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Smaller live tiles, new Internet Explorer 11 browser, and multi-monitor "snap" views are among highlights

Details have already started to trickle out regarding Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFTWindows Blue -- the somewhat ironically named (BSOD anyone?) sequel to the coolly received Windows 8, a refresh which sources indicate will land later this year.  But a leak of a partner test build from earlier this month shows us the most explicit details about the Windows 8 UI makeover yet.

I. The Leak 

The leak came courtesy of photos posted to a Polish language forum in The leak also fell on Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's 57th birthday.  Mr. Ballmer has shaken up the Windows team after Windows 8 received mixed reviews, with the biggest change being the departure of Windows President Steven Sinofsky.  The shakeups are expected to have a sizeable influence on the end product as Microsoft moves towards a shorter schedule of releases with Windows Blue.

The leaked build -- Build 9364 -- was compiled on March 15th, and is one of the builds that Microsoft sends to certain trusted partners in the months leading up to a Windows OS or service pack launch.

The build is current 2.63 GB

II. The Features

One of the biggest changes showcased in the leaked screenshots was an expected one -- smaller live tiles.  Much like Windows Phone 8, Windows Blue gives developers and customers more flexibility by allowing them to adopt a smaller/leaner footprint for seldom used apps' tiles.

Windows Blue

Microsoft has also borrowed Windows 7's desktop "snapping" and inserted it into the Windows 8 UI to allow snapped Windows 8-style apps.  The concept has been extended to allow a 4-app snapped configuration.  What's more, the snap-fest can extend to up to 8 simultaneously snapped apps in a multi-monitor setup.

Windows Blue

Windows Blue snaps (2)

The screenshots also show off a series of Windows 8-style apps --alarm, sound recorder, movie moments, and calculator -- which will come pre-loaded with Blue.  

Windows Blue

And there's new style options to allow users greater flexibility in customizing the look of their Windows 8-style GUI.

Windows Blue styles
Windows Blue Styles 2

The Windows 8 menu's controls have been streamlined and expanded to offer more intuitive control over hardware, uploads, networking, and other options so as to minimize the instances in which you have to return to the desktop control panel.

Windows Blue Control Panel (1)

Windows Blue Control Panel (2)

Windows Blue control panel (3)

Windows Blue Control Panel (4)

There's new gestures for touch users:
  • swipe up from the bottom -- gives a list of all apps
  • swipe up or down (in Desktop Mode) -- gives toolbar w/ access to Snap
Another highlight is a test build of the upcoming Internet Explorer 11.  The new browser has tab syncing, presumably to sync tabs between your mobile Windows Phone Blue device and your various Windows Blue tablets/laptops/desktops.

Windows Blue

Wrapping up the changes, there have been modifications to the "Charms" feature.  There's a new option in the Share Charm, which offers a quick shareable screenshot option for use with other apps like messaging and email.

Windows Blue Charms

Windows Blue Charms (screenshot)

The Verge and R27 (Italian) both reported on these leaked features.


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By chromal on 3/25/2013 12:58:30 PM , Rating: 3
Everything I see in this Windows update is galling and upsetting. Apparently, Microsoft has decided to double down on their whole touchscreen/tablet metro UI on the desktop. Hopefully Windows7 will not be end-of-lifed for a long long time.

RE: craptastic.
By Flunk on 3/25/2013 1:09:53 PM , Rating: 2
I can't believe people are still posting about this.


Microsoft has announced over and over that this is what they're doing. To expect different at this point is silly. It's going to a take an epic failure for them to change their mind. We're at least 5 years away from them giving up on this.

Stop posting silly comments. Also, Windows 7 will be have mainstream support until January 12, 2015 and extended support until January 14, 2020. All of this stuff is readily available.

RE: craptastic.
By StevoLincolnite on 3/25/2013 8:32:14 PM , Rating: 5

Microsoft is a company, it's main goal is to sell products to consumers in exchange for money.
What happens if sales are poor? They will change their mind so they can continue to make more money.

From what I have seen, sales and reception of Windows 8 has been fairly poor, so it wouldn't surprise me if they back pedal a bit.

RE: craptastic.
By tastyratz on 3/26/2013 9:19:36 AM , Rating: 2
Sales have not been poor due to massive pricing restructures but correlation does not equal causation. People buy it because it's cheap, and they get it with new computers. They think 8 is better than 7 and are not educated to know the difference. why buy "old" on the shelf when new is significantly cheaper? Sales are through the roof.

None of that is an indicator of consumer preference however, the decision is halfway made for them by retailers and OEM's.

RE: craptastic.
By althaz on 3/28/2013 1:41:43 AM , Rating: 2
You talk about education, but the uneducated and open-minded people in my organisation mostly LIKE Windows 8.

The "education" that is out there tells you Win8 is bad, almost entirely for reasons that don't exist.

There actually isn't any reason to not like Windows 8 - it's faster, more stable, uses less power, has improved usability for desktop users, offers an interface for tablet users and improves a number of core functions (eg: Control Panel, File Copy).

The start screen is flat-out better than the start menu - which virtually nobody used because it was crap.

Sure, metro apps are pretty crap and the metro stuff for the most part is clearly not ready for prime-time, but it's all purely optional.

People complaining about Windows 8 are mostly demonstrating they have no knowledge of the product or complaining they don't like the direction they think Microsoft is headed (and if MS is headed to a full-screen only, app-store only future, I hope they burn in hell, though I din't think the former at least is likely).

You can say it's not worth upgrading to for you (a valid and reasonable view point, although for me the improved multi-monitor support and fucking UP button in file explorer makes it worth it, even it weren't for the noticable performance benefits), but it's demonstratably better in all areas than Windows 7, so you can't actually say it's bad and say Win7 is good.

