Microsoft: don’t blame us for space-wasting Windows 8 apps

Microsoft insists its developer guidelines aren’t to blame for the many Windows 8 apps that fail to take full advantage of the available screen space.

A common criticism of Windows Store apps is that they put relatively little information on screen, especially on larger desktop displays. The official Twitter app, for example, only displays a single timeline column, even when viewed in full screen on a Full HD desktop display, leaving lots of blank space to either side. By contrast, browser-based clients such as TweetDeck and HootSuite display several columns simultaneously, making it much easier to keep an eye on mentions, retweets and direct messages.

Likewise, Microsoft’s own News app often leaves swathes of blank space around stories, while the People app only displays two rows of updates from social networks, irrespective of the depth of the screen.

People

Microsoft insists its style guidelines don’t favour small-screen tablet apps at the expense of the desktop, but admits that Windows Store apps tend to work better on tablets. “When you get to large screens the experience could be better,” Chaitanya Sareen, principal program manager lead on Windows, told PC Pro.

“There are different ways to solve that. You [developers] can put more content on the canvas – there are certainly no guidelines on size of text. Also you solve that by changing the amount of windows you can have on one screen.”

Windows 8.1 allows large display users to run up to four Windows Store apps on a single display, doubling the maximum number of apps per screen that were permitted in Windows 8, and potentially minimising the wasted space.

Sareen insists that’s one of the user interface improvements Microsoft has implemented in Windows 8.1 to ensure that desktop owners using a mouse instead of touchscreen controls continue to be treated as “first-class citizens”.

The mouse offers desktop users greater precision when tapping on individual items, such as links, within apps, and “they should be able to make use of it”, Sareen added.

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