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Following up on a post from earlier today, where we make mention of Windows 8 and the inclusion of Metro, we have this nice tidbit from Microsoft regarding, well, Windows 8, and the inclusion of Metro.  They have replaced the desktop with a start screen that should be familiar to anyone with a windows phone, and, well... The video demo says it all and we could type for hours, and not explain it well enough to do it justice.

Remember alt-tab?  Yeah, just a swipe from the left to switch between apps.

The old start button/orb? Swipe from the right.

Remember Aero-snap? Well, look at Snap now. Re-sizable, and beautiful.

Remember the horrible old onscreen keyboard? Check out the new thumb board.

And underneath it all, the familiar trappings of Windows 7.

Windows Vista and 7 applications seem to be fully supported, if seeming a little out of place. We already know that legacy applications will not work on ARM processors without being recompiled, so I would expect a new version of Office to launch around the same time as Windows 8.

So, now we know how Windows tablets are going to look and act, and it gives us an interesting view of a possible future of Windows Phone. The tiles are incredibly flexible, and when we are able to utilize them on a larger screen, they should prove to be very useful tools.

It's not all roses, though, and people that were hesitant to make the switch to Vista or Windows 7 are in for a new shock. I am willing to bet that the Metro UI can be turned on and off, but imagine the first time your grandmother accidentally turns it on? And, more importantly, companies are always concerned about their workforce, and having to retrain when new versions of software come out. How will decision makers react to the new UI, and how will Microsoft sell it as a productivity enhancer, as opposed to just an awesome information layer? Remember the Mac Dashboard?

And, as a side note, when you are watching the video, watch on the right side of the screen for a wall, covered in censoring blur. Let us know what you think they are hiding in the comments.  And follow the break to read Microsoft's full press on the Windows 8 preview.

Source: Microsoft

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Should you be new to Windows Phone Metro UI development, coming from either Android or iOS for example, then this well worth checking out. Teppo Kotirinta, Principal Designer at Nordkapp, has just published an article on their blog announcing their designer cheat sheet.

This image which can be printed off or downloaded and opened on a 50" TV and will guide you through each illustration detailing what each screen contains and how the structure and design should be developed for effective deployment. Included are dimensions for live tiles, hex codes for all the WP7 themes and more. It really is a 101 for designing perfect Metro apps without the 1,000 pages worth of reading required.

They state that the cheat sheet will be updated as of when Microsoft release more features/information, so keep an eye out for updates should you find this useful.

Source: Nordkapp

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We've seen our share of Metro spin-offs for your Windows desktop (see Firefox skin, RainMeter) and heck, Windows 8 is going to have a Metro-inspired UI to it to boot. But for those wanting a quick way to update today, you can run this free weather app right on your desktop that heavily lifts from your precious Windows Phone UI.

The app is simple enough, not even an installation. Just download and extract the folder to your \Programs (or wherever) and run the main .exe file. From there, right click to get options and setup your location and preferences, then hit "refresh" on each panel to get it up to date.

Heck, it even bounces up and down like the Metro UI, so we're giving this a big thumbs up--it looks great, works well and is simple.

Note: the app auto-updates, you only need to manually refresh if you change anything in settings. You can even set the weather-update interval.

Source: Download Crew; designed by 'Stealth'; via Beta News

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We've previously covered how the influence of Metro is spreading to the desktop operating systems with MetroTwit, Android with the launcher and iOS with the Metro theme etc. Now we have another app mimicking the Windows Phone 7 interface on Android from Federico Carnales - developer behind LauncherPro (which sports a Metro theme).

This music player looks very nice and implements the Metro look successfully when ignoring the status bar at the top. The simplistic approach to user interface has really taken storm, which I find baffling since if we take the desktop OS as an example, from early editions of Windows we've come through XP's colour introduction, glass effects in Vista and 7, high resolution icons and window management in OS X and Linux being customised to look like it was designed in 3146, to Metro on WP7. Simple use of icons, elegant looking and blown-up text, but it works.

Should we be looking forward to future implementations of the UI? Most definitely.

Via: Droid Life

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Over iStartedSomething, Long Zheng goes into some detail about the East Asian language pack coming to Windows Phone 7 in the fall via Mango. Specifically, what it means in terms of the Metro design when showing such languages as Chinese, Japanese and Korean, amongst others. As you can see in the image above, taken during MIX11, East Asian languages will for the first time be using the vertical plan as opposed to just horizontally displayed words and characters. The reasoning for this should be obvious as systems such as katakana and kanji require a little

Evidently, this change is not just for the lock-screen, but for the native hubs and panoramas throughout the OS, adding a unique expansion of the Metro UI design ethos. However, it looks like at least for now, third-party apps won't be able to emulate such design expansion--though we imagine that may be just temporary until the team comes out with the proper dev tools and standards.