Of course I've been fairly critical of Win8 as well, but that's because I feel like the new Metro stuff is half-baked - but I'm not saying Win8 is bad, it's just that I wish it were better.

RE: craptastic.
By Da W on 3/26/13, Rating: 0
RE: craptastic.
By freedom4556 on 3/27/2013 6:36:28 AM , Rating: 2
The difference is that Windows 95 didn't launch to a world largely devoid of mice like Windows 8 did with touchscreens. Hardware turnover was also much faster back then. Did you ever try to uses Windows without a mouse? I have. Often mice drivers didn't autoload. Windows 8 without a touch device reminds me a lot of that experience.

RE: craptastic.
By delphinus100 on 3/25/2013 8:43:19 PM , Rating: 2
It's going to a take an epic failure for them to change their mind.

You write as if that can't possibly happen.

If they start losing customer base, minds will change (or did you forget Vista?), UIs will change. That's how it works. Whether it actually will do that, remains to be seen.

All of this stuff is readily available.

And none of it etched in stone. Or did you forget the multiply-reprieved Windows XP?

RE: craptastic.
By mechBgon on 3/28/2013 2:43:48 AM , Rating: 2
I recently compared the Win8 adoption rate to Vista's, using Valve's Steam stats. Even among the gaming community, Win8 is being adopted at about half the rate that Vista was. And that's despite $40 giveaway pricing for several months. So yeah, I'd say it's time for Microsoft to read the writing on the wall... they've got a great OS trapped underneath a UI that many people just don't want.

My take: if Microsoft published a mea culpa acknowledging they were fools to artificially take away the choice of the traditional UI, and produced a Desktop User Option Pack that gave us a Win7-style UI option, then they'd see Win8 finally start to take off. People who really preferred the tablet/touch UI could have it, but businesses wouldn't have to be stuck with it and retrain their users and support staff just to satisfy Microsoft's self-serving agenda.

RE: craptastic.
By 0ldman on 3/30/2013 9:58:52 AM , Rating: 2
Just check the number of downloads of Classic Shell.

That is about the only reason my customers didn't take back their Windows 8 machines.

Just to be clear, I didn't sell them the PC, but I did have to talk them out of returning it because they hate the Metro Interface, every one that has gotten a Windows 8 PC.

The Windows 8 underlying architecture is great, the fluff on top is an irritation with a mouse at best. At what point were options decided to be a problem?

Microsoft opts to keep Metro, I choose to use 7. I set my customers up with Classic Shell.

RE: craptastic.
By Mitch101 on 3/25/2013 1:30:02 PM , Rating: 5
StartIsBack - $3
Pokki - Free
StartMenu8 - Free
Classic Shell - Free
Start8 - $5

I use Start8 for the record although It will only appear in the main monitor my other monitors have the Windows live tiles menu still so best of both worlds if you have multiple monitors. I did this because I got frustrated trying to get to Printers.

RE: craptastic.
By Motoman on 3/25/2013 3:19:20 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks for pointing out those other options. I've been buying Start8 for Windows8 machines around here, since they're useless without it.'

I honestly haven't spent any time looking around for alternatives lately...StartMenu8 looks good and gets good, legitimate reviews.

Granted, the $5 for Start8 doesn't break anybody's bank...but free is free. And since MS refuses to sell an OS that can be used out of the box, apparently it's up to the rest of us to fix it.

RE: craptastic.
By bigboxes on 3/25/2013 4:15:05 PM , Rating: 2
M$ should have put a start button in the first place. If not, then at least an option to choose what type of interface you have. One optimized for tablets and phones and one for productivity for the desktop. Yeah, the desktop is dying in the home, but for any of us that want to get any real work done they should have given us that option in the first place.

To the first metrotard that replies that I have to like clicking a few extra buttons just to get to the place I would have been with the Win7 start button... get bent.

RE: craptastic.
By bigboxes on 3/25/2013 4:17:20 PM , Rating: 2
And I shouldn't have to pay $5 for an app to provide an option that Microsoft should have offered in the first place.

RE: craptastic.
By Ammohunt on 3/25/2013 5:38:25 PM , Rating: 5
Thats where i am at sticking with Windows 7 costs me 0.

RE: craptastic.
By Belard on 3/25/2013 5:30:32 PM , Rating: 4
Why should I or anyone else pay for a defective crappy product? sales numbers already show that win8 is doing twice as bad as vista.

RE: craptastic.
By xti on 3/25/2013 5:46:20 PM , Rating: 3
start menu haters are a minority, just like enthusiasts are minorities or DT readers are a minority of pc users.

win8 sales suck because laptops/desktop sales are slumping, not because the world is on a start menu embargo. win7 was thru the roof because it was pre-tablet and during the peak of $300 laptops and ultrabooks coming into the market.

RE: craptastic.
By Belard on 3/25/13, Rating: 0
RE: craptastic.
By xti on 3/26/2013 11:52:40 AM , Rating: 2
you need to understand, the masses don't care that their start menu is missing. they deal with that they are given.

get THAT thru your head, DT users/geeks use of an OS are NOT a representation of the typical average joe consumer.

RE: craptastic.
By Belard on 3/26/2013 3:25:37 PM , Rating: 2
I am aware of the mass market target for win8. I've stated many times that metro makes sense. that the typical computer user is a moron when it comes to technology or anything else more than a trigger and a TV.

MS went about this all wrong. the design of metro for desktop is poor. like the photo on top with the calculator... it looks retarded to have a whole screen for a tiny little program. functionality is lost. its also ugly. I grew up with 8 bit computers. I still have my complete commodore 128 system. I bought my 1571 5.25" floppy drive for $280 with my own money when I was 15... which is far more expensive than my android phone I'm typing this response with.

