Windows Threshold: Say hello to the notification center

More details on Microsoft’s next major version of Windows, codenamed Threshold, have come our way today. With an expected release date of September 30th for the technical preview, Microsoft is quickly putting together some final pieces before they release the OS for testing by those outside the walls of Microsoft.

One feature that many suspected would be coming to the OS, seeing that it is now on Windows Phone, is a notification center. In fact, that feature is indeed coming to Windows Threshold and we have some details to share with you.

In the later builds of Threshold, a new notification center is now present that works exactly like you would expect; a central area of the OS that highlights notifications.

The current functionality has the notification center launching from the system tray and much like Windows Phone, notifications are sorted by the app that triggers the event. There is also a button that allows you to quickly clear all of your notifications or you can remove them one by one.

The notification center, unlike Windows Phone, does not take over the entire screen but lives in a small window in the bottom right corner of the desktop. The size of the window right now is fixed and if you have a long list of notifications, you can scroll up and down; the current background of the window is white and has a very clean look to it.

The current iteration is quite basic and doesn’t offer any advanced functionality like Windows Phone where there are shortcuts to feature settings. More features will likely be added as the feature matures but right now, it is quite basic.

That about sums it up for the notification feature for Threshold but when you bundle this one in with all of the other updates that will be included, this is a very significant update for Windows and one that consumers will likely adore.

Top Image Credit: WindowsBlogIta

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Shouldn't the notification centre be part of metro/modern and not be on the desktop?

I Just read some more comments below and people believe it should be in both places, really? Duplication, It's so confusing and cumbersome.

Microsoft have themselves headed down a very 'interesting' path and to me the outcome is not at all clear.

derekaw said,
Shouldn't the notification centre be part of metro/modern and not be on the desktop?

I Just read some more comments below and people believe it should be in both places, really? Duplication, It's so confusing and cumbersome.

Microsoft have themselves headed down a very 'interesting' path and to me the outcome is not at all clear.

They should do both but not at the same time of course. Just like when you're operating in desktop mode there is no charmbar but instead the charms are relocated to the window of the apps.

Basically there should be one OS with one set of features that adapts to the platform. So when you have a touch device it should all work from within the modern UI. But when you have a PC without touch then all features should be placed logically within the desktop. And for hybrids there should be an easy way to switch between modes (such as holding the Windows key for longer than 2 seconds).

It's the only way this is going to work. You cant create one UI that is perfect for two entirely different input methods. They tried that with Windows 7 (not great for touch) and Windows 8 (not great for non-touch). The solution is a hybrid UI that adepts to the device. And at a later point they can add Windows Phone to the vault.

All thats true but you still have access to the Metro/Modern interface with a desktop, what if as a user you want your notifications there in Metroland? How will that work? I mean you get two versions of IE, why won't you get two versions of the Notification Centre? Will MS prescribe where you get your notifications?

derekaw said,
All thats true but you still have access to the Metro/Modern interface with a desktop, what if as a user you want your notifications there in Metroland? How will that work? I mean you get two versions of IE, why won't you get two versions of the Notification Centre? Will MS prescribe where you get your notifications?

This is just my idea of it of course but I imagine it would depend on which mode you are in. Who is to say you still have access to the modern interface when in desktop mode? Perhaps in Windows 9 both are different 'modes'. So when you are in desktop mode you don't have (or need) the modern UI. You already have your live tiles in the start menu, the charms in the app window and the taskbar as an appswitcher.

When you are in touch mode you have your start screen, charms on the right and appswitcher on the left. The only notification centre you have is the modern. versions (perhaps as a sixth charm). When you receive a notification from a desktop app Windows asks if you wish to switch to desktop mode. When you accept the desktop UI appears, there is no more startscreen and Windows launches whatever application sent the notification.

However when you receive a notification from a modern app when in desktop mode the PC doesnt ask you if you want to switch to the modern UI. Because modern apps can run in the desktop as windowed apps. You can switch manually to the modern UI should you desire.

Then there is also the posibility that you can still access the desktop when in modern mode (just like you can now). But that the charms are still on the right and there is the modern notification centre. But to me this would only lead to further confusion. Its better to clearly seperate the two. Especially since the ARM-version of Windows will not have the desktop at all. So it makes sense for MS to decide that the desktop is no longer part of the touch-experience of Windows. And that when you want to use it, you have to switch to desktop mode.

