Windows 8.1 may add more Start screen app customization options

Earlier this month, screenshots of an leaked early build of Windows 8.1 showed that Microsoft's next Windows OS update could add a small download progress bar on the Live Tile for Modern apps. Now there's evidence that Microsoft may add some more app tile customization features for the Start screen in Windows 8.1

The newest leaked early build of Windows 8.1, version 9374, which was posted to some Internet file sites this weekend, lets users see a "Customize" button when they right click on the Start screen. The button dims all of the Modern app tiles on the Start screen when pressed. WinBeta.org, which first reported on this new feature, points out that current Windows 8 users only see a small checkmark when they want to move an app's tile around.

The new build also allows for app tiles sizes to be adjusted in four different formats (large, standard, wide, or small) and makes the name group of app tiles easier to edit. Of course, since this is a leaked early development build, there's no guarantee that Microsoft will put these features in the final version of Windows 8.1. However, we think they would be welcomed by power Start menu users.

Source: WinBeta.org | Image via WinBeta.org

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Leaked code shows that Google Now may come to search

Next Story

Review: BlackBerry Z10

63 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

So....basically 'small' will just be my new default for every app, except for the 'desktop' icon which will now be absolutely huge in comparison

I'm not going to be completely happy with the start screen until they either
a) Allow it to be contained in a window or
b) Allow 1 monitor to be start-screen 'locked' with the others being the desktop. So I get live tile functionality while using other applications (As at the moment every time you open something it closes it again...just not worth trying to bother =P)

Make it WINDOWED on a desktop system. There is absolutely no need for anything - including the Start Screen - to insist on taking up fullscreen on a large display. Waste of real estate, to no purpose.

This product is sold as "Microsoft Windows 8". Not "Microsoft Fullscreen 1".

Edited by gb8080, Apr 22 2013, 7:43am :

Ultimately it reminds me of those people back in the 90s with Shortcut Icons splattered all over their Desktops. This is just an updated version of that, except in Fisher Price colours.

All they need to add is a way to dump metro for the desktop and let us choose to have a start button or not without having to use third party apps. Simple

YanksOnTop said,
All they need to add is a way to dump metro for the desktop and let us choose to have a start button or not without having to use third party apps. Simple

^ This!

JHBrown said,

^ This!

^would be dumb

Although they could do something like a show hot buttons instead of corners which shows all of the buttons : start, app switch and a clock for the charms hot button/corner that would unify the buttons that pop up in the corners.

Yep, this is indeed going back on some of their original design ideals a bit. Which makes me a little sad as the earlier approach was innovative and did feel more fluid, but this is probably the right thing (at least for this particular use case) as you usually don't actually want to customize your tile layout all that often (because every time you do, it takes a little while to get used to the new layout) and so it's more important to avoid accidentally moving a tile instead of tapping it (which is annoying when it happens). Though while that used to happen all the time to me, it really doesn't anymore which makes me think that the current system might work well eventually as people get better at it but oh well. I just hope you at least keep your context going in and out of customize mode (i.e. your scroll position stays the same).

Although the other bad thing about this change is that it makes it much less likely that people will actually learn the new touch gesture for drag and drop / rearrange (if they're even keeping that at all), which is something that's generally useful to have in the system. While a customize mode might be a good approach for Start there are other scenarios, e.g. drag and drop mail messages into folders, where it's definitely much better to be able to do it without a mode switch. I wonder if they'd have made this change had they actually implemented drag and drop support in the WinJS listview control (and hence in the Mail app) in time =\

Edited by contextfree, Apr 22 2013, 3:34am :

Which is why they should do an icon lock button instead of a mode.

Another suggestion is to bring back jumplists in the app bar when you right click the app tile.

TsarNikky said,
The tile fixation remains--just great for the tablet set.

Nothing in the Start Screen makes it harder to use for PC users...

M_Lyons10 said,

Nothing in the Start Screen makes it harder to use for PC users...
Renaming a tile requires you to open the Folder where the shortcut is stored in Explorer and renaming the shortcut manually. Pinning a batch file requires making a shortcut, manually copying it into the Start Menu folder, searching for it in the Start Screen and pinning it from within the search results.

Two things I've done is the last week that the Start Screen has made more difficult.

What is this "Name Group" I see? Is it something you can customise and enter yourself? Such as "Development" "Graphics" and then group all of those apps under that title yourself.

That would be a welcome improvement.

wrack said,
What is this "Name Group" I see? Is it something you can customise and enter yourself? Such as "Development" "Graphics" and then group all of those apps under that title yourself.

That would be a welcome improvement.

You can name groups now in Windows 8.

wrack said,
What is this "Name Group" I see? Is it something you can customise and enter yourself? Such as "Development" "Graphics" and then group all of those apps under that title yourself.

That would be a welcome improvement.

