Windows 8–Three proposed UI improvements

imageRobbert Doelwijt likes Windows 8, but he thinks there could be some improvements to the user interface.

He writes:

A few days ago at Microsoft’s BUILD event, a developer preview of Windows 8 was released. I installed it as soon as I could, and played around with it. Their touch-first mentality was noticable at first glance. In the videos I saw on the web Windows 8 seemed to be a breeze to use on tablet-like devices, but Microsoft kept saying that it would still be usable with your mouse and keyboard setups. While you can use the operating system with your keyboard and mouse, to me the controls suck.

Windows 8 has a lot of potential, but some of the features just don’t work on desktops. I’ve made a video showcasing some of the improvements I would make to Windows 8, in order for it to work both on tablet-like devices and on desktops with a mouse and keyboard. Please check it out, and let me know what you think about Windows 8 and these improvements.

His ideas boil down the the mouse being allowed to emulate touch, saying “the cursor should be history”, that the new Start menu and Classic desktop should be merged, with a metro-style task-bar being available and that legacy apps should run in the Metro user interface rather than the classic desktop.

While the ideas are interesting, especially having special UI features for mouse and keyboard users, we know Steven Sinofsky has said Windows 8 is more or less finalized, and they will not be taking any input or feedback, meaning Robbert’s work is unfortunately more or less wasted.

What do our readers think of the ideas? Let us know below.

Thanks Randy for the tip.

  • Vasco Reis Silva

    I like it, especially the Metro explorer. Ribbon belongs in Office, leave it there.

    Start breaking away from the past, it’s time.

    • Anonymous

      the ribbon is actually very powerful, it brings out features that you had to dig deep in menus and dialog boxes to find. click and go. its smarter now. if its in the way, just minimise it till its required.

      don’t live in the past, its time to move on.

  • Milad Bazzaz

    I especially love the idea with the fast app switching bar at the bottom…

    the way you have to switch between apps in Metro sucks without a touch device. I definitely think Microsoft needs to fix that issue by somewhere showing you all the open apps where you can easily switch back and forth.
    I had a “right click” in mind for that but this solution looks amazing.

    Again, one wonders WHY Microsoft didn’t have it in mind…

  • Anonymous

    wow… horrible horrible horrible…

    starting with the finger and then the ugly bar at the botton, like if there wasn’t a bar already.

    and wow that explorer thing its the most inefficient thing i have ever seen. does he mean for touch or for desktop? because i like the new start menu… but no thank i want everything there. its not like i will be able to open 3 explorers and then move folders between them…

    i still don’t get how someone can say  UI improvements
    when he cant even have a nice UI for their Start Menu.

    and where is the button for apps? windows phone has an arrow. windows 8 needs something like that. he showed alot of idiot improvements and not a nice one like where will be the apps.

    and seriously… i don’t want to work in a 3d software with a hand as cursor… and then in metro UI where i cant arrange everything so i can work and still see what i want to see about a picture or something im modeling or a tutorial.

    im amazed with people and these ideas… specially since i spent hours moving from Photoshop to HxD and then system32 and then move uxtheme.dll to there. i did it like 50 times to text hex codes… i don’t want to think how slow and stupid would be if this guy was windows8 designer, thank god Microsoft hired other kind of people.

    and if he cants use the keyboard and mouse… then what he shows pure and plain crap! because its horribly worse

  • Anonymous

    The finger is nice, but you can change that already if you so desire (at least from Xp, and I assume Win7)

    The visual app switching from the Metro Desktop is nice, but I would think “Only when on Desktop” The left-hand flow is fine when-in-app!

    The Desktop fusion and explore ribbon change I didn’t really get?!

  • Thetruth

    Thank god you dont work at Microsoft. Idiot

  • Harvey

    I love it.  This is why most people use Windows…the ability to style it as you like.  I like the Metro ide…its cool, but as the author said, don’t work well for the desktop.  Man, I feel like i’m Windows #1 fan, but I don’t like the Metro on the Desktop…not the way it is now.
    I like his suggestions…not everyone will like the same things.
    I say good job Robbert Doelwijt.  Hope MS looks at it.

