Windows 8: classic desktop features [video]

By Tom Warren, on 13th Sep 11 4:15 pm with 37 Comments

Windows 8 desktop

Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system sees a fresh start for the interface as a whole, but what about classic desktop?

Don’t fear if you’re a die hard Windows power user. Microsoft has kept the fundamentals of Windows unchanged. The default experience for Windows 8 users will force them into a Metro world but power users and even regular users can happily switch between both interfaces. Microsoft provides a desktop tile in the default Windows 8 Start Screen that provides easy access to the desktop. The desktop can also be activated using various shortcut keys like start+d or start+run. Typical Windows “power user” shortcuts will throw end users back into the classic desktop experience.

Microsoft has documented its Ribbon user interface work for Windows 8 and the copy/move file dialogs. The company has also created a new task manager interface designed to simplify by default and provide a strong array of data for those wishing to delve deeper. The interface will provide a great level of detail for running processes but also detail the history of previously run applications, helpful for system admins.

Microsoft’s multi monitor desktop is also improved in Windows 8. Microsoft has included taskbar spanning with a widget based icon that sits on the secondary monitor of a Windows 8 desktop.

Windows 8 multi monitors

Overall power users have nothing to fear other than the fact it appears that the Start Screen interface has fully replaced the Start Menu. Microsoft revealed in June that the Start Screen would replace the Start Menu and there’s no option to change this behaviour in the Windows 8 developer preview. This is an early copy of Microsoft’s Windows 8 work however, things could change later down the line.

  • http://twitter.com/Capric0rn Capric0rn

    Really, really, really disliking the new desktop UI. They really nailed it with Windows 7′s UI, and now they’re just slapping things on it here and there.

    • Anonymous

      Well I hope they’ll atleast add an ability to custom sort the files in the Explorer, they removed that in Windows 7.

    • http://twitter.com/oolong2 oolong2

      Keep in mind this is a developer preview so the is probably not he final desktop.

      However functionality-wise the desktop UI is awesome, the ribbon, multi-monitor features, task manager all awesome.

    • http://twitter.com/Roh_Mish Rohan Mishra

      1. if you don’t have a touchscreen, or use it on a desktop? it is just to…
      2.The ribbon does not look good at all.

    • Anonymous

      First of all, it’s not even in beta. So this is not final. Secondly, it doesn’t look different enough from Windows 7 desktop UI to even matter, based on this.

    • Anonymous

      What exactly are you referring to?

  • http://twitter.com/Capric0rn Capric0rn

    Really, really, really disliking the new desktop UI. They really nailed it with Windows 7′s UI, and now they’re just slapping things on it here and there.

  • Test

    Class apple troll style, praise something win7 and then dish out things about Win8

  • Austin Kettner

    The new desktop UI elements wont be shown off till a few months before release. It will come together nicely, the metro start button is a indication of what feel they are going for the Desktop UI.

  • tbs

    Class apple troll style, praise something win7 and then dish out things about Win8

  • Hugo Hall

    Does anyone know what the alternative to the start menu will be? I don’t get how the changes I’ve seen make it easier/faster. I mean where’s the search and links to system folders and settings?

    On a similar note I’m a bit disappointed at how little metro has gone into the ribbon design. I love the tablet UI  and desperately want to try win8 but desktop wise I just don’t see how it’s better than 7.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001168392098 Joel Collins

      It’s only M3. I’d expect that to change by RTM or maybe even Beta.

    • Tom

      Search is still there.  Just type into the Start screen.

      As for the system folders links, I know that I’ve never clicked on any of them except “Printers” and “Control Panel.”  I imagine telemetry told Microsoft that this was the rule rather than the exception.

      I think of it like the Backstage view for the Office 2010 ribbon UI.  When it came out, people kept complaining about how it obscured the open document because it took over the whole window.  But when you actually use Office 2010, you realize it doesn’t matter.  You don’t need to see a document when you’re performing tasks on the File menu, because you’re not editing it.

  • Hugo Hall

    Does anyone know what the alternative to the start menu will be? I don’t get how the changes I’ve seen make it easier/faster. I mean where’s the search and links to system folders and settings?

    On a similar note I’m a bit disappointed at how little metro has gone into the ribbon design. I love the tablet UI  and desperately want to try win8 but desktop wise I just don’t see how it’s better than 7.

  • Anonymous

    The best change in the new UI is the Start Button…Killa !!

    All you need is press to kill…

    And the Snap feature is a beast, thats been made..

  • Anonymous

    The best change in the new UI is the Start Button…Killa !!

    All you need is press to kill…

    And the Snap feature is a beast, thats been made..