Again, this is all just my ideas on how it could work.

derekaw said,
My head hurts, sounds confusing and messy.

How so? If anything its the opposite because there is a clear split. Right now Windows is messy as its two UI's on top of each other. Some stuff you do in the desktop, other stuff you can only do in the modern UI.

What I am proposing is a clear split. Two interfaces that can do it all. One build for touch and another build for mouse+keyboard. How is that confusing and messy?

2 interfaces is confusing and messy, different user experiences in each. Let's say I am a desktop user working full screen in Metro where will my notification centre be? Metro or Desktop? I read tech blogs and I try to understand this stuff, what about 'normal' people? It's a mess for the average user.

derekaw said,
2 interfaces is confusing and messy, different user experiences in each. Let's say I am a desktop user working full screen in Metro where will my notification centre be? Metro or Desktop? I read tech blogs and I try to understand this stuff, what about 'normal' people? It's a mess for the average user.

2 interfaces is what Windows has now... Indeed it is confusing and messy. If the notification centre replaces the system tray then indeed, what about those in metro ui? It would be a mess for the average user.

Which is exactly why I'm suggesting two different modes: you will then NOT be dealing with two interfaces. Your notification centre will be in whatever mode you are using. So again I ask, how is that confusing and messy?

I wonder what KIND of notifications will this center collect. Modern UI app notifications that's for sure; I wonder if there "baloon tooltips" displayed by tray icons will also get there; or will there be a new API for desktop applications to leverage this new Notification Center...

I'd say they're going to open up the Metro APIs so desktop applications can integrate too. If so, that would improve its usability quite a bit.

TMYW said,
Uh, Windows already has a notification center.

And it's kept seperate from modern apps notifications. Not to mention it's not very integrated within the OS itself. Most desktop applications have their own solution to notify users. This is the perfect time to create a new notification centre that ties in the old and the new.

As long as its accessible from both the desktop UI and the modern UI then its not a problem. Those on a non-touch desktop will only be using a couple of modern apps and they will act similar to all their desktop apps. Those on a touch device can easily check notifications, even for their non-touch apps.

Please offer this functionality! http://web.archive.org/web/20031221215430/http://msdn.microsoft.com/Longhorn/understanding/ux/default.aspx?pull=/library/en-us/dnaero/html/wux_topic_alerts.asp

I hope they update the windows phone metro app to let notifications from the phone to show up on the desktop when the phone is connected to the computer and send text messages.

I have a feeling that is what they either will do or are working towards. It would be good if they can detect what device you're using and redirect the notification to that device.

What do you mean always in desktop? Notification center needs to be available in full tablet mode, when you use full screen touch apps, touch based settings and don't want to be concerned with managing multiple windows like you can in desktop mode.

JohnCz said,
Where will it be located when not in desktop mode?

I think it's likely to merge with the charms bar and be a swipe in from the right as the charms bar is disappearing in Threshold.

Seeing as on tablets like Surface the idea is to have everything as a swipe from the sides it would make sense.

I was referring to the Desktop/Laptop side without touchscreen. Since those devices will likely run all apps in windowed mode, we will always be in desktop like Windows 7. For eg Taskbar.

Yeah, how they will manage notification center for touched based device like SP3(Hybrid devices) is a problem. Wish they will sort out this nicely otherwise there will be too much confusion when you move between different devices.

It's launched from the system try for now. That's ok for desktop UI-oriented users but what about on the Modern side, where you don't necessarily have the taskbar active?

I would guess there'll eventually be either a live tile or some new control up by the user name on the start screen to bring it up.

Studio384 said,
I would say, just where the charms bar is right now, if it has to go anyway, why not trigger it by swiping in from right.
but it's not going away as has been stated many times already. it's going away on the desktop yes, but on the modern side (at least when there's a touch screen afaik) the charms bar will still very much be there it's been said

Brando212 said,
but it's not going away as has been stated many times already. it's going away on the desktop yes, but on the modern side (at least when there's a touch screen afaik) the charms bar will still very much be there it's been said

The charms bar staying won't necessarily mean it stays in the same place. We still haven't seen exactly what they intend to do about the charms bar, where it will be placed, what role it will have etc.

But why wouldn't they just have the notification center on the top of the screen? Why do that different from WP?

