Subscribe / Unsubscribe Enewsletters | Login | Register

Pencil Banner

WinZip for Windows 8 is what you'd expect from a Modern app

Erez Zukerman | April 15, 2013
Metro, or Modern, or whatever you'd like to call the new style of applications that debuted with Windows 8, is problematic. It's problematic because it's built for touch, but forces itself on your non-touch computer, too. And because of its expanse of white (or blank, for it's often in some intense shade of color) space and very low information density. And because it relies on hidden gestures you somehow have to guess would bring up toolbars you never knew were there to begin with.

Metro, or Modern, or whatever you'd like to call the new style of applications that debuted with Windows 8, is problematic. It's problematic because it's built for touch, but forces itself on your non-touch computer, too. And because of its expanse of white (or blank, for it's often in some intense shade of color) space and very low information density. And because it relies on hidden gestures you somehow have to guess would bring up toolbars you never knew were there to begin with.

I could keep counting the ways, but the point is that it's very difficult to make a Modern app that actually feels "right" on a modern desktop computer. That's the context in which I tested WinZip for Windows 8, and it proves designing a decent Modern app is a serious challenge even for a software company as established as Corel, and for a brand as iconic as WinZip.

When you first launch WinZip for Windows 8, it takes over your entire screen, of course. But it presents no buttons or menus: Only the cryptic line, "Use the app bar to start adding files/folders to a new Zip file or to Open an existing Zip file," and a vast, soothing expanse of color. That's great, if you happen to know what the "app bar" is. If you dontt, you may find yourself randomly clicking around until you happen to right-click anywhere on the screen. This is what you need to do to pop open a toolbar that's hidden at the bottom of the screen--and that's the toolbar you need to get anything done with WinZip for Windows 8. Hiding the toolbar like this is a standard Modern UI convention, and it's just as terrible on WinZip for Windows 8 as it is in other applications.

The toolbar has six buttons: Add Files, Add a Folder, New Zip, Open Zip, and all the way to the far right, ZipSend and ZipShare. You can add files and folders locally, but WinZip for Windows 8 can also plug into Dropbox, Google Drive, and SkyDrive, letting you pull files from those cloud services into your archive. Once you tell it where you want to look for files, a file browser fills the screen. Everything is enormous and touch-optimized, but the interface works. It's not without its Modern quirks, though: If you add a folder and regret it, you need to right-click the folder's name at the bottom of the screen to remove it. There's no indication that's what you're supposed to do (I just had to figure it out by trying), and I have no idea what you'd do if you had a touchscreen with no way to right-click anything. Such perplexing moments are par for the course in most Modern apps, though.

 

1  2  Next Page 

Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.