A Windows 8 rebuild plan for Microsoft

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.
Written by Ken Hess, Contributor on

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.

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