You can already name groups

wrack said,
What is this "Name Group" I see? Is it something you can customise and enter yourself? Such as "Development" "Graphics" and then group all of those apps under that title yourself.

That would be a welcome improvement.


Yes, and you can already do this...

On the Start screen, enter semantic view (zoom out, to see all the tiles really tiny), right click a group, and click "Name Group" in the app bar.

I've had Win8 since launch and have it on 3 total machines. I had no idea you could name groups this way. I think this is an issue, in that some functionality is basically hidden. This is why I can see them putting the "start button" back in Win8.1 that goes to the new Start screen.

Dot Matrix said,

You can name groups now in Windows 8.

It would be far preferable to be able to group apps into a FOLDER. Like iOS allows on iPhone.
Dumping all apps onto a flat Start Screen instead of grouping in folders is going to get messier and messier over time. (And dare I mention that the much-missed you-know-what menu allowed you to put stuff in folders, indeed helpfully did it for you).

Allowing groups on the Start Screen is only a partial, and inferior, solution to the
"lots-and-lots-of-apps" problem.

Edited by gb8080, Apr 22 2013, 10:40am :

gb8080 said,

It would be far preferable to be able to group apps into a FOLDER. Like iOS allows on iPhone.
Dumping all apps onto a flat Start Screen instead of grouping in folders is going to get messier and messier over time. (And dare I mention that the much-missed you-know-what menu allowed you to put stuff in folders, indeed helpfully did it for you).

Allowing groups on the Start Screen is only a partial, and inferior, solution to the
"lots-and-lots-of-apps" problem.


You can put links in a folder and then pin the folder to the start menu.

Question, is the ability to make non-adjacent selection of multiple tiles new feature of 8.1 or is it in Windows 8 now?

You can already multiselect tiles (adjacent or not) in 8, the only thing you can do with them is unpin them though. Here apparently you can drag, resize or turn on/off liveness all at once. (hope you can also multiple pin from Apps).

contextfree said,
You can already multiselect tiles (adjacent or not) in 8, the only thing you can do with them is unpin them though. Here apparently you can drag, resize or turn on/off liveness all at once. (hope you can also multiple pin from Apps).

Yes you can.

Nice! So with all these changes in functionality and features on the Start Screen, why do we need a Start Menu again? App developers should be loving this. Now your app can shine, and not just be some dull, static icon buried in a sea of folders.

These are the features that will begin to make people forget all about that archaic menu.

Edited by Dot Matrix, Apr 22 2013, 1:37am :

fail..


ar·cha·ic
/ärˈkāik/
Adjective

Very old or old-fashioned.
(of a word or a style of language) No longer in everyday use but sometimes used to impart an old-fashioned flavor.

Synonyms
obsolete - antiquated - old - ancient - out-of-date

Nobodies going to be forgetting about a modern useful system that is still in heavy use to this very minute.. your definition "old" seems like someone trying to stretch the definition of the meaning to further an agenda.. to push Windows 8 popularity at any and all costs. AKA: propaganda.
Not surprising though your legendary around here lol

And need ? why ?
Look up the word menu..

archaic LOL

spoetnik said,
your definition "old" seems like someone trying to stretch the definition of the meaning to further an agenda.. to push Windows 8 popularity at any and all costs. AKA: propaganda.
Not surprising though your legendary around here lol

And need ? why ?
Look up the word menu..

archaic LOL

Wat.

I said the menu was antiquated, and you post a very definition that backs up my claims, yet you seem to try and contradict my claim. I'm confused.

Start Menu is 19 years old. It was built for a older era in computing. The definition you quoted fits the menu perfectly. It's quite antiquated at this point, bud.

I'm a bit of a Grammar Nazi myself, but I don't think there's a problem with his use of the term "archaic" here. On a related now, are we supposed to only call something old-fashioned after the pioneers have brought change to the rest of the world? I would assume that it could only be beneficial if we tried looking into the future.

i do because the menu has evolved up until now so if the menu had remained unchanged since windows '95 then i would agree with DotMatrix. See my point yet guys ? or are we just gonna keep pushing and twisting the definition of words to suit our agenda ?

Whats so incredibly NON ancient about the Win7 start menu mate?
It looks smoother, it has more links directly around and an intergrated search/run box...
Nono these changes are so incredibly drastic, it lifted the start menu 20 years in to the future /s

So looks are the deciding factor on whether something is new or not ?
Square corners is cutting edge technology ? Hmm weird news to me
Do i need to outline the changes since Win 95 to Win 7 ?
You guys are hilarious lol

It's a lot better than the alternative - a tiny little 411 x 486 pixel box in the left-hand corner of your screen (a.k.a. the Start Menu).

spoetnik said,
I guess the size has nothing to do with the persons desktop resolution and dpi does it ?

Not in metro apps. Most of them don't even follow the ease of access settings.
Like Skype for example, with make everything bigger setting checked. The text is still tiny.

