Dear readers: How would you change or improve Windows 8?

Dear readers: How would you change or improve Windows 8?

Summary: Criticize or evangelize: some love it but many hate it: Windows 8. Dear readers, what changes would you make before you are swayed into buying Microsoft's latest offering?


Windows 8 has been called many things: a "design disaster," an "unmitigated disaster," and even been likened to Vista, which is perhaps a little harsh. That said, it has also dubbed a "fresh start" for Microsoft.

The code is final, the hardware and computer makers have the finalized software, and ordinary users and enterprise customers will receive the updated Microsoft operating system later this year in October.

Yet many customers are wary over purchasing licenses or upgrading to Windows 8 in fear that the new interface is too confusing. That's the crux of the matter: people like to know where things are and on the most part do not like radical change.

In one real-life, hands-on demonstration of the barriers faced by ordinary users, Chris Pirillo sat his father down at a fresh install of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview (which has since been released to manufacturing albeit with a pretty weak 'tutorial') and left him to his own devices. It's painful to watch, but it rounds-up exactly how many feel about the design of the new operating system.

The 'Start screen barrier' will flummox many, if not the majority of existing users. Had there not been a Windows key on my keyboard, I probably wouldn't have found the Start screen any faster during my own test-drive during the Release Preview window. 

One Reddit contributor's thread caught my eye. They posted a mock-up design of a semi-transparent Start screen overlaid on top of the desktop that sits behind it. Quote: "it would make understanding the [operating system] much simpler."

It would. I'd vote for it. But Microsoft's development cycle isn't a democracy, and telemetry and user feedback notwithstanding, the Redmond, WA.-based software giant appears to have gone its own way as if it's a breakaway Fleetwood Mac song.

Granted, it would "go against Microsoft's design principles of [whatever Metro is now called]," according to one comment on the thread, but considering the other design inconsistencies pointed out from other enthusiast blogs and forums, it almost reiterates the "too many cooks" and not enough designers analogy. 

Here's the deal: get involved

Many social sharers have put on a fresh pot of coffee, blown the dust of Photoshop, and envisaged their perfect version of Windows 8 in their mind's eye -- or at least attempted to mitigate some of the 'damage' caused by Microsoft in the forthcoming release -- and posted their ideas and suggestions to the Web.

Here on ZDNet, it's our place to lend a hand in news, views, opinions and analysis no matter what your role is in the IT buying cycle. You still have a few months left to balance your upgrade options and an upgrade to Windows 8 becomes a possibility in your small-to-medium sized business, enterprise, or government department.

With that, I'll leave you with one simple question:

Whether you are an end-consumer or an enterprise user, what minor, major, or feature changes would you make in Windows 8 to convince you to upgrade to the next-generation operating system?

No prizes this time around, I'm afraid, but community kudos is up for grabs to those who come up with the best suggestions, considerations, examples, and outside links to your own Photoshop designs or modified screenshots. (As long as you don't use HTML, our sometimes over-zealous spam engine shouldn't filter them out.)

Topics: Windows, Enterprise Software, IT Priorities, Microsoft, Tablets, PCs

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  • Changes

    Tablet & desktop option when you install, Tablet it's probably fine as it is, but on a desktop I would modernize the start menu (makybe a look) on a win 7 style start menu and then replace the gadgets platform with live tiles down the side of the desktop.
    As I don't see the point in the metro start menu on a desktop/laptop.
    Everything else is great, the non-aero style, the file explorer and the add on Hyper-V, and then there's the speed, excellent!
    • Same idea here

      Replace gadgets with live tiles and allow them on the desktop like the gadgets.

      On a desktop setup which doesn't have touch capability, have a standard start menu in which the "Modern UI" interface is a menu option you can start ONLY if you want. That would mean a login directly to the desktop of course :-)
      • get over it kids!

        get real..honestly how often you are using the start menu to run programs? we use the task bar with the pinned programs frequently. so get over it
        Odel Babor
        • I, for one, prefer the Start menu over the taskbar.

          I like to see only "running" programs on taskbar, personally, so I always launch from the Start menu. I see people with everything pinned to the taskbar and it just looks cluttered in my opinion.
          • It might look cluttered

            but its the only way to work. You can pin most frequent documents, webpages, rdp connections, virtual machines to each individual icon. That is the main 'feature' of Windows 7 that I appreciate most over XP. It actually helps you to work faster, whereas almost everything else is tedious to navigate.
          • I completely agree.

            I use the start menu exclusively. I find words far easier to identify than tiny little pictures. I don't pin apps to the task bar, and I use the old-style task bar entries that have text on them, not just the tiny icon. I don't have any icons on the desktop either - why would I want to close apps just to get to the icons to launch more? I also configure documents, pictures, downloads, recent items and computer as menus, so I can quickly open what I'm looking for rather than having to open an explorer, open the file, and then close the explorer.

