Windows Blue includes Start screen sync and IE11 desktop swipe

The leaked early build of Windows Blue that found its way to the Internet on Sunday continues to be poked and prodded by the people who have downloaded and installed the OS. Today, a couple of new features have come to light that technically can't be accessed by casual users of the leaked build.

WinSuperSite shows that, thanks to a quick change of the Windows Blue registry, it can enable desktop users of Internet Explorer 11 who have touchscreens to swipe back and forth on the screen to go through the browser's history. This was put into the Windows 8 IE10 Modern version but the fact that Microsoft may put this in for Windows Blue for desktop users to enjoy could make using the desktop more accessible. If you happen to have the leaked build of Windows Blue, you can check out how to enable this feature on Within Windows.

Yet another new feature that has been found is the Start screen sync. WinSuperSite reports that while this feature is somewhat broken in this leaked build they were able to get this feature working by signing into two Windows 8 PCs with one Microsoft account. The final result should allow Windows 8 owners to replicate their Start screen on another PC.

Of course, both of these features are either broken or hidden so whether or not Microsoft decided to go forward with these options is still up in the air.

Source: WinSuperSite | Image via WinSuperSite

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27 Comments

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Yeah, because 99% of Windows users (the home consumers and business users) are staying away from Windows 8 in droves because it's missing such trivial non-features.

/s

If Microsoft does not address the huge glaring desktop user failings with the W8 RTM version with this update, they might as well just write off Windows 8 entirely.

This is their last shot to turn PC sales around in time for the 2013 Christmas/Holiday rush.

After that, we'll all be looking to Windows 9, which is NOT going to make every PC OEM in the world very happy at all.

What happens if I set up syncing on my Windows Blue and I also use Windows 8? Will they conflict or ignore each other? Hmmm.... not sure I want to sign in with my MS account on Blue yet.

I wish that I could tie multiple local accounts to one MS account. I have a public HTPC that I sign on as "lounge", but I don't want to have to set up a MS account for it especially or allow people to sign in as me.

I want
My MS account > Lounge account and password
My MS account > My desktop account and password

lunamonkey said,
Hmmm.... not sure I want to sign in with my MS account on Blue yet.

You really don't want to log in with your main account into a LEAKED build...

It's nice to see them working on the feature. It's a good thing I didn't ask about it being in Windows 8, since the answer would have basically been "no".

I love the swipe feature in IE10 in Metro, nice they also implementate it in the desktop. And sync can be quit useful with 3 PCs...

Dont know about syncing the start screen with other PCs. I dont have 2 systems that are the same. Would be great tho as a backup if you need to redo your system.

How would this work across different screen sizes with different resolutions? If the number of row(s) is changed, it could potentially start to look like a mess. I'd want the number of rows to also be sync'd.

No, because then you'd be stuck using the number of rows from your lowest resolution screen, on your highest resolution screen.

If you want to know what happens, plug in a secondary monitor with a different resolution. Open the start screen on one monitor, then the other. It adjusts appropriately already in Windows 8.

rfirth said,
No, because then you'd be stuck using the number of rows from your lowest resolution screen, on your highest resolution screen.

If you want to know what happens, plug in a secondary monitor with a different resolution. Open the start screen on one monitor, then the other. It adjusts appropriately already in Windows 8.

But they're right, in that the layout changes dependent upon your screen resolution. What Microsoft should have done is included an option to make the tiles scale to the size of the display for users that change between resolutions. I have two displays (one 2560x1600, one 1920x1080) and currently I work around the highest resolution and accept it will look terrible on my other display, as otherwise I have to leave a huge amount of empty space.

The current system is rather inelegant.

Yay! Both of these are definitely welcome changes that I hope see happens. Currently the Start Screen already kind of syncs, but a full sync as the article mentions is exactly what I wanted.

I hope the separate the syncing controls for IE as well (for example, I want to sync my favorites and settings but not my history. Currently you can only sync both or neither).

