Aero To Zero: Windows 8 Slays UI Style Of Windows Vista, 7

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.

[MSDN, via The Verge]

Image: MSDN



    If they don't update those icons I won't even install windows 8 for fun in bootcamp.. look at all the buttons on the ribbon - what a pathetic mess..

      I agree. If I want to copy something I'm just going to use Ctrl c.
      why are they designing the operating system to work on a device with no keypad. surely there's going to be way way more people using windows 8 with pcs rather then tablets. I just cant see windows 8 going to work.
      Plus Aero is sexy.

      So turn them off if you don't want to use them. Nothing is forced upon you, If you are scared of change you can use Windows 8 in EXACTLY the same way you have always used Windows.

        scared of change? More like TIRED of cosmetic changes with no functional benefits.

          But there are considerable functional benefits - hot corners, charms bar, etc. - you just don't have to use them if you don't want to.

            Completely agree. I can't understand people complaining about win 8 before the final version is even released. Bunch of tools.

      But that means dealing with the mess that is OSX!

      I need those icons on the ribbon. You see, some of us with physical disabilities cannot easily use Ctrl C and other keyboard shortcuts. Having icons to click is a godsend for me.
      I even used Classic Shell to get those icons back in Windows 7.
      As Motormouth says, you can simply flick the ribbon off if you don't want to use it.

      Just hide the ribbon if you don't want to use it ffs.......what a pathetic mess of an excuse to hate an operating system

      You can minimize the ribbon with a single button press. And once you do you'll have much less visual clutter than explorer in Win7.

    That looks like one big bunch of suck.
    When will MS engineers get their heads out of their collective arseholes and just make the damn framework for a sound and useable OS and let the customers worry about the drapes.

      What are you talking about? Have you even used it? It is awesome - far and away the best version of Windows ever and a mile better than MacOS ever was.

        Do you work for MS? The mac has always provided top usability, hardware and stability. I've use pcs and macs for 20 years. I enjoy by far using the mac as a multimedia developer and have far fewer tech issues to fix. I agree with Ping - MS spends more on adverts and OS colours, not on good code or ideas.

          I can think of just one, rather minor (no else ever seems to even mention it) usability advantage with MacOS - the Preview application that works in Finder. Finder itself is worse than Explorer, the Dock is worse than either the Start Menu or Start Screen and window management is so poor Apple have had to continually add on kludge after kludge to try and make it usable. OTOH, the Taskbar is elegant, obvious, simple and customisable to suit anyone's needs.
          I've been using both Mac and PC since about 1999 and my experience is the complete opposite to yours. In classrooms I have had to regularly make excuses for this or that failing on G3 and G4 Macs, something I have never had to do with PCs. I have also had to spend a lot more time sorting out other artists' OS X problems than I ever have Windows issues. More importantly, though, I have never had to have a dual-boot on a PC, just so that I could use all the software I need every day but I have been doing that since Bootcamp came along (easily the worst boot manager I have ever come across, BTW).

    If there is no aero, then why can i still see through the bar at the bottom?

    Bad Photoshop?

      Yeah I noticed that too. What the hel---

      --gets eaten by a shark.

      I think *some* transparencies are remaining... they are just getting rid of "unnecessary shadows and transparency"

      Did you read the article?
      "The taskbar continues to blend into the desktop wallpaper, but appears less complicated overall."

    I'm not a big fan of the ribbon and all that but there is a part of me that thinks as far as usability on a touch screen goes, the ribbon might make a little bit of sense

    Even though I like aero, this still looks ok. However the icons do need changing like Shael said as they don't fit the design.

    I'll still be skipping Windows 8 unless they bring the start menu back and get rid of metro. I really do hope Windows 8 is a massive flop. Then they might fix this mess in Windows 9.

      There's no way they are going to drop Metro. Its more than just a new UI; it encompasses their new ecosystem and cross-marketing platform. They've invested so heavily in the same interface starting with Zune, and of course Windows Phone 7, and now even the X-Box has the metro UI. There's also plenty of Arm tablets on the way that are Metro only (they'll only run apps downloaded from the Windows marketplace) so it's here to stay.

