Microsoft reveals more Windows 8 beta changes

By Tom Warren, on 12th Oct 11 6:56 am with 60 Comments

Microsoft has revealed more Windows 8 changes that it is planning for the beta stage of development.

Customization improvements of the Start Screen

Microsoft is planning to allow users to customize the Start Screen more fully in Windows 8 beta. “The personalization of the Start screen is one of the features that we want to make great, and we’re still iterating on it and to make it better,” said Marina Dukhon, a senior program manager lead on the Core Experience team, in a blog post on Tuesday. Microsoft’s Windows 8 developer preview allows users to change their group sizes, unpin tiles and resize wide tiles to square ones. “In the Beta, you’ll also be able to use other improvements based on this dialog, in addition to creating, naming, and rearranging groups,” revealed Dukhon.

Improved apps screen

Microsoft revealed it is planning to improve the Apps screen in Windows 8. Applications are now organized into groups in the latest builds of Windows 8. This moves away from the alphabetical list found in the developer preview. “This way, if you are looking for something that you know came in your Visual Studio suite, but can’t recall the exact name of the app, it should be much easier for you to find,” explains Dukhon. The view will also become a lot more denser, fitting more content on the screen.

Windows 8 app list improvements

Jump lists and live tiles

Microsoft answered several questions about the use of jump lists from Windows 7. “We knew it was important to keep jump lists on the taskbar for your most commonly used desktop apps, says Dukhon. “We wanted to build something more customized for Metro style apps.” Microsoft’s view of Windows 8 jump lists is more application-centric. Microsoft predicts that application developers will follow the Windows Phone route and create pinable items inside their applications. Live tiles will also enable developers and end users to interact with their applications in closer ways.

Better Start Screen experience on large monitors

Microsoft is looking to improve the experience of its Metro style applications on large screens. “Another thing that we’re doing is increasing the number of rows of tiles that you can see on large monitors,” revealed Dukhon. The improvements will allow Windows 7 users to fit even more apps on the Start Screen and closer to their mouse to make it faster to launch apps.

  • GP007

    Is there a video maybe?  Need to see these in use.

    • http://www.winrumors.com Tom W

      No video this time :(

    • Anonymous

      lol, I actually don’t think they’ve even built the feature yet.  It’s a topic that a lot of people, including myself, have been talking about.  I imagine the image they posted is a prototype as all of the applications are one that we specifically entioned in the blogs (i.e. Adobe, Visual Studio, SQL Server, and Office).

  • Emi Cyberschreiber

    this was a longgggg blog post by Microsoft. but it was amazing. they explained alot of stuff, which sounds cool! 
    and it was long but it sad when people cant read it  but they still comment and ask about something that was said in article.

    anyway, reading it was amazing and this Windows 8 its getting better and better! hopefully beta comes sooner than expected  

    • Anonymous

      Many complainers there and elsewhere fall into one of those categories:
      1. Don’t even use (or shouldn’t use) the start menu all often anyway in W7 but still make a big deal out of the new start screen.
      2. “I’m a power user. I’m productive. Did you hear me? I’m a productive power user! I need my desktop! Oh wait, I can still use my desktop the way it was for W7? Um…I don’t care. I’m a power user, did you hear me? I don’t care that I could have learned the new UI in five minutes that I spent whining. I am a power user godamit!”

    • Emi Cyberschreiber

      I knowww. i find it silly.
      and i don’t care if someone doesn’t like it, since its people preference.

      but when i read comments like this after the long and explanatory post.

      “Thu Win
      I would like to know whether we can switch back to the start menu we are so familiar with. Also, since most of the apps launch in the legacy desktop, can you make that the “default” launch location (like the current and older Windows app) instead of launching us straight to the start menu and the switching to the desktop.I have placed most of my work on the desktop where I can launch with a simple double click. I also make use of the jump list to “pin” documents I need the most.”

      i seriously think… like O….M……G.
      because Marina said:

      “Second, given that this is a Developer Preview release, we all have to recognize that we simply don’t have many Metro style apps available yet, so our natural inclination is to always go to the desktop – making it seem silly for us to start here. But once your machine is packed with apps that you love, this should make a lot more sense. And if your main goal is still to use desktop apps, you can easily do this by clicking the Desktop tile and using the taskbar”

      Microsoft tries to explain but i wonder how many really sit and try to understand. they don’t even seem to sit and read, just complain.

