Microsoft to make some tester-requested Windows 8 UI concessions

Microsoft to make some tester-requested Windows 8 UI concessions

Summary: Microsoft is making some Windows 8 UI concessions but isn't going so far as to allow users to circumvent the tiled Metro screen altogether.

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In the third post on its Windows 8 Start Menu plans, Microsoft officials noted the company will be making some minor modifications to the tiled UI. The question is whether the customizations will be enough to appease users and administrators leery of the new default interface.

An October 11 post on the Building Windows 8 blog conceded that some of the criticisms of the Metro-style Windows 8 interface have given the Windows 8 team food for thought. Post author Marina Dukhon, a senior program manager lead on the Core Experience team, noted that business/enterprise Windows users typically use Start menus customized for them by their administrators.

Dukhon added:

"For Windows 8, we support deployment scenarios that include Start screens with a layout of tiles that matches their business group’s needs, allowing for an even greater number of pinned apps to be pre-defined for their users. We also support the managed lockdown of customization of the Start screen so that it is consistent across the corporation. These features have been built especially for our enterprise customers, taking into account the existing functionality that we have provided in the past and the needs that we perceive they will have in the future. And as many know, tech-savvy individuals can use these customizations as well."

Dukhon also noted that Microsoft is adding a more Folder-like conventions for organizing apps to make it quicker and easier for users to search their Windows 8 PCs. She included in her post the "latest design of the Apps screen, which would add back the structure that you’re used to with folders in All Programs today." Here's a screen shot of what those changes look like:

(click on screen shot to enlarge)

There's still no direct answer in today's blog post as to whether Microsoft will allow admins to use Group Policy settings to circumvent the Windows 8 tiled interface altogether and default to the Desktop app with the more familiar Windows 7-like interface. This was a request of a number of the posters who've commented on Microsoft's previous Windows 8 Start Screen posts.

Reading between the lines, I'd say this option is unlikely. Microsoft's stance seems to be that the current Windows 8 Developer Preview experience -- with its acknowledged current lack of real and compelling Metro-style apps -- shouldn't be used as the yardstick for those calling for a way to circumvent the tiled UI.

I'm thinking Microsoft's final answer will be that the Windows 8 Metro UI will be the only default for all Windows 8 users, based on this part of Dukhon's post:

"(I)f your main goal is still to use desktop apps, you can easily do this by clicking the Desktop tile and using the taskbar, or you can customize the Start screen to put your favorite desktop apps at the beginning of the Start screen and launch them directly. It is important to keep this in mind—today you might be going to the desktop so you can immediately get to the task bar. You can always put the taskbar apps on the Start screen and launch (or switch) from there, or just put the first one you always use right there in a Fitts-friendly location."

The rest of Dukhon's post is chock-full of stats and telemetry details, if that's your kind of thing.

Speaking of Building Windows 8 blog posts, Ars Technica's Peter Bright posted an explainer on Microsoft's Windows 8 memory-management changes that's worth a read ... or three.

Topics: Microsoft, Hardware, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • RE: Microsoft to make some tester-requested Windows 8 UI concessions

    I think the only thing Microsoft needs to change is to allow users to pin apps to the start menu, so when you hover over it with a mouse you can gain access to the quick list. Other than that I see no advantage that the current start menu has over the new start screen.
    rwalrond
    • RE: Microsoft to make some tester-requested Windows 8 UI concessions

      @rwalrond
      I agree, the start screen has the same guiding philosophy as the start menu and on certain grounds, more powerful and intuitive. I believe the major criticism comes from some peoples' aversion to change (mostly headstrong powerusers) and to an extent I understand their situation but what they're insisting on would only cripple Microsoft in the long term as the personal computing world evolves to new user experience paradigms.
      MADol
      • RE: Microsoft to make some tester-requested Windows 8 UI concessions

        @MADol I agree, people don't like to leave their comfort zones and the way they work. While change often slows things down until you get thru the learning curve, the end result is more often more production once the learning curve is achieved.

        The company I work for had their own programers that wrote the software for us. The software program at that time was new and I got to work with the programmer to tweak it to our plants needs. Their was a change i requested after about six months of using it which was implemented. The first week I hated it. (it changed all my input methods which I was used to) Which made me less productive. The second week my productivity came back.
        By the third week I was more productive than ever. Not to mention the people who had to deal with my output became more productive.

        So while I didn't care for win 8 at first I decided to give it a chance. I use it at home almost exclusively, and what I have found is that the start screen combined with the old taskbar works well and gives you more options to organize your programs and ease of access. And if microsoft can get phones, tablets and desktops to play nice with each other that is another bonus.

        So I ask that those who can, at home simply put give a serious try for a month. While I agree the start screen is fugly on a desktop, and their are some quirks to the start screen and desktop remember this hasn't hit beta yet and is a work in progress.

