Before Blue: Microsoft to update core apps

If you have used Windows 8, you will know that the core apps that come with the OS could use a bit of, well, sprucing up. While we know that Windows Blue will bring some much needed refinement to the OS, many have been wondering when the core apps would be updated.

Fortunately, it looks like Windows Mail, Calendar, Music, and Games could be updated very soon, if Mary Jo Foley’s sources prove to be correct. It also looks like we may not have to wait all that long as the source states that Microsoft is currently dogfooding the apps and they could arrive as early as this month.

While we wait to see what the application updates actually bring to the platform, we hope that Microsoft does not make a habit of long delays between updates. These apps are a critical component of the Windows 8 experience and Microsoft needs to keep the polished and feature complete.

While Microsoft works to spruce up its core apps of Windows 8, Windows Blue is steamrolling ahead and should mark a significant update to the OS. While not confirmed, we are hearing that the Start screen will receive several improvements to the usability of the space and a few additional tick boxes for customization may be added to the control panel. Again, nothing solid to go on here, but it’s what the fly on the wall has been whispering about for the past few weeks.

Look for the app updates to arrive soon and considering our interest peaked to see how Microsoft adds a bit of polish to these applications. 

Source: ZDnet

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The evolution of O/S and programs in Microsoft is quite amazing. Not withstanding that certain parts of the community oppose the new approaches, the MS road map is deliberate and I think in the end will culminate into a fruitful computing experience.
The massive code rewrites to transit from Win 7 to 8 is a monumental task taking untold man hours to produce. It is true that a good number of programs on the start screen can be considered a step backwards, however I like to describe such as back to basics and a rebuild relative to public response. I am certain that MS s/w and o/s engineers are listening closely to users and other professionals, and to this the roadmap continues with ongoing refinement.

How about the ability to print PDF's from the built reader? Unless its already there and I can't figure it out.

Yeah they need a lot of work for sure. I don't even use the metro apps. Thank god they kept the old Windows Media player around and with the Live Essentials I could care less about the pathetic excuses that the photos/music and video apps are... Hope the VLC guys release their modern app soon to show them how a media player can and should be made...

Please, fix the god damn problem of the Play to the xbox 360!!!!!

I need to restart my PC EACH TIME I want my xbox 360 detected, if the latter one turns on second .

This....

And have all the Metro apps see my bloody home server! Ppl have been asking this since the first beta!!
But these apps need a major overhaul.
Video doesn't work properly and has several artifact while playing video, besides the audio crackles.
Music needs to move towards the Zune experience of playing music. The current app just plain sucks and is confusing as hell.
Photos need more tools for editing, too basic atm.
Mail isn't that bad for a quick look thingy, but need more fucntionality like outlook.com.

It would be nice to have MS pick up one or two small updates/features a month, and make it a feature update monthly, like the monthly patch cycle.

I wonder whether they will let us control the volume of Metro apps individually .. just like the desktop apps

brent3000 said,
They need to fix the people app... Why I cant use the letters to jump like on any other MS platform is beyond me

Semantic zoom. Ctrl+mousewheel.

siah1214 said,

Semantic zoom. Ctrl+mousewheel.

Ive stopped even trying semantic zoom since the majority of apps don't even take advantage of it.

I dont even think of trying it any more.

There should have been updates atleast ONCE a MONTH for these apps, you simply cant just wait till you get all the features you want into them then release 4+ months later. Release more often and add features, if there are bugs then address them. With that quick of a release cycle you definitely will be introducing bugs; however you also will be adding features that people certainly need.

Having used the core apps. I can attest they do get updated with new features and bug fixes frequently; more than monthly in many cases.

pgn said,
There should have been updates atleast ONCE a MONTH for these apps, you simply cant just wait till you get all the features you want into them then release 4+ months later. Release more often and add features, if there are bugs then address them. With that quick of a release cycle you definitely will be introducing bugs; however you also will be adding features that people certainly need.

I actually have a lot of hope.

The Bing apps (search, news, financial, sports) started off godawful, but now are pretty awesome with full features.

If they can do the same thing with music/videos/people etc. they'd be awesome!

ID10T said,
Having used the core apps. I can attest they do get updated with new features and bug fixes frequently; more than monthly in many cases.

Bug fixes but what new features? I have Windows 8 installed on my desktop, on my surface pro, and windows rt on my surface rt - haven't seen any new features added to game, calendar, mail, music or the video app.

pgn said,

Bug fixes but what new features? I have Windows 8 installed on my desktop, on my surface pro, and windows rt on my surface rt - haven't seen any new features added to game, calendar, mail, music or the video app.

Exactly. It doesn't matter if they're updated every day if you're only talking about minor tweaks and bug fixes, especially when most of the core apps are seriously under-featured and visually unappealing.

Dot Matrix said,
A lot of people here mention Music, yet Photos is the most useless and featureless of all default apps on Windows 8.

