Windows Blue Build Leaks, Shows Off UI Tune-Up
March 25, 2013 11:10 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 (
-- 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
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.
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.
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.
And there's new style options to allow users greater flexibility in customizing the look of their Windows 8-style GUI.
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.
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.
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.
(Italian) both reported on these leaked features.
"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes
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