Hands-on with Windows Blue

Windows Blue leaked on the internet just yesterday. Since then, we've seen that new audio and productivity apps have been added, as well as new multitasking features and smaller tiles. In the video below, I go over some of the main new features in Windows Blue.

Personalisation

From the introduction of Windows 8, the 'Metro' interface has really been the central feature of the OS. Users have however complained that it doesn't offer the same customisation options as the equivalent on Windows Phone. In Windows Blue, this issue is fixed with the addition of new colour panels that allow you to pick different patterns, colours and accents for your Metro interface. 'Tiles' on the Start screen can also decreased in size, allowing you to create small grids of shortcuts for apps that don't take advantage of a live tile.

Multitasking

Previously in Windows 8, apps could be 'snapped' to either side of the display to run in tandem with another 3/4-sized app. Now in Windows Blue, two apps can occupy an equal amount of screen space. If you're using two screens, this of course is upped to four. Rearranging open applications and dragging them to the 'snappable' area feels much faster as well. A full write up of the new Metro apps available in Windows Blue is also available.

Internet Explorer 11

The newest iteration of the world's most popular web browser is, as rumoured, coming with Windows Blue. The update brings about "synced tabs" - an area where you can view tabs you have open on all your Windows 8 devices. The browser feels faster and more polished than on the RTM version, and this is mirrored throughout both the Metro and desktop versions of the browser. We have also seen that IE 11 appears as Mozilla's Firefox browser to avoid being blocked for its legacy CSS by certain sites.

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Aero - gone
Backup and restore - bye bye
Metro disable reg key - adios
DVD playback - sayonara
Shadow Copy - auf wiedersehen
WMC - arrivederci
START MENU - you get the idea

Windows 8 is a FAIL

Is this a tech site or stupid town? Seriously, I'm beginning to wonder with all the strange questions/comments and wrong info being spread as fact as of late (in all of these Blue threads).

The startscreen background not working is due to the OS not being activated. I activated win8 blue using a 8400 build key, and than this option does work, same goes for lock screen picture.

sjaak327 said,
The startscreen background not working is due to the OS not being activated. I activated win8 blue using a 8400 build key, and than this option does work, same goes for lock screen picture.

Interesting, thank you.
I am curious to see if mail and the other apps will be updated tomorrow on Blue as well...

On Windows 8 you can't send mail attachments through windows explorer Send to or from any other application (like Office) because the Mail app doesn't support MAPI, did they at least bother to fix that? Or the photo import leaving all the photos on the camera? Can somebody check?

francescob said,
On Windows 8 you can't send mail attachments through windows explorer Send to or from any other application (like Office) because the Mail app doesn't support MAPI, did they at least bother to fix that? Or the photo import leaving all the photos on the camera? Can somebody check?

The metro apps in blue seem to be the exact same ones as on Windows 8. Tomorrow the mail app will be updated, however no mapi, for that you need outlook.

The IE11 user agent string has nothing to do with CSS compatibility. Can we put an end to that now? If you really need to feed specific CSS to older browsers, Microsoft already had the solution with IE conditional comments, I doubt they're adjusting the UA string for those few poor developers who are still checking that.

threetonesun said,
The IE11 user agent string has nothing to do with CSS compatibility. Can we put an end to that now? If you really need to feed specific CSS to older browsers, Microsoft already had the solution with IE conditional comments, I doubt they're adjusting the UA string for those few poor developers who are still checking that.

there are (poorly coded imo) websites that use the user agent strings to send different HTML/CSS to different browsers.

loving the changes.. I personally really like the direction of windows and will only get better with time.. These changes needed to happen if people want fully synced computers..

You did not show how if you flick down on the start screen you get all all apps .. much like flicking to the right on windows phone.. which is also a welcome change..

Nice review.
Everything is so damn big and screen filling. The beauty of Windows is totally destroyed by metro in my opinion. Not for desktop use.

"Not as fast as Chrome"...Riiiiiiight.

Also, the accent color changes buttons, the app bar on the start screen, and the animated start logo on the charms bar. It is working in the current build of blue.

You can have 3 metro apps running on one desktop if your resolution is 1920 so if you have two monitors then you could have a total of 6 apps running at the sametime

Astra.Xtreme said,
The article should probably note that the leak is only a build version, and not the final.

Does that really need to be said when noted it's a leaked copy? (Honest question.)

Anthony Tosie said,

Does that really need to be said when noted it's a leaked copy? (Honest question.)

Sure. "Leaked" doesn't imply if it's a alpha, beta, RTM, etc. But when the build number isn't listed, which is the case here, it implies that it's the final RTM version. If I didn't see the news posts this weekend about the build leaks, I would assume this article is talking about the final version.

Anthony Tosie said,

Does that really need to be said when noted it's a leaked copy? (Honest question.)

seems someone doesn't know the meaning of leaked. final copies of software leak every single day. leaking doesn't tell you what version of the software is leaked. in fact,there was a music album that leaked a few days ago. it wasn't full of unfinished tracks.

Astra.Xtreme said,
The article should probably note that the leak is only a build version, and not the final.

Given the amount of news of the front page re: this being a non-final type of build, I think people would get it. But maybe I'm assuming too much.

Astra.Xtreme said,

Sure. "Leaked" doesn't imply if it's a alpha, beta, RTM, etc. But when the build number isn't listed, which is the case here, it implies that it's the final RTM version. If I didn't see the news posts this weekend about the build leaks, I would assume this article is talking about the final version.


That's not an implication, that's an inference.

@vcfan: I know the meaning of leaked. There are plenty of "leaked" albums that include unfinished tracks that aren't the final mixes. The very first sentence of the article includes links to information documenting the leak itself. I would disagree it needs to be spelled out in every post when that information is prominently linked.

Funny how Neowin is afraid to run a story about Microsoft killing all start menu replacements with Blue because MSFN has confirmed the code in explorer that they hooked into has been REMOVED.

That's the next big PR nightmare about to explode, MS however would prefer it not talked about.

MVD said,
Funny how Neowin is afraid to run a story about Microsoft killing all start menu replacements with Blue because MSFN has confirmed the code in explorer that they hooked into has been REMOVED.

That's the next big PR nightmare about to explode, MS however would prefer it not talked about.

I could have sworn those bits were removed before RTM.

MrHumpty said,
I could have sworn those bits were removed before RTM.

I'm guessing it's more to do with the start menu being hooked via its hwnd to create a new button of the host application. Since Microsoft writes the Win API, they can simply remove (or rather block) access to the taskbar in such a way that'll stop the functions from working.

Prior to Windows 8's release, Microsoft did remove code, but it removed the code for the start menu itself. The result was people had to create their own start menu replacements as well as creating a button to that called the 'startmenu' to be shown.

but I'm probably talking crap so take it as you please.

Mortis said,
One thing is for sure: those who didn't like Windows 8 will not like Windows Blue either.

Not true, I didn't particularly like Windows 8 because... well, it was January and my default apps still weren't functioning properly. Also, I thought the functionality could be improved, which was why I waited. Still have Windows 8 as it stands, I just don't particularly enjoy the experience (yet).

If Microsoft was to go after anyone it would be the leakers, not the downloaders as it isn't even a released product yet.

Did I hear you right, did I hear you sayin'
That you're gonna make a copy of Blue without payin'?
Come on, guys, I thought you knew better don't copy that floppy!

Officially, no. But as said MSFT gets free publicity and tbh I more or less expect this was not an accidental leak but more a deliberate plant by MSFT