Microsoft detailed its Start Screen design for Windows 8 on Tuesday.
The company claims that the Start Menu doesn’t keep up with the modern pace that users are using their machines. “It affords limited customization, provides virtually no useful information, and offers only a small space for search results,” says Microsoft’s Alice Steinglass in a blog post published on Tuesday. “We’ve seen a growing interest in replacements for the Start menu (whether for touch, or mouse and keyboard).”
Microsoft has taken feedback from engineers, designers, developers, information workers and other power users to reimagine the role of Start in Windows 8. “The Start screen is not just a replacement for the Start menu—it is designed to be a great launcher and switcher of apps, a place that is alive with notifications, customizable, powerful, and efficient,” says Steinglass. Microsoft found that average PCs are cluttered with an array of system notifications, long lists of folders on the Start Menu and shortcuts. Microsoft’s new Start Screen provides a larger space with more connectivity and a better interface to launch and interact with apps.
“The Windows 7 Start menu is just a simple flat list,” says Steinglass. “But, as people collect more and more apps, the ability to organize and group apps together becomes more important.” Microsoft’s new Start Screen design allows users to file apps into groups. The groups can contain a number of live tiles that are stored neatly in their own section.
Microsoft’s Start Screen improvements also extend to the search experience. “The Start menu in Windows 7 can’t scale to the results,” says Steinglass. “if you are looking for a Control Panel option with the word “input”, the Start menu only returns the first 3 results in each category.” This lack of powerful search led Microsoft to integrate a fully fledged search in the Start Screen. Users can now type on the Start Screen and instantly search through different parts of the operating system or applications.
“The Windows 8, the Start screen is not just a replacement for the Windows 7 Start menu but a bringing together of several different ways of navigating your machine,” says Steinglass. “The new experience offers a way to more efficiently launch apps, stay connected to the most relevant information from apps, and find the things you care about.”