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New Windows Phone update is also in store

Windows 8 sales have been mixed, with Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) seeing strong OEM support and moving a lot of licenses, but struggling in sales -- particularly among enthusiasts.  At the root of the controversy is the rich graphical GUI formerly known as "Metro", which today is referred to as Windows 8 UI.  

There've been unconfirmed rumors that a Windows 8 update code-named Windows Blue was in store for later this year or early next year.  Now those rumors have seemingingly been confirmed, and Microsoft has dropped an indication that it make respond to criticism and tweak the UI.

In a job posting, first noted by Charon at Ma-config.com, Microsoft seeks an experienced software engineer, writing:

We’re looking for an excellent, experienced SDET to join the Core Experience team in Windows Sustained Engineering (WinSE). The Core Experience features are the centerpiece of the new Windows UI, representing most of what customers touch and see in the OS, including: the start screen; application lifecycle; windowing; and personalization. Windows Blue promises to build and improve upon these aspects of the OS, enhancing ease of use and the overall user experience on devices and PCs worldwide.

In a second post, Twitter user @h0x0d (Walking Cat on Twitter) notes a second post, pertaining to Windows Phone Blue:

Windows Phone Blue

Excel MX is expected to OneNote MX and Lynx MX as a touch-optimized offering available from the Windows Store.

ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley indicates Microsoft is gunning hard to try to deliver the UI and services overhaul by the end of this upcoming summer.  The refresh is expected to be the first cross platform push for Microsoft's new unified strategy; Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Windows Server 2012, Hotmail, and SkyDrive will all receive similar makeovers.

Windows 8 UI critics shouldn't get too excited -- the new UI isn't expected to bring back the "Start" button, a perpetual criticism of the Windows 8 UI.

A major focus of the Blue update is to improve APIs to make it easier to design an app that works with only a few modifications, on both Windows 8 and Windows Phone.

Sources: Microsoft [1], [2 via Twitter]



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Much work to be done.
By epobirs on 2/18/2013 3:52:32 PM , Rating: 2
I'm glad they aren't standing still on the UI. There is a lot of work to be done to make it more useful. Right off the bat, there needs to be folders of some sort on the start screen. The XP and earlier Start menu was changed with Vista to not eat up the whole screen if you have a lot of stuff installed. Just having the scroll bar and the search function in there was a huge improvement.

The start screen gets clunky when you get a lot of stuff installed. I want a simple means to tuck away stuff I'm not using. For example, I don't need to see the games most of the time. I want a folder with the smarts behind so that a new game downloaded from the Store goes in there automatically. The metadata is already there and it should be applicable much like custom rules in an email app for sorting incoming messages.

The folders should have some options such as sizing and how they handle the live tile operations.

Snapping apps should have more options, such as half-screen, and multiple monitor users (who are very unlikely to be running off battery) need a lot more support. You should be able to have as many full screen Metro apps as you have monitors. A different hotspot mechanism also needs to be a selectable option for multiple display systems.

I like Windows 8 but it is plainly just the starting point of new UI features and should be short-lived in its current form. Hopefully, most or all of the Blue features will be available as free or very low-cost updates to Windows 8, like a Service Pack back in the days when they brought new features.




RE: Much work to be done.
By Wererat on 2/19/2013 11:17:47 AM , Rating: 2
>The start screen gets clunky when you get a lot of stuff installed. I want a simple means to tuck away stuff I'm not using.

Take your hierarchical grouping of virtual links (folder full of shortcuts, aka program list from start button) and pin IT to the Windows 8 start menu. Label it "Start" and put it somewhere near the bottom left of your start menu.

In short, tuck them away exactly the same way you did in Win7.

All that said, good on MS for realizing not everyone's thrilled with the UI and moving quickly to tackle those concerns.


RE: Much work to be done.
By Wererat on 2/19/2013 11:23:37 AM , Rating: 2
Option 2: *don't* organize all these apps. Instead, start relying on the search bit that is available on the right side (think it's called a 'charm.').

Snagging that and typing a few letters from your desired application finds it for you. I find this (one mouse-flick, one click, two or three keystrokes and a click) much faster than clicking through the several sub-menus of the old start button hierarchy.


RE: Much work to be done.
By chripuck on 2/19/2013 11:37:52 AM , Rating: 2
I'm actually fairly happy with Windows 8, but searching for most anything is stupid. I work with dozens of documents a day and utilize 20+ applications. I don't remember their exact names (outside of VS, Office Suite and Management Studio) so I rely on the standard Start Menu to find them.

I shouldn't HAVE to memorize my programs/documents to find and open them.


RE: Much work to be done.
By Wererat on 2/19/2013 1:57:44 PM , Rating: 3
If you work with dozens of documents daily, I hope you've established at least a personal if not a organizational naming convention, or you're not going to find anything with or without a start menu.

Again, if you regularly use so many apps that you need a tree to keep track of them, then use one (first suggestion). The start menu isn't anything more than that.

Personally I have no trouble remembering "visual studio" or "sqlplus" or "toad" or even "vi" (mostly kidding, maybe).

For example, let's take something really trivial, like the windows calculator app. In Win7 it's Start Menu, Programs, Accessories, sometimes click on the arrow to reveal less-used choices, then Calculator.

In Win8 it's mouse-swipe, click, type 'cal' and click. Somewhere else on the thread I think I caught a reference that the windows key itself starts the search; so that'd be windows key, 'cal' and click or enter. Four keystrokes.

Still, if you have (like one poster on a prior thread) 150+ apps you have categorized in your own way, great. Copy that start menu folder link into something on your desktop, taskbar, OR start page, and it'll work just like 7/XP/Vista/9x. It's not like the functionality went away, it just stopped being the default behavior of the windows key.


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