I don't need to relive the old days. android and iOS are better mobile UI. thought and experience went into them. with TIFKAM apps not being windows.... why bother? go with something better. MS is failing on all fronts.... the market knows this.

RE: craptastic.
By mechBgon on 3/28/2013 2:52:13 AM , Rating: 2
I can tell you that we would have zero Win8 systems at work if we had to deal with the Metro UI. Microsoft can thank the third-party StartIsBack add-on for our recent Win8 upgrade purchases, which I pushed for on the basis of Win8's noteworthy security advantages. If you like Metro/ModernUI, you're welcome to it, but it would be better to have choices. Choices are good.

RE: craptastic.
By flyingpants1 on 3/31/2013 1:20:30 AM , Rating: 2
People like to make stuff up. Of course users like the start menu. They don't like when obvious features go missing.

RE: craptastic.
By robinthakur on 3/26/2013 8:32:20 AM , Rating: 2
That may well be the case, but tablet sales are certainly not slumping, and here MS has no defence. We were trialling MS win8 tablets from HP recently. Nobody wanted them as they already have iPads and didn't want to learn something new. One of them died and wouldn't boot and had to be sent back. On both, full screen apps can be easily manipulated, but the more powerful desktop mode is unwieldy and the keyboard (which does not pop up automatically when you tap on a text field in Desktop view) just doesn't really work properly on things like Chrome because you can't see what you are typing. The icons in Chrome don't do anything when you tap on them either, and the whole experience just doesn't feel cohesive compared to what users have been using since the first iPad launched. In terms of workflow, I also question what Win8 brings to the table. Yes you can join it to a domain, Multitask properly (in desktop mode) run MS Office on it and plug in a USB device, which is kind of nice in a novelty way, but we've been using iPads for so long, that ways have been found to work around the lack of office, using third party apps like Quick Office HD and to a degree multi-tasking. True MS might have better SharePoint/Exchange integration etc, but as far as users are concerned, they can send and browse email and make minor edits of office documents already and the rest, they aren't really interested in. Only IT really got excited about them, and after spending the weekend with the device I was bored with how fiddly it was to use. I've used Windows 8 since last November and know it well on a desktop machine (whenever I need to use it, less frequently these days!)but expected its natural home to be on a tablet.

I'm not really sure what we were expecting in Windows 8, MS did about as well as they could have, but the ship has already sailed in many ways and they are massively late to the party with an imperfect product. Perhaps Surface is better to use, but speaking as an end-user and an IT professional,and considering how long it took for MS to get a competing product out of the door, this is not that impressive nor does it really give people confidence in MS and the rest of the product stack.

RE: craptastic.
By Reclaimer77 on 3/25/2013 5:31:59 PM , Rating: 4
Those are inferior bandaids. They don't really bring back the fully usable Start Menu. The only way to really fix Windows 8 is to bring back the EXACT Win7 Start menu, AND kill Metro entirely.

And for that, I bring you *drumroll*....

This "fixes" Windows 8. You keep all of the improvements, but you get back the true Windows desktop, start menu, and the Rainbrow Brite faggy UI formerly known as Metro is dead and gone.

RE: craptastic.
By bigboxes on 3/25/2013 6:28:31 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks bud! I'll give this a shot in my next build.

RE: craptastic.
By Mitch101 on 3/27/2013 11:02:31 AM , Rating: 2
Good post didnt know about that. Worth taking a look for the kids computers.

RE: craptastic.
By Belard on 3/25/2013 6:11:29 PM , Rating: 4
another free fix for windows8....


RE: craptastic.
By morgan12x on 3/25/2013 8:59:11 PM , Rating: 2
I will happily go to Linux when the get automount to work correctly. AND, have a working system to handle uninstalling correctly. I hate when you install something with a lot of dependencies and then when you remove it all of the dependencies stick around. Makes for a very messy system after awhile.

RE: craptastic.
By Mr Perfect on 3/25/2013 1:33:41 PM , Rating: 4
I'm not thrilled with 8 either, but this still looks like an improvement. Snapping is back, which is great, and apparently you can get four apps to a screen now instead of two. I wouldn't say they're making things worse.

RE: craptastic.
By cknobman on 3/25/2013 1:38:04 PM , Rating: 2
This is one of the most important features for me and was the most baffling omission MS made with 8. Glad to see it coming back.

RE: craptastic.
By datdamonfoo on 3/25/2013 2:10:19 PM , Rating: 1
It was never gone. Do you actually use Windows 8? Snapping is still there. It just wasn't for modern apps.

RE: craptastic.
By Mr Perfect on 3/25/2013 5:38:00 PM , Rating: 2
Which is what the article was talking about.

Microsoft has also borrowed Windows 7's desktop "snapping" and inserted it into the Windows 8 UI to allow snapped Windows 8-style apps. The concept has been extended to allow a 4-app snapped configuration. What's more, the snap-fest can extend to up to 8 simultaneously snapped apps in a multi-monitor setup.

RE: craptastic.
By datdamonfoo on 3/26/2013 7:22:30 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, so I am wondering why the two comments above me are pretending it was gone.

RE: craptastic.
By Mr Perfect on 3/26/2013 12:38:22 PM , Rating: 2
You mean mine? I never said anything about the desktop, I was talking about Metro improvements, same as the article.

RE: craptastic.
By andrewaggb on 3/25/2013 2:21:26 PM , Rating: 3
better snap is nice and more than 2 apps is nice.

Hopefully we can have 2 instances of the same app for side by side...

And hopefully the start screen won't close all your snapped apps on your second monitor this time around.

Seems like an improvement, but I was hoping for more.

