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Windows 8 Ribbon Interface Defended

Microsoft has used its official Windows 8 blog to defend the ribbon interface in its forthcoming OS

On  by Nicholas Kolakowski eWEEK USA 2012. Ziff Davis Enterprise Inc. All Rights Reserved. 0

Microsoft has robustly defended its decision to opt for a ribbon interface with Windows 8.

Windows and Windows Live division president Steven Sinofsky took to the Building Windows 8 blog to defend the choice of including the “ribbon” user interface in the upcoming operating system.

“We chose the ribbon mechanism, and to those that find that a flawed choice, there isn’t much we can do other than disagree,” he wrote. “We were certain, and this proved out, that the dislike of the ribbon is most intense in the audience of this blog.”

Ribbon Interface

As part of its Windows 8 work, Microsoft revamped Windows Explorer with an eye toward optimising file-management tasks, creating a streamlined command experience and even reviving some popular features from Windows XP. The Windows team eventually decided to employ a streamlined version of the ribbon interface, which offers tabs and icons in a horizontal or vertical panel, as the unifying element for this updated Explorer.

“The ribbon would allow us to create an optimised file manager where commands would have reliable, logical locations in a streamlined experience,” Alex Simons, Microsoft’s director of program management, wrote in an 2 September posting on the Building Windows 8 blog. “The flexibility of the ribbon with many icon options, tabs, flexible layout and groupings also ensured that we could respect Explorer’s heritage.”

In his latest posting, Sinofsky also defended the choice of “Metro” style for Windows 8’s overall look as an opportunity to embrace the new. “We’ve seen a clear turn where Aero is the past and Metro is the future,” he added. “And with that a strong desire for the existing Windows experience to take on a new look or a Metro redesign.” The “Aero” aesthetic informed the look of both Windows Vista and Windows 7, and emphasised design elements such as translucent panels.

Coloured Tiles

By contrast, Windows 8 will more closely resemble Microsoft’s recent efforts with Windows Phone, offering users a set of colourful tiles linked to specific applications. For those who want a desktop experience more reminiscent of past Windows versions, Windows 8 will apparently offer the ability to switch to that sort of user interface.

Over the past few weeks, the Building Windows 8 blog has focused on everything from support for USB 3.0 to the aforementioned Windows Explorer revisions.

More information on Microsoft’s design choices for Windows 8 is coming at this month’s BUILD conference, scheduled for 13 – 16 September in Anaheim, California. Rumours suggest the company could hand out tablets loaded with a test build of the operating system at the event.

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Windows Phone 7 Sales Peek Offered By Analyst

Windows Phone has sold just 1.4 million units in its first year of release, according to one analyst

On  by Nicholas Kolakowski eWEEK USA 2012. Ziff Davis Enterprise Inc. All Rights Reserved. 1

Analyst Horace Dediu believes that Microsoft may have sold approximately 1.4 million Windows Phone units in the platform’s first year of release.

Compare that to the 1.723 million smartphones that research firm Gartner estimates Microsoft sold in 2011 (a number that includes both Windows Phone and the now-antiquated Windows Mobile).

Wrong Approach

Moreover, Dediu feels that Microsoft has taken the wrong approach to marketing Windows Phone.

“The dependence on a complex value network means that products do not reach users quickly enough and when they do the marketing message is weak, even when backed by large budgets,” he wrote in an 12 October posting on his Asymco website.

“The real problem with Microsoft’s approach is that it’s neither viral like Android (because it has a price and a contract associated with it) nor is it focused and agile like Apple’s,” he said.

In other words, he added, “it seems to suffer from the worst aspects of modularity (market lag) without benefiting from the control over the ecosystem and end user experience that differentiates it.”

Poor Sales

Although it’s declined to release exact sales figures, Microsoft nonetheless acknowledges Windows Phone’s soft market performance. “It was under a year ago that we launched the first Windows Phone,” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told an audience of media and executives at this year’s financial analyst meeting. “We haven’t sold quite as many probably as I would have hoped in the first year.”

Nonetheless, Microsoft is gearing up for a significant Windows Phone push in months ahead, starting with the 27 September release of its wide-ranging “Mango” update. The company hopes that Mango’s 500 new tweaks and features could give the platform the momentum it needs with consumers to more effectively combat Apple’s iOS and Google Android. Apple’s latest iPhone, the iPhone 4S, racked up a million pre-orders in its first 24 hours of availability.

In addition, Microsoft has signed significant deals with companies such as Nokia to produce a wide variety of Windows Phone Mango devices. Other partners include Samsung, HTC, LG Electronics, Acer and ZTE, all of which will likely obey Microsoft’s minimum hardware requirements while giving their own unique spins on their respective smartphones. Dual-core and LTE devices are supposedly in the pipeline.

In an Oct. 11 interview with The Seattle Times, Windows Phone division President Andy Lees knocked Android, which he predicted would enter a “chaotic phase” of increased fragmentation across multiple platforms. “If you’ve used some of the (Android) phones, some of them are great, but some of them are not great,” he told the newspaper. “But it’s random.”