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 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.

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson

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