Finally, Long Zheng correctly hints that the Metro team is still at work evolving the UI, something we also heard in Barcelona at the Mobile World Congress. Considering Microsoft has expanding Metro from Zune to Windows Phone to parts of Windows 8, there's little doubt we'll be seeing some interesting changes in the UI over the next few years.

Source: iStartedSomething

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While not much practical use to our readers, it's nice to see Microsoft's Metro UI catching on in a big way. A new iPhone Twitter app called 'Maha' is an exact clone of some of the popular Twitter apps on Windows Phone 7 that adhere to the Metro theme e.g. Twitter (official), Rowi and Twitt.

Between what's been shown of Windows 8, Windows Phone and Xbox 360, this Metro thing seems to be catching on. Hey, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And maybe, just maybe, a few iPhoners will want a phone with the whole Metro UI.

via: nanapho

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With Windows Phone 7 featuring such a beautiful UI, there has to be a level of quality present in application appearance and user friendliness to match the core system, which is entirely different to the competition. However, there are a handful (or more) apps on the Marketplace that aren't up-to-par.

Jeff Wilcox, better known for the 4th&Mayor FourSquare app for WP7, has published a Metro UI guide for developers, which is beautiful in itself. Covering the factors; ease of use, simplicity, discoverability, conformance and more, the guide is a must read for any WP7 developer or even iOS and Android developers to gain an insight into the Metro universe.

Almost simply listing what to do and what not to do, Jeff explains the steps that are required and calculations that need to be made for your app to succeed in the Marketplace with both sales/downloads and highly rated reviews. Also, it's always nice to have a resource available for those who wish to port the UI to other platforms, but mimicking the appearance of WP7 is one thing, replicating the user experience is another.

Source: Jeff Wilcox, via: @guinnesslee

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One thing that deserves being pointed out, repeatedly, about Windows Phone 7 is how the UI is pretty much unlike anything out on the market today. Whether it's iOS (who lifted their layout from Palm's Garnet), Android (same) or even WebOS (more unique than the first wo), the Windows Phone 7 "style" is  certainly eye catching.

So much, in fact, that Microsoft has filed an application for a trademark on it--guess they're fearing the rise of the clones, at some point, eh? Of course just because you file doesn't mean it will be granted, but it's probably always smart to get these things in writing, in case lawsuits start flying again later on. Also, lets just say they're very specific on the filing:

The literal element of the mark consists of PHONE PEOPLE MESSAGING OUTLOOK. The mark consists of eight boxes; the upper left-hand box containing the word "PHONE" along with a telephone receiver; the upper right-hand box containing the word "PEOPLE"; the lower left-hand box containing the word "MESSAGING" along with a character face; the lower right-hand box containing the word "OUTLOOK" along with the letter "O", an envelope and a check mark; the lower four boxes are empty.

Source: US Patent & Trademark Office; via Mobile Crunch

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Say what you want about LG but their custom Windows Phone software is hands down the best of all the OEMs today. Between offering $30 worth of apps for free (including the amazing Weave) and their homemade stuff like Voice to Text, ScanSearch and Metro Scanner (and a bunch of other tools, like panoramic camera), they really offer quite the one-two punch to HTC and Samsung.

ScanSearch and Metro Scanner are great because they are so-called augmented reality apps. Basically they take advantage of the phone's accelerometer, compass and camera to show you things you can't see, like bars, restaurants, or in the case of Metro Scanner, subway stations in your local city.

Metro Scanner works "world wide" and while we couldn't vouch for that it did a swell job in New York City. You launch the app, it grabs a GPS fix (can take a few seconds, though it has a progress bar, natch) and then it shows you where the nearest subway is in relation to you. Holding the phone flat  gives you a map with compass, holding it up uses the camera to show you where it is as if you could see through all the buildings. Tapping the station gives you directions.

Metro Scanner was just updated to v1.2 to fix a compass bug and all we have to say about the app is that it's pretty darn cool, LG. Our next hope? Microsoft releases those camera and compass APIs so 3rd party developers like Layar can join in on the fun.

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We've seen some attempts at bringing the Windows Phone 7 Metro UI goodness to your desktop before and now the makers of HTC Home have a "special" version of their Vista/Windows 7 widgets available.

Called Metro Home, it brings the usual widget functions including "date and time, weather information for the current day and next four days, and picture slideshow" and allows limited customization.

Oh and its donation-ware so no big commitment if you like it or don't. We're loading it up right now because we keep it geeky-real, son.

Source: HTC Home; via: InToWindows

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This post is for just my fellow 8 million or so New Yorkers who rely on the MTA for daily transportation, occasional napping and studies of human social behavior. Good news Everyone! Developers Presselite have made their 'New York Subway' app available in the Windows Phone Marketplace for a very fair $0.99.

