Microsoft once branded their mobile device user interface for use with Surface tables and Windows smartphones as "Metro." The concept is now in play and is based on moveable, resizable live tiles. It was meant to challenge Apple's iOS winning interface that is more App icon centric. Their plan never quite worked out for them as they first planned, and a new patent filing strongly suggests that they may actually be thinking of reinventing their mobile OS once again. Then again, one has to wonder if it's a real plan or just a corporate fantasy.
In October 2011, Microsoft's new interface for future mobile devices was initially introduced as "Metro." The new user interface was proudly presented to their developer base by Jensen Harris, Director of Program Management Windows User Experience.
Harris boldly stated during his presentation at that time that "Icons are yesterday's way of representing apps. They're antiquated they're not alive, they're not interesting, they're not helpful, they're just a picture and a line of text. And they were fine in the early GUI era, but in today's world they're antiquated."
Yet with all of his bravado, devices powered by this new user interface known as Metro has had little to no effect on the market whatsoever. In fact, there was a rebellion in the Windows world when Harris and his team tried to shove the Metro interface down desktop user's throats with Windows 8, abandoning the traditional Start Button.
As far as Microsoft's market share in smartphones and tablets is concerned, their new UI is seen globally as an outright failure. In 2011 we questioned whether Windows 8 would be a winner or loser. Clearly it's a loser! So, is it time to go back to the drawing board?
Today, Patent Bolt reports on a new Microsoft patent filing that was published by the US Patent and Trademark Office earlier in this quarter that clearly shows us that Microsoft may have a backup plan in the wings with a new 3D mobile OS user interface.
The new UI would dramatically reduce the need to swipe through multiple pages of icons or tiles to find an app. Instead, users would be able to simply have their entire home page of tiles spin in a 3D manner to reveal multiple sides of icons with differing apps or documents.
Will Microsoft try to position this new 3D UI as a revised form of Metro interface or a completely new one? Is it a real plan or corporate fantasy? Only time will tell which it is. For more details about their new 3D UI patent filing, see our report here.
With Windows phones and Surface tablets suffering in the marketplace today, do you think that a bolder 3D user interface has a prayer in hell of putting Microsoft in a better market position in the mobile space against iOS and Android? Send in your comments below.