      However like others, I'm not sure what to make of Metro on the desktop with a mouse and keyboard. Its just weird. Why the hell do pages scroll sideways when I scroll down with my mouse?! It's obvious its been built primarily with touch-screens in mind so it just doesn't fit. And it doesn't work intuitively across multiple monitors. However I hear that problem has been addressed, along with start button improvements, which we'll see in the June Consumer Preview.

      It does kind of suck, but there's no question Microsoft are trying o build a much tighter ecosystem like Apple's, as they know that "apps" are where the money is. Lock people into apps that work seamlessly across desktops, laptops and tablets, and get people to invest in the ecosystem, and then they are much more likely to get a Windows Phone and X-Box etc.

      Metro is optional, you never need to deal with it if you don't want to. Metro won't go anywhere because by the time Windows 9 comes out, touch-screen computing will be the vast majority of the market and there will be about as much money in a non-touch UI as there is in MacPros today.

    Yeah I'm more than happy with Windows 7. I defiantly won't be moving to 8 any time soon if at all.

    Let's take the versatile desktop and make it a second class citizen to a difficult to use front end.
    Let's take the start menu, a compact centralized point for most functions on the system, and smoosh it into a space wasting monstrosity that takes up the entire screen.
    Let's remove easy task management for Metro apps, cause people want their computers to act like mobile phones.
    Lets take the pretty aero UI features and bin them.
    The more I read about Win8, the more I know I am sticking with Win7, and this isn't some "I am afraid of change" thing, it's more a "I'm afraid of my computer being as annoying to use for multitasking as my phone."

      Agreed. There's always Macs though! If they'd just get rid of that ugly dock system and those nasty ultra glossy icons the interface would be ok (Macs). But it's a good choice if Windows goes stupid.

        I always liked the dock

          The dock has never worried me, in fact for a time I used StarDock on XP before the Win7 task bar made it all but obsolete. What annoys me about macs is their blatant disregard for fullscreen lol

      Why does it matter that it uses the entire screen to display icons in a highly organised, easy to use manner. You can't keep typing an email or editing video with the current Start Menu open, so what is the difference?

        Maybe you never found the benefits of customising the menu -- its what pro users do to become more efficient. Logic? eg where is the Tables portion?

        The Metro start menu is very inefficient. Rather than moving the cursor 15px to choose a different option, you have to move 120. That is just one of the reasons it is worse than the 2nd gen start menu.

        You know you can customise the start screen too right?

    Ugh, looks like an Apple IIe

      Oh, c'mon dude. The mouse is cheesy and dated.

      Now I get to type and type and type and type just to find applications. IMPROVEMENT!

    I hate Aero. But I also hate the ribbon. So am in two minds about this. Like the simple clean look, but wish it flowed through to the icons...

      You can collapse the ribbon. I barely use the menu in Windows 7 now anyway...once the display options are configured I hardly see much need to do too much that I can't with a mouse, a right click or one or two keyboard shortcuts.

    Ugh, I've seen DeviantArt mockups which look better than this.

    I really don't see what the fuss is about here? It's just one screenshot and I'm sure there will be an app or an option to change it to what you want soon enough. The fact is Windows 8 is faster and more versatile than 7, so just give it a chance guys. I'm sure MS are listening to the madding crowd out there.

    Who here was ever distracted by the glossy, shiny look of Windows 7?


    That's what I thought. I for one am actively appreciative of the soft glow everything has.

      I doubt anyone was distracted by Windows 95's design either. Doesn't really make a great case for not looking into redesigning something but.

      ...that isn't to say the above is spectacular mind.

      I hate it. I was using the "Classic Windows" look in Vista and Win7, not Aero. Its gone from Win8 but I don't really miss it because it is far less obtrusive now, although my favourite look was the Zune theme for WinXP.

    I will happily buy Windows 8. Time to get over the way Windows worked in 1995, it's update time.

      change for the sake of change is never a good thing

        It isn't a change for the sake of change but....Microsoft themselves have many posts outlining why they have made the decisions they have. That isn't to say everyone will agree with them all, hell I certainly don't, but it's not 'just because they can' either.