    • Tuxplorer

      LOL! That was spot on. These so-called “power users” are mostly just brain-dead people with a very low IQ. They don’t have the brains to even read the blog posts and all the studies that are explained there. They try to use their self-proclaimed “power user” status to hide their inability to learn new things. They are a bunch of pathetic morons.

    • Anonymous

      1 word lol

    • Alexey Evdokimov

      WWPX, I’m going to steal your comment and adding it right to b8 post, as I cannot say it better.

    • 1960

      Very well said…

      Now here is my experience with Windows 8 since I am a “power user”.

      I have two monitors that always have stuff on that I’m working on. I have a browser, I have email, I have Notepad++, I have Visual Studio, I have SQL Enterprise Manager, I have OneNote, well, you get the idea. 

      One thing that I would not consider a “power user” thing to do is to go to my desktop to launch an application like some of those real “power users” have said they do. That would mean I would have to minimize stuff to find my desktop. I have what I need in-front of me, why would I minimize it. So what I do is I either have apps pinned on the taskbar so I can start from there, or I hit the Windows key and start typing for the program that I’m looking for (PowerPoint). Why do I type instead of looking for it in the Start Menu? The Start Menu is a “cluster mess” of things that takes many clicks to find something. It is easier to type.

      Now, let me see how this would change in W8.

      I have my monitors full of stuff like I said above. Now, I need to start something. If it is something I use often it will probably be pinned to my taskbar (yes, you can do that in W8). Or, guess what, I would hit the Windows key which will immediately take me to the Start Page and I can start typing for what I’m looking for. No, I don’t even have to look for the search box b/c W8 knows that I’m looking for something. So, so far, that hasn’t changed what I do a single bit. But here is the improvement, when I click the Windows key; I get presented with a large screen where I have applications pinned to. It is very likely that the thing that I want to start is pinned there and all I would have to do is click on it. I wouldn’t even have to type anything.

      One thing that I am looking forward to in new releases in the beta cycle is the ability to see all Metro apps that are “running” so I do have to flick through all of them to find the one I want. Of course, I can simply go back to my Start Page and click there ?

      Where this “power user” (me) is right now, is at the point that using Windows 7 is cumbersome and I would rather use W8 as my main desktop OS. And I will as soon as it goes beta.

    • Anonymous

      Nailed it.

      I find it asinine that people over there on the Building Windows blog are getting so emotional over what really amounts to be a pretty trivial part of the desktop experience. After spending a few days with the WDP I concluded my habits using the Start Screen were no different to how they are in W7 – I use it only once maybe every 30-40 minutes to quickly search/launch an app, and no occasion of me using the Start Screen lasted longer than maybe 5 seconds at best (as long as it takes to type maybe the first two letters of an app name and hit Return)

  • Anonymous

    Awesome. Glad to hear they’re making these changes. The full “apps list” has been one of my biggest complaints about Windows 8.

    • Tuxplorer

      Why is that the case though? I don’t know why you even need a “full apps list”. How is that more efficient and productive than just typing in the Start Screen to launch apps?

    • Emi Cyberschreiber

      sometimes you will not remember what to search for. so you need some help for it.

      example I got Virtual Audio Cable i installed it and guess what is the name?

      Virtual Audio Cable? VAC? nope
      its Audio Repeater (MME), Audio Repeater
      (KS) and Control Panel.  amazing names no? but if i didn’t know the icon i wouldn’t remember them. (also i found them at the end of the tiles so they had to be there) But thats where you need these kind of fixes in new Metro UI, you go to apps and then find the VAC section, you know for people who will get lose in dev preview and complain how they don’t find their Virtual Audio Cable program.
      you get the idea xD

    • Anonymous

      Thank you!
      This is exactly my problem: sometimes I am looking for not very often used apps and I do not remember their names.

    • Anonymous

      with windows 7, if you type virtual audio cable (assuming that is the name of the program folder) it will show you the folder and all the apps inside it. Doesn’t W8 do the same?

    • Emi Cyberschreiber

      @ymcpa:disqus at the moment no. that’s when knowing breaking list of apps with the actual program name its good for these kind of programs, of course we cant say for sure, in Beta if i will search virtual audio cable it will appear like a link and you click on it and it take you to the apps list or it displays only what its in the group or what. so we have to wait to know that.