Lamp Post said,

But why wouldn't they just have the notification center on the top of the screen? Why do that different from WP?

Because swiping down from the top is equivalent to a right-click. It opens a context menu.

rfirth said,

Because swiping down from the top is equivalent to a right-click. It opens a context menu.

adding to his point, that could be changing as well. there's really no way of telling until we get our hands on it

My feeling is that the Charms Bar will be merged into the Notification Centre. So in the Modern UI it will be accessed with a swipe from the right.

Brando212 said,
but it's not going away as has been stated many times already. it's going away on the desktop yes, but on the modern side (at least when there's a touch screen afaik) the charms bar will still very much be there it's been said

Desktop UI or desktop system? Unless desktop programs start utilizing charms, I wouldn't object too much to losing them in the desktop side of the OS, but I don't want them removed simply because I'm running a stationary "desktop" machine. It's not about touch for me, it's about a unified location for controls and settings.

I just hope it will be visible and accessible from everywhere, whether modern or desktop without having to navigate too much. And all the versions(desktop devices/ touch oriented) should have consistency

Yeah what's the problem with the system tray? I don't mind it at all - I find it quite useful. I would hate for it to get removed. I don't understand people wanting to change or remove features that have proven themselves to be working well and have been nearly perfected over the years just for the hell of it...

Max Norris said,
Yes please, let's break compatibility/features with a ton of programs that use it just for the hell of it.

I don't see how it'd break if it can contain trey icons inside itself, that's one way to do it. Any apps that use the old tooltip/balloon tip popup feature could just have that be part of the notification center as well, maybe if MS does it right those things can get passed to the notification center automatically by the OS without apps needing to be changed.

George P said,
Any apps that use the old tooltip/balloon tip popup feature could just have that be part of the notification center as well, maybe if MS does it right those things can get passed to the notification center automatically by the OS without apps needing to be changed.

Sure, for the old popup balloons, that I don't mind seeing replaced, but there's more to the tray than just looking pretty. A good number of programs are controlled via the tray as well, either by click actions, context menus, etc. Plus there's different ways of displaying notifications via the tray, lots are third party. There's just no good reason to do away with the notification tray, what benefit is there? If you're in the modern environment, add it to the start screen or what have you sure, that's a given.. but if you're on the desktop, that's the obvious place for it to be, and not even specific to Windows. Be just one more senseless change that does nothing but confuse people even further.

Max Norris said,

Sure, for the old popup balloons, that I don't mind seeing replaced, but there's more to the tray than just looking pretty. A good number of programs are controlled via the tray as well, either by click actions, context menus, etc. Plus there's different ways of displaying notifications via the tray, lots are third party. There's just no good reason to do away with the notification tray, what benefit is there? If you're in the modern environment, add it to the start screen or what have you sure, that's a given.. but if you're on the desktop, that's the obvious place for it to be, and not even specific to Windows. Be just one more senseless change that does nothing but confuse people even further.

It's true that you cannot remove the old functionality. But I don't see why it cannot be improved, allowing those legacy apps to continue working and at the same time opening up new APIs with more streamlined notification/control functionality.

Max Norris said,

Sure, for the old popup balloons, that I don't mind seeing replaced, but there's more to the tray than just looking pretty. A good number of programs are controlled via the tray as well, either by click actions, context menus, etc. Plus there's different ways of displaying notifications via the tray, lots are third party. There's just no good reason to do away with the notification tray, what benefit is there? If you're in the modern environment, add it to the start screen or what have you sure, that's a given.. but if you're on the desktop, that's the obvious place for it to be, and not even specific to Windows. Be just one more senseless change that does nothing but confuse people even further.

The way I'm thinking of it, it wouldn't go away, it'd be combined into one thing, why have them be two different things? Like having the notification center just be another icon in the trey for example? Why not have the whole tray be the new notification center which can hold/contain those icons inside it and so on. Then with a click of an arrow or a mouse hover or however they do it, you get the popup window talked about in the article with the list of notifications and any shortcuts to options etc.

[quote=Obry said,]Yeah what's the problem with the system tray?quote]

It's broken, inconsistent, and easily abused by developers.

Dot Matrix said,
easily abused by developers.

That can be said about any functionality in any software in existence…

This should have been in Vista (was in Longhorn concept videos).

Edited by 68k, Sep 5 2014, 1:44pm :

neo158 said,
Not really, that was the sidebar not a notification centre.

