Windows 8.1 is the version of Windows that Microsoft should’ve shipped instead of 8.0. Unfortunately, it took the ’Softies an extra year to get their act together. Fortunately, it looks like the original Windows 8 will die a quick and unlamented death.
Windows 8.1 shows two completely different personas: the traditional desktop and the tiled Start screen interface. The traditional Windows desktop resembles every Windows desktop you’ve seen over the past decade, give or take a bit. More than 1.4 billion people have used it, if Microsoft’s numbers can be trusted. The tiled “immersive” persona represents the future of Windows.
Like almost everyone in the computer world, I call the tiled side of Windows 8.1 Metro. Microsoft calls that side of the fence so many different things it’s hard to keep them all straight — immersive, modern, “Windows 8 app,” Windows Store app, full-screen, Live tile, Start screen, and many more unprintable things. For me, Metro tells the whole story of the tiled half.
Although Microsoft gave up on the term Metro to describe the tiled, boxy, phone-like, almost-always-full-screen side of Windows 8, I use it here. Why? Because nobody’s come up with a better name. In fact, the whole industry has ignored Microsoft’s official shunning of the term. You’ll see Metro mentioned in books, online articles, blog posts — even in Microsoft’s own official programming blogs (the ones that aren’t vetted by Microsoft Legal or PR). Apparently Microsoft reached some ...