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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 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.

"If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." -- Scientology founder L. Ron. Hubbard

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