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Windows 8 Readying Testers-feedbacked UI Changes for Efficient New Start Screen

In a latest Windows 8 blog post, authored by Marina Dukhon, senior program manager lead on the Core Experience team, notes that Microsoft is making some Windows 8 UI modifications but isn’t going so far as to allow users to circumvent the tiled Metro screen altogether.

In the post Dukhon noted that some of the constructive feedback around the design of the Metro-style Windows 8 interface have given the Windows 8 team food for thought. Adding, that in general, individual enterprise customers are using Start menus that their administrators have customized.

“Using this research and our engagement with the enterprise community, we are working on special features that can help address the need for customization in the Start screen. For example, enterprises can remove items like Games and Help & Support from the Start screen,” said Dukhon.

Adding, “For Windows 8, we support deployment scenarios that include Start screens with a layout of tiles that matches their business group’s needs, allowing for an even greater number of pinned apps to be pre-defined for their users. We also support the managed lockdown of customization of the Start screen so that it is consistent across the corporation. These features have been built especially for our enterprise customers, taking into account the existing functionality that we have provided in the past and the needs that we perceive they will have in the future. And as many know, tech-savvy individuals can use these customizations as well.”

She said that Microsoft is adding a more Folder-like conventions for organizing apps to make it quicker and easier for users to search their Windows 8 PCs.

She concluded that in the “latest design of the Apps screen, which would add back the structure that you’re used to with folders in All Programs today.” For example, in the screen shot you can see that, as in the Start menu, suites of apps are now organized in groups, instead of in one alphabetical list. This way, if you’re looking for something that you know came in your Visual Studio suite, but can’t recall the exact name of the app, it should be much easier for you to find. And your alphabetical list should no longer be cluttered with app tiles that have obscure names because the developer was relying on the folder name to convey the actual name of the executable.

Windows 8 Start Screen

In addition to “adding folder structure to this screen and organizing apps within their respective suites, we’re also making this view denser. Fitting even more content helps you see what your computer has installed at a glance and decreases the need to scroll. It also decreases the need to navigate a wrapping menu structure or maintain folders or nested folders of programs,” added Dukhon.

“With this design, we improved the scannability of your system, giving you confidence about what is on it at any given time.”

She noted that the “personalization of the Start screen is one of the features that we want to make great, and we’re still iterating on it and to make it better. In the Windows Developer Preview, you can already try flexible group sizes, unpinning tiles, and resizing wide tiles to square tiles.” And in the “Beta, you’ll also be able to use other improvements based on this dialog, in addition to creating, naming, and rearranging groups.”

She said, “Since the Start screen is a launcher (and can also be the switcher) for both Metro style apps and desktop apps, we take you directly to the Start screen when you first turn on your machine. It is your new home base.” Adding,

“If your main goal is still to use desktop apps, you can easily do this by clicking the Desktop tile and using the taskbar, or you can customize the Start screen to put your favorite desktop apps at the beginning of the Start screen and launch them directly. It is important to keep this in mind–today you might be going to the desktop so you can immediately get to the task bar. You can always put the taskbar apps on the Start screen and launch (or switch) from there, or just put the first one you always use right there in a Fitts-friendly location.”

“Based on your feedback, one of the things that we’re doing to make it faster to get to All Programs is to take you directly to the Apps screen when you click Search in the desktop. This potentially removes another step from this task, making it even more efficient in Windows 8 to launch an app from the desktop relative to Windows 7.”

“Another thing that we’re doing is increasing the number of rows of tiles that you can see on large monitors so that you can fit even more of your favorite apps closer to your mouse and make it faster to launch apps than before,” added Dukhon.

Windows 8 Start Menu

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