Live tiles aren’t one of Windows 8’s problems

Now that Windows 10 Technical Preview is out, opinions are flooding in about Microsoft’s oddly named OS. One of the common remarks is how modern Start Screen from Windows 8 is out the window because, you know, people hate it.

I disagree. Whether you like colorful live tiles is a subjective choice — it’s an opinion about aesthetics, like how one person could like TouchWiz but another could abhor it — but the Windows 8 Start Screen is not functionally inferior. As an app launcher, it’s actually superior to the traditional Start Menu.

But if flat, colorful boxes aren’t your thing, that’s understandable. That’s an opinion.

You may not like how TouchWiz looks, but that doesn’t make a Samsung phone objectively bad.

Windows 8 was objectively bad, but for other reasons.

Windows 8 was objectively a step back for the majority of PC users not because of its live tile aesthetic. No, it was bad because:

  • You couldn’t stay in one environment, and the forced transition to go from desktop to modern, and modern to desktop, sucked. Especially as each mode had its own unique way of navigation.
  • If you used the keyboard and mouse, modern mode offered little to no value; that meant modern apps weren’t used. Developers were unhappy their efforts were unrewarded, and users effectively didn’t have new apps to try.

Unfortunately, the majority of PC users rely on keyboard and mouse, so the innovations Windows 8 brought were rarely experienced. Only the inconveniences — missing start button, weird corner navigation, no new apps that were worthy, etc. — were felt, and the live tile start screen became the symbol of all that went wrong.

The reason why I’m optimistic for Windows 10 and don’t consider it a step back is because Microsoft is finally fixing those two problems.

Because modern apps can now be used in desktop mode in the traditional windows interface, desktop users can stay there no matter what apps they use. It’s an environment well suited for keyboard and mouse.

The result of Windows 10 is that the modern mode will only be used by tablet users — and that’s OK, that’s what it was designed for.

Continuum will ensure devices that can jump back and forth between these two worlds will be able to do so even more easily, and the interface will adapt to the method of input that suits it best.

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