Aero is the codename for the “glass” effects and other UI. Originally designed and created back in 2003, Aero was seen as a major step forward in the user interface for Windows. Aero was first seen in Vista then greatly refined in Windows 7, but now Microsoft is killing Aero. Gone will be the transparency effects, glows, reflections and all the “glassy” niceness. And the real reason they’re doing this might surprise you.
Deep within a recent and lengthy blog post about the history of the User Interface in Windows [Creating the Windows 8 user experience], they get around to explaining their reasoning behind this departure from Aero. Here are the relevant parts from the 11,000 word post in which Mr. Harris describes the coming changes:
“We want desktop windows to continue to feel light and airy, and we want a chrome style that doesn’t distract from the content of the app … Aero was designed to help the app’s content to be the center of attention, and for the Windows system UI to recede into the background. This is still relevant today, and while we are moving beyond Aero, we don’t want to lose sight of these goals.”
“We made a conscious effort to relate the visual appearance of the Windows 8 desktop to the visual appearance of the familiar Windows 7 desktop. This helps people who want to predominantly use the desktop feel comfortable and immediately at home in the new environment.”
“We applied the principles of ‘clean and crisp’ when updating window and taskbar chrome. Gone are the glass and reflections. We squared off the edges of windows and the taskbar. We removed all the glows and gradients found on buttons within the chrome. We made the appearance of windows crisper by removing unnecessary shadows and transparency. The default window chrome is white, creating an airy and premium look. The taskbar continues to blend into the desktop wallpaper, but appears less complicated overall. To complete the story, we updated the appearance of most common controls, such as buttons, check boxes, sliders, and the Ribbon. We squared off the rounded edges, cleaned away gradients, and flattened the control backgrounds to align with our chrome changes. We also tweaked the colors to make them feel more modern and neutral.”
Some professionals are very unpleased about this; however, I am not. This new look will not only look cleaner, but also will be much better for battery life on portable devices such as tablets, netbooks and laptops. This look will also help to unify the user interface across these devices. I will miss Aero. I liked it, but I'm not in-like with it. I am looking forward to the new "basic" UI.