A few thoughts on IE10 and the Windows 8 experience

The Metro browser, in normal mode without the right click menu.

OK, I’m no techie but I’m no slouch as well. I’ve upgraded to Windows 8 on this brand new Dell XPS 8500 (Core i7 3770, 12 gigs ram, Radeon 7770 2 gig card) but only because I enjoyed the Windows 8 experience on my touchscreen Dell Inspiron Duo. In fact, Win 8 extended the life of that little netbook for sure… without the improved touch interface I would not have used it nearly as much.

Anyway, there are a few points I want to make and a few questions, so if you know what is going on let me know in the comments.

1) The Metro browser: OK, this is one of the most confusing aspects of Windows 8, but I think I understand now. There are essentially 2 browsers that come on Win 8: The standard IE10 experience (albeit better than earlier IE experiences) and the “Metro” browser. They are essentially the same browser with a different skin from what I have read. (Again, PLEASE correct me if I am wrong.)

Metro is FANTASTIC. Why? Well, not only is the default fullscreen nice and easy to navigate and the speeds are much faster, but I love the fact that I can right click and bring up easy-to-read screens. Metro is the browser that is made for the mobile devices, especially the new touch-screen notebooks and devices like Surface. So, the buttons and navigation on Metro are big and easy to touch with a mouse or finger. As someone who suffers from migraines, being able to just glance at a button and click it is so much easier than reading through tons of links and bookmarks. So, my question: How do I get Chrome to act like Metro? I know Google is working on a “Metro” version of Chrome, but still…

The Metro UI with the right-click menu. See how massive the buttons are?

Question 2: I have read that, unless a site is on Microsoft’s “White List” it will not work in Metro. This means that favorite games like Forge of Empires simply don’t work. Glitch doesn’t work, as well. So many games come up with the same error. Now, is this something that Microsoft will fix in Metro or will websites literally have to wait to be “White Listed” by Microsoft in order to work?

I ask because I LOVE the browser experience of Metro. My eyes do much better on a tablet because everything is so large and easy to glance at. Is there a way for me to customize my current favorite browser Chrome in order to behave just like Metro? I’ve read a few tips, but really I just want to be able to use Metro for everything I need — at least sometimes. (Don’t worry, I’m taking security precautions.

2) The Windows 8 desktop experience versus the tablet experience: OK, so again we come down to “Why should I upgrade? Will I notice a difference?” if you haven’t had some time with Win 8 then you will have some growing pains. It will take some time to get used to odd things like “Where the Hell do I go to for _____ ?” There are a LOT of things that need to be tweaked in Win 8 to make current 7 users comfortable. Give it time, though, and things fall into place.

The error that pops up when you try and use a site that is not “White Listed”.. Flash-based.

 

Here’s what I like about the desktop experience:

a) Better performance: I’ve measured and it does seem better. Snappier, etc, but that could also be only a slight difference and the “newness” of it all is creating a placebo effect.

b) Easier on the eyes: Remember that this is MS’s attempt to move into the tablet age. I agree with them and know that tablets will take over as the primary source of digitial goodness very soon. It’s just a matter of time and should be as obvious as when we had MP3s and digital music take over the CD market. I would rather have a nice, 23 inch tablet-looking monitor than the old school “the larger the res, the smaller the font” type of deal from before. Again this comes down to my need for bigger and smoother buttons and fonts, so if you have no issues with such things you might not care. And, yes, I know that I can adjust Win 7 settings to make larger fonts, etc, but this cannot be done while maintaining a pretty normal experience online. Win 8 is not creating larger fonts, etc, but is making navigation MUCH easier. Every little bit helps.

c) Fun tweaks like split-screen, etc: OK, so the fact that I can split the screen and all that is not very useful until I really need it (like when I am typing in stuff for press accounts and copy/paste won’t work well) but it is fun and helpful in many cases.

d) The start screen is actually quite nice: The start screen seems silly at first, but once you get used to it it is another way to save clicks and to take it easier on the eyes. Sure, it’s really just a collection of links and shortcuts, but that has always been the case. The start menu is just a new version and works well.

The tablet experience is much better than with 7 because 8 features that massive buttons and hides annoying screen-hoggers like you will find in standard desktops. Everything in 8 feels right on a touchscreen.

Those are just a few basic thoughts. I have work to do so I will have to add to this later. My main concern is the Metro browser… I want to recreate that experience but with a browser that can utilize the full web, like Chrome or IE. If you have any tips or tricks, let me know in the comments!

Beau