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Easing the Transition to Windows 8

    General discussion

  • I have recently installed the Windows Developer Preview and I must admit, the metro interface isn't as bad for the mouse/keyboard combo as I have thought. However, the huge jump in the user's interface paradigm is quite startling and in a way, affects the experience. I've gotten used to the control and flexibility that Windows 7 gives me and Windows 8 seems to be moving towards a direction that takes this away. I know this is just a preview, but these inconveniences doesn't seem like incomplete coding, but the design of the OS. I have a few ideas that I want to share, to improve the OS.

    First of all, the left side of the screen that acts as a hotspot when your mouse approaches it for task switching could have some added functionality for desktop users (and possibly even tablet users). I suggest that when the hotspot is activated, a taskbar-like thing comes out with preview windows of all the opened applications, similar in appearance to the charms menu for tablets but bigger. The users can scroll through the application list and pull the application out to make it active or snap it to the screen. They can also pull the application out towards the left to close the application.

    Now, I know that applications don't "close" in Windows 8 (well, metro applications), but there should be a list of "opened" applications for easier task switching. When these applications are closed, they can still be suspended. They are merely taken off the list that the user sees.

    Secondly, I also propose to allow Metro applications to be minimized onto a desktop as a smaller window. This idea would be similar to how OSX Lion allows for applications to be put into full-screen mode. This doesn't have to a functionality added to the tablet, but it should be added to desktops as nobody needs huge fonts. The applications can be full screened as they are right now, but they should also allow for the application to fit into a smaller, draggable window on the desktop. A new interface for the application doesn't need to be added as Metro applications seems to be scalable. A minimum size could be enforced to ensure that it doesn't run badly.

    This also opens up a new functionality where minimized applications could be dragged on top of a full screen application for use and subsequently hidden after the user begins work on the full screen application. This can be done in unison with the docking of the applications to either sides of the screen.

    Finally, I think that the docking of applications to each side of the screen can be improved so that users with higher resolution screens could have to full sized windows on each side (similar to the aero snap feature).

    I'm sure the Windows 8 designers have though about these functionality before and decided to leave it out, but as a user, these functionalities seem to be fundamental to increasing productivity on a windows machine. Maybe in a different approach, but I do hope that the designers will implement some similar features to this.

    Monday, September 19, 2011 11:58 PM