RE: craptastic.
By soydios on 3/25/2013 1:40:47 PM , Rating: 2
Dude, have you used Windows 8? It's just Windows 7 with a full screen start menu. Punch the Windows key and get over it.

RE: craptastic.
By Motoman on 3/25/2013 3:21:08 PM , Rating: 4
Punch the Windows key and...then what? You see a "desktop" with some icons on it...but with no way to access your installed programs. Ergo - totally useless.

The one and only way to make Win8 useful is to install something like Start8, set it to automatically bypass the Metrosexual UI, and go straight to the real desktop...with a Start menu. You you can actually use the programs you have.

RE: craptastic.
By Cerin218 on 3/25/2013 3:49:33 PM , Rating: 3
So put icons to your programs on the desktop or enable the Quick Launch and put them there and sthu.

RE: craptastic.
By Motoman on 3/25/13, Rating: 0
RE: craptastic.
By xti on 3/25/13, Rating: 0
RE: craptastic.
By Da W on 3/26/2013 1:32:23 PM , Rating: 1
Switch to linux then and shut up.

RE: craptastic.
By mircea on 3/27/2013 5:58:45 AM , Rating: 2
Or Right-click in the start menu and then at the bottom on "All apps" and poof all programs show there like clicking on "(All) Pprograms" in Win 98-7 start button.

RE: craptastic.
By Digimonkey on 3/25/2013 4:29:42 PM , Rating: 1
When you are in the Windows 8 start screen, you can start typing the name of the app you want and it'll pull up a list of matches. You can then pin them so they always show up in the menu.

Don't want to bother trying to search for a specific app and just want a list? Then you can just backspace whatever you typed in and it'll give you a full list or apps, or the quickest way for the list is to hit Windows Key + Q.

RE: craptastic.
By Motoman on 3/25/2013 4:40:11 PM , Rating: 4
Or you can remember that the reason we went to GUIs in the first place was so that you don't have to type everything.

If I wanted to type things into a search box, I could do that in previous versions of Windows too. That feature is no different.

RE: craptastic.
By Digimonkey on 3/25/2013 7:38:32 PM , Rating: 1
Well then you can also just click on the search charm and it brings up all your apps.

RE: craptastic.
By mooty on 3/25/2013 8:19:52 PM , Rating: 1
You can pretty much fully customize the start screen, place all your frequently used things where you want them. I don't get it how that can be a problem.

RE: craptastic.
By Belard on 3/25/2013 10:33:46 PM , Rating: 2
its a lot more than that.

And what... put everything on the desktop and task bar... in some sort of menu layout?

RE: craptastic.
By wallijonn on 3/26/2013 6:59:05 PM , Rating: 2
the quickest way for the list is to hit Windows Key + Q.

Do a Google search for "Windows 8 shortcuts" and you will get many hits for 3 pages of "Windows+" key strokes. So besides all the other MS keystroke shortcuts to remember (like Control-P to print) you now have to learn another 3 pages worth!

Okay, how does one shut down in W8? Find the shortcut keystroke that will save you 4 steps...

RE: craptastic.
By mircea on 3/27/2013 6:01:09 AM , Rating: 2
Alt+F4 and hit Enter

RE: craptastic.
By delphinus100 on 3/25/2013 8:46:54 PM , Rating: 3
Y'know...on pre-8 Windows, the first thing I want to go to isn't always the Start Menu... why would I want this so-called substitute for a Start Menu to be the first, unavoidable thing I see?

RE: craptastic.
By DrApop on 3/25/2013 1:54:45 PM , Rating: 1
Butt ugly

RE: craptastic.
By kleinma on 3/25/13, Rating: 0
RE: craptastic.
By FastEddieLB on 3/25/2013 2:51:20 PM , Rating: 2
I don't even care about the Windows 8 UI any more, I'm just pissed that they took away the Windows Aero that I know and love. Win 7 will be my mainstay until it's no longer supported, then I'll make a permanent transition to Linux

RE: craptastic.
By The0ne on 3/25/2013 3:20:01 PM , Rating: 2
ClassicShell gives you that and more styles from previous windows :D

RE: craptastic.
By Motoman on 3/25/2013 3:25:35 PM , Rating: 2
After futzing with Win8 for a while, I find it to be OK after you install Start8. Although I highly recommend turning off all the "charms" too. Then it's a reasonable approximation of a real OS.

Try that, or maybe StartMenu8, and see what you think.

RE: craptastic.
By Cerin218 on 3/25/2013 3:55:05 PM , Rating: 1
I wish a had a nickel for every time that Microsoft pissed off some idiot by changing things and in "retaliation" that idiot threatened to change to Linux.
A. If you weren't an idiot you would ALREADY be on Linux and I wouldn't have to listen to you whine.
B. Linux will NEVER replace Windows for main stream use. Period. End of story. Linux is for people that want to spend hours getting obscure things to work that Windows just does simply. Like the 4 hours of NDIS wrapper to get the wireless to work on my laptop when the Windows install takes literally a minute and a half.
C. Every one whines about the new one they don't like. All I heard was moaning and complaining about Vista until 7 came out and placated the drooling masses.

RE: craptastic.
By Motoman on 3/25/2013 4:43:58 PM , Rating: 2
You are correct in that no one is likely to ever move to Linux - not until the industry well and truly gets behind it. If enough people got sick of MS's bullsh1t, they might see some $ in getting behind it though.

And of course, you could always buy a Mac. Or a Chromebook.

The real answer is simply that there will always be 3rd parties that crop up to make massive amounts of money fixing the stupid sh1t that MS does. Like Start8.

We may be forced to use Windows, since ultimately it's the only rational choice...but luckily we aren't forced to cripple ourselves by using the Metrosexual UI.

