A Windows 8 rebuild plan for Microsoft

A Windows 8 rebuild plan for Microsoft

Summary: There's been much angst and consternation surrounding Windows 8, the big Blue update, and the missing Start button. Fear not, Windows faithful, Ken Hess is here to help with suggestions for a Windows 8 rebuild.


It's not often that I get all up in a company's "bi'ness" with suggestions for rewriting a piece of software or an entire operating system, but I'm taking this opportunity to do so. Microsoft needs my help on this, and so do millions of lost users. I might be premature with this, but, "You're welcome".

I do expect to hear whining from the usual suspects, but I think the new interface, which I'm calling Fahrenheit 351, will entice you to love Windows again. Please enjoy my proposed enhancements.

I have decided to supply illustrations along the way to help guide Microsoft's developers and you, the future user, in how my enhancements and design changes work.

First, I want to get rid of that silly Metro interface with those ridiculous-looking giant tiles. I want simplified pictures to use, let's call them icons, that more accurately represent the underlying program. Here's an example of what Windows 8 currently offers, and what I propose as a replacement.

Icon Fix: Before and after. (Image: Ken Hess/ZDNet)

I think the icon on the right is easier to understand. It is simplicity reborn. The one on the left is artsy and kind of Apple-y. I just don't like it.

Second, I don't want the Start button back. I never really wanted it in the first place. I always thought it odd that I had to click Start to shutdown the computer. Weird. I never got that, so I propose that Microsoft totally lose the Start button altogether for something more intuitive, like a single click that gives you everything you need in a single menu, as shown below.

No Start button: A Start menu. (Image: Ken Hess/ZDNet)

This new-fangled menu idea of mine gives you the ability to Logoff or Shutdown the system with a single click. Once you click, I envision another menu popup that prompts you to Logoff, Shutdown, or Shutdown and Restart.

Third, no more "hanging icons". I never really liked the whole hanging icon thing from OS2, Windows 95 on, and Mac OS. What are they doing there? I like to have my icons and program shortcuts organized into containers with other related programs. In fact, I'd like to refer to them as "program groups". Each program group is simply that, a named collection of programs that I group together. For example, by default, I propose that upon fresh installation, Windows 8 should offer the following program groups: Main, Accessories, Administrative Tools, Games, Startup, and Applications. Of course, users can add their own to those.

You can add a new Program Item, a new Personal Program Group, or a new Common Program Group. This way, Administrators could also add Common Groups for everyone who logs onto a system, or Personal groups for a single user. Program Groups are a more organized method of keeping track of programs and applets than all those hanging icons cluttering up your desktop. And far better than those tiles that you have to swipe through to find what you're looking for.

Fourth, I want to change the Windows Explorer program to one that is more "iconized" and that has more usability to it. I think a simplified interface coupled with more accessible icon controls really fits my way of working better. I've created the prototype for this new "File Manager" in the graphic below.

Streamlined File Manager replaces clunky Windows Explorer. (Image: Ken Hess/ZDNet)

Fifth and finally, I'd consolidate all of my ideal changes into a single "box" that would open on system startup that I call the "Program Manager". This container is a collection of all of the Program Groups, both common and personal. It's simple. It's organized. And there's no swipey interface. No Start button. Clean and simple. The new Program Manager interface is shown below.

Windows 8 prototype: Main interface. (Image: Ken Hess/ZDNet)

There you have it. My new, improved Windows 8.

I'm sure there will be people who complain about this one as well, but I think once you get used to the new interface, you'll love it. The new system will not feature direct booting into the operating system. That's a security flaw, and really takes away from the whole point of a modern operating system that's both user friendly and secure.

You have to issue the Ctrl-Alt-Del* keyboard shortcut to invoke a log on screen. This ensures that no bots or programs running in memory can watch your keystrokes as you log on to grab your password. It's a security feature, and not one I'm willing to compromise on. Just be thankful that I'm not suggesting that they force you to log on with a Microsoft account.

