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Microsoft Metro: One Interface to Rule Them All

It's a shame that computers and how they work have to be designed with an eye to the courts, but legal safety is a feature in modern computing, and Microsoft Metro -- in spite of, or perhaps because of, that chunky interface -- has it.

As many experts note, Metro is a touch interface. Those big buttons make sense if you're trying to hit one with your stubby fingers. With a mouse-and-keyboard, not so much. So the biggest business risk Microsoft has taken with Metro is to make it the default interface for Windows 8, which as a result will look nothing like previous versions of the operating system: Kiss your desktop wallpaper goodbye!

But if desktop users embrace Metro, think of what Microsoft will have. One interface that works on game machines, tablets, phones, PCs and even TVs. One way of doing things, so if you have a Microsoft anything you can work a Microsoft everything.

If Metro is embraced, Microsoft can then gain share in every other area of consumer electronics. Skype becomes your interface with the phone network. Internet Explorer becomes your default Web browser, because you don't have to learn how to use it -- you already know Metro.

Microsoft even has a ready user interface for home automation: wireless chips that run your alarms and lights, home entertainment scheduling and heart monitor, and that even help you find your keys.

That's the idea anyway. Microsoft won't win the whole market this way, but those people who embrace Metro may well embrace it in all its forms, becoming Microsoft people in an even deeper way than others are Apple fanboys.

For investors, the fun has just begun. Microsoft is betting the farm on Metro. Microsoft is a speculative stock again.

At the time of publication, Blankenhorn held shares of Microsoft.

Dana Blankenhorn holds no positions in any of the securities mentioned in this article.
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