      But this change is really good, not only for finding programs also because it will look nice and clean and arranged. and if search find by program name, it would be even better

    • Anonymous

      Don’t get me wrong. I compleatly agree with you that the apps list is a minor feature, especially with the search features included. However, I know a lot of people who still rely on an organized start menu, and it just looked cluttered before.

      Along the same lines, I think it says a lot about Win8 when one of my biggest problems with it is something that I’ll rarely use or notice. :)

    • Tuxplorer

      From my experience, most people who use the All Programs list in Windows 7 don’t even know how powerful the search box is. Once they discover the Search box, they almost never use the programs list.

      But I agree that for those rare apps like “Virtual Audio Cable” the apps list is still useful. But I don’t think it’s a dealbreaker.

    • Anonymous

      An app browser is in order; however, does it have to be a full apps list? Why isn’t Microsoft using more semantic technologies inside its OS to facilitate this sort of thing.

      I’d like to think it could be solved in a more intuitive way than to just throw everything at the user which might overwhelm some.

      I haven’t seen it in action, so I’ll hold off my opinion on it until I get to experience it.

  • Anonymous

    I’m sick of the whining commenters on the Building Win8 blog that scream for the old Start menu. Microsoft should just allow an option for the old Start menu in a “Classic” mode to pacify these whiners. The blog and engineers can then concentrate on discussing Metro instead of babysitting these complainers.

    • Anonymous

      The so called “Whiners” are potential buyers………..

    • Tuxplorer

      NO. The potential buyers are the hundreds of millions of people worldwide who NEVER visit blogs like that. And EVERY SINGLE ONE of those people will LOVE the beautiful Metro Start Screen of Windows 8.

    • Anonymous

      And your certainty that “EVERY SINGLE ONE
      ” of these hundreds of millions of people will like it is based on?
      Just curious……

    • Anonymous

      @70cb10789616274fed59fa37ad7cb065:disqus you can’t generalize like that…

      @Fritzly:disqus potential buyers would buy something if it’s better. If someone is willing to abandon the Win95esque UX and adapt to the Mac OS X UX because they believe that it is better then there is no reason why the opposite couldn’t be true.

      Look, the bottom line here is that Microsoft cannot allow the resistance to change that is going to be present from some users to stop them from changing yet claim that they’ve made significant changes.

      I see Windows 8 as the first opportunity to bridge a huge gap between how we consume electronic devices and computers through our daily life.

      I want Windows 8 to know when I am leaning back on my couch and watching a game or a movie and adjust itself to better my experience and enjoyment of the content on both it and the big screen TV AND I want it to know when I plug it into a base somewhere and lean forward to do some work my boss is expecting me to send over in a matter of minutes. I also want it to get better over time and be able to understand the variety of things I do in my daily and not so daily life and adjust to make my life easier.

      I think if Microsoft gives anyone, power users or first time users, a product that is capable of doing this sort of thing, the results will be marvelous…

    • Guest

      Some are, and MS should pay attention. But some, possibly even many, are trolls and Apple fanbois who are stirring up FUD by pretending to be MS users. I personally recognize several either from their choice of alias or content/style.

    • Abiddine

      I do personally feel that Apple “fanboys” are stirring some of the chaos from the language style people use in ther comments. Don’t go to ZDNET, they are full of Apple “fanboys” plus their articles are anti-Microsoft usually. Check their comments out
      -”Microsoft, stop copying Apple”
      -”Microsoft sucks”
      -”Microsoft, stop trying to be someone you can’t”
      -”We want our old windows back, Microsoft”(This guy is a seriously misinformed fool)
      -Blah, blah blah bla

    • Abiddine

      When ever something new comes, people go hostile. When that thing becomes famous, they are quick to embrace it. Take the example of Star Wars; before the movie came out, people said it would flop. When it finally did come out, it became the first blockbuster hit. To this day, 20 years after the original release, it is still famous.

      *Mark my words, the whiners today, will be the power users tomorrow.

    • Anonymous

      That’s where Microsoft always got itself in quicksand though! They are afraid to discomfort the base. Hell for years they were afraid to even let them feel the ripple effect of any change. Every version of Windows since 95 allows you to strip all the UX bells and whistles and run it just like 95 did. The Windows 7 UX is fundamentally still based on Windows 95′s principals. Those were design decisions that were made in the early 90s.

