From The Forums: Readers post their Windows 8.1 Start screens

The release of the Windows 8.1 public preview last week allowed anyone with Windows 8 already installed a chance to check out the new options to the Start screen. The biggest change are the new sizes available for the Live Tiles and, as you might imagine, this offers a lot more in terms of customization of the overall Start screen experience.

Some Neowin community members have been busy posting up screenshots of their Windows 8.1 Start screens in our forums. In a thread called "Show Us Your Windows 8.1 Start Screen", the use of the larger and smaller tiles is evident from the beginning, as forum member Sszecret shows with the grouping of his tiles (nice Neowin large tile, by the way).

Another forum member, FarCry3r, clearly has a love of gaming on his Windows 8.1 Start screen, with a ton of small tiles that show off his games, along with a wallpaper that's looking forward to the Xbox One racing title Forza Motorsport 5.

Community member rfirth clearly had the weather on his mind when he took his Windows 8.1 Start screen image earlier this week, with three of his tiles showing radar images of severe storms. It makes for a rather dramatic view.

For his Start screen image, Neowin member siah1214 went all out and decided to take a screenshot of his entire menu screen, which you can check out in all of its super high-rez glory in the forums. He adds, "I like the big tile sizes, and I'm glad I'm not the only one that has a generic 'essentials' group."

Community member theyarecomingforyou is a big PC gamer, specifically games found on Valve's Steam service. His Windows 8.1 Start Screen shows off his collection of Steam games in a very nice layout.

Have you downloaded and installed the Windows 8.1 preview version, and if so have you been doing some experimenting with the new Start screen options? Then why not register to join our forums and post your Start screen image in our message boards.

View: Show Us Your Windows 8.1 Start Screen

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Its always interesting seeing the different ways people organize their content. I would never create a "sites" category, because to me, that's too broad...but there it is. I love that Windows 8 allows for such freedom. When properly used, the Start Screen can be a powerful tool. Here's mine running on a Surface RT.
http://sdrv.ms/19RNwhY

Community member rfirth clearly had the weather on his mind when he took his Windows 8.1 Start screen image earlier this week, with three of his tiles showing radar images of severe storms. It makes for a rather dramatic view.

Because those are apps I wrote... Hurricane Tracker, Weather Radar Pro, and another 3 on my start screen...

Edited by rfirth, Jul 5 2013, 12:52am :

Same mtero interface, different backgrounds....
Thats all im seeing, no real customisation apart from organising tiles. Sorry guys but I dont see this as front page news. Im also interested to see how many of you actually use the Metro desktop at all.

I use it daily at both work and at home... with zero loss in productivity... in fact I find I can do things much faster with how fast the metro apps launch (particularly OneNote, email, calendars, maps, weather, Twitter, searching contacts, etc.) instead of going to the websites.

Also, there's more than just wallpaper changes: different tile sizes, unlimited colour options, boot to desktop (for people like you), boot to app listing, and tons of other customizations that all you to customize it to work for you.

I still don't see the point. These are just links. I use Fences by Stardock to organize links right on my desktop. It's essentially the same thing but far more unobtrusive.

If I recall correctly, there's an option to show / hide Fences on double click? This is similar to Fences, only it sticks to a grid. If you set your desktop & start screen background to the same image, it'll seem as if it's a an overlay, which is what Fences essentially is.

Microsoft should include a 'Smart Organise' option for the 'lazy' users. This would enable the users to automatically group (categorise the live tiles using the Windows Store categories) & Smart Fit (Use the appropriate live tile sizes so that the full column is used - where possible) and adjust the tile size(s) accordingly when new tiles are added.

This would definitely make many users start screens much more organised and user friendly.

It is true that it take a little bit of maintenance for the Start Screen to continue to look good and organized. I don't mind that you have to place things but during install it would be nice if an option popped up (can turn on or off) to at least choose which group and what size tile you want.
Currently every app adds itself to the end of the Start Screen. While that makes it easy to find, I have to manually move it each time. At least if there was a way to get in the right general area, it would be a little easier.
I don't think a "Smart Organize" is the answer, but definitely a little assistance would help.

Sekyal said,
It is true that it take a little bit of maintenance for the Start Screen to continue to look good and organized. I don't mind that you have to place things but during install it would be nice if an option popped up (can turn on or off) to at least choose which group and what size tile you want.
Currently every app adds itself to the end of the Start Screen. While that makes it easy to find, I have to manually move it each time. At least if there was a way to get in the right general area, it would be a little easier.
I don't think a "Smart Organize" is the answer, but definitely a little assistance would help.
In 8.1 they no longer add themselves to your start screen. They go in all apps and you pin the ones you want front and center.

Casual users will just keep using icons off the desktop. That works intuitively and predictably for novice users (re: 99% of people). Customizing its layout is as simple as moving icons around and/or dropping them in the trashcan.

If MS had made these W8 Metro tiles work more as Large Live Icons or desktop widgets (on the desktop, overlayed over the desktop wallpaper, etc.) they would have avoided all of this mess, accomplished what they wanted with unifying WP8, and still allowed people to pick and choose whether they wanted a screen full of tiles or just a few or none.

For example, Windows Phone 8 or Tablet machines would have come preconfigured with the desktop large icon/tile layout of the current Windows 8/8.1 and auto-arrange to grid turned on and MS would have been happy.

In short, large live desktop icons would have been a win-win for experts and novice users alike and wouldn't have cost the entire PC industry billions in lost revenue to date.

I forgot about 8.1 not adding them automatically. I don't think I'm going to like that, at least before they were right on the Start Screen, even if not where I wanted them to be.

68k said,
Pretty Start menus - big deal. Desktop is where the work gets done.

Whatever. Maybe next time i'll post my start screen from work. Infinitely more useful than the start screen or putting icons on my desktop.

Dutchman01 said,
Screenshots looks really ugly to my taste

Because we organized them to our taste, not yours...

I mean. Yes, I don't like most of those. But I like mine.

Muessig said,
How can you link your steam games to the start screen?
There's an app for that... I don't know its name, but search on steam games in the Windows Store and you will find.

These images demonstrate one of my pet peeves with the Start Screen--the inability to line-up tiles the way you want. Why does Microsoft force us to fill up a column before we add more tiles to the right? I find that very annoying.

Its funny, people have their start screen so organized. Meaning for example, first screenshot: Frequent, Office, Metro, Sites....

I have been using Windows 8 since launch and I dont think I ever clicked on a start screen icon. Mine is a total disaster.

What I do, WINDOW KEY + type name of the app hence why Windows 8 didnt bother me that much.

Will try, but in all honesty. I dont mind the search. Been using it since back in the day. I strongly believe the biggest lack of productivity is a mouse.

While most of these are organized in a way to launch apps, if you prefer just typing that's great as well! In your case, you should try pinning only important live tiles for a quick glance of useful information to you of using it as a launcher.