Hey at least it shows photos, the music app barely even plays music...

ingramator said,

Hey at least it shows photos, the music app barely even plays music...

It only plays out of the internal PC speaker.

I use these apps on my Surface all the time. I welcome an update to theses apps, they need some serious polish and a nice performance boost to boot. I think the biggest one is the People app. It is the only one that is almost unusable since it crashes so often and takes forever to function.

Agree. Most of the time it's not the functionality . But its the constant crashes and lag that bugs me. The mail app for instance has crashes on me on nearly a day to day basis.
Metro IE somehow is an exception. No freezes, lags or crashes. Smooth sailing since day1.

"sprucing" is putting it nicely................. VERY VERY nicely! Neowin, you are too kind. Tell us how you really feel.

Microsoft introduce the concept of feature matching, where their metro equivalent of an app should have the same or better feature set of the equivalent app in previous versions of windows.

I think this is the first time they've gone backwards in many areas. That's pretty good track record. Now if they don't make much serious improvement with these updates ... smh

MorganX said,
I think this is the first time they've gone backwards in many areas. That's pretty good track record. Now if they don't make much serious improvement with these updates ... smh

Every major shift came with 'regressions', depending on how you look at it.

To this day there are people who insist the 16-bit Windows File Manager was more functional than Explorer has ever become.

Joshie said,

Every major shift came with 'regressions', depending on how you look at it.

To this day there are people who insist the 16-bit Windows File Manager was more functional than Explorer has ever become.

In many ways the file manager, was great. For many on small screens the layout was much easier to use then drag and dropping over two explorer windows. However, functionality was there in both of them if not in a different place.

However, with the metro replacements we've had really basic functions removed. It'd be like saying, file manager users are not happy because the new explorer doesn't allow them to copy, paste, or delete files, forget about drag and drop and don't even think about rename, or viewing properties etc.

See, the problem with many of the core apps (and the apps with real serious issues aren't even being updated!) is that they're so basic and withdrawn from what people actually want and need them to do, it's a backward step from upgrading from their existing OS. The core app set I wouldn't even say they're as good as Windows 95's offerings.

Messaging needs a huge overhall. It's broken, doesn't even allow you to share pictures anymore, or even send a file. Then they've got Skype on the side. Either replace messaging with Skype and do it properly with sharing of pictures etc like we've been used to on the messenger platform or update the messaging hub. Even my Windows Phone supports sending files over messenger!

The Photos app; another one that needs a big update, the gallery view is next to useless if you have anymore then 100 pictures, it's simply too time consuming navigate around to find what you're looking for. More thumb nails on the screen for directories and collections would be great, there is NO reason to waste screen space on a photo app. It's like they're limiting exactly what the app is used for.. viewing pictures... and that leads me on to the next thing.

Importing pictures, or rather video being imported AS pictures. There is no way to put video files on an import into the video library, instead it lumps it all into the pictures library. Then due to the stupid gallery view they have, its almost impossible to find the videos and of course the videos don't show up properly where they're expected.


Considering Microsoft is edging it's bets on Metro being it's next thing, they're not putting much effort behind it. I really do like Windows 8, its super fast and has all the rest of the goodies, I was hoping Microsoft would sort the metro issues out, if not at least the core apps but instead it's like they expect other people to make the apps now. *shrug*

sagum said,
<a mouthful>

Very well said, totally agree! The problem I've had with Windows 8 apps though involves them just cutting out for no reason. Start app, app loading, app closes. Or like the Reader app which one random day decided it was not going to read PDFs... I don't even! It's all shoddy at best, and I honestly wish Microsoft would at least not release any of these apps until they were ready. It's been a frustrating experience otherwise...

Microsoft just needs to adopt a "update often" policy. They are still stuck in the mentality of doing big updates still

All these apps have already had small updates since release. Atleast if they have a few months gap inbetween then the updates might actually be quite large and noticeable this time.

I think they just bit off more than they had resources to chew. They're doing a lot at once across all of their products and services. Hopefully they're catching up and realize the importance of polish especially when they stakes are so high.

If you think the music app is bad you still haven't tried the photo one yet.
1) it copies photos without any way to group them or without deleting them from the camera
2) it barely offers rotation/cropping without any other adjustment
3) zooming requires ctrl+scrollwheel (no sliders whatsoever) so it's not just annoying on a desktop but it also becomes a nightmare on laptops if you don't have a touchpad with a native zooming gesture (and there are many around).
4) it doesn't remember thumbnail size or sort order so only few folders/photos are shown on screen and in alphabetical order so every time you have to zoom and set the order to scroll the photos properly
In the end I had to reinstall Live Essentials but in addition to the awesomeness of having to install the whole framework 3.5 to get it running (that includes 3.0 and 2.0 as well, that with all the patches waste GBs of space) it cannot be associated to devices/drives' autoplay to import the photos.

francescob said,
If you think the music app is bad you still haven't tried the photo one yet.
1) it copies photos without any way to group them or without deleting them from the camera
2) it barely offers rotation/cropping without any other adjustment
3) zooming requires ctrl+scrollwheel (no sliders whatsoever) so it's not just annoying on a desktop but it also becomes a nightmare on laptops if you don't have a touchpad with a native zooming gesture (and there are many around).
4) it doesn't remember thumbnail size or sort order so only few folders/photos are shown on screen and in alphabetical order so every time you have to zoom and set the order to scroll the photos properly
In the end I had to reinstall Live Essentials but in addition to the awesomeness of having to install the whole framework 3.5 to get it running (that includes 3.0 and 2.0 as well, that with all the patches waste GBs of space) it cannot be associated to devices/drives' autoplay to import the photos.

