-leather or, as others have said, the abomination that is Game Center.

It's a completely different way of looking at a computer. Instead of pretending that it's a non-electronic device like Apple wants to do, Microsoft is embracing its electronic element 100%, and creating an entirely new way of looking at it.

Do I agree with it? I think I do. Could Apple learn from it though? Not at all, not without removing Aqua completely.

Moonjumper
Apr 15, 2012, 05:38 AM
I quite like the look of Metro on Windows phones, and it seems to work OK, but is a functional disaster on the desktop from what I have heard, far worse than what the iOS elements have done to OS X (I don't mind the iOS bits being there, I do mind them not being optional).

Do you think Apple could learn something from Metro's digital honesty?

Microsoft doesn't have a leg to stand on, with this remark. xD

Honestly, if you're going to complain about iCal having leather trim or whatever (and I agree, it's stupid), you'll hate metro. Metro takes 20+ years of GUI refinement and throws it all out the window for a crappy looking iPad-esque UI with all of the same limitations and almost no benefits.

All I have to say about it is this - I was using a circuit design program a few weeks ago and wanted to see how well it worked in Windows 8. In fact, it worked fine (in Aero), but when I double clicked a PDF to check specs in a data sheet, it hogged up the whole screen. Lovely!

It's like you're forced to do everything - including checking the weather in full screen. What, was the designer suffering from massive ADHD? I understand it on a 10" tablet with cooling and battery use restrictions, but on a computer? Seriously? Come on!

As a matter of fact, I don't even understand it on tablets - we're about to hit a point where iOS and the others are starting to allow you to do multiple things at the same time as the hardware gets more powerful to handle it. Personally I think a lot of programmers are a little bit too lazy to keep up, but whatever.

If MS was going for a massive disruption they should've ditched NT for a unix core and spent the massive waste of marketing dept design $$ on engineering time to transition everything else over smoothly. Aero, with a little bit of refinement would have been just fine and I think it would be a boom for MS in the science market, too.

I have quoted the last bit of my original post to show that we are largely in agreement. The Microsoft quote was about graphic design, not the underlying software. I wouldn't want Apple to work more like Metro, just abandon the move to faux materials.

All the Apple apps in iOS used to use their standard UI. I don't know why they abandoned that. At most tint the colours to signify the app.

elppa
Apr 15, 2012, 08:13 AM
That being said I don't mind it on phones, we have winphones at work and I prefer them over our android phones.

The execution is a good deal better on the phone. In addition the physical screen is smaller, so the design decisions make sense.

Whereas on a full sized PC monitor, it makes no sense to hide toolbars by default and then require a right click to show them. There's more than enough space for toolbars and content.

Moonjumper
Apr 15, 2012, 08:52 AM
The execution is a good deal better on the phone. In addition the physical screen is smaller, so the design decisions make sense.

Whereas on a full sized PC monitor, it makes no sense to hide toolbars by default and then require a right click to show them. There's more than enough space for toolbars and content.

Vey true. Computers have different usage patterns, screen sizes and input options. I don't like a lot of the iOS features that have been added to OS X, but it is not nearly as bad as Metro on a PC looks to be.

Santabean2000
Apr 25, 2012, 07:12 AM
I also vote fugly on the faux materials look. Doesn't look good on/in cars and translates poorly into the GUI too.

Gamecentre is the worst culprit. Hideous IMHO. But then I don't use GC so doesn't do my head in too much.

Maybe they could go down this design route when haptic tech is suitably convincing, which I guess is no time soon.

zzLZHzz
Apr 25, 2012, 09:31 AM
as a user of both OS X Lion, Windows 8 Consumer preview and Windows Phone.

i would say that my windows 8 bootup and shutdown a lot faster than Snow Leopard and Lion.

i actually like the windows phone UI though i hasn't own a iPhone yet.

the metro UI for windows 8 work better on a touch screen even though it work fine on traditional desktop

Apple Key
Apr 25, 2012, 12:10 PM
Simplicity is great, but not to the point where it affects usability.

By mentioning gold as a material, they are making a complete joke out of this.

kevinfulton.ca
Apr 26, 2012, 02:45 AM
I don't mind SOME simulated elements, but I also agree that it's been getting a little out of hand lately on iOS and creeping more into OSX. That being said I find it funny that they criticize the shiny UI elements yet with Vista it was quite clear that they were attempting to emulate much of the Aqua UI look. Still, whether you like the Metro look or not at least they're finally trying something different for a change. It's refreshing to look at........for now. I can see myself getting bored with it over time though. Simple is good, but I think they maybe went a little too simple?

bpaluzzi
Apr 26, 2012, 04:15 AM
Yep. Address Book is an abomination, the faux leather of iCal is ugly, but the one-page-per-month paradigm inflicts a limitation of a desktop calendar onto an application that should be able to offer more flexibility… I find it hard to believe that either of those would have got anywhere near a final release in the OS under Jobs in full health…

Cheers

Jim

By all accounts, Jobs was leading the push for the skeuomorphic designs.

