Windows 8 Live Tiles Are Exclusive to Metro Apps

Desktop applications are stuck with icons

By on October 6th, 2011 14:28 GMT

Live Tiles in Windows 8 are exclusive to Metro apps, with desktop applications being stuck with the good old icons, and this is the way that Microsoft wants it.

Windows Developer Preview is the first taste of the next major iteration of Windows which offers early adopters the possibility of testing Metro apps and desktop programs running on top of the platform that will become Windows 7’s successor.

The reason behind associating live tiles with Metro apps and keeping icons for desktop programs is related to making it very simple for end users to discern just what kind of program they’ll be launching, and how to access additional options for it. 

“Desktop apps will not have live metro-style tiles. There are many differences between desktop and Metro apps and when the tiles looked the same, we found people were confused,” said Microsoft’s Marina Dukhon.

“For example, if you right click on a Metro app, you can choose to resize the tile, uninstall it or unpin it from Start. With a desktop tile, you have a desktop focused set of options: run, run as administrator, open file location, pin/unpin from the taskbar, and pin/unpin from start.”

There’s a gap between metro apps and desktop applications in Windows 8, and frankly, having Live Tiles for both would have done little or nothing to narrow it.

According to the software giant, in test scenarios in which live tiles were used for all Windows 8 apps, regardless of whether they used the new Metro platform or not, early adopters found themselves confused over the nature of the programs they were launching.

“But, it isn’t just about the options on the tiles themselves. People were also confused once the app launched. For example: Was this a desktop application that covered the taskbar (like a fullscreen game)?” Dukhon said.

“Or, is it a metro app? Will the charms work with this app? Will the app automatically suspend when I switch away, or will it continue to use CPU cycles on my laptop? Thus, we designed the desktop tiles to make it clear that from the moment you launch the app that this app will run in the desktop and behave like a desktop app.”

Windows 8 Developer Preview Build 8102 Milestone 3 (M3) is available for download here.

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