I don't care much about the Metro name change brouhaha. I couldn't care less except for the fact that I have to change some of the Metro references in some writing I've done for upcoming pieces on Windows Server 2012. Frankly, I don't care much about the Metro interface at all – I've been using Windows 8 client and Server 2012 extensively now, for almost six months.
There is nothing in Metro I can find that impedes the Windows user experience with which I am familiar. I have not had any device driver issues as of yet (either on the Windows 2012 Server side or the Windows 8 client side) and, if anything, I feel that the Metro-ish UI lends to a greater level of desktop customisation than ever before, and I mean serious customisation that goes well beyond placing an image of cute kittens on the desktop.
But people care about Metro very much, and not in a care because they love it way, a care more as if Metro is akin to the village Frankenstein – people would hunt down and kill it, if it could walk way.
Even among my colleagues, there are two clear cut sides: Anti-Metro, and while I wouldn't exactly say pro-Metro, there are those who feel that the Metro UI is being irrationally demonised. Sascha Segan, my colleague who I am usually pretty much in lock-step agreement with on technology matters, outlined his grievances against Metro in a recent article.
Here's why I think a lot of the Metro criticism is just hysteria.
Metro is not designed for the desktop
Microsoft made that clear, everyone knows this, but everyone is also ignoring this.
Yes, you can install it on a desktop as well as a virtual machine (it makes for a nicely running Hyper-V R3 VM, I might add). However, perhaps for the first time in Microsoft's history, the desktop is not the driving factor behind a new operating system release.
For the average user, running Windows 8 on a desktop simply does not make sense. And who is the average user running a desktop these days? A person who likes to mess around with virtualisation perhaps, or heavy duty gamers or developers: Overall, anyone who needs to get serious work done. In short, someone who could not care a whit about a touch interface on a desktop they use for major computing. These users will keep Windows 7 on those machines and maybe for laughs, dual boot with Windows 8 to see what all the fuss is about.
The enterprise is not going to Windows 8 anytime soon
There is no way any IT decision-maker is going to start planning for an enterprise-wide rollout of Windows 8. If any IT decision maker feels that such a rollout is a good use of IT time and budget, then that person should no longer be an IT decision-maker.
Windows 7 has extended support until the year 2020. The millions of machines that do not support touch in businesses and enterprises are not getting Windows 8 anytime soon. As they shouldn't. Anyone who has worked in IT will tell you, the first operating systems to get upgraded are server operating systems. Enterprise will upgrade to Server 2012 first, because there are so many great advancements in Server 2012 over 2008 R2. It's a server OS tailored for the changing computing world of cloud and mobile.
Windows 7 supports many of the capabilities native in Server 2012, and any feature not supported by the time Server 2012 goes RTM will surely be supported with a Service Pack or update. Microsoft will not make that huge base of enterprise Windows 7 machines incompatible with many of the wonderful features of Server 2012, because why else would any business upgrade to Server 2012?
Businesses aren't going to Windows 8 at least for another five to seven years, and Microsoft knows this. Listen, by the time the enterprise is ready to upgrade client machines, hardware will have most likely caught up enough to the point where you can code on a robust enough Windows 8 tablet or virtual machine. I predict we will see more virtual machine rollout of Windows 8 in business to mobile devices and thin clients rather than to physical desktops. The desktop is a dying breed and Microsoft knows this as well.
Windows 8 boasts unprecedented ease of use
Need to get to Performance Monitor in Windows 8? You login to the desktop and start typing "P-e-r-f-..." What is simpler than that? Opening up a Start button and searching through a list of folders and programs? No way.
I understand more of the criticisms surrounding the Metro-ish UI of Server 2012. I was one of the vocal sceptics, but as I've used Server 2012 as a physical server and as VMs on a test Windows domain, the Metro UI is not bothersome and certainly does not prevent me from getting any server administration done.
I love the fact that I can pin whatever I want to desktop. I can outfit the Windows 8 desktop however I want. I also do not understand what the big deal is to switch from the UI-formerly known as Metro to the classic desktop. All I do is hit the Windows key with a traditional mouse and keyboard. Have we become this shrill as a society that having to hit a single key stirs such passions?
There's plenty to criticise Microsoft about. Yes, it was late to the mobile game. The company was subject to well-deserved criticism and now it is moving rapidly to catch up and get its mobile platform out there. Apparently, it's too rapid a move and pace of change for lots of people, but really, what other choice does Microsoft have to stay relevant?
I would love it if those squawking the loudest about Metro could also offer their thoughts on other features of Windows 8 client and Windows Server 2012: Such as QoS management, ReFS and Storage Spaces, Windows To Go… or are they too stuck on a start screen?