In Longhorn you were able to combine Sidebar and Taskbar; the original project, Sideshow, even had Live, Interactive tiles.

<BUG: EDITING COMMENTS SOMETIMES RESULTS IN A DOUBLE POST - CLEARING CACHE FIXES PROBLEM>

Edited by 68k, Sep 5 2014, 1:45pm :

The first thing I did on my mac was disable the notification center. On a phone it is useful, on a desktop it is annoying.

Pulagatha said,
It does on mine.

Agreed, I do have programs and servers sending notifications that I don't want to miss, this'll be stupidly useful without having to resort to a third party program to do it. Long overdue, and nobody's forcing you to use it.

I've got a bit of a head-cold - could someone kindly overanalyse this snippet of info and construct a strawman-rant about how this is already inferior and MS are not listening and how this will obviously fail and miss the expected functionality in all/some/no situations...?

Tx * 1M

Crappy desktop tools. I thought MS was done with them since they removed the last bits of the sidebar from Windows 7. Hopefully, MS will not make the Longhorn-mistake again.

http://winsupersite.com/site-files/winsupersite.com/files/archive/winsupersite.com/content/content/127733/showcase/4074_01_01.jpg
(or first Image: http://is.gd/TEDbK8)

@Neowin: Ask those who have the current builds whether this thing from 2004 looks familiar.

Outstanding post! You've slammed an evidently interesting feature of a pre-beta OS (2004?) for being desktop-integrated (as apposed to what?).

Genuine kudos tho for back-dating that damned Recycle Bin icon (strange left/right switch) even further than I thought. And of course for pointing out MS are teasing us with more back-to-the-future "Threshold" features!

"Windows 10... may include Aurora Desktop animations...." (Neowin Front page, May 2016).

Actually the concept is not from 2004, it goes back all the way to 2001
http://research.microsoft.com/apps/pubs/default.aspx?id=69878
and was called Sideshow.
What MS offered with Vista was, unfortunately, a diluted and poorly implemented version of such concept, a piece of software that did not fully exploited its potential.
It seems that now MS is working on a by far better implementation as shown here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUfMszCJSwI
specifically around 4:55
Replacing the Charm Bar with a fully developed SideBar as the one portrayed in the video would be awesome.

Oh, I thought that Sideshow was a feature that was developed for Vista. I didn't knew that MS had this for so long. Guess it was just before the time I was interested in the technology and before I could write or even read a single English word.

About that Sidebar from MS Research... I don't like it. They try to press features in a thing that are not compatible by design. How does a Sidebar with live information help me when I can't see it all the time? Either a TaskBar that is displayed all the time with current data, or the Startscreen with updated tiles. Everything else is just useless.

I would have hoped that the notification center would be accessible like on Windows Phone. Why not integrating it as an "always on" app sitting at the top left above all other running apps? Or why not integrating it in the Charms Bar? There are so many places they could have integrated it, but they have to place it on the desktop. So when I'm on a tablet, I open the desktop tile and see a little white window floating somewhere. Oh wait... no. Same UI was yesterday. I have to search everything somewhere else when I'm on my Phone, my Xbox or my Tablet.

Thank you Nadella for destroying the one and only thing that could have made a difference.

The Sidebar, as well as Taskbar right now, can be set to be always on or appears when you hover on it. I guess MS would allow the same options.

The Taskbar is buggy right now. Sometimes it stays on top of modern Apps. That's annoying when I want to stream a movie for example. Then I have to drag the App to my other screen and back again to move the Taskbar behind it. And when I try to show it, it will only appear when I'm on the desktop.

Doesn't this exist already in the taskbar? I've got mail, Outlook shows an icon.

Or will this be for non OS applications?

Dane said,
Doesn't this exist already in the taskbar? I've got mail, Outlook shows an icon.

Or will this be for non OS applications?

It should be for anything, modern apps don't have tray icons for one thing so those need the notification center, also, at least for me, I have most if not all of the tray icons hidden. That means I have to click the little arrow to show the rest of them and to see if anything has changed.

The key difference here though is that while Outlook shows you a little mail icon so you know you have new mail, it doesn't tell you what that is exactly, you still have to open up Outlook to see if it's important or not. Now with the notification center, you can get details, like you do on the phone, and either open up the app or just clear the notification and move on.

