An Objective Comparison of Future Computing Interfaces

Some tech bloggers are lampooning Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 operating system based on a Microsoft blog that detailed some new feature in the Windows 8 file manager.  MG Siegler of TechCrunch highlighted a heavily marked up file explorer that has nothing to do with what actual users see to lampoon Windows 8 and compared the Windows 8 file manager to Apple iPad’s home screen.  Such a comparison is obviously unfair since they’re not even comparing apples to apples (pun intended).  A fair comparison would be putting the home screens of each operating system side-by-side like the following.

Image credit: Compiled from iPad 2 review and zunited.net.

When we compare the two user interfaces, Windows 8’s tablet interface “Metro” will display live tiles that display useful information while the iPad will display pretty – but distracting – drops of water.  While the iPad Facebook icon displays the number “2” to indicate two new messages, the Windows 8 Metro Facebook tile will probably show the actual two new messages.

As for the debatable decision to add a ribbon interface (like Microsoft Office) to the Windows 8 file manager (Windows Explorer), Paul Thurrott pointed out that expert users will be able to minimize the ribbon.  Novices will benefit from better exposure of heavily used commands.

Siegler went on to declare that the iPad didn’t need a file manager because the future is the cloud and nobody needs local files.  But even the New York Times David Pogue didn’t buy into that “all cloud” vision when he called Google’s Chromebook a “3.3-pound paper weight”.