The app is well known in the iPhone world, as it not only gives the MTA subway map, but shows the nearest station in relation to your current location, can plan a route (including estimated travel time) and it can even give MTA track updates (e.g. when repairs are being done, lines are shut down, etc.). All in all, it looks to take advantage of Bing, GPS and Metro UI quite effectively and makes for a great daily travel tool. Or we suppose if you're one of the millions of visitors, to which I say "You're walking to slow!"

Source: Zune/Windows Phone Marketplace

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Windows Phone 7: the evolution of Metro

We've already seen a few examples of how Microsoft is continuing to change the UI in Windows Phone 7 (see here and here) and now Paul Thurrott has documented even more.

Probably the most interesting are the changes to the main Start screen as seen above with the February version to the left and the newer "TechED" version on the right. Basically some of the tiles have shrunk, the mail tile became more specific by denoting an Outlook icon and Marketplace has taken front stage as it should.

Thurrott goes through some other minor changes as well as discussing his experience with the OS from a few months ago. As always, a good read.

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Looks like Microsoft is still tweaking their UI quite a bit with the latest changes continuing to be seen at TechEd 2010.

Now these aren't huge changes, but it does show Microsoft is paying attention to detail, which is something that will be important if the masses are to adopt this phone.

Long Zheng noticed how the old icons in the common application bar had no text to identify them, making it a bit harder for the user to adapt to them since they could be changed by developer willy-nilly. Now, however, when you expand the bar by swiping up, it reveals more details including the icon names.

Once again, nothing huge, just nice to know Microsoft is looking out for perfection this time around.

[via iStartedSomething]

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TechEd North America 2010 is going this week and Long Zheng of iStartedSomething is there to document that happenings.

This morning he posted some photos of the latest build of Windows Phone 7, which we haven't seen yet. Clearly and obviously Microsoft is still putting the finishing touches on the OS and even parts of the UI, making it look even better today than 4 months ago.

Worthy to note is how the lock-screen text is now smaller to fit on the screen (but looks like this was done for the ReMix events), which Long Zheng comments a lot of people disfavored. Also, the Marketpalce and Outlook "tiles" have been updated with a new look, plus overall changes to icons and other subtle bits.

Head over to check his full photo stream and begin fantasizing what it will be like to use in-real life.

[via iStartedSomething]

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File this under 'rumor' but technically very plausible.

We know Windows Phone 7 will be locked for advanced OS options and privileges and that developers will have access to these.  And like the iPhone and Android platforms, presumably after the device is "rooted" or "jailbroken", the modding community can have a real go at the OS.

What we don't know is exactly how much of the 'Metro' UI can be changed or modified, but for a lot of folks, they're hoping that most if not all of it can be replaced.

Justin Angel, a former Microsoft Silverlight Program Manager involved heavily with software development in Windows Phone 7, said recently in a tweet:

OEMs (phone vendors) can replace Metro completely, but they won't. It'll be easy to jailbreak WP7 into another theme though.

OEM get to ship 2 themes (OEMLight and ORMDark). A Theme _can_ customize anything, including control templates.

OEMs will have an advanced tool set not available to the public (how long before those leak) which gives them access, to among other things, the phone-radio and evidently the UI (though one wonders what WP7 would "look like" without 'Metro'?). The good news is something we expect to here more of: once the device is jailbroken (which won't take long), people will be able to modify the UI to their liking.

How deep we can go is all the remains. Hopefully it's more than just changing color "accents".

[via @JustinAngel 1, 2]

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Looks like the 'Metro UI' thing is starting to catch on and why not? Much like how the iPhone OS can be all-blowns-up for the iPad, why not influence the desktop or browser with Microsoft's mobile UI.

Turns out Long Zheng of iStartedSomething and some pals have been working on a desktop Twitter app that looks exceptionally clean, minimalist and darn useful.

The app has been in very early stages of development, meaning they're focusing on features, not yet de-bugging and has been circulating amongst a small group of users.

Long story short, website MeuWindows figured out the URL for the download link and even bypassed the authentication...just so they could try it. Luckily Long Zheng took this as flattery and there you go.

Actually, you can now sign up for the actual beta (bottom of the page), which is expected sooner than later. We're down with that!

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HTC seems to have some Neo-Plasticism art fans under their employment.

In possibly one of the more clever wink-nods in phone-naming history, the "HTC Mondrian" (see story below) seems to take its influence from famous Dutch painter Piet Mondrian, whose work you see above.

If you don't see the visual influence between one of Piet's most famous pieces and a certain 'Metro UI' then we don't know what to tell you.  Or just a coincidence? 

And if this purported first leaked Windows Phone 7 ROM is a hoax? Our hats off to the folks for going that extra mile in being so witty.

[thanks to MonteCristoffOn for noticing!]

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