Who voted to use the picture of the ferris wheel as the background of the photos app in the first place? I dont like it.

Keep trying to use the likes of metro versions in substitute for desktop versions.... They simply don't work as good.

For example, Zune is a mile ahead of the current metro "music" app. Ironically, Zune is the birthplace(?parent?) of metro, but im yet to see an interface AS intuitive as the Zune team created.

I liked metro, and im sure this could be a lot better

The Music app isn't in Zune's league and I doubt this update will bring it much closer, but anything to make it more usable will help. It's been a long while so they've had time to make some major changes.

auziez said,
Ironically, Zune is the birthplace(?parent?) of metro, but im yet to see an interface AS intuitive as the Zune team created.

While some may say bits of Encarta were the start, the real full on start would be Windows Media Center, which pre-dated Zune a couple of years.

Exactly. I can't think of any included app that has better functionality or usability than the desktop alternative, with the exception of the Microsoft games (Solitaire, Minesweeper, Mahjong, etc) - even then those games would have been better as traditional desktop apps.

When Microsoft released the first previews of the core apps I was shocked at the lack of included functionality and the situation isn't any better now. I am highly sceptical that any update will fix them, as Microsoft doesn't seem to have a clue what it wants them to do. I mean, just look at this screenshot of the find music screen for the Music app: http://img708.imageshack.us/img708/6836/musicb.png - it's nothing but wasted space. Why do Metro apps need to be full screen to display such a dearth of content?

You are on a 1600p screen.... but either way the music app is just really bad either way and still prefer to use iTunes.

Is that the same Dot Matrix? I guess when MS acknowledges issues, everyone else can. /s

Seriously, this is good and needed. If they can juice up the Music app I think they will be shocked at the positive impact it will have. Calendar and Mail need some hefty tweaks, but we're talking serious usability and functionality with the music app. I'm hopeful and excited. They need this!

MorganX said,
Is that the same Dot Matrix? I guess when MS acknowledges issues, everyone else can. /s

Seriously, this is good and needed. If they can juice up the Music app I think they will be shocked at the positive impact it will have. Calendar and Mail need some hefty tweaks, but we're talking serious usability and functionality with the music app. I'm hopeful and excited. They need this!


There is a difference between defending Metro and criticizing app design. He and others "pro Win8" folks have never said the apps are perfect.

Tyler R. said,
I thought Windows 8 was perfect. /s

I never said apps were perfect. There's functionality missing I would love to see included.

Dot Matrix said,

Windows Blue will be a free update. It's a Microsoft wide update.


you never know!! seems like ms is taking apple route. all they need is money and dont care about cutomer

ahoncbt said,

you never know!! seems like ms is taking apple route. all they need is money and dont care about cutomer

Microsoft is not charging for the update. Use your head.

Dot Matrix said,

Microsoft is not charging for the update. Use your head.


I said ms might charge for update. use your head!!! Might might might

ahoncbt said,

I said ms might charge for update. use your head!!! Might might might

There is no evidence to even suggest that thought.

Dot Matrix said,

And that article is months old, and based of no solid information.


windows xp was released 10 years ago!!! so??? month ago makes any article void???
rumor!!! rumor!!! dont ignore stuffs. i said rumor suggests!!!!!

ahoncbt said,

windows xp was released 10 years ago!!! so??? month ago makes any article void???
rumor!!! rumor!!! dont ignore stuffs. i said rumor suggests!!!!!

You're crazy.

ahoncbt said,

windows xp was released 10 years ago!!! so??? month ago makes any article void???
rumor!!! rumor!!! dont ignore stuffs. i said rumor suggests!!!!!

I wish we could do a wager on this. I bet my farm that Microsoft would not charge for this, and will simply be part of a Windows Update.

siah1214 said,

You're crazy.

I am crazy because the other guy ignored "rumor suggest"?? wonderful, look who is crazy now.

ahoncbt said,

I am crazy because the other guy ignored "rumor suggest"?? wonderful, look who is crazy now.

What is wrong with you? Calm the f*ck down.

Thinking critically is better than assuming rumors are true.

Tyler R. said,
I thought Windows 8 was perfect. /s

I like the way Windows 8 works, the OS itself, but the apps, man, they are horrible, even Microsoft's own apps are just...ugh...