Microsoft to address Windows 8 Start Screen concerns

Microsoft remains convinced that touch is the way forward, but will address some of the issues facing desktop users.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Contributing Writer

Microsoft is listening to your Windows 8 Start Screen concerns, and has promised to address them and improve the mouse and keyboard experience.

Chaitanya Sareen, program manager lead for Microsoft's Core Experience Evolved team, explains over on the Building Windows 8 blog:

We recognize that to some people, any change to Windows is going to be disruptive, and so we want to make sure we continue an open dialog about those changes. Since Windows is such an integral part of so many people's lives, most any change can generate visceral reactions like "how can I turn it off," or debates over whether things are more or less efficient.

So, Microsoft is listening!

The debate around touch today is looking eerily like the debate in the 1980s over whether a mouse was a gimmick, a productivity time waster, or an innovation in the user experience. We say this knowing that many comments have been emphatic about the superiority of the mouse over touch. Unlike when the mouse was introduced-before desktop publishing programs came along there were few use cases for the mouse other than early paint programs-today we are surrounded by touch screens-at the airport, the gas station, the movie theater, every cash register, and of course, on our phones. The one place touch has not yet become mainstream is on the most capable of all the devices you use. Just like the introduction of the mouse, innovations like this do not happen without new OS support, new apps, and new hardware. We believe that, as with the mouse, we will see touch augmenting, but not replacing, most every aspect of the PC experience over time. Achieving this starts with the Windows 8 Developer Preview.

Sareen then goes on (rather long-windedly, as is the case with these posts) to address some of the feedback that Microsoft has received. He covers three categories:

Q: Can Metro apps be closed without having to resort to the Task Manager?

A: 'Yes' but Microsoft thinks that you won't need to do it often.

Q: Will Microsoft improve the current mouse scrolling through the apps on the Start Screen?

A: According to Sareen this will be improved in the Windows 8 beta.

Q: Will there be a better way of cycling through apps?

A: Microsoft plans to detail this in a future post.

What we're not getting is any kind of word as to whether the classic Start menu option will be available officially rather than through a third-party hack. I'm still holding out hope that Microsoft won't forcibly shove the Metro Start Screen down all out throats.

Microsoft seems convinced that touch UI is the way forward on the desktop. I remain to be convinced. I don't see touch catching on with enterprise users for a variety of reasons (cost, training ...) and as far as the home user goes, tell me how touch makes email, Facebook, photo editing, video editing and so on any better?

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