Microsoft has made some huge changes to its desktop UI in Windows 8, however it looks like they aren’t done yet. The Aero Glass UI first introduced in Windows Vista brought us translucent window borders, rounded corners, and an interface that was designed to blend into the background. These effects remained in the consumer preview, and will appear again in the release preview, however Microsoft today confirmed they would be axed from the final shipping version.
Microsoft makes its case for killing off Aero in a nauseatingly long 10,000 + word blog post, but to save you time here are the approximately 200 words which are actually worth reading.
“We want desktop windows to continue to feel light and airy, and we want a chrome style that doesn’t distract from the content of the app … Aero was designed to help the app’s content to be the center of attention, and for the Windows system UI to recede into the background. This is still relevant today, and while we are moving beyond Aero, we don’t want to lose sight of these goals.”
“We made a conscious effort to relate the visual appearance of the Windows 8 desktop to the visual appearance of the familiar Windows 7 desktop. This helps people who want to predominantly use the desktop feel comfortable and immediately at home in the new environment.”
“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.”
Killing off Aero effects should help to improve battery life on laptops and tablets, though it looks like desktop users who prefer this look will be out of luck as well. White windows and square corners might not sound like a big deal, but to some it might be yet another unwelcome change. What do you think of the change?