During a recent Q&A call with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, he explained that he’d welcome Metro-compatible apps from competitors such as Apple and Amazon, saying “they may have a device competitor, but they have certainly behaved like their fundamental business is the service.”
[quote]They’ve done a lot to try to have good support of other folks’ device. We welcome them. We’d welcome Metro-style apps from Amazon. We’d welcome Metro- style applications from Apple in the iTunes case. I don’t know what we’d see there but we’d certainly welcome those. And, because of compatibility, there’s certainly a path forward for everybody[/quote]
Metro is Microsoft’s front-end UI for their upcoming Windows 8. It’s unique in that, unlike traditional interfaces, it does away with app icons and creates tiles through which the app can display information without being launched, as well as allowing the user to ration its screen real estate into panes and, thusly, better share visual space with other apps.
For iTunes to fit into the Metro environment, it would have to take on a very different visual identity and change the way it delivers information to the user. Apple has made iTunes available on Windows for years now, but the basic design and interface has been nearly identical to the Mac version. It’s possible that Metro on tablets could become the first real competition the iPad has seen to date, and Apple may be reluctant to create a version of iTunes that functions on Metro for that very reason.