Oh, one more enhancement that I forgot to mention. You have to double click all icons and Program Groups to cause them to launch. It's better that way because you don't accidentally launch a program or app that you don't want.

And in case you're wondering, the whole thing is very small (About 200MB) before loading any other programs. This smaller footprint is perfect for those new mobile devices, tablets, smartphones, and even wristwatches.

Again, you're welcome.

So what do you think of my Windows 8 enhancements? Yes, they're more than cosmetic; they're all about functionality, and I didn't Apple-ize any part of it. Talk back and let me know what you think.

*It's funny because a lot of old people say, "Control Alternate Delete" when referring to this keyboard shortcut. Old people are so retro.

Topics: Microsoft, Operating Systems, Windows, Windows 8


Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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  • Sweet!

    Windows 3.x GUI > Windows 8.
    • Microsoft went back to it's roots

      After more than a decade of copying Apple again and again, they finally realized that they cannot make better OS than OS X so they had no other option but to quit
      • shellcodes_coder went back to its roots

        After more than a year of being shooed away and ridiculed by other users, it finally realized that it can't survive on C|Net, so it had no other option than to infest another website with its bloat-filled posts.
      • Quitting...

        Would be the honourable thing to do, what they did instead is they ridiculed Windows by dressing it with Metro all over.
      • Tell yourself that enough, shellcodes_coder

        and maybe one day you'll actually believe it.

        And maybe so will the rest of us.
        William Farrel
      • Is that why

        Macs are so popular in the world? They have a better OS? I guess Windows 8 surpassing Mac market share will really teach MS!
        • Maybe it's because most people buy a PC that's just good enough?

          Also, there's more pirated software on the Windows side.
          Arm A. Geddon
          • Most people don't pirate Windows...

            A bigger user-base = More Pirates
          • Re: Most people don't pirate Windows

            Are you serious? Why do you think Microsoft brought in activation?

            p.s. Btw, I was teasing Azzras. Pronouce Azzras and you get popular torrent software Azureus now called Vuze.
            Arm A. Geddon
          • Why activation?

            How about to extort more money from customers being forced to buy yet another copy....
          • Yeah!!! Everything should be free!!!

            Anyone who charges money for anything is evil!!! I work for free and I use all free software!!! I live under a bridge just to prove that you don't have to charge money for things!!!
          • Hardly more than 55% of

            new pc's are pre-installed with Windows license. ~ 5% are Macs and some 40% are installed either with pirate Windows, older Windows-versions or Linux.
      • Are you kidding me?

        OSX = terrible
        • Unfortunately for you

          and fortunately for Apple, lots of people disagree with you!
          • Unfortunately for you

            Unfortunately most people holding that view have never tried Win 7 and have their perceptions based on XP and earlier, understandibly so. They are also under the very false illusion that OSX is free of malware....in a schadenfreude kind of way I look forward to them lsong their personal details even emptying of their bank accounts, serves the dumb idiots right.
          • FYI,

            most people switched from windows 7 to Mac OS X very recently.
            I am not sure about your cavemen buddies though, XP is not that bad at all, if compared to that stinker windows 8
      • Hi there

        Well how could you decide that? hmmmm, have you seen the market has adopted 75% windows over 12% of Apple MAC? Don't even count on numbers, how good apple is in regards to UI? Just commenting is better than commenting by analyzing data! :)
    • RE Sweet

      Ya beat me to it!!!! Shades of Win95!!!
    • oh yah!!!

      oh yah!! win 3.11 for networks all over again. think I still have a few old 386 machines running around with that still work well enough to surf the web.
  • Cute

    But at the end of the day jokes don't address the issue.

    Yes, the Control Panel needs to be in one place. Yes, some people need to boot to the desktop because that's where their work is. Yes, some people need the security blanket that a start menu provides. And yes, Windows 8 does need a tutorial so that new and uncomfortable users can get used to using it. Those are all legitimate issues and all are quite addressable, so maybe we should spend time doing that (or pressuring MS to do that).
    Michael Kelly