  • Dustin Harper

    I love it. Sure, it will take some getting used to, but it will offer a seamless environment across different platforms. I can go from tablet to my phone to my PC and it will be identical. My only concern is the resources. I’d like to see it modular. I don’t think tablets need all the functionality of a desktop, or the added drivers, etc. (tablets don’t have much expansion). I’d like to see a minimal installation, and only install what is needed at the time. Perhaps instead of including massive amounts of drivers for every piece of hardware in a drivers folder, it can be online…. I guess I’ll find out more as it nears the final release. Still, I’m really liking the new UI.

  • Dustin Harper

    I love it. Sure, it will take some getting used to, but it will offer a seamless environment across different platforms. I can go from tablet to my phone to my PC and it will be identical. My only concern is the resources. I’d like to see it modular. I don’t think tablets need all the functionality of a desktop, or the added drivers, etc. (tablets don’t have much expansion). I’d like to see a minimal installation, and only install what is needed at the time. Perhaps instead of including massive amounts of drivers for every piece of hardware in a drivers folder, it can be online…. I guess I’ll find out more as it nears the final release. Still, I’m really liking the new UI.

  • Anonymous

    Dissapointed i havent seen any reasonble feauture of the desktop
    i want to see more of the desktop

  • Anonymous

    Jesus… P-E-R-F-E-C-T-I-O-N Squared and clean, Flat desing along with Ribbon…

    Also no more 3rd party softwares… Cleaning, defgragment tools, Antivirus, ISO support, etc etc…

    Jesus…

    • Anonymous

      Why do I get the feeling Microsoft is going to get sued by the EU for including these things.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001168392098 Joel Collins

    I have a question, if the Start menu has been replaced with the Start screen (a move I personally like), where can you find a full list of all installed apps?

    Like, say I installed a classic Win32 app to be run in Desktop mode, where will I find the icon for this in order to pin it?

    • Candid Calum

      To see a full list of installed apps, one swipes to right side of the screen to display the Charms, clicks on the Search Charm, and all apps will then be on display :) Tom shows that off in one of the videos, but I can’t remember which :)

    • Tom

      In the apps list.

  • Anonymous

    That metro UI looks good. I wonder though how it manages way too many open running apps or windows? Do you really need to swipe several times to get to the app you want to work with? I hope theres some sort of like a multitasking view like in the WP7 or better yet a five finger multitouch that could bring out all open windows and to tile them up. Think of it like a better expose but for windows.

  • Owais_503

    how do u close an app on the metro ui

    • Anonymous

      Good Question…

    • Anonymous

      Good Question…

    • http://www.facebook.com/richard.tietjens Richard Tietjens

      You don’t. Once you open it, it stays open pretty much forever. However, I quickly discovered a tool that disables Metro UI completely. My Windows 8 Developer Preview now looks and works mostly like Windows 7.

  • CoffeeAddict

    “Slightly” improved task manager?  I’d say a HUGELY improved task manager.  It’s very extensive, like a suite you’d buy from an external company.  It rocks!

  • Anonymous

    I actually like the old start menu. I’ll try 8 but maybe I’ll stick to 7

  • Julian Rooze

    I like Windows 8 overall from what I’ve seen but I feel like I’ll miss the old Start Menu when I’m working on the desktop, which I will be most of the time being a developer. I use it a lot to instantly search stuff on my computer; press Windows button on keyboard, just type something and hit enter, but now I suspect pressing the Windows key will bring up the new Metro Start screen, which is a bit jarring and I can imagine slower as then you still need to click on the search function there. I can definitely see myself buying a Windows 8 tablet, provided their battery life and performance are competitive with Apple’s offerings, but on my desktop the option to default to the “legacy” desktop would be great.

    • Anonymous

      I’m willing to bet there is a shortcut for the search function.

    • Anonymous

      I’m willing to bet there is a shortcut for the search function.

    • Anonymous

      You can just start typing in the new Start screen to search.

  • urbanyoung

    I actually hate the new UI. I was hoping I’d be able to have a desktop experience and effectively ignore the metro stuff, but the start menu has been replaced. I really hope they change this otherwise I’m sticking to Windows 7, a desktop is not a tablet and I don’t want to be forced to use a tablet UI. Disappointing. 

  • urbanyoung

    I actually hate the new UI. I was hoping I’d be able to have a desktop experience and effectively ignore the metro stuff, but the start menu has been replaced. I really hope they change this otherwise I’m sticking to Windows 7, a desktop is not a tablet and I don’t want to be forced to use a tablet UI. Disappointing.