RE: craptastic.
By HoosierEngineer5 on 3/25/2013 5:55:29 PM , Rating: 2
Why does Microsoft now seem like another Intel, just before AMD kicked the crap out of them (in the Pentium 4 days) - oh yeah, tiny little incremental updates so they can drain the maximum amount of money for the smallest effort.

RE: craptastic.
By Bubbacub on 3/25/2013 5:33:49 PM , Rating: 2
apart from gaming, linux in the form of mint, for example, can be a totally superior os for people who need to get work done.

i was in the same boat as yourself till 18 months ago - i'm not planning on switching back now that i've made a successful conversion.

whilst i agree that your average user is not going to install a linux distro and do the fiddling required to get everything working to a similar windows environment, i disagree that linux will never be mainstream and would argue that it is already mainstream.

the linux kernal in the form of android and the increasing sales of chromebooks does indicate that there is mass mainstream usage of the linux kernal - the thing that makes linux, well linux.

also calling people idiots because you appear to be having a geeky explosion of indignant wrath is not particularly cool

RE: craptastic.
By Reclaimer77 on 3/25/2013 5:16:13 PM , Rating: 2
Truly disappointing I agree. If this is their idea of making Windows 8 better for the desktop, it's clear they just refuse to acknowledge the OS's shortcomings. It has fundamental usability issues with a mouse and keyboard that this "update" doesn't even begin to address.

oh well, Windows 7 will do just fine until we get Windows 9 which will hopefully be un-fuc#ed. Continuing MS's bad OS-good OS-bad OS-good OS trend.

RE: craptastic.
By NellyFromMA on 3/25/2013 8:00:21 PM , Rating: 2
Microsoft has also borrowed Windows 7's desktop "snapping" and inserted it into the Windows 8 UI to allow snapped Windows 8-style apps. The concept has been extended to allow a 4-app snapped configuration. What's more, the snap-fest can extend to up to 8 simultaneously snapped apps in a multi-monitor setup.

Oh, snap!

Woo Hoo!
By json19 on 3/25/2013 1:25:26 PM , Rating: 2
I have been on the sidelines waiting for smaller live tiles and snapping to be on Windows 8 before purchasing! Nice job Microsoft!

RE: Woo Hoo!
By jjlj on 3/25/2013 1:51:28 PM , Rating: 2
I feel completely opposite. I can't believe the tiles are getting smaller. I can't see the text on tiles sitting 11' back from a 52" 1920x1080 tv. Even when using bigger tiles the text doesn't get bigger. I am sticking with windows 7 because of this, on my "htpc" anyway.

RE: Woo Hoo!
By datdamonfoo on 3/25/2013 2:12:07 PM , Rating: 2
How exactly are you using your HTPC? How often are you in the start screen? I use an HTPC hooked up to a 47" TV and I almost never see the start screen. I use XBMC and that's it. Otherwise, I use the desktop to browse the web, but chrome is pinned to the taskbar, so again, no need for the start menu. Plus, even if you do have to use the start screen, they have nice little pictures on the tiles that identify what they are.

RE: Woo Hoo!
By Luticus on 3/25/2013 2:15:59 PM , Rating: 2
Judging by the screen shots the smaller tiles are optional. It also appears that you can increase the tiles to even larger sizes judging by the "desktop" tile on one of the shots. Even still, I don't get your logic. "Windows 8 has smaller tiles so I'm going to rebel and use Windows 7 with the EVEN SMALLER start menu"... I will never understand. My HTPC is Win8 and I'm loving it.

RE: Woo Hoo!
By jjlj on 3/25/2013 2:46:11 PM , Rating: 2
Well, windows 8 is sort of centered around tiles/live tiles and to access your apps, unless you pin everything to the task bar which I practically do or put a shortcut on the desktop then you have to interact with tiles and when I cannot see the text on the tiles it's a real pain.

I'm not being a rebel. I use my "htpc" for more than watching shows and movies. I did my taxes, surf the web, use photo editing apps, remote desktop to access work and a whole bunch of other stuff. Interesting note, using microsoft RDP in windows 7 doesn't keep the same font DPI and icon sizing on the remote system. But since we use Citrix XenApp at work, XenApp does keep the same settings.

Interacting with windows 8 tiles is inevitable. The fact that I cannot see the font is a problem. Maybe this can help explain what I am talking about a little better than I can.

RE: Woo Hoo!
By Trisped on 3/25/2013 6:30:55 PM , Rating: 2
Interesting note, using microsoft RDP in windows 7 doesn't keep the same font DPI and icon sizing on the remote system.
Have you tried messing with the RDP options? On the Experience tab there is an option to allow "Visual styles" which might resolve your issue.

Needs a lot of improvement
By UpSpin on 3/25/2013 1:59:46 PM , Rating: 2
The calc app screenshot is a perfect example why forced full screen apps are stupid. Imagine you got that thing on a 24" monitor. Such a waste of space.

Most of my programs run in fullscreen mode (so I don't demonize the fullscreen Metro approach), but often I divide the screen to place a few programs next to each other. That should be possible with Blue too now. It's a pity that it wasn't possible from the beginning on.

And then there are those mini progams like calculator. Which don't need lots of space, but are useless if they cover the whole screen because then you don't see the numbers you wanted to enter, written on a different windows, any longer. Such apps should open automatically in a sidebar, so they don't disrupt your workflow. And you should be able to hide them, without closing them. Let's hope they did this somehow with the next release.

Microsoft tries to replace the whole desktop and windows with the Metro thing, which might be great, if properly executed. At least I can imagine that in the end, it offers a much better interface than the windows we currently use. At the moment however, it's a joke. And I doubt that it will be really usable with Blue. Maybe with another release they finally make it usable.

