CES Postscript: Microsoft's New Math = Metro

The tile-based interface was the star attraction of the final Microsoft Consumer Electronics Show keynote.

For the last Microsoft pre-Consumer Electronics Show (CES) keynote (or at least the last before a "pause" in Microsoft keynotes), CEO Steve Ballmer offered little in the way of announcement fireworks.

What he did throw in during his keynote was a debutante's ball for the Microsoft Metro interface -- the sleek yet boxy UI that has been quietly taking over the background of every major product, starting with Zune, moving into Windows Phone and Xbox and now on tap for Windows, Office and Internet Explorer.

That CES keynote took the form of an extended dialog between Ballmer and "American Idol" presenter and disc jockey Ryan Seacrest, who snuck in some references to his own reputation as a metrosexual. (Stuff magazine once called Seacrest the poster boy for metrosexuals). "I'm your mascot," Seacrest told Ballmer.

The interface has been prevalent for most of the last year, but the Ballmer presentation was notable for the spotlight thrown on the UI. Ballmer called Metro the "featured attraction tonight" in the Jan. 9 speech. In the transcript, the term Metro appears 27 times.

"So, in 2012 what's next? Metro, Metro, Metro," Ballmer said at the end of the keynote to drive the point home, before reflexively adding. "It's all right, I've got you -- and, of course, Windows, Windows, Windows."

Ballmer described Metro as the "heart and soul" of the Microsoft interface. "We kind of pioneered it over the last few years, but you'll see it tonight, fast, fluid and dynamic across all the Microsoft experiences, and really helping people to connect directly to the people and information, music, friends that are most important to them," Ballmer said.

"Metro will drive the new magic across all of our user experiences," Ballmer said. "In the new math at Microsoft Metro means that one plus
one really does equal three."

More from CES 2012:

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.