Metro Will be Your First Stop With Windows 8

Explorer, like a lot of other Windows components, is being pushed into the background. Will IT like this?

The forthcoming developer release of Windows 8 will boot only into the Metro UI, with Explorer available as a tile if you want your trusty old Windows desktop, and that's your only option until hackers get around it.

Microsoft confirmed that the developer release, coming out Tuesday night at 8 p.m. PDT will only boot into the new interface and you cannot boot into Explorer. Whether this will be the case in the final product, Microsoft would not say. The final code is nowhere near release and likely at least a year off.

Given that the developer version of Windows 8 will be downloadable by everyone, it won't take hackers long to find a way around Metro as the default UI. The thing is, Microsoft is baking so much of Windows 8 into Metro and building so many apps around it, you may have to use it whether you want to or not.

Metro is a tiled interface similar to the one seen in Windows Phone 7. Apps written for Metro use a new application model called Windows Run Time application programming interfaces (WinRT APIs). WinRT apps will run side-by-side with old Explorer style apps, so it's not like Metro will break apps.

But it does mean a fundamental change is coming to the way Windows operates and the way we use it. The days of 48x48 pixel desktop tiled from the upper left corner of your desktop are coming to an end, if Microsoft has any say so.

The question then becomes how well IT accepts this. Will they embrace Metro or demand Explorer? Before you answer that, remember that people were buying brand new PCs with creaky old Windows XP pre-loaded up until last year.

Microsoft is making a major effort to have apps ready for Windows 8 through this show and the many tools and APIs being published. Early versions of both Visual Studio 11 and Internet Explorer 10 are shipping with the developer version of Windows 8, which means Microsoft has a lot on its plate: a new OS, new UI, new browser and new developer tools, all in concurrent development.

Whether people are luddites or have Explorer-bound apps, Microsoft really should reconsider mandatory Metro by final code, because it may cause IT departments to reject Windows 8.

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