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Windows Start Menu Discussion

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#16 Gary2MBz


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Posted 13 July 2012 - 09:34

I've not posted in a while, busy semester of 17 units but side issue.

I enjoy Windows 8 on my HP dv7-1270us laptop I won't lie. I've made the RP my only OS as of now until it hits RTM. It LITERALLY is faster than Windows 7 in nearly all areas such as boot time, shutdown time, load times for programs, not to mention Windows Installer-based programs don't have that stupid delay like they do in Vista and 7. It is instantaneous as it was on Windows XP. Minor details aside, the USB 3.0 is gonna be especially welcomed for my new build coming as soon as I get my Core i7-3770k processor, I've already gotten everything and am waiting on my Asus Sabertooth Z77. Can't wait til this sucker hits RTM so I can get my new rig running, Windows 8 on a Crucial m4 128GB SSD, 16GB RAM, 2TB RAID 1, CM Storm Scout, Intel HD Graphics (Until I can afford a dedicated GPU, tight budget and I'm making this by running my own small business repairing computers).

This Start Menu/Metro ordeal is a controversial one to me. On one hand, I like how Metro is set up. On the other hand, I don't want it engulfing my whole 1920x1080 screen. The idea behind Start8 should AT LEAST be made an option in Control Panel but to each their own. I personally could care less for the start menu as I have everything I need pinned to the taskbar but that's not always the case. There are times where I need an application that I barely use, yet I don't want it pinned nor as a desktop shortcut. The Start menu was a neat place to hide that crap and maintain minimalism. But then there is another issue, and that is that again the point of the folder + subfolder awkwardness is there. Don't forget those extra needless shortcuts like "Uninstall PowerISO"; "PowerISO Website", "Order PowerISO". I wholeheartedly admire the Windows Store approach because it eliminates the needless extra crap shortcuts but it can't be fully done away with either. Look at Mac OS X Lion and Launchpad with those needless additional icons installed by Adobe Creative Suite for example. Hell even Adobe Flash Player makes a stupid additional Uninstall shortcut, I mean really that isn't needed there! Launchpad-Control is a must-have in that case to alter and organize it otherwise Apple chugs it down on you.

I prefer the Metro approach to at least being able to remove the extra icons, not perfect but it is better than Apple's Launchpad. Metro can still be given some options though. The colours are rather restrictive. I have the red colour scheme set but me personally I want Black and White, or at least Black and Red to match my new Rig's LEDs with the Black CM Storm Scout and the Red LED fans + lighting I have inside. Bypassing the fullscreen metro screen should also be a given under the Control Panel because it is pathetic that I have to stare at the tiles EVERY time I restart. Given on my new rig, its pretty much going to be on 24/7 so that won't be an issue but on a laptop going back and forth and with a battery life of ~100 minutes, it does make a world of difference. My mother is extremely computer illiterate and being used to Windows 7 isn't too helpful. I WISH she would want to learn more formally so we can avoid the confusion barrier of basic functions such as using the internet and email.

At least on Windows 7, Shutting down was a matter of 2 clicks. In Windows 8 especially for someone like my mother, good luck having her go to the top right corner, catching the side menu (this is someone who is VERY incapable of using a touchpad steadily), figuring that you go to Options > Shutdown. 3 Clicks but to do that function can be hellish when you can't use a touchpad or even regular mouse without a little precision effort. One caveat there too of Windows 8, not everyone owns a touchscreen, let alone multitouch. Make the delay a few hundred ms longer for that right-hand sidebar and save newbs some hassle.

Software developers, if you don't want your software to go through Microsoft's Windows Store then don't cram bulls*** shortcuts down our throats anymore because it ruins the consistency of Metro. You need to understand that as well, no more uninstall shortcuts and links to ordering. Figure out how to do those things through your application, not through peoples' menus because it really is pathetic. My $0.02

#17 OP Dot Matrix

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Posted 13 July 2012 - 09:34

I always thought what would make the current desktop more interesting or useful would be if MS would have gotten on the wagon and allowed for free customization's of our desktops and NOT leave it to pay for services as those of window blinds etc.

I know, I know.. Linux is free open source, but the idea... Linux allows for alot of customizations

There are downsides to that though, and that's too much customization. Windows is a pretty standardized OS, in use by billions of people, having it all look reletively the same makes support easier, and keeps costs down.

#18 The King of GnG

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Posted 13 July 2012 - 10:15

I'm accustomed to using the Start Menu in "Windows 95 mode" since the first days of my Windows experience, I find the Windows 7 menu less useful (and pretty annoying) because it isn't customizabile like before and I hate the Windows 8 "Start Screen" with all my heart.

There are different Windows users in this world, and this particular user wants to have nothing to do with this plague called Metro UI on his computers. I'm almost regretting purchasing a damn Windows Phone right now....

