Microsoft is right on track with their latest Windows 8 project, the developer preview version receiving feedback as it should. Being a pre-beta release means that some features already built may be changed until the release date and that developers may even bring something new to the table. All of these changes, ideas and add-ons that may or may not be added to the final build are made public on the official blog (opens in new tab). Until now, they have explained in a few words why the future OS will use lower hardware and software resources and how the Metro UI is affecting users worldwide.
Now, Microsoft has promised some new improvements, which are going to be applied on the Windows 8 Start screen, the overall mouse and keyboard experience on the Metro based desktop and many others. As Windows Chief Steven Sinofsk wrote, "We've been watching the comments closely and have seen the full spectrum of reactions as one would expect when the core interface changes," all of these changes are inspired by user feedback.
In a few words, this is how Microsoft is going to change things:
- There will be a way to close Metro Style applications without manually shutting them down from the Task Manager. Unlikely as it sounds, developers say that this won't be necessary because Windows 8 keeps these applications in a hibernating state while the user enjoys a classic Win 7 desktop.
- The first beta for Win 8 will bring an enhanced mouse scrolling experience in the Start menu.
- The recently opened applications feature will be easier to use than the classic taskbar menu, for everyone wishing to open a favourite program.
- Data collected until now is mostly based on home users or non-business individuals. Some companies deny access for the customer experience program because of security policy issues. Microsoft is going to take a plunge into the corporate area by on-site visits and conduct studies so, at the end of the building process large companies would also have contributed their ideas.
- The classic Start button is not coming back. It seems that only 24% of users have used this feature to launch applications and those who fit into this percentage have used it to launch less than 50 different apps within several months. This percentage being low, Microsoft has finally decided to kill it and replace the button with a "shortcut" to the Metro UI, for good.
- The Metro UI list of applications will be ordered in more ways than the current alphabetical view. As developers show us in the picture below, you will have the possibility of arranging existing apps into groups, for a better browsing experience. This should stray away headaches from not remembering the name of the program.
- Jumping lists may not be added to the final build. The fact that applications today have moved from silent icons to live content makes this concept difficulty to implement.
- Large monitors will experience a big number of tiles on the Start screen, so the density of existing applications per screen size should remain the same.
- The tile size will be customizable.