Two reasons why you will like Windows 8 store apps even on your desktop and laptop

Monday, September 24, 2012 gc 0 Comments

For more than a year, I have been thankfully using a Windows 8 tablet that was given to attendees of build last year. Since then, I have been using the tablet as both a consumption and creation device—and even as a +95% replacement for my Moleskine notebook. Windows 8 preview editions have been very stable for me throughout the process including Visual Studio 11 (2012).

Two reasons why, in my view, you will even like to use Windows 8 store apps on your desktop and laptop:

1. Reduced Friction
Traditional window management tasks such as moving, sizing, restoring, minimizing, maximizing, and closing are excise. This excise creates friction in the user experience. It may seem small, but it takes work to even get to the point where you can accomplish a goal. Great interfaces get out of the way and window management, often times, gets right in the way.  

2. Improved Focus
Multi-tasking is a fallacy. Many studies done including a recent one at MIT conclusively show that what we commonly consider to be multitasking actually occurs in a sequential, not simultaneous manner (Source).  All of us should focus on a single task at a time. People do fuse with their toolscognitively at least; so, proper tooling can make a big difference in our behavior and productivity.

In my view, using Windows 8 store apps can help improve your focus by forcing you to focus on one or two apps at a time. This style will just help us create better apps to help people be more productive overall.

"But I need to monitor my email and switch quickly between applications," you say.

I agree. Sometimes there is no substitute for a multi-monitor multi-window environment; however, Windows 8 does enable a quick context switch without having to re-launch the Windows store app. Quickly spin through your cognitive context of 5 to 7 things and start new ones. With simple gestures, you can quickly switch between contexts, dock, or close an app. These simple gestures also work well with a track pad or mouse. If you had to re-launch the app every time that you did a context switch, that too would create friction and excise.

With the focus on the content and not the excise and chrome, the experience can be much better.

My belief is that you will enjoy Windows store apps even on a laptop and desktop. Now, as a developer, I spend a lot of time using the traditional desktop with Visual Studio and with many other apps.

This only the beginning—a 1.0—of a shift in using Windows without windows. Even with a multi-monitor desktop, I use Window Store apps often—and even trumps over some traditional desktop apps. One example, I prefer using the Windows store app tweeTRO over any other desktop or web Twitter client.

Imagine making the same gestures without touching the display or a mouse—in front of a TV, game console, or even desktop. I can imagine a day when we will develop code with our hands and bodies not just our fingers (do not worry: computational thinking is still required).

We will fuse with Windows 8 in many other ways beyond the keyboard and mouse.

In my view, the Modern UI style (formerly known as Metro) is great design. Windows 8 is certainly not perfect and granted not everyone will enjoy it as much as I do, but my belief is that sooner or later you will too.


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