  • Misak Ghazaryan

    i had the same idea about the taskbar, not sure about the explorer. and one more thing id like to add is te ability to make windows smaller and larger, apps should behave like the zune software when used on desktop and laptops, otherwise the current one full screen app is fine for tablets

  • WixosTrix

    The little hand is cute, but I do think it the Metro UI should emulate a touch point with the cursor.  I love the fast app switcher, they should just make the App Bar come up when the Charms menu is wiped in.  It does make more sense to have just the one single Charm menu on the side if they want people to get used to it being over there.  It’s also consistant and wouldn’t be hard for the average consumer to learn and navigate quickly.

    The Desktop and Metro UI should not be merged.  They should remain seperate for their concepts are designed for different experiences.  The Explorer thing does not follow the Metro concept could potentially be a bad association.  If someone needs to do advanced file system tasks, they can simply jump into the Desktop UI.  The Ribbon actually makes many common selections easier to touch, though the UI itself is not part of the touch first experience.  People are capable of understanding the two different use cases.  As long as there is never a point when the user is immersed in the Metro experience and are forced to go to the Desktop UI to complete something that started off in the Metro UI, unless specifically designed that way.

    • Anonymous

      Well, since they have the whole swipe-up thing in IE for the tabs anyway, confusion would be lesser like this, wouldnt it?*. For consistency, one might want to have the “app tabs” up top though. I really dont know… I wouldnt want it that way, but im not the “dumb user” either.

      Clearly though, we need a better way to navigate between apps than swiping through a big stack. I mean, that works fine if you’re running 5 of them, but what if you have 50?**

      * ok, there could of course be confusion then regarding whether or not the whole Metro start page is “internet”, but… not sure if this really matters, or if its even a bad thing in the end. WTF is “internet” anyway these days :- )

      ** Swipe is in ways like alt-tab. This would mimic the wonderful W7 taskbar.

  • Sergey Durnov

    fast app switching is must-have! some other features are interesting too

  • Christoffer Lundberg

    F’ck yeah! I agree with all points, especially the task-switcher. It is very tedious having to drag and drop from the left to get to my xth in line app and so on.. very tedious.

    Metro Explorer was a great idea. I hope Microsoft can be inspired by this :)

  • Anonymous

    Yep, pretty much exactly what I want…

    As a huge Microsoft fan for about 10 years now (god I feel old) I feel like they have dropped the ball slightly.

    One other point though… if I could have my way they’d make OEMs have to include a stylus- the handwriting recognition on Windows 8 is so good it’s unbelievable.

  • J A

    This is not the best suggestion. Microsoft’s execution is just fine. It provides full productivity on the desktop and the only capability of tablets on the metro UI. Keep in mind that any system that is fully tablet just like every tablet currently in the market is does not provide any avenue for productivity. By this, I mean being able to create the same documents, web development, programming, etc that we all can do on dekstops. This is why the Win8 tablets win over anything else; you get the tablet UI for content consumption and can dock it with a dekstop UI for productivity. Just as MS speakers mentioned at Build, develope your Metro apps on the desktop and test it on the tabelt UI and go back and debug it in Visual Studio back on the desktop UI on the same tablet. Nothing else has such power and flexibility.

  • Willem Evenhuis

    3 Tiles of improvement:

    1. Touch tab that appears on touch for opening the charms menu
    2. Have not been able to test this properly, but if the case, an ” search all” function in the search charm, to have a windows 7 like indexed search experience.
    3. A Live Tile group file option in the Metro UI.

  • Anonymous

    As for scrolling, i think MSFT is betting on touchpads and mouse-equivalents (Apples magic mouse etc.) These would render the scrolling issue a non-issue. You would just swipe your way through the information space. 

    That said, the suggestion is still worth implementing, at least as an optional choice.

    As for the other two suggestions, they seemed to make some sense… however, as i have no idea of how W8 handles these things currently i really cant tell.

  • TreizFaction

    these ideas look good to me, keep them coming