      Steven Sinofsky is definitely not the biggest risk taker (and this guy is supposedly in line to take over as CEO at Microsoft!? Really?). He’s still drunk off the concept of Windows dominates desktops. I personally would like to see a study that shows what’s selling now. I am willing to bet that the number of personal computers (anything with a pointing device and a keyboard. Desktops, laptops, ultra, notebook, etc all included here except for tablets) would paint a different picture than the one Microsoft has been staring at for years.

      The corporate world may still be running on Windows in the front and back office; however, Linux has a significant share in the server room and data center. Moreover, a significant percentage of new computers coming into the corporate world are not Windows machines. The new generation of workers are bringing their Macbooks into work with them. Their managers in some cases wanting to remain hip and relevant begin to adopt.

      Those are trends that cannot be changed without a paradigm shift or a disruption. I really have high hopes that Microsoft and the Windows 8 team (all the ay from top generals to water boys) have the balls to bring forward a compelling enough NEW experience.

    • Abiddine

      Microsoft OS share = 90+%, Apple OS share = ~5%, Linux OS share = ~3%.

    • Anonymous

      @4ab63be4b4355df674a60d31368a9f13:disqus  that’s the exact statement and mentality that’s keeping Microsoft from rocking the boat. I can assure you that Apple is not disappointed with the way their desktops and laptops are selling TODAY.
       
      The 90% number is a collection of desktops spanning multiple version of the OS and a variety of usages. It’s time to wake up and understand that the new sales today are not 90% Windows and 10% everything else. I don’t know what the actual breakdown is but I would love to see a study that reveals how many Macs vs PCs Best Buy is selling these days…

    • youareatroller

      fail troll is fail. dont just make up statistics without reading first. noob.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for the feedback Miceosoft the only thing that I didn’t see is how you would rddesign the Start Bar on the Legacy Desktop to integrate it with the Start Menu.
    If u are reading this Microsoft/Sinofsky I would love to share my two cents on a better Legacy Desktop/Start Screen. Synchronization:
    My idea starts with a start button in the exact same place only with a quick search space either right beside it or under the start logo (if the start bar gets bigget by it being design in the Metro Language).
    This way when you type in the box you get a list that comes up covering about 30% of the bottom screen showing you your results in a Metro style list without having to open the full interface. There should still be a button for fully opening all the functions but some should be there like Settings, Apparel, and Internet toggle/check boxes.

    I also think by making the Start Bar bigger using a Metro design that there would be some space for some tiles with updated information that can be autohidden by using the more options menu like in Internet Explorer (Microsoft you used a great idea from Office it would only be fitting to use this in the same way from I.E . Metr. This is a great way to bring have a tab/taskbar that cones down with your opened/suspended apps only for the start screen and legacy desktop. Then in from an appear there could be . some way to pub it from the left and show a list or make e eryrhing consistant and have it work that way throughout the OS.

    Last but not least is the option to click on the Start bar and have it cover either 30%/50% of the screen. to show your most recent apps that has been used in a tile base with your live tiles still showing. Then there could either be a second option or click on the start button to fully open up the Start Screen. This way you won’t completely alienate everyone from the experience they are already accustomed to by still giving the user the Start Screen experience. At the end there could be a button to open up all the apps (in the Metro Interface) just like in the W7 Start Menu .
    Also I would like to see a Group folder type larger TILE instead of a list of apps that I can’t really differeintiate from the others by only some other letters that are the same size as the apps being listed. I would love to see a color pattern or variation to the groups so thay I know indefinitely that I am looking at a different group without having to read the detail title of what it is. Something like a tile that shows the most Used program in that group like in Microsoft that would be; Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Note. Then That way I would be able to access what I want without having to open the entire tile of that group.

  • http://twitter.com/laserfloyd Lewis McCrary

    It just goes to show that those who’ve passed judgment over Windows 8 are not very intelligent.

    An OS that isn’t even in Beta? Check.
    An OS that is a major departure from the previous version of the OS? Check.