RE: Needs a lot of improvement
By datdamonfoo on 3/25/2013 2:15:44 PM , Rating: 1
Sorry, but this makes no sense. Does the calc app for android tablets and the iPad take up the whole screen? Of course they do, so what's the difference here? If you want the normal calculator, then open the desktop version. Also, you can hide the modern calc app (or any modern app), by swiping to the left or by pressing the window key or by pressing alt+tab. They stay active (but hidden) in the left task bar.
But you should know this already.
It doesn't seem like Microsoft is replacing the desktop with the "metro thing". There is still a full desktop mode in Windows 8, and that's really where most people spend their time. The start screen with its modern apps are just a different way of accessing information.

RE: Needs a lot of improvement
By UpSpin on 3/25/2013 5:08:04 PM , Rating: 2
MS can't remove the old desktop that easily, there are too many legacy programs, but they try to and they will do remove it sooner or later. You must be pretty ignorant if you think that MS wants to drive that dual Desktop/Metro thing forver. They'll try to make the desktop redundant, which is great, because you really don't need it.
Right now Metro is useless on a desktop, but as I tried to say, with the changes they made in Blue (multiple windows possible) they made it more attractive, even on a desktop. I normally always try to avoid cascading windows in Win 7, cascaded Windows are ineffective, worst you have to Alt+Tab all the time. If they find a solution to incorporate small windows in Metro as I described, then it's even superior to the old Windows style.
And why do you mention a smartphone. The screen of a smartphone is 4", the screen of a desktop 24". That's the difference! And even on a 5"+ device Samsung added split screens to make a better use of the screen and improve multi-tasking. And so will future Android versions have split screen options to make a better use of the tablet display and to prepare to run it on a desktop.
Android comes from a small screen and will be optimized to work on a desktop, Windows comes from a big screen and will be optimized to work on a phone. Both will meet each other in the middle, so I expect that in maybe two years there won't be a seperate OS for Smartphone, Tablet, Desktop, .. but a single one. At least that's what I hope.

Of course I know that I can switch back and forth between Metro and Desktop, but I think further.
And why do you mention the start screen at all? I haven't mentioned it!

RE: Needs a lot of improvement
By datdamonfoo on 3/26/2013 7:21:52 AM , Rating: 2
I simply don't buy into the argument that the MS is going to get rid of the desktop completely. It most likely isn't going to happen, at least not for many, many years.

The new start screen isn't "useless" on the desktop. It isn't any more useless or useful than the start button, aside from having live updates. It's a launcher with a much better search function. That's all.

I didn't mention smartphones, I mentioned tablets. You must be pretty naive to not understand why I brought them up. The new start screen is essentially tailored to mobile computing with touchscreen interfaces. That's where it becomes the "go to" screen of Windows 8. Tablets generally have screens about 10", the size of a netbook, not 4". Windows 8 already has split screen features for its modern apps. Again, Windows 8 STILL HAS THE DESKTOP. I know this because on my home rig with two monitors (27" and 24"), my laptop with a 13" screen, and my home theater PC with a 47" screen, I still have the desktop. I can still run multiple programs at once, and yes I can even use the modern start screen perfectly well.
The start screen is how you access modern apps! Do you not know this?

RE: Needs a lot of improvement
By Belard on 3/26/2013 3:10:42 PM , Rating: 2
what is "modern" about windows 8's TIFKAM?

its an ugly crap designed UI. any 8 bit computer can do TIFKAM.

RE: Needs a lot of improvement
By HackSacken on 3/27/2013 9:24:06 AM , Rating: 2
Not sure why you aren't up-voted more for this. I believe your points are valid. The Desktop doesn't seem to be getting replaced (at least anytime soon). Especially as they built upon it further in Win8. The enhancements are great and I welcome them.

For the guy talking about the full screen calculator - yes, it is a good point that the calculator shouldn't take the full screen. However, for the OS to encompass devices of all sizes, it comes to this. If you are on a desktop PC with a nice sized monitor, you probably aren't doing your taxes, or bills, etc in the Metro interface. Use the calculator there as datdamonfoo stated. If you are doing quick math with your Surface on your coffee table, you'd thank MS for the easy to use calc touch interface.

This is just one example, I'm sure this logic applies to other production items as well. There is a desktop for production use and the Metro interface for light to moderate consumption.

Maybe Microsoft was just too accommodating for everyone and it has backfired?

Options are better than no options
By TacticalTrading on 3/25/2013 2:54:51 PM , Rating: 4
This is ridiculous.

MS can make lemon aid out of a lemon in two easy steps.
1) Put a start button back on the Desktop task bar
2) By Default this option is turned OFF, but for those that want/need it, Make those people have to dig for it, so they can opt out of Metro UI in its entirety.

The mistake Microsoft made, and refuses to admit and or understand, is thinking all 1920x1080 displays are equal and or should be used the same way.

Desktop users are working on 20 plus inches at 1920x1080 or greater. The Surface Pro's screen is 1920x1080 but its ~10". (Got one for my mother last week, had it a few days setting up. Totaly awesome BTW) Metro UI makes sense (read: it works) on the small device. However, Remote Desktop to my 1920 display Desktop, with no scaling, and it just doesn't work. (Needed: Pocket Cloud App for Win 8 (anyone listening)) Everything is too small, yet amazingly remarkably clear, at that screen size.

The point: There is a cross, somewhere between ~12" and ~17" where people are comfortable and or prefer using... wait for it... wait for it... WINDOWS, meaning windowed applications, meaning the Windows 7 desktop.
The charm bar can still be there, and snapping Win 8 apps is great for those that like it.