        Just as i kept running xp until win 7 came out, I will most likely keep win 7 on my desktop, but I am interested in a win 8 tablet and phone.
        darkside6966@...
    • RE: Microsoft to make some tester-requested Windows 8 UI concessions

      @rwalrond

      I disagree. If you're in the desktop you can pin the apps to the taskbar. If you're using metro apps you won't gain anything from having shortcuts because all your tiles will display when you click Start anyway. And you'd be mixing shortcuts with 'charms', which could be confusing and messy.
      allusernamestaken
    • RE: Microsoft to make some tester-requested Windows 8 UI concessions

      That new interface will keep me for using it And the company I work for.
      rparker009
  • RE: Microsoft to make some tester-requested Windows 8 UI concessions

    Reading between the lines?
    Wrong lines. Here's a proof you can already do it. http://weblogs.asp.net/sfeldman/archive/2011/10/04/windows-8-in-desktop-mode.aspx
    s.feldman
    • RE: Microsoft to make some tester-requested Windows 8 UI concessions

      @s.feldman Tried it, and to tell the truth, I preferred it with the new Metro UI. It removes everything including the ribbon UI, and you're left with Windows 7 with a new green login screen.
      DreyerSmit
      • RE: Microsoft to make some tester-requested Windows 8 UI concessions

        @DreyerSmit
        I agree, it is not pretty, but it definitely allows Desktop mode only, proving that the article is not accurate and desktop only mode with "classical" menu is possible (quote "Reading between the lines, I???d say this option is unlikely.").
        s.feldman
  • RE: Microsoft to make some tester-requested Windows 8 UI concessions

    I dont think these changes really address the key issues, and I dont think in general people have necessarily recognised the key issues.
    Users want the start menu because they do not see themselves using non desktop applicatons. They think they will be in the desktop all of the time as they are now. If Office (Word, Outlook, Powerpoint, Excel ) are not updated to metro style apps they they are probably right. If there is no story for muti-tasking apps in metro for PC usage (Large monitor, dual monitor) then I think the critics are right the Desktop will stay as the default experience, and switching to the Metro start screen will always seem weird, and out of place.
    For my money the fix is to demo multi tasking on Win 8 Metro for non tablet use.
    nanderto
    • RE: Microsoft to make some tester-requested Windows 8 UI concessions

      @nanderto
      I use the start screen maybe once a day. Other than that I use Windows 8 just like I used Windows 7.

      People who don't like the new start screen can easily avoid it by pinning their apps to the taskbar or creating desktop shortcuts. It's not difficult.
      allusernamestaken
      • So, making me have to take extra steps to disable

        all this stupid UI idiocy is no big deal. Windows 8 is the same stupidity is OS X Lion. A desktop is NOT a touch device. Quit trying to merge the two. Yes, I'm looking at you, too, Apple.
        baggins_z
  • RE: Microsoft to make some tester-requested Windows 8 UI concessions

    This demonstrates one of the hazards of showing what your stuff will look like a year from now. You try to do something great, and your biggest customers say, "that's great! Now make it look more like xp!"
    crenelle
    • RE: Microsoft to make some tester-requested Windows 8 UI concessions

      @crenelle 98SE was better IMO. XP had too much colourful crap by default. Aero was much nicer, you just have to make it black.
      DickCheney777
  • RE: Microsoft to make some tester-requested Windows 8 UI concessions

    @MJF

    Far more people than simply professional devs appear to have downloaded this pre-beta version. Are you getting any impression that MS is taking any notice of what these uber early adopters are saying in the various blogs? Or is MS only paying attention to what the "official" devs say?
    FrederickLeeson
    • Which begs the question...

      @FrederickLeeson
      Who on Earth does MS think the "official devs" are developing <i>for</i>?
      Zogg
    • &quot;testers&quot;

      Hi. They seem to be looking at the feedback from anyone providing it via their Building Windows 8 blog and other channels. Surprisingly (to me) they are making some changes (albeit minor ones) in response to those weighing in. There's no elite core of testers (that I know of) this time around, like there was with Win 7 (the "test pilots").. MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
      • Gee, just think...

        ...MS is actually listening to their customers... lol...
        ScorpioBlue
  • RE: Microsoft to make some tester-requested Windows 8 UI concessions

    I'm don't know why full-screen should be a forced thing. The task bar is a very useful thing for me, even when I am looking for another application to launch, I depend on the information I have in the task bar. Can't the metro screen have a setting to include the task bar on a desktop computer? By the same token, full screen applications are very claustrophobic to me. A simple setting to allow expanded instead of full screen windows would be very useful. I often have things running that I need to monitor, even when I'm using another application, without having to switch screens constantly.

    And I'm really really sick of hearing the old nut about some people being afraid of change. I am all for change and improvements, but some things are tried and true. How many of you would drive a car without windows, just because it's "the next new thing"?

    There's a lot to like about windows 8 so far, and I'm sure when it does release all of these little things will be addressed either by Microsoft, third parties or little hacks.
    zorp311
    • RE: Microsoft to make some tester-requested Windows 8 UI concessions

      @mwheeler@...

      Um...Windows 8 does have the task bar. If you want to use Windows 8 as a traditional desktop OS you can. I barely even see the new Start screen because I use the taskbar for the apps I use 95% of the time.
      allusernamestaken
    • RE: Microsoft to make some tester-requested Windows 8 UI concessions

      @mwheeler@...
      The real question here is: How many companies wo make an automobile without windows?? My countrymen, that is the question???
      eargasm