5 features I want to see in Windows 9

5 features I want to see in Windows 9

Summary: Here are five features that Microsoft must add to Windows 9 if it is to have a chance of tempting me back into the ecosystem.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Microsoft
178

In an attempt to distance itself from Windows 8, Microsoft's next major update — codenamed Threshold — won't be called Windows 8.2, and instead the version will jump to Windows 9. Given that the new version of Windows is expected to arrive in April 2015, there's time for us to draw up a wishlist of features and get it in to Redmond.

See also: "Biggest hurdle to overcome with Windows 9: The dead end"

With that in mind, here are five features that Microsoft must add to Windows 9 if it is to have a chance of tempting me back into the ecosystem.

#1 - Hassle-free Windows updates

Microsoft needs to take a long, hard look at the Windows update process. The system as it currently stands is so antiquated that it would be laughable if not for the pain it inflicts. Here are just some of the changes that need to be made:

  • We need more cumulative updates. Installing updates only for more to appear instantly afterwards is tedious and time-consuming, especially when setting up new systems. Updating a system fully should be possible with just one click, and users should be left wondering if all the patches are installed. Fresh Windows 8 updates can take almost a day to patch, which is wholly inappropriate.
  • Windows Update needs to be more reliable. I'm still coming across updates that just don't want to install, and trying to diagnose why can be a long task. Easy, one-click access to a separate installer would help, rather than forcing users to dig through knowledgebase articles.
  • Rebooting should be kept to a minimum, and when needed it should recover my PC back to the state it was before the reboot, opening up the apps and files I was using. 

#2 - Over-the-air Windows recovery

If a Mac suffers a catastrophic disk failure, then the operating system can be recovered over-the-air without the need to dig out discs, USB keys, or rely on a recovery partition.

Windows needs to be able to do this as it makes bringing back to life an ailing system much easier. And if Microsoft could add a feature that could download a diagnostics package containing tools, a virus scanner, and fixes for common problems for flatlined Windows system, that would be awesome. Having to rely on third-party tools to fix Windows system is frankly crazy when Microsoft should be able to do much better.

#3 - Separation of OS, applications, and data

It's 2014. Drives are cheap. It should be easy – and by easy, I mean as close to automatic as possible – to set Windows to notice when a system has multiple drives and use one for Windows and programs, and the other for data.

Taking this a step further, I'd like to see Windows isolate all applications from the operating system in such a way that I could, with a click of the mouse, either blitz all the settings of a specific application to default, or even remove that application from the system, deleting all of its setting with it. This would go a long way to eliminating the bitrot and slowdowns that affect Windows as time goes on. Windows 8 already has a feature that rolls Windows back to an "out of the box" state, but this is a very blunt instrument.

#4 - Pure desktop experience mode

If I have a desktop or notebook PC that isn't touch-enabled, then I don't want to have to suffer through a user experience compromised by features aimed at tablet users. Just give me the Windows Desktop and the Start Menu and let me get on with what I want to do.

#5 - Transparent backup

If there's on trick that Microsoft should learn from Apple, it is how to make backup easy. The Time Machine mechanism in OS X is simply awesome, and takes all the strain out of backing up a system, and after the initial setup it is a total "fire and forget" system.

Data is the single most important thing that users have on their systems, and giving users of all backgrounds a quick and easy way to ensure that their data is safe is a no-brainer.

A few other things I'd like to see changed

Before I close, here are a few more things I'd like to see changed in Windows 9:

  • Get rid of all the pointless Start Screen tiles from a default install. If people want to add weather or search or financial info, tell them how to do it, but don't add to the user's cognitive load by throwing a bunch of ever-changing tiles into the mix.
  • Tone back the animations. I want an operating system, not a Pixar movie.
  • When it comes to touch, gestures need to work better. Right now they're a mess, and different sensitivities on different devices make them even trickier to use.
  • Microsoft needs to figure out battery life, especially if Windows RT is dead. Windows 8/8.1 is far too much of a power hog compared to OS X, even on cutting-edge hardware.
  • Fix the inconsistent user interface. Bolting on a touch UI to the existing Windows UI has made matters much worse.

Topic: Microsoft

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

178 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • A couple of quick thoughts ...

    I agree about Desktop vs Touch detection and presentation of UI.
    I also agree simplification of tiles would be good. At a MINIMUM, there out to be a way to easily expand/collapse all the various categories of apps so that those that are not used commonly are collapsed. The user can then see the Category and expand if they want to drill down. This would save a lot of real estate and keep the user from having to move left-right (again something that is a pain with a mouse keyboard), easier with touch, but still not optimal.
    jkohut
    • So make it like Gnu&Linux and use Gnu&Linux methodology

      Hi :)
      So basically throw out the core of Windows and make it into just another Gnu&Linux.

      For the updates it would be nice if running updates meant the whole system was updated. At the moment after running updates and then opening, say Adobe, forces me to wait through more updates = then opening another programs forces me to wait through their updates too. All the while i know that the drivers and such never got updated and remain vulnerable. Errr, Gnu&Linux manages it even if it's updating 3rd party apps.