The entirety of a 24 inch display need not be changed to launch a seldom used program. Until Microsoft accepts this fact, the Metro UI will continue receiving harsh reviews and (IMHO) will remain a drag on Windows sales.

RE: Options are better than no options
By GoodBytes on 3/25/2013 3:30:16 PM , Rating: 3
If you used Windows 8 or had a look at the Windows 8 Dev Preview when the Start Menu was there... you would see how the Start Menu breaks Windows 8.

If you had 70% Metro and Desktop on the other screen.. where is the Start Menu? You are an average user.. you see this... I guess you should press the Reset button 'cause you were screwed. Yes you can slide the separate bar or hit the window key, but hat's not the point. You had a visual button to access a Start Menu.. and it's no longer available.

Also what do you do in a Metro app when you want to show the Start Menu on a laptop or desktop? you can't slide to the right. You were screwed as well.

These were complaints, and Microsoft solved them by removing the Start Button and menu. And now you have clueless people like you that complain on feature that would break the OS as it did in the dev preview.

The issue that you see with tiles when you remote desktop is due to the difference in DPI settings between the 2 computers. If they both match, then you'll have no problem.
There is nothing Microsoft can do, beside dynamic DPI change without log-off/in, and not break or crash any running software.

By TacticalTrading on 3/26/2013 5:06:14 PM , Rating: 2
I see your point, on how a screen could wind up looking "broken"

The start button I envision, is associated with the desktop only. It would only work off a mouse click / screen touch. Always at the left of the desktop task bar, even when that isn't the left of the screen.

If a metro app (Icon noting its type) is selected, full screen it shall be.
If a metro app is active, then it is full screen. Snapped apps are most likely to trigger metro.
Think: All start buttons (Keyboard, Charm, swipe right|Left) activate the Metro UI. The only way to fire the "start button" is an actual click on the start button.

The key is making someone work to turn the thing on, and explaining how it works in the process.

Long ago, in the developer stage, users / beta testers didn't really understand what was going on. Now we do.

If you live in the desktop, don't hit the keyboard start button. MS can say, sorry we can't fix that one, because it is tied into the OS. Many will accept the default and live in the metro app/UI world. But if you want it, you should be able to work for it. It isn't either or. It is Metro, and well, if you must have it, You can dig for the setting to make it work.

Seriously, we are talking about a Click_Event triggered menu popup. It isn't like it is some kind of highly integrated mission critical kernel component of the OS.

The Metro UI/Start menu is like going back to a Windows 3 program group, only the group window only opens maximized. Limited options seems like a step backwards to me.

Thanks for listening

RE: Options are better than no options
By jjlj on 3/25/2013 3:46:51 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly the point I was trying to make. 1920X1080 on a 52" TV 11' away is painful.

I also agree about what you said about remote desktop. Luckily I stuck with windows 7 and when using Citrix XenApp the display settings are inherited from my windows 7 desktop.

Kinect and touch
By SupercillyMargo on 3/26/2013 2:50:13 AM , Rating: 3
One of the key omissions I see from nearly every argument is flexibility. The desktop essentially is a one dimensional computing world that has no future with all the stats confirming that mobile devices are the growth market with desktops stagnant. MS is doing everyone a favor by pushing its users to the next interface which is essentially a touch/kinect based one and people must be thankful that Windows 8 is that transitional phase where hopefully people will home in on this future right now. Unless Microsoft is wrong about the future then of course they will need to eat humble pie but if they are right then those cussing will hopefully remember what they said. The problem for MS is that they have quite a lot of dumbos using their systems after all as it was meant to be idiot proof. The only thing Win8 shows is there is only so far you can cocoon a bunch of idiots that you do need to break out sometimes.

RE: Kinect and touch
By snhoj on 3/26/2013 6:55:49 PM , Rating: 2
I think that windows 8’s introduction was always going to be difficult. It shows how the hardware and software feed off each other. They have introduced a touch centric operating system hoping for it to become main stream when a lot of the hardware still being sold doesn’t have a touch interface. The laptops that are available with a touch interface seem to command a considerable price premium over those that don’t. Many manufacturers are still introducing new models without a touch interface. Such is the delay waiting for the hardware to catch up. Touch screens for the desktop are still pretty thin on the ground and the desktop is probably where the touch interface makes the least sense. The bigger the screen the further you are likely to be from it and the scale of gestures go from single hand span to something much larger. I’m sure Microsoft has something clever planned for a PC Kinect device to overcome this but once again the hardware is not here yet. May be a small wireless touch screen mirroring the big screen would be the way to go or having a screen behind a track pad on your keyboard. Mean while I think Win8 is a transitional operating system with a bit of a split personality. If Microsoft had included the start menu it would be more so and many users would gravitate to what they know by just using the desktop. Change can be painful both for Microsoft’s bottom line and for frustrated end users having to learn a new operating system but change over time is inevitable.

By talikarni on 3/25/2013 5:12:20 PM , Rating: 2
Win8 itself overall is decent, its the MetroUI replacing the Start button and menu with the crap tiles that gets super annoying.
As a long time tech, I've already had to send back 3 Win8 machines (out of 20 or so) to the OEM to get fixed, the Win8 OS and software is just causing all sorts of problems.

IE10 is the biggest piece of junk I have seen in a long time regardless if it is used in Win7 or 8. I have to keep reverting systems back to IE8 or 9 in order for everyday normal websites to work properly.

RE: so-so
By althaz on 3/28/2013 12:38:20 AM , Rating: 2
RE: IE 10, it's an improvement on IE 9 in many ways, the problems are almost always caused by people in my industry serving up special IE-flavoured websites when IE is detected, which causes IE10 (which actually works better with open standards than before) to have some weird issues.