LorenK
Apr 26, 2012, 10:15 AM
Metro is just poor design, looking like it was designed for kindergartners by kindergartners and dissing iOS to claim some kind of advantage misses the mark, Metro either stands on it own as a design or it doesn't and the faults of iOS are irrelevant (though I will agree some of the design choices are lame, but at least it provides some clear distinction between app buttons).

Making the design simplistic for the sake of simplicity is silly, the purpose has to be to guide people in use of the software. iOS through allowing app developers to create unique buttons allows for some memorable (and not so memeorable) touch points. What does Metro do? Make it look like a dayglo fruit bowl. When you think about it, what has Metro done but resurrect the color scheme of the old iMacs. Interesting design choice. While it was good at the time, it doesn't work anymore and Metro doesn't work now as a graphic design. I'd add IMHO, but if you like the Metro graphic design, then I think that you have vision problems and should see an optometrist to have your eyes checked immediately.

ILikeTurtles
Apr 27, 2012, 02:29 PM
About 90% of respondents to this thread have no idea what they're talking about.

:D

Consultant
Apr 27, 2012, 05:28 PM
Sorry, but I don't agree, the new Metro looks like something designed for people with a vision impairment. While there is a certain simplicity to it, the design is just a few steps removed from street signs, no elegance or art to it. I am trying to think what else the style reminds me of, maybe the color and style of a child's game, like the oversized buttons on a toy phone or a Speak and Spell. While there is something to be said for that simplicity, is that a style reflects a sophisticated, technical company? Microsoft should go back to the drawing board, and not an etch-a-sketch.

Exactly. That's why Windows Phone still hasn't caught on.


I quite like the look of Metro on Windows phones, and it seems to work OK, but is a functional disaster on the desktop from what I have heard, far worse than what the iOS elements have done to OS X (I don't mind the iOS bits being there, I do mind them not being optional).

Windows user tries out Windows 8 Metro and OS X.
http://obamapacman.com/2012/03/windows-xp-user-tries-windows-8-vs-mac-os-x-videos/

beg_ne
Apr 28, 2012, 09:45 AM
Skeuomorphic UI's, despite how much the computing elite hate them, are probably massively popular with the typical user(and there are 90% of them compared to 10% of us) and probably makes them much more comfortable using the apps. Obviously Apple has some data to back this up or they wouldn't continue to expand it.

I'd almost go as far as to say the skeuomorphic UI is a big advantage for Apple as the programmer art-esque UI's on Android and especially WP7 only resonates with hardcore geeks.

It's not only Apple apps that adopt this style either, a lot of really popular 3rd party apps also make pretty heavy use of skeuomorphic design. Paper would be a good recent example of this.

Microsoft can talk as much trash as they want, but the vast majority of people could seem to give a **** about using their mobile OS.

I really don't get peoples love affair with the tiles in the first place. This is basically all the "design" is:

.tile {
width: 100px;
height: 100px;
background-color: blue; // or other random primary color
font-size: 40px;
color: white;
}

meh.

Jim Campbell
Apr 29, 2012, 03:02 AM
By all accounts, Jobs was leading the push for the skeuomorphic designs.

Wow. I'm genuinely surprised.

TBH, though, the eye-watering ugliness of iCal bothers me less than the insistence on the one-calendar-month-per-page limitation, which impacts usability in the name of 'realism'.

Cheers

Jim

iGav
Apr 30, 2012, 07:49 AM
I can certainly see Microsofts point, and I think it's good that they're having a conversation about it. It is certainly more preferable (from a creative point of view), to simply copying Apple.

Of course, the reality of the situation that Microsoft find themselves in, is that they really have no other option than to try something different to differentiate themselves. And I applaud them for attempting to do so.

At the time of the release of OS X, their was much discussion within the design community at the time, that OS X lacked the (visual) sophistication of the hardware, that the interface was needlessly gimmicky, populist and overly animated, I seem to recall that there was suggestions that it was almost disneyfied in its execution, the complete opposite of the increasingly minimal hardware.

Certainly, like OS X, iOS is visually of questionable taste and sophistication in many area's, but it's like what beg_ne has said above, forgoing a more austere interface for a more humanist one, arguably makes the device more familiar, therefore more accessible, more useable and therefore less intimidating.

Consultant
May 2, 2012, 10:22 AM
1996 AOL vs 2012 W8
http://work.failblog.org/2012/04/13/job-fails-a-product-years-in-the-making/

chown33
May 2, 2012, 06:00 PM
About 90% of respondents to this thread have no idea what they're talking about.

:D

Not unusual. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sturgeon%27s_Law)