And I don't mean Win 7 / Metro UI guidelines, I have them up the wazoo, but I've changed jobs and need to start looking at the new Windows 8 DESKTOP design. I know it takes a lot of cues from Metro on Win 7 mobile but it's not the same and I can't find UI guidelines anywhere.


5 Answers 5


The guidelines for Windows 8 desktop applications are the same as for Windows 7.

That means that you'll find them here:

Windows 8 has two separate UIs: Windows Store apps (formerly known as "Metro-style apps") and Desktop.

Windows Store apps is the new, future oriented touch UI. These apps will typically run in touch environment where consumption (not production) of content is the main purpose of the app.
Screenshot of start screen with Windows Store apps

The Desktop UI is there for backward compatibility(!). It will be used by applications that need the full power of Windows. This UI is similar to Windows 7. Only minor changes to the look and feel, eg. squared button corners instead of rounded.
Screenshot of File Explorer with Desktop UI


  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_8
  2. http://net.tutsplus.com/articles/general/windows-8-preview-a-developer-reflects/

Other resources:

  1. http://www.windows8designhandbook.com/ (Suggested by @Simon)

For the Metro part, there's some documentation about the UI:

Do/Don't :do http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/apps/hh465304(v=VS.85).aspx

Checklists with some about UI concepts (archived Feb. 2012) https://web.archive.org/web/20120208075631/http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/apps/hh465424.aspx

Best practices http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/apps/br229583(v=VS.85).aspx#guidelines_and_best_practices

  • 2
    The question clearly states: "I don't mean Metro UI guidelines".
    – bart
    Dec 5, 2012 at 0:35
  • @bart: I don't read the question that way: I read it as "I don't mean Windows Phone 7/Metro, but instead Windows 8, the OS for use on desktop computers". So he uses "Metro" to refer to the Windows Phone software. Otherwise what does "I know it takes a lot of cues from Metro on Win 7 mobile" mean?
    – Kit Grose
    Dec 19, 2012 at 1:30

Punchcut posted on their blog a good series about Windows 8 / Metro (Archived Dec 2013) and how to design for it.

It has 5 parts:

  1. Windows 8 solving the PC problem (Archived Nov. 2012)
  2. Windows 8: The New Modernism (Archived Oct. 2012)
  3. Windows 8: The Origin Story (Archived Oct. 2012)
  4. Windows 8: Microsoft’s Manifesto (Dead link, not on archive.org)
  5. Windows 8: Designing the Metro Experience (Dead link, not on archive.org)

Especially the last one is worth reading. They write about their experiences and gained knowledge (navigation concepts, branding, responsive design) while creating Metro Apps. There are even very practical tips like you should take CSS transform porperty for motion design, because this is GPU accelerated.


Microsoft did a presentation at Build, titled "Designing Metro style: principles and personality" - the slides and a video are available which covers a lot of the aspects, such as choices of fonts, sizes, layout grids, etc.


Your question is hard for me to understand.

If you mean "I want the UX guidelines for Windows Store applications (not Windows Phone)", they're available on the Microsoft website (Archived Nov. 2012). They're part of a more general overview of the UX of Windows Store apps. Those are the apps that run full-screen.

If you mean "I want the UX guidelines for designing apps for use in the Desktop mode of Windows 8", you should read the Windows UX Interaction Guidelines, paying special attention to the section on Ribbons (which are really emphasised in Windows 8's desktop mode). Those are the apps that run in windows, with the Windows taskbar and your desktop wallpaper visible.

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