The Start Menu in Windows 7 remains the same size regardless of your resolution. Obviously you can increase the DPI upto 150%, but the Start Menu will only ever be a maximum of 616 x 710 px.

If you have a 24-30" LCD, why wouldn't you want to make full use of your screen real estate?

Yep, I want that too. That's my biggest problem with Windows Phone, which is even worse than W8 in this regard. I want more control of the colour schemes.

ZipZapRap said,
Yep, I want that too. That's my biggest problem with Windows Phone, which is even worse than W8 in this regard. I want more control of the colour schemes.

It's developer job. Not MS.

There are many apps in WP8 market which have such options/custom color tiles.
Don't blame MS.

The app developer has full control over tile customization (and if they want the user of their app to be able to customize the tile)

If you want to be able to change the look of a particular app's tile, complain to said app's developer

Even if developers implemented that consistently (and in order for that to happen you'd likely want Windows to provide APIs/interface conventions for it), you'd still have to go into each app, customize it within its interface, go back to Start to see how the tile looks, find the next tile you want to customize and go into that app, etc. I think most people who would want to do this would want to do it directly on the Start screen, and that's a feature Windows would need to provide.

nitins60 said,

It's developer job. Not MS.

There are many apps in WP8 market which have such options/custom color tiles.
Don't blame MS.


Office icon is red, One Note is purple, Skype light blue etc.
I would love the option to have all the tiles matching the theme color.

This is a bad idea for reasons which should be obvious. The main reasons being that people partially recognise icons on the Start screen from their consistent colours, and the app itself often has a colour scheme which matches the tile colour. Changing tile colours will screw things up, and even if Windows has an option to change tile colour, it wont change the apps colour scheme.

It's a stupid idea which most people wont be interested in as they have much better things to do with their time and don't have OCD.

I think these problems could be avoided. You can recognize icons just as well from a color you've selected, once you've gotten used to that color - in fact, perhaps better if you choose a color scheme that makes sense to you. Then Windows could consistently respect the color you've chosen in other surfaces (notifications, Share/Picker headers) and could provide APIs so apps that use their tile color as an accent color (which only some apps do) could also apply your chosen color there - very much like how your customized accent color will show up inside apps on Windows Phone, only done per-app.

It may seem silly, but I think it's things like this that will make the start screen feel more like it's "yours" (especially when it syncs across multiple PCs) so people stop complaining about wanting the start menu back instead

contextfree said,
Even if developers implemented that consistently (and in order for that to happen you'd likely want Windows to provide APIs/interface conventions for it), you'd still have to go into each app, customize it within its interface, go back to Start to see how the tile looks, find the next tile you want to customize and go into that app, etc. I think most people who would want to do this would want to do it directly on the Start screen, and that's a feature Windows would need to provide.

Because that will break the tiles?

I develop an app what has Black color tiles and lime color text.
Now you change the tile color to lime. How will that work out?

Fritzly said,

Office icon is red, One Note is purple, Skype light blue etc.
I would love the option to have all the tiles matching the theme color.

Color plays a vital role to quickly recognize the tiles.
All these app have their own (unique) color scheme that people are/will get used to.

So this is a bad idea.

So don't do that then?

I mean, I guess apps could be able to opt out (or have to opt in) if necessary, but really I think if someone changes the tile color to something that just doesn't work they'll be able to see that and change it back. It's not like they're changing some obscure technical setting where when something goes wrong they won't know what happened. (as long as there's a "set to default" option in the tile color picker - and, oh yeah, there should really also be an "undo" for Start customization in general).

Crimson Rain said,

Because that will break the tiles?

I develop an app what has Black color tiles and lime color text.
Now you change the tile color to lime. How will that work out?


Dont force your colors over people, pick an icon color and let the people decide what the rest of the tile will look like.

MS does it with their own apps, Games tile = green, onenote is orange, music tile also is green...
very annoying and only games and onenote are on my start screen, anything else forcing its buttugly tile colors on me, will not be pinned! Or rather not used at all.

so go on developers, pick ur b*tch ass colors, you will just have allot less users.

Crimson Rain said,

Because that will break the tiles?

I develop an app what has Black color tiles and lime color text.
Now you change the tile color to lime. How will that work out?


Apps like Amazing Weather give users the option to use to use the "Theme color" in WP8.

Fritzly said,

Apps like Amazing Weather give users the option to use to use the "Theme color" in WP8.

That's not an issue. It is the developer's responsibility to make sure custom colors work with his tile design.

The article says "when they right click the start menu" - it doesn't exist.


At any rate, more customization for the end user is always welcome!

Raa said,
The article says "when they right click the start menu" - it doesn't exist.

Sure it does. It's just a bit bigger now.

Raa said,
The article says "when they right click the start menu" - it doesn't exist.

Fixed, you can help us react quicker by reporting the error in the authors name drop down menu