★ Escaping Interface Prison: Windows 8 and OS convergence

This week at the D9 conference Microsoft unveiled Windows 8, which will be fully optimized for touch:

The Windows 8 start screen, borrowing Windows Phone's "Tiles" interface.

As I explained in a lengthy post back in February last year, I believe technology companies often remain prisoners of their interfaces. This move by Microsoft is a long-needed move away from the old Start Menu / Taskbar principle. But there is something of a trend here…

Hints at the convergence of desktop and mobile OS

A lot of the commentary about this move has been criticizing Microsoft’s approach to try to put a desktop OS on mobile devices. Daring Fireball’s John Gruber argues that iOS on iPad works because Apple built them “from the ground up for the touchscreen and for the different rules and tradeoffs of the iOS interface”.

While this has definitely been a major reason for the success of the iOS platform, I think this may be just temporary — a necessary fork in the road of operating system evolutions. Just like Google has hinted that Android and Chrome OS may one day merge, I believe Apple realizes that touch will affect computing beyond tablets and is going to slowly converge iOS and OS X. For proof, the coming-soon Mac OS X Lion will clearly integrate many of the interface lessons learned from touch-based apps:

Mac OS X Lion's Launchpad, which borrows heavily from the iOS home screen layout.

Expect mobile to revolutionize the desktop OS landscape, and many of the desktop metaphors (such as folders and files) to slowly start fading away.

About Jean Friesewinkel

Jean is a Belgian engineer and Node.js developer. After 4 years in strategy consulting, Jean is now developing WiseRadar, a personalized news service designed to help startups grow their business. On Strategyist, he writes about web strategies and startups that change the world. He also loves sailing, cooking & photography.

02. June 2011 by Jean Friesewinkel
Categories: Interface Design, Mobile | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 comments

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