13 Things Microsoft Needs To Fix In Windows 8

Steve BallmerMicrosoft CEO Steve Ballmer

In June, Microsoft will release its next big update to Windows 8 called Windows Blue.

With this update, Microsoft will hopefully fix a lot of things that have annoyed people about Microsoft’s new touch-friendly operating system.

A lot is riding on this. Windows 8 has been widely criticised as being too hard to learn. One report after another has shown that initial demand has not been good for new Windows 8 devices, including Microsoft’s own Surface tablets.

But Microsoft still has a chance to bounce back, just like it bounced back from the poorly recieved Vista version of Windows when it launched Windows 7.

To do that, it needs to fix a lot of important, and sometimes basic, things with Windows 8.

Boot to desktop mode on laptops and regular desktop computers

Windows 8 should be able to detect if the software is running on a tablet with a touchscreen or a laptop/desktop without one.

If there's no touchscreen, it should default to the Desktop Mode, which looks like Windows 7.

Plus, it should allow everyone to choose which mode to boot into by default, Windows 8 (Start Screen) or Desktop (Windows 7).

Bring back the Start button

Really, Microsoft, why fight this anymore?

Desktop mode is basically a faster version of Windows 7 without the Start button, and users have been grumbling about its loss the whole time.

Why make people relearn things like how to turn the computer off?

Of course, if Microsoft doesn't bring back the Start button, people can still add it from a third-party tool like Classic Shell.

Adjustable Charm bar

The Charm Bar is a menu in Windows 8 that lets you perform basic tasks for every app like searching or sharing. It swipes over from the right side of your screen.

We hope Microsoft will let users be able to move the Charm bar around and dock it in another spot or make it permanently visible, and pin the Search, Share, or other Charms to their Start menus if they want to.

By parking the Charms menu on the right side, Windows 8 eliminates common sense gestures like being able to swipe both directions to get to open apps.

Better gestures for switching between apps

In some ways Windows 8 shouldn't be called Windows at all. If you have multiple apps open, Windows 8 doesn't make them easy to find.

You have to swipe your way through each one, or swipe to see an open list of windows each time you want to switch between open apps.

We know that Windows Blue will be improving this 'Snap' feature to show more open windows, possibly up to four.

But Snap needs to be more customisable in terms of number of windows it shows and the ability to resize windows.

Better gesture hints and training

Microsoft included lots of gesture controls with Windows 8, but didn't include a good easy method for discovering them.

How about a Gestures Charm, that quickly shows you all the gesture controls of a particular app? Or some kind of Gesture hint that shows when more functions/gestures are available?

One Internet Explorer, not two

The Windows 8 side of the OS is deeply integrated with Internet Explorer.

The desktop side runs Internet Explorer as an an app.

The two are not the same and don't talk to each other. An open browser tab in one isn't an open tab in another. A bookmark in one isn't a bookmark in the other, etc.

Microsoft needs to turn these two IEs into a single app.

Improvements in Windows 8 apps

Like all of Microsoft's operating systems, Windows 8 includes a lot of apps.

Some of the most useful came from Windows 7 and they are still there (like the Snipping Tool) although they only run in desktop mode.

The Windows 8 apps like Mail, Calendar, People, and Maps were originally kind of weak. In March, Microsoft improved them, but some, like Calendar, still lack features even found in Microsoft's freebie cloud app, Outlook.com.

More Windows 8 apps

The Windows store has 60,000 apps.

That's not bad in six months, but the store is still missing some key apps like Facebook. It's not about the number of apps, but finding the apps you want.

In short, we hope the next version of Windows 8 entices developers to start building for the platform.

A touch-friendly File Explorer

Windows 8 doesn't include a great way to find files.

You can use the traditional File Explorer in Windows desktop mode, but it's not touchscreen friendly.

Make it touchscreen friendly, please.

Make it easier to close apps.

Microsoft says you don't need to close apps in Windows 8 because because they don't drain resources and the operating system will eventually close them for you.

But Microsoft makes you tab through all your open apps to find the one you want, or use Snap or other gestures to see the open ones.

To close an app, you grab it, wait for it to change and then drag it down.

We'd like Microsoft to bring back the little 'x' that lets you close apps in Windows 8 mode. Or make a 'close app' charm.

Play nicely with third-party browsers

If you set another browser, like Chrome, as your default, Microsoft pouts and won't let you use Internet Explorer.

Chrome has been notoriously wonky in Windows 8, too.

Let people choose whatever browsers they want to use on Windows 8 by default and let IE continue to work.

Put the date and time tile on the Start menu.

The Start Menu lacks a way to see the date and time. Right now, you have to swipe to the Charms bar to see the clock.

You can add a clock tile as a third-party add-on, but it's really something that everyone wants to see added to the screen.

We understand that Windows Blue will include a new Alarms app, which is a step in the right direction.

Make Windows tablets more affordable

Windows 8 will soon be available on smaller, more affordable tablets, probably with 7-inch screens. There might even be new, smaller models of Microsoft's own Surface tablets.

Microsoft's Surface tablets, particularly the full PC version known as Surface Pro, has been criticised for being too expensive.

Smaller, less expensive tablets that are still able to run Desktop Mode and Windows 7 software could sell like hotcakes.

Here's what we know, so far, about Microsoft's next version of Windows 8

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