#19 OP Dot Matrix

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Posted 13 July 2012 - 10:31

Excellent analysis, Dot Matrix.

What many fail to see is how the Windows 8 UX is primarily aimed at 'PC+' devices like the MS Surface or touch-enabled hybrid ultrabooks. To me it looks as though Microsoft are considering traditional desktops and laptops legacy devices which will sooner or later be superseded by next-gen devices. Is it a risky bet? Yes. Will it pay off? Time will tell.

Personally I'm not fully sold on Windows 8 yet. It'll take some more getting used to. Will I be upgrading to Windows 8 once it RTMs? More than likely yes. The under-the-hood changes and improvements to the desktop experience alone make it worth it imho.

I don't think desktops and laptops are legacy devices, however, they're moving in a new direction, augmented by new technology, which is already happening with AiOs and Transformer type PCs. I think we're going to see some interesting things happen with touch and motion technologies.

Also, I just realized that my blurb about the power options in Windows 8 didn't make it over here. Must have gotten lost when I copied over from Word. :/

Anyway, I had meant to say that the power options in Windows 8 are a litle awkward at first, and I'm still not sure if I like them hidden away in the Settings Charm. I do think they would work better if there was a dedicated Power Charm that users could easily toggle. Also, I'm not sure people are going to easily find the "Lock", "Log Off", etc options under the user tile on the Start Screen. So there are some trade-offs with the change, but these changes have brought about some awkward changes itself, but I feel that having the new refreshed Start Screen is a nice start, and I'm thrilled to have a cleaner layout.

#20 d5aqoëp


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Posted 13 July 2012 - 10:49

Has anyone seen banding on individual non metro app tiles? Microsoft cannot even do something right.

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#21 Knife Party

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Posted 13 July 2012 - 10:51

the W7 start menu feels good, it isn't an eyesore (flashing of the animation) like in W8 RP. I want my menu in W8 to transition from different directions/orientations, as in taskbar to the left, with left hand orientation for menu layout as an example. The traditional W7 menu has its flaws, like too many icons make the start menu look huge. But I like the changes to the W8 start menu interface, although give more options for colour, layout orientation, layout editing etc to adress any transition issues. Also, I think MS should keep the start button as a concept. You click it and W8 metro menu opens. Simple, they retain current W7 users, and phase in their intended new start menu for metro. I don't like having to click on the fringe of a corner to get my menu to pop out... just retain the reflexive behavior involved with going to one place without any prior knowledge of the OS on a whole, to know exactly where to open the start menu. Its a solution that can make both parties happy. Now just choose the start button design to fit into metro and viola.

#22 dangel



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Posted 13 July 2012 - 11:59

Great post OP - it's good to see someone highlighting both the shortcomings of the start screen and the original start menu at the same time. I agree that in 7 the expand-o-matic mess of all programs was horrible to use but I don't think they've entirely solved it in 8 because legacy apps don't recieve any automatic grouping. I really hope they add this in the final build because doing it by hand is a PITA. In fact, if they could make the management of groups in semantic zoom better overall plus sort out the size of the icons for legacy apps (they're way too small and hard to skim with the eyes) it would answer my only real gripes with it.

#23 leviathan18



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Posted 13 July 2012 - 13:55

You are complaining about banding in an beta software really? lets wait until it gets released to say that MS doesn't do its job right.... A 200 Billion $ company

#24 OP Dot Matrix

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Posted 13 July 2012 - 13:58

Sorry, banding? :huh:

#25 OP Dot Matrix

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Posted 13 July 2012 - 14:04

Personally, I can't see why Microsoft didn't give people the choice to use Metro or Classic. XP has such a [classic] choice. So does Vista. What caused Microsoft to suddenly force Metro on Windows 8 users? I won't understand that decision, and personally I think it's a bad move. Today's world should be about freedom and choice. Not the opposite. Yes, Windows 7 is an option. Yes, classic start menu hacks are an option. But they're not exactly freedom of choice...

Personally, to me, it looks like they're making a clean break across all their platforms and services. They're sheding the past and moving towards the future.

#26 libertas83



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Posted 13 July 2012 - 15:18

Its not just the star menu on Windows 8 thats the issue.
Metro is just wrong for a non-touchscreen desktop.
99% of people are going to be using it non-touchscreen

My desktop OS needs to be functional as its primary concern, not pretty with ridiculous tiles that center around social media which is the ar$e end of the internet

How is the Desktop functional in of itself? You have a background, hopefully no icons on the desktop, a start menu, and a taskbar. Outside of that, the desktop has no function. Each of those functions are all present in the new Start Screen.

All of the start menu functionality is in the Start Screen (except the never-should-be-used Power button). The taskbar has a replacement in the top left corner to show you apps running. However, I would agree it's more limited than the traditional taskbar and that is only complaint I have, though, I understand why it's not there.

