Like the Start menu, come Windows 8, the Aero Glass interface we've come to love (or adjust to) will be no more, according to a post on Microsoft's development blog. Apparently, Redmond has "moved beyond" the design, which debuted way back in 2006 with Windows Vista, and is keen to embrace an approach it feels is "clean and crisp".
The post states the change is motivated purely by usability and clarity and that by "flattening surfaces, removing reflections and scaling back distracting gradients", Windows 8 will provide a simplified experience over its flashier predecessors:
We applied the principles of "clean and crisp" when updating window and taskbar chrome. Gone are the glass and reflections. We squared off the edges of windows and the taskbar. We removed all the glows and gradients found on buttons within the chrome. We made the appearance of windows crisper by removing unnecessary shadows and transparency. The default window chrome is white, creating an airy and premium look. The taskbar continues to blend into the desktop wallpaper, but appears less complicated overall.
To complete the story, we updated the appearance of most common controls, such as buttons, check boxes, sliders, and the Ribbon. We squared off the rounded edges, cleaned away gradients and flattened the control backgrounds to align with our chrome changes. We also tweaked the colors to make them feel more modern and neutral.
You can see a screenshot of the consolidated changes in the lead image. I'm going to take an educated guess that removing Aero doesn't mean killing Vista/7's hardware-accelerated desktop. This was one of the better improvements that came with Vista, even if it killed GDI (Graphics Device Interface) performance on the newer operating system in the short-term.
Aero Glass's system requirements were a contentious issue back when Vista first came out; it'll be interesting to see how responsive the do-over in Windows 8 feels in comparison, especially that Microsoft has killed off transparency.