Print 90 comment(s) - last by flyingpants1.. on Mar 31 at 1:20 AM

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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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?

"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

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