Goodbye Windows Aero

Microsoft recently announced in their ridiculously wordy way that Windows Aero is dead. I really liked Aero and have a bit of a history with it. Window Clippings, the screen capture tool I originally created, was to the best of my knowledge the first to be able to perfectly capture the effect in a 32-bit alpha-blended image. I wrote extensively about the Desktop Window Manager that gave life to the translucent glass (this, this and this comes to mind).

Few apps that I know of ever took advantage of it, the most obvious examples being Internet Explorer 9 and Office 2010. There was the odd contribution from third parties, such as Google’s cute Chrome browser. Ironically, as I write this Chrome is on version 19 (nineteen!?) and they have still not been able to fix a glaring bug in their “chrome”. I must be the only one who notices such things.

I understand that Aero is not particularly power efficient compared to the new Metro UI and I get that it was not particularly easy to use unless your app was entirely written in Direct2D or Direct3D. Still it is sad to see it go. So long old friend.


14 thoughts on “Goodbye Windows Aero

  1. JLO

    I don’t understand why MS is saying “gradient colors and transparency is not cool anymore” instead of making it clear “aeroglass would shorten your portable device battery time”.

  2. Tim Dawson

    What a waste of so many resources that were developed to the project, both inside Microsoft and outside.

    1. Kenny Kerr Post author

      Look at the space between the Close button in the window’s title bar and the window’s right edge. Compare this space with that of any other standard window. You can see it in the screenshot above but it might be more noticeable if you place two windows side-by-side on your screen.

      Perhaps it is only glaringly obvious once you have noticed it for the first time. Sorry to ruin it for everyone who reads this. 🙂

      1. Matthew

        Oh dear, you’re right. I should never have asked, I couldn’t unsee it all day. May have to switch browsers 😉

  3. Ari C. Raimundo (@acraimundo)

    Hi Kenny,

    In the company I work for there’s a lot of C++/MFC programs used internally. Some of them developed in early 90’s (not by me, I’m 31). The majority of them needs the performance that C++ gives so migrating to .NET is not an option. About 10 of them uses Direct2D along with MFC.

    Do you think we must start thinking to migrate our apps to Metro? I don’t know what is the plan of Microsoft in supporting desktop apps. And by the way, I really don’t know if all of my apps can be transformed to Metro interface.


    1. Kenny Kerr Post author

      I would say that you should certainly at least think about migrating any apps you have to Metro. It is the future of the Windows user experience. In some ways you can count yourself lucky (wise?) that you did not make the switch to .NET, Windows Forms, WPF, Silverlight, etc. That being said the beauty (and strength) of Windows is that your existing desktop apps will continue to work and work well for the foreseeable future. I think investing in (native) Metro is a far better investment than .NET and friends ever was. Before everybody thinks that I am bashing .NET again keep in mind that it still makes a lot of sense on the server. Just my two cents worth.

      1. John

        Good idea, but where are the 3rd party components such as Telerik, Infragistics, componennarts to name a few. All of them use .Net not C++ (unfortunately).

      2. Kenny Kerr Post author

        Yes, although that is mostly driven by demand. I suspect that will change for Metro since their customer base will increase with no exclusion and they can provide better performance (no .NET start time) without alienating managed developers.

  4. Leo Davidson

    Wouldn’t it be crazy if Windows allowed the user to choose how it looked so that everyone could be happy?

    (And allowed developers to test against various themes on a single OS instead of having to resort to VMs just for that… and allowed special test themes to help find obscure things you wouldn’t see on current themes, like tiling something that should be stretched or vice versa where current theme elements are a solid colour but future ones may not be…)

  5. John

    Hard to believe Microsoft spent a lot of marketing hyping Aero and Apple even developed some transparent features of Aero and now Microsoft just dumps it as dated? Their is more to the story then that I believe.


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