As a developer I obviously use Chrome the most (the last couple of years have seen it overtake Firefox as the best browser for web devs, IMO), although at home I prefer Firefox. IE is still the worst of the browsers, but IE10 is a CLEAR winner amongs the different versions.

Going from bad to worse
By W00dmann on 3/25/2013 4:08:28 PM , Rating: 1
They took something that looked ridiculously awful, and somehow managed to make it look ...worse.

Windows 8 = EGA-inspired cr*p.

RE: Going from bad to worse
By althaz on 3/28/2013 2:19:37 AM , Rating: 2
I think you'll find you are in the vast majority regarding the looks of Windows 8 (metro has won just about every design award imaginable and has received rave reviews for it's visual design, plus you'll notice a LOT of other interface designs mimicking it in many ways, eg: Android, msny new website, etc), but I'm not sure why they go out of their way to choose a bad colour scheme in all of their promotional screenshots, lol :).

Still not buying it.
By maxxcool on 3/25/2013 4:51:44 PM , Rating: 2
still awful

By geekman1024 on 3/25/2013 9:32:27 PM , Rating: 2
Ugly as usual.

By althaz on 3/28/2013 12:48:04 AM , Rating: 2
All of these improvements are very welcome, and you can pretty much ignore the Metro haters, they'll come around - so long as Metro is improved of course, in it's current state it clearly wasn't ready for release.

That said, there's a couple of small changes that would, in my mind, drastically improve the operating system:

#1: This is actually really simple, but applies to Win8 AND WP7/8 - close buttons in the multitask switcher. Drag to the bottom is quite nice (in Win 8 only, not WP8), but buttons are good for newbies).

#2: Allow apps to be set to open up to a sidebar by default by the developer and/or by the user. Opening up the messaging app or the calculator is just plain crap in metro. When you do this the start menu should also drop away to reveal whatever you were using before.

#3: I would also make the start screen background slightly transparent so it doesn't seem quite so jarring to switch between apps.

#4: Extend the taskbar across all screens and apps - make this an option and give apps the option to be marked as "Fullscreen" so that they will cover it up. I would get OEMs to enable it on desktops by default, disable it on ultrabooks/tablets.

By shaidorsai on 3/28/2013 10:48:38 AM , Rating: 2
Win 8 continues to be the worst looking and least user friendly interface ever slapped on an OS. What's with the metro-sexual color scheme...gods it's horrible to look at. My wife has Win 8 on her new laptop and I want to puke anytime I have to sit down and use it...

Windows 8 sucks
By picon on 3/29/2013 11:29:03 PM , Rating: 2
I really hate Windows 8, and those ugly 1980's Atari-like tiles. I've tried the preview version, and just don't know why they would make it so much work to click and do's like a whole arm workout just to do simple things. I actually think my next computer purchase will not be a windows system. If I wanted a tablet...I'd buy a tablet...when I buy a computer...I want a proper computer OS...not some fisher-price look alike OS!

still Cr*p
By ati666 on 3/26/2013 9:05:49 AM , Rating: 1
win8 blue is still shit cuz it dosent have the desktop with the start button. i want my old interface back...

By beachbum68 on 3/28/2013 9:49:41 AM , Rating: 1
So far I haven't heard one substantive argument against Win8 and a boatload of bitching...

I installed Win8 on my latest PC and it works great.
It's significantly faster than Win7 on boot and on starting applications. And don't get me started on the new recovery options Win8 has. They work... and they work great. The only major problem I experience with Win8 was trying to install it on an NForce4 box with a single-core Athlon64 and NVidia 7600GT video; it just would not install on that combination of hardware...

How much did you pay for Win7-PRO? $199? $249?
I paid $40 for Win8... $40! Honestly the best deal I've ever gotten from M$. And it's Win8-PRO. All the upgrade/promo offer versions were PRO.
And don't give me that, "But my PC came with Win7 Pro!" Don't give me that. There is always a cost involved with Windows, whether you're paying the OEM cost or the retail cost.

If you use the desktop for most of your apps, use the frikkin' desktop... there's an icon for it, stop being lazy.

If you want to use Win8-styled apps they're easy enough to use too and I honestly like the app store. Great concept brought over from mobile devices, now on the PC.

For those of you who are whining that you can't find ALL the apps you installed, there's a "show all apps" function with the option of pinning it to your start menu. Take some time, pin the apps you use most often and un-pin the ones you don't. No frikkin' different from taking the time to customize your start menu.

Game support is excellent. The only problem I had was with Borderlands 2. Everything else, no problems.

It took my wife about an hour to get used to Win8 from her WinXP laptop (and WinXP at work) and she's not the most tech-savvy individual.

Comparing Win8 to Vista? That's just insulting. Vista was a steaming pile (almost as bad as WinME) and an awful user experience.

Linux: Come on... Even being a die-hard Linux supporter, you're just deluding yourself if you think the mainstream is going to move to Linux to "protest" Win8 (for all the reasons others have posted above to begin with.) Even though I find that Linux setup is easier and clearly superior to windows, your basic user is just going to be frustrated with installing video and WiFi drivers. That's the truth, as much as it hurts and I absolutely love Linux. All my file servers are Linux. I've used most major distros. I use Linux at work. I know it's value and respect it.

So yeah, Win8 adoption isn't as fast as M$ expected, but that doesn't mean they're going to change it. They've spend too much money, R&D, and marketing on Metro to have it fail.
They've opened retail stores for Christ's sake... Do you even comprehend the capitol investment needed to open a chain of retail stores? Windows 8 is the centerpiece of that effort and Microsoft isn't about to let that fail.
And it's certainly not as bad as this bitch-fest is making it out to be.

"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home

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