      Oh, and it would be nice to have some confidence that running updates wouldn't break the system or make it MORE vulnerable than before. Errr, again like Gnu&Linux.

      Regards from
      Tom :)
      Tom6
      • I've been running for years

        And never had an update break the system. Never. You obviously like Gnu&Linux. Most of us are never ever going to even consider going there.
        RayInLV
        • I have

          I have seen updates break something. Not often, but it has happened.
          mlashinsky@...
        • Very definitely broken

          I've had Windows 7 updates break my systems (for different reasons) over the years.

          The update mechanism for Windows sucks eggs. Apple has it down to an science. When they release updates and you keep your machine up-to-date you get small downloads.

          But, if you do a clean install you can download a SINGLE file. It's much neater. And allows a borked or rebuilt system to get back on its feet faster.

          Windows 8 is slightly better than its predecessors, but, the lack of a single download of all recent updates is a major oversight. Installing Windows 8 should ideally be followed by a single update to Windows 8.1.
          hideme666@...
      • Well, if we were going to do this, we could just go back to UNIX, ...

        ... where it all began!

        The problem though with UNIX (and Linux) is while they are extremely powerful - very little is set up to be secure by default. With flexibility comes complexity. There has to be a balance.
        M Wagner
  • No. 1 was a nice feature in BlackBerry PlayBook OS

    Whatever updates there were from the version you had, it all came down to you as one big install. I don't find Windows to be, you know, bad at this or anything... Patch Tuesday isn't that daunting.

    But the BlackBerry update experience was just a nice pleasure. As soon as the one big download was done, so were you.
    Mac_PC_FenceSitter
    • Try Chrome;

      ... with Chrome, you don't even know it's happening. It just happens.
      Heenan73
      • This can be a problem though...

        ... because it leaves you wondering why there seems to be an invisible bandwith drain on your internet connection. I'd like the process to be seamless, but not invisible.
        Ndiaz.fuentes
      • Try Chrome;

        ...and then, give away all your personnal information to Google, the soon to be "I will control the Universe" company.

        Won't happen to me.
        NothingButThesun
        • Every time I use Google Search...

          The next time I open IE or Firefox, the ads on webpages are already reflecting what I just searched for. To me that means Google is like a stalker, always following me and responding to my searches with unwanted ads. If it's doing that on my browser, where else are they supplying that info (besides the NSA). I already refuse to use Chrome because of the unwanted stalking by Google and I would only expect ChromeOS to be as bad or worse. I don't trust Google with my information.
          jrbales@...
          • I began using Bing

            about 6 months ago and find it quite good. Hopefully MS won't sell my search data to anyone
            jonc2011
          • Styop using Google search!

            You don't trust Google with your info, stop using it! Ever heard of ad-blockker and other add-ons for Firefox, so the info you give Google doesn't come back to creep you?
            Charles_B
      • Not much...

        ...to update on ChromeOS. Because you can do 100X more things on a fuller OS like Windows, it has a lot to update; the OS, MS apps like Office and IE, runtimes like .Net, etc.

        Not suggesting Windows is better, its just more complex with a greater degree of usage and therefore more complex updating.
        Rann Xeroxx
        • Windows just ACTS more complicated

          After all the improvements Kingsley suggested, they will still not catch up with 2013 OSX. And the simplicity of upgrades and backups in OSX doesn't mean OSX has less capability, it just means that Windows is poorly designed mishmash of design.
          DisruptiveThinker
          • 5. Backups

            Adrian hasn't used win8 much.
            If he did, he would have seen the File History option in System and Security.
            It's incremental backups much like Apple's time machine.

            Dissing Win8 out of sheer ignorance is like a cool sport these days.
            warboat
          • was just thinking this

            I was just about to write the same comment :)
            *voted*
            bc3tech
          • Win8 incremental backups

            War oat -- No doubt Win8 will copy a lot of features from OSX. Time Machine has been in OSX for years. My point is that OSX is years ahead in dozens more features (app nap, file tags, spaces, system updates that are as simple and pain free an app update, etc etc) and will hopefully continue to innovate...... but not in a way that makes it complicated and ugly, but still simple and pleasurable to use.
            DisruptiveThinker
          • blissful ignorance

            Yeh right.
            App nap has been more problematic than useful. It's responsible for crashing apps and VMs even when app nap has been explicitly disabled. Rendering never gets as much CPU time as possible. Mavericks is freeze-up city but the fanboys won't admit it's rubbish.
            It is ironic that Apple has gone to the trouble of saving a few poofteenth in power and then have the misnamed Power Nap wasting power. This should be called Power Wake since it introduces wakelocks during sleep to allow certain apps to execute during sleep and keep your laptop warm. Conspiracy theorists might say, it's needed to keep NSA backdoors alive when in sleep mode.
            So now you have this advanced OSX that reduces maximum computing and at the same time never allow 0% sleep.
            And lets not start talking about the old tech HFS filing system or the unbelievably flaky fullscreen mode with multiple screens. It's 2014 and this crap still happens with the claimed "world's most advanced desktop operating system"?
            warboat
      • If I want a browser

        I'll stick with IE11
        Moosehouse