    There are obviously going to be very many changes and improvements over the coming months.  Microsoft is obviously listening to feedback and that’s a great thing.  Any fool (tech blogger) who thinks that WDP was the “final” version needs to consider a new career. ;)

    • Anonymous

      I have come to accept that Tech Bloggers make their money by making outrageous click-baiting statements.  So by claiming WDP is the final version and will fail, they are making the right career choices.

    • Anonymous

      I would agree with that. It’s shock jock mentality. The more outrageous your claims the more traffic you drive.

      This is one reason why I like what Tom has done with WinRumors. On a few occasions I’ve disagreed with his choice of words on titles and stuff but overall, that’s why I am a repeat customer here…

    • Anonymous

      @twitter-5527292:disqus I don’t think anyone is saying this is the end all and be all. Everyone understands that part I think. What you can take away from the WDP is that it introduces the most shocking changes and invokes a first reaction.

      I don’t think Microsoft can afford to go back and rework the way W8 is designed to work this late in the game without derailing the projects for at least a few years. This initial feedback is a dual edge sword.

      I think Microsoft should have meant what it said, and released the WDP to MSDN subscribers only or by invitation only. Letting the whole world play around with W8 under the cover of “Oh this is not even a beta yet” is a dangerous thing. I think they’re starting to realize that not just developers downloaded this and they didn’t just use it to figure out how to best develop for W8.

  • Candid Calum

    I haven’t had chance to install the developer preview just yet, so I’ll ask here (as I haven’t been able to find out). Is there a way for us to leave the Start Screen open on one monitor, while we’re using an app or two (splitscreen) on a second monitor, if we wish? Considering the Start Screen is so useful in regard to being informed of notifications and other updates (like the Taskbar but better), I imagine I’d like to have it in view at all times. I do hope this is a feature. Any information on this would be great, thanks.

    • http://www.mainstreetchatham.com/ JimmyFal

      Your main screen toggles back and forth between the desktop and the Metro start screen, while all the other screens have legacy apps open. For example I use the regular desktop on my main screen, and I have Outlook on another and Instant messenger conversations on another, and Spotify on another. (By the way, your task bar is replicated on ALL screens which is really nice. ) When I hit START button to search it flips over to Metro only on the main screen to do the search, then back to the desktop. Since there are not a lot of Metro apps to use I can’t give you too much feedback there, other than I don’t really find IE 10 Metro to be the way I want to use IE on the desktop. I can see how it would work on touch. I like having the Favorites bar up top to flip between my websites all day long. This doesn’t work to well on IE 10 Metro as all the favorites on the bar are hidden and have to be “unhidden” every time I want to use them. A little weird but I would like to see how it goes on a touch screen. I will be throwing Win 8 on the first touch screen I can get, possibly the Amazon tablet!!! As will many many many others I am sure.

  • http://www.mainstreetchatham.com/ JimmyFal

    Still a little nervous about the metro on the desktop. Currently using it as my main OS on 4 screens. I will wait till the Beta to pass any real judgment. At the moment, I am not finding things to be overly “discoverable”. Keyboard shortcuts, and typing the name of an app to find it will NOT be the way I want to do stuff, but I’ll wait to see what they come up with. As much as some people would like to think, I realize they are not morons for gods sake.

    • Anonymous

      I think the start screen in the developer preview was lacking a search input field and button. That would have been a great way to tie in a migration from the previous experience, bing, and just an overall better user experience.

      I also would have liked the start screen to have gotten a new set of cursors that make using the mouse feel closer to gesturing.

    • Anonymous

      There is no input screen. You just start typing the the search box comes on its own.

    • Anonymous

      I know that. I am saying that’s not intuitive. When I look at a menu my first instinct is not to type. It’s to choose. Adding a simple input box and a search button next to it would go a long way towards improving experience and even integrating other products such as bing etc.

  • http://twitter.com/Salem309 Ahmed Salem

    This screenshot just turned me off!!

  • Jack

    I’ve been using the W8 DP on a desktop with a 24in display since it was released.  The Metro start screen is ugly, pointless and Apple-wannabe to me.  Of course the MSFT fanboys eat up anything that the Great Ones in Redmond create just as the Apple fanboys do for anything from Cupertino.  That’s the way some personalities work.

    The point that many of the posters over at the Windows 8 site are making is that they want the choice of Metro or not.  While that doesn’t seem to jibe with the Metro New World Order / Post PC-World babble it’s a reasonable request.