I never understood why the Start Screen didn't sync by default, as there's little point in customising your Start Screen if you have to redo it for every computer and/or when you reinstall Windows.

I assumed it was because you can have two computers with a completely different set of applications installed on them. I'm curious as to how they'll sync if you don't have the same apps installed on different PCs.

Well it does, somewhat. Websites pinned on the start screen are synced. It can't do desktop apps because you have to manage those manually... they might not be installed. Ideally it would do Windows Store apps, though. Perhaps not install them automatically, but put the icon and install on first run.

rfirth said,
It can't do desktop apps because you have to manage those manually... they might not be installed. Ideally it would do Windows Store apps, though.

I was under the impression during Windows 8's development that Metro apps would sync between computers, so that you'd have the same desktop experience on each computer. In fact it was quite a major omission to not have that functionality.

Obviously there are technical challenges / usability issues with maintaining the Start Screen across multiple computers with different install apps and configurations but there are ways to overcome them. Microsoft just chose the lazy option with Windows 8.

Win 8 already syncs this Start screen stuff: Colours, background, lock screen, account picture.

I'm guessing Blue will also now sync store apps, tile arrangement, and tile sizes. MS could not sync apps on Win 8 because they do not automatically download and install on there own, they will just download but you still have to install them manually. Now that updates download and install automatically on Blue, MS can now sync apps as well.

Edited by W32.Backdoor.KillAV.E, Mar 28 2013, 1:44am :

Just looked in to it and can confirm that Blue does sync Store apps, tile arrangement and tile size (tried it myself).

Blue also syncs this new stuff:

Picture Password
Photos and videos you take (automatically uploaded to SkyDrive. Can be turned off)
File History
Input Personalisation
Explorer Quick Links
App Secondary Tiles
Tethering
Device Associations (for instance if you setup and connect a bluetooth device to your PC, these settings will be synced so you wont have to do it again on another Blue PC you own, it will just work. Very nice feature!)


Currently Win 8 only syncs:

Desktop - background image, themes, taskbar settings, File Explorer, mouse
IE10 - bookmarks, history, settings
Ease of Access settings - high contrast, magnifier, narrator
Passwords - for (some) apps, sites, network and homegroup
Language preferences
And the Start screen stuff in my post above.

Edited by W32.Backdoor.KillAV.E, Mar 28 2013, 2:15am :

theyarecomingforyou said,
I never understood why the Start Screen didn't sync by default, as there's little point in customising your Start Screen if you have to redo it for every computer and/or when you reinstall Windows.

I'd prefer a placeholder tile where an app is missing and clicking the tile downloads the app from store.

As for desktop tile, it can just say you will have to install the app or link to the app page (if available) in store.

The point is the start screen HEAVILY depends on muscle memory and placements.
If you mess up all the placements because one app is missing, it becomes very hard to find anything except using search.

astalvfnw said,
I would prefer removing w8 start screen all together.

the complexity of the start menu would never have allowed for it to sync across devices. Please, open your eyes, wake up.

FalseAgent said,

the complexity of the start menu would never have allowed for it to sync across devices. Please, open your eyes, wake up.

You say that and yet that's exactly what Microsoft is doing here.

theyarecomingforyou said,

You say that and yet that's exactly what Microsoft is doing here.

No, the Start Menu was just for desktop software. You cant sync desktop software. It has to be manually installed and theres no way MS could ever get ALL desktop software out there on to the Windows Store.

The Start screen apps and personalisation settings will be synced on Blue, but not desktop software.

W32.Backdoor.KillAV.E said,
No, the Start Menu was just for desktop software. You cant sync desktop software. It has to be manually installed and theres no way MS could ever get ALL desktop software out there on to the Windows Store.

I wasn't suggesting that desktop software could be synced. I was simply stating that it's possible to sync the tiles (size, location, grouping) between computers, with placeholder tiles for instance. It was a real missed opportunity.