            What I'd like to see is for the desktop and start menu to merge. Clicking on the orb should open a window (user-controllable size) that shows the desktop icons, along with gadgets and stuff. It should let me show the icons in any style explorer supports, so I can have icons if I want, or tiles, or "details" - icons with the names after them. I should be able to have multiple pages like this, and be able to draw group boarders around sections of them. I could even live with something like Metro, as long as it is the thing that I open up ON TOP of my desktop, rather than having the desktop act like a "DOS Window" that I have to think of as if it were a "metro app".
            Steve Summers
          • Agreed

            You're right, Using the start menu is the best way to gain productivity. I have most short cuts to docs and or specific folders on my start menu. Using the windows key and most cases keyboard shorties. My task bar is reserved almost exclusively for network locations or frequent documents where I use custom Icons.
          • mental

            Alrite gramps. Everybody who's anybody uses pinning and desktop shortcuts. Windows 8 is different, roll with the punches and learn something new, work in the way the OS is designed and you might find it's better. Ms may have changed the OS on a grand scale, but everyone bitches about MS anyway so what's the harm in them investing huge sums of money to try and create a far better user experience. Do you honestly believe that the only people developing this are designers and 'cooks' there will be a huge number of testers who will have tested this from the start and will be feeding back constantly in a vain hope that you picky people will maybe be happy. Wait til its released, then bitch. Or don't, and be pleasantly surprised. I am sure I won't be happy with some elements but I am happy to at least try the Os before moaning like an old woman.
          • To get the Start Menu in Win8


            This is even better than the traditional Start Menu since the hierarchical custom toolbar renders a lot faster than the Start Menu did in Win7 and previous OS's.
            Cylo‭n Centurion
          • Cluttering in taskbar

            is not a thing to worry at all since Win7, as everything groups itself neatly into a bunch of icons. The new taskbar is akin to the dock in OS X, and hence, is a proven winner with the audience in terms of ease of access and visibility of running apps/programs.
        • Here's a nickel, get a real UI

          Who *doesn't* use the Start Menu?

          Personally, what I'd like to see is a cleaned up Start Menu (get rid of the clutter that came in with XP), with better management options (unlike how Win7 has wrecked the Games menu...). Forget all this tiles silliness, let me use the best way to manage and organize lots of items—menus, and keep desktop and task bar clear of extraneous stuff.
          • Here's your solution for what you want:

            Cylo‭n Centurion
          • In Win 7 the start menu pretty much can't be avoided.

            As a start menu hater, I spent 1 hour customizing the app page in windows 8 consumer preview. What an improvement. Articles on this web site will get you started. I have a Leap Motion device pre-ordered. Then I can have a "touch" interface on my desktop or laptop for $75. After hearing forever that the Mac interface is so superior, I don't understand how the standard windows interface is suddenly so revered. Buy a guide to Win 8 and give your self 2 hours at the computer with it. Or stay with win7.
        • Ya vowel, mein fuherer

          Only thing is, I won't get over it.

          Watch M$ HAVE to come up with a disable feature for enterprise desktops. I hope it's as loud as when M$ tried to get rid of DOS.
          Cylon Centurion
        • classic head where sun don't shine response

          The comments to this article are about how anyone would change Windows 8. Many will say 'make it more like Windows 7.' Get used to it.

          Personally, I don't use pinned apps. They waste more space than the old quick launch icons. For the dozen programs I use most often, I use keyboard shortcuts. Everything else I want organized in a hierarchy, and the Start menu is ideal for that.
        • Your Kidding, Right?

          I use the start menu most of the time. If you have hundreds of programs on your system, I'll bet your task bar is a true mess.
          • Try this. It's a better solution than the Start Menu

            h t tp://
            Cylo‭n Centurion
          • But remember

            I'm a dumb ass so I don't know how to install it.

            Cylon Centurion
          • EDIT: oops, I'm too stupid to read your refrerenced article before


            I now see that it's a method, not additional software to be installed.
            Cylo‭n Centurion
        • Maybe

          Erh.... most use start menu. Why?

          Because it is quickly accessible, it isn't hard to search for wanted app (like taskbar is when having apps running) and it is much easier to click with mouse than taskbar because it has bigger zones.

          Oh, and you actually can see rarely used apps from same place and you have quick ways to go most used locations.

          The MS statics are related to users history who were stupid to enable statics gathering and sending to MS. If only 9% of people enable that feature and use only IE, WMP and Office, it doesn't make sense to follow it.