    For me the Windows 7 start screen works perfectly in combination with the task bar.  It took a whole couple of minutes to customize the pair so that I see what I want when I want to see it.

    • Anonymous

      Metro is Apple wannabe? Ohh I see

    • Anonymous

      @064d1a7cd4353d4d2d73f082ae76d86b:disqus I don’t see where you get the Apple wanna be part? Metro was unveiled on the Zune and then on the Windows Phone. If anything Microsoft is trying to create a uniform experience for its users. So not sure if you really took the time to understand the concept before posting.

      Regarding your statement on users asking to be given a choice to turn metro on or off, I don’t think it’s that simple. User experience fragmentation is just as dangerous if not even more dangerous in my opinion to a product like Windows 8 than say hardware and spec fragmentation. It affects the way support is provided all the way to how apps are built and how the brand is guarded.

      Windows Vista did a good job at evolving the start menu. Windows 7 did a good job at evolving the taskbar. Windows 8 is not supposed to be an evolutionary product though. At least I hope it doesn’t turn into just another doze of more of the same. 

  • Anonymous

    Try getting this level of engagement with an apple design/development team while their product is under development.

    I really can’t tell if this is a good or a bad way to improve design. You can’t please everyone. Someone is inevitably going to be disappointed. I personally have been preparing myself for a total shock of an experience in the months leading to the release of the w8 developer preview. The words from everyone at Microsoft about how this W8 would be their biggest risk and gamble so far had me curious and ready for a totally new experience.

    I would have to say that I was mildly shocked. The usual Microsoft way of let’s not go too wild kept re-emerging with every interaction with W8 developer preview.

    I am pleased they’re taking the time to communicate. I am not so pleased in the sense that I feel like they have to defend their design decisions. I will be disappointd if they end up deviating away from their ambitious goal of making W8 a huge paradigm shift and let it become merely a stepping stone towards more of the same.

    • Guest

      You wouldn’t get this level of engagement with Apple – or any really. The difference is that they would have thought through all the obvious issues first and come up with decent solutions. When MS hasn’t even figured out that “Oh, so you mean a App group might contain a dozen or more apps under it, and you the user might not know the name of each one?”, you really have to wonder whether the people designing this OS are thinking about real world use or just assume everyone is a MS employee with five apps installed, all of them from MS.

      I’m all for MS taking some risks. They’ve been far too risk averse when it comes to the cash cows. But if you’re going to take a big risk, you have to make sure the payoff is there. Otherwise users won’t invest the time required to learn a new way of operating.

      I like Metro for tablets. But the Metro/W7 UI transition in the W8 DP is not good. There are so many ways they could have lowered the shock. Make the Metro start menu a sidebar or user selectable option for the classic start panel (i.e. not full screen), for example.

    • Anonymous

      Apple doesn’t share any info ahead of launch simply because they wouldn’t want to lose the hype they get out of the secrecy they surround their work with. Every product Apple comes out with is overstated and claims innovation on things that are usually released years prior just not by them.

      I believe that people working on this product are thinking about real world scenarios; however, the people who are accountable for revenues stemming from this product are usually the ones who exert the most pressure and influence the design. That’s why we end up with a product that still borrows the majority of its design cues from the early 90s. It’s easy to be on the outside looking in, but if you or I had to go out there and sell Windows 8 to the thousands of organizations out there that constitute the lion’s share of the desktop pie, we’d want the easiest sell possible, and having a decision matrix that levels the playing field with any other competing product on the learning curve factor is definitely not a card any sales team wants to be dealt.

      I think the Metro design language can only constitute a paradigm shift if Microsoft fully intends to adopt it in full across the board. In other words, the only way Microsoft can save itself is by cannibalizing itself otherwise the competition will do so slowly but surely.

      Let Metro cannibalize Windows 95 through 7.

  • Guest

    I appreciated their post. It at least explained some of their thinking. But I still have concerns. For example, I agreed with almost everything that “Aleksy” wrote. And wtf is up with the comment system? It’s broken. I tried three times last night from two different machines to post my feedback. Just checked it again this morning and they’re still not there. Others are complaining about it as well. C’mon MS, how hard is it to have a comment system that works? I’m not talking about a slight delay to approve comments or toss them if they’re trolls.