And this crap about the fact that it's for touch and a mouse/keyboard doesn't work is complete b.s. Why is a list of tiles across a screen any less useful for a mouse? What objective reason does anyone have that it's less useful for a mouse in comparison to the start menu. Let me break down the mouse function here:

1.) Start Menu in Windows 9x - XP had a fly out menu. That menu was hard to use with a mouse and even harder on trackpads. Most users, do not organize this menu at all. How many had friends and parents with the long list of apps that you had to scroll through or had 2 panes of the menu that you had to read through? That usually would take up the whole screen.

2.) Organizing elements across the screen to click on has been around forever! Look at Windows 7 and IE9. I have "thumbnail tiles" that go across the screen that are almost the size of the Start Screen tiles. Wow....so hard to click on something so big... Also, in IE9, the new tab window has...what is that...tiles! That go across the screen.

Now I love the way Zune does it and that is really how the Start Screen should be. It presents tiles laid out horizontally. As I move the mouse across tiles, it will move the tiles across smoothly so that I do not have to scroll or anything. So if they did not do that in Windows 8, that is disappointing. Either way, there is nothing in a full-screen app/start-screen that prevents a mouse from being useful. We move across the screen with mice all the time. Just because its bigger and allows better touch interaction doesn't mean you lose mouse interaction at all.

There are places for Metro, and there are places not for it. My non-touch based desktop computer falls into the latter category.

Personally, I can't see why Microsoft didn't give people the choice to use Metro or Classic. XP has such a [classic] choice. So does Vista. What caused Microsoft to suddenly force Metro on Windows 8 users? I won't understand that decision, and personally I think it's a bad move. Today's world should be about freedom and choice. Not the opposite. Yes, Windows 7 is an option. Yes, classic start menu hacks are an option. But they're not exactly freedom of choice...

The choice doesn't exist because it's no longer the same Windows! This is not a skin to Windows like the other themes were. This is a new shell. Explorer.exe is legacy shell which contains the traditional desktop we all love. Metro is a new shell that replaces Explorer.exe completely.

This is not like any upgrade from Windows 9x - 7. This is like the change from DOS/Windows 3.1 to Windows 95. The biggest difference is that in Windows 95, you had a stripped down CMD window that had some basic DOS functionality but couldn't run all DOS apps/games. You had to "Exit to DOS" and leave Windows 95 entirely to run those programs. Now it is so smooth of a transition between Metro and Explorer that no one even notices how radical a change this is. Desktop is now an app that you "exit" to when you click it which then switches you to Explorer. That way, you don't ever leave Windows at all and seamlessy switch in and out quickly.

#27 x-byte



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Posted 13 July 2012 - 15:25

Excellent written.

MS have to design their OS for the future. We are heading into a touch future. Does that mean mouse/keyboard will be replaced. Not at all. Tablets will replace most laptops, because they work as a hybrid. The desktop PC will still be strong for years to come.

For this to work well we need a unified solution. The Metro UI and the new start screen is the beginning. Why should we have different experienes on all our devices? Our tablets, phones and PCs need to work and behave alike.

#28 Jygoro



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Posted 13 July 2012 - 16:17

Great read, thanks. I agree the Start Screen is a step forward in lots of ways.

One of them was not mentioned and is the Start Screen is also a great task switcher. Never thought of that possibility until I saw my father using the Win key for everything. He opens the mail app, clicks on a website link thus it opens IE10 app, and it returns to the mail app in the most easy way ever: Win key and click again on mail tile. It doesn't matter if it was already open, it just shows him what he wanted, his mail. It also doesn't matter he left IE10 running, it doesn't uses CPU.
He always had problem to understand the taskbar way and Win7 taskbar with those confusing thumbnails and aero-peek didn't help him at all.
Now he is happy with the Start Screen and the Win key. :)

In my experience I love the named groups (although I'm missing setups installers with the option "create a new group at Start Screen" at the end), everything is more clean like that. Also loved the day I connected my laptop to the 1080p LCD TV. Never it was so easy to run a program from the couch with a wireless mouse. Those bigs tiles had a lot of sense in that situation.

#29 Nazmus Shakib Khandaker

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Posted 13 July 2012 - 17:01

The ability to "pin" programs on the start menu existed on Windows 95. You could right-click a program on the all programs menu and add it (pin) it to the start menu.

#30 theyarecomingforyou


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Posted 13 July 2012 - 17:17

Has anyone seen banding on individual non metro app tiles?

Yes! Do you by any chance have a monitor with 10-bit colour (typically S-IPS panels)?

I find the colour banding to be incredibly irritating and it's especially bad when launching Metro apps, as I get a sort of banding-flickering during the animation. At first I thought it was a fault with my monitor but creating the same gradient in a drawing application displays fine. My guess is that Microsoft is using 8-bit gradients, so it wouldn't be an issue on regular displays but would be noticeable on 10-bit displays.