        And yet it worked wonders for MS with Win7.

          Win7 wasn't change for the sake of change. The majority of the changes were just evolution from Vista, and most people saw the benefits of the redesigned task bar from the get go.

    As long as they don't remove Aero snap. Aero snap is awesome

      I love snap, but third party tools always did it that little bit better.

      i use areo snap on almost a 5 minutely basis

      I hated aero snap. I tend to work with heaps of windows on the screen at once and it'd keep trying to be helpful and resizing them all over everything.
      I was much happier once I disabled it.

    I like so far

    That screenshot shows that transparency is still there. It only looks very slightly different to the Consumer Preview, which is very close to Aero. I actually preferred the way it was in the Developer Preview, which was completely flat with no fancy bits at all. I'd also love to see application windows opening like Zune does, with no window border or title bar at all. It is ultra-clean, yet completely functional.

      Agreed. The 'clean' design is far superior to the gloss and gradient look, and having seen everything with a rounded edge, the squared off approach feels far more modern.

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    MS is a massive, monumental mess. They've stuffed things up before, and they'll do it again. All their boardrooms and management and development teams and so on still can't find their own butts or do anything common sense. Kids say mobile devices are cool, so MS throws all its cash in that direction. Actually, the OS can do whatever they want, as long as it is customisable. The preview I am using right now is not and the bottom line is...tasks are more difficult now than before. That is just not right. The whole point of PCs is that we use them the way we want...not the way we are told is better for us (because it suits their marketing plans).

      Are you kidding? I have never in my life seen a big company working so transparently. You can find out what process they used to arrive at every tiny, little decision they have made regarding Win8. Comments like you s simply show how little you bother to do your homework before putting your foot in your mouth for all the world to see.

      What tasks are more difficult now than they were? The only one I can think of is that I had to make shutdown and restart icons for the desktop, although I used to have a widget to do that in Vista and Win7 that would probably work if I wanted to use it. Its a simple change that makes everything in Win8 at least as fast as it is in Vista/Win7. I was going to say logging on is harder but I think a flick of the mouse is easier than CTRL+ALT+DELETE, so even that is easier.

      I don't know what the hell your talking about. Everybody was hounding Microsoft for change, "oh Apple is really innovating, what's Microsoft doing?" So Microsoft decided that people were right, they decide to innovate and change. Now it's the bloody opposite, "why are they changing and trying to do different things??????. They just can't win.

    Now that I'm not looking from a tiny screen, that's actually not too bad, I'm not sure if I like so much screen real estate being devoted to the ribbon, but overall it feels clean and useful. I can see myself using it.

    It's a pattern that started from Windows 95,

    Windows 95 (Good) > Windows 98 (Bad) > Windows 2000 (Good) > Windows ME (Bad) > Windows XP (Good) > Windows Vista (Bad) > Windows 7 (Good)

    Anyone want to guess what Windows 8 will be?

      You forgot, Windows 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 and NT - NT was right before 95 and it was brillaint... your pattern fails

      '98 was waaaaaaay better/more stable than '95.

      What was wrong with Win98? It was a solid improvement over Win95 and Win98SE was pretty much bulletproof. Windows 2000 was not part of the series, it belongs to the Windows NT line and was never sold as a consumer OS.

    Squaring the windows, taking out the transparencies and shadows, removing the glows...

    So we're going back to win98 again? Awesome. I knew I wasn't upgrading for a reason, old things always come back into fashion!

      I'm with you, dude. Looks like the revenge of AOL.

      Oh, and the performance and battery life boost they were talking about. MS just released an update to Windows 8 already that address....tada!....power and battery life issues.

    Awesome back the visual UI of my favourite operating system Windows NT 3.51

    This is a good move in the right direction. Solid colours and no gloss, much better. If they can continue to add some more minimalist touches, and maybe even remove those giant ugly ass padded borders from all windows and just go completely borderless like OSX, I might actually be happy with the way my desktop OS looks for the first time ever.

    Oh and if they can go back to a status bar in explorer more like XP's than 7's, where information such as file size always appears in the same location instead of moving all over the place, it will make dealing with lots of files so much easier.

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