FaiKee said,
LOL, I had thought Brad intended to use that furniture logo as image. :)

Nothing more to say than a snide remark?

Must be driving you nuts that Brad can actually see builds when you have to guess (by guessing I mean taking info others have posted and putting your own spin on it) or go by a special "can't be fake because it's on Facebook" screenshot. With your special "corpnet access" you get a surprisingly large amount of info wrong.

Max Norris said,

... where else would you put it?

I think it could replace the system tray fully in time. Depends on how they do it and what extra options/features it can have besides just showing you a list of notifications.

seems they are overcorrecting if it is a tray widget. totally useless for tablet users which are likely the ones to have apps that actually do want notification centers as it is the expected behavior for a mobile device you're not looking at all the time. At the very least they should have a proper full screen mode for tablets or nobody will use it.

The arm based version of threshold is yet to be revealed, other than knowing it will have NO desktop we have little facts.

My guess would be that desktop users get the tray widget and tablet users get a modern ui for it.

duddit2 said,
The arm based version of threshold is yet to be revealed, other than knowing it will have NO desktop we have little facts.

My guess would be that desktop users get the tray widget and tablet users get a modern ui for it.

That's what I'm thinking as well. 'Full' Windows 9 will have both a modern UI and a desktop UI that are kept seperate from each other. The desktop UI will include all elements that also exist within the modern UI such as tiles in the start menu and a notification centre where the system tray used to be.

On ARM-windows only the modern UI is available. But on full windows you can switch between the two (with the desktop being default for non-touch devices). This will make everyone happy. Those on non-touch will have their Windows back. Those on hybrids can choose to stay in the modern UI even if they have keyboard and mouse connected. And those on touch only devices will have an UI that is made for touch only.

There is always a third option - that the desktop GUI has been re-written using WinRT and Win32 API is sitting there only for backwards compatibility.

I know it's just the start but I still expect the notification center or whatever they're going to officially call it, to fully replace the system tray when the time comes. Also this sounds fine for desktop but I wonder where it'll be and how it'll come up in the modern UI with touch.

I wonder if tablets will have it integrated with the Charms Bar instead, it would make sense as they are removing the Charms Bar in Threshold.

George P said,
I know it's just the start but I still expect the notification center or whatever they're going to officially call it, to fully replace the system tray when the time comes. Also this sounds fine for desktop but I wonder where it'll be and how it'll come up in the modern UI with touch.

Hopefully MS has come to accept that the modern UI 'in full' cannot replace the desktop for both consumers and business users on non-touch devices. Meaning Windows 9 will be a dual-UI operating system. All features should then be accessible from both the desktop UI as well as the modern UI.

For desktop users the go-to locations for notifications is the lower right corner. For touch users the easy access place is a swipe from the right (aka charms). There is still room for more charms, even on low rez screens.

about time!!!

the sooner MS catch up with apple and google in integrating their ecosystem across devices, the sooner I can switch back

well, google only has android so what integration with what are you talking about? and apple has some OSX integration but OSX is a handicap more than the integration so....

There aren't significant data-integration gaps between Windows & WP I can think of? Of course I'd like the same app availability from Phone thru to Desktop, which no-one has and MS seem as poised to resolve that as anyone. Entirely happy mixing your life into both Apple and Google ecosys' then..?

neonspark said,
well, google only has android so what integration with what are you talking about? and apple has some OSX integration but OSX is a handicap more than the integration so....

Google arguably has the best integration across its ecosystem than anyone. Take something simple like messaging for example. You can send a message on your phone, continue with it on your tablet, then move to any desktop machine (mac or windows) to pick up right where you left off. Nearly every google service works that way. Maps with google now and chrome is just silly good. Check out a hotel on your pc, and without having to do anything else, your phone has already planned a route for you lol

Apple has its imessage platform but it's obviously locked down to apple devices, so no imessage access on windows, or via icloud.com (at least not in the UK at least)

The only thing I can think of which MS has is Skype (albeit a bolt on), which works fantastic in the enterprise with lync cross platform access.....but not sure for consumers. It's good, but i feel it's not quite there yet.

I'm very fortunate to work in IT where I have vast experience across all three ecosystems. Hopefully Windows 9 will be as good as I'm hoping for.....as after spending the last six months tied to Mavericks, Windows is much quicker to whizz around getting stuff done.