    My main feedback was on the App screen. While groups are an improvement, it still needs work. For example the folder titles aren’t bolded and are too close to App icons. It doesn’t help readability. I also find the screen way too busy. They state a design goal of the user seeing as much as possible “at a glance”. But isn’t Metro all about simplifying to help productivity?

    My advice was to put all the folders titles on the left, where they could be easily seen and scrolled. Then only display the App icons that correspond to whatever folder title  a user clicks or touches. If need be, make a panel on the right that shows “frequently used” apps. I even spent five minutes mocking it up. It’s *much* cleaner and easier to read. And it’s not like I’m being creative. This is similar to how Zune PC software works (collection view, list of artists on left, click artist and see corresponding album “tiles”). The other thing they could borrow from Zune in this area is the “quickplay” concept. Indeed, that could be how they populate the “frequently used” panel.

    I’m also really concerned that MS is not going to accomodate those who want the classic start bar or to boot into desktop mode. Which frankly shocks me. I thought for sure they would allow it. But this post makes me think they’re going to push it regardless. That’s idiotic. The code is all there. They’re just purposely disabling it to try and force Metro. I like Metro for tablets. I might even grow to love it as a start menu. But why force it when you can alleviate a lot of the negative feedback by providing some disabling options for those who aren’t ready to embrace it yet? Windows has always been about choice and multiple ways to get something done. I’m also not sure how successful MS is going to be in getting developers to create Metro apps. In the old days it would have been a given. But many of their recent efforts have failed (WPF). And if that fails, then forcing a Metro-only view is again a large risk for them.

  • Guest

    Here’s a mock up I did. Interested if anyone thinks it’s an improvement:

    http://xicn.deviantart.com/art/W8-Alternative-App-menu-263048843

    (the title on the top right are optional. I only included them because MS had them on the screen, And yeah, I know the icons on the right are blurry). I spent a whole five minutes on this.

    • Mark

      That would work far better, at least for me. My main machine has 40 folders currently. Many parent folders in turn have children subfolders. Each folder (or sub) contains multiple icons. Some have six or more. I’d guess the average at around four, with all but one being mostly useless (uninstall, configure, wizard, etc). Displayed as per MS’s screen, that would be pages of scrolling. I’d much rather go through a list of 40 folders, less if type search works and I know a keyword, and then see just the icons for that program.

      I also like the frequently used concept which borrows from Zune. There’s a lot of screen real estate there, so you could list a lot of icons while still using size and location to visually clue frequency of use.

    • Guest

      +1 Somebody get this to Sinofsky.

    • Abiddine

      Nice job!

    • Austin

      This. The App Menu reminds me too much of Launchpad, but this is different. I would love to see MS go with ideas like this.

  • Anonymous

    I think the problem lies in the way the start screen is laid out. on WP the metro experience is vertical (scroll up and down for default and pinned tiles). On W8 it seems to be horizontal (left to right). While this may seem like a minor variation, I think it’s a significant one.

    To keep matters consistent, the start screen should mimic what the WP start screen does. Up and down scrolling for additional tiles on each screen while left and right swiping should take users to the other screens such as Apps screen perhaps. Additional screens should also be accessible by swiping further to the right, screens such as Settings for example and maybe even one dedicated to show you running apps etc.

    The user should also be allowed to customize which screens are revealed and which ones they could care less for. For example I may want to pin the Photos folder as a screen I could swipe to rather than just a tile I can launch the photo browser from. If you think about it makes sense. In W7 you could pin websites and apps to the taskbar, in W8 you should be able to pin folders, websites and metro apps to the queue that the start screen sits in.  

  • Anonymous

    I’d wish they would change Aero to Metro altogether. Aero and metro don’t mix. It’s a fact.

  • mattowski

    Lets face it when you’re the top dog with a complete monopoly over most of the worlds computers with your OS, anything you do is going to be a big deal. Apple has bee fortunate that with a small market share they have been able to make huge changes to their OS over the years and build on their user experience. They are by no means perfect. But they have succeeded in changing the opinions and views of the mass audience in how to interact with a computer. 

    I use Windows and Mac daily, they are completely different beasts. I would like to see Windows without a task bar or start menu, or a start menu without folders just apps. From what I have seen from W8 so far is a strong nod to the Apple’s OS Lion. But they need to remember their users interact the same way. 

  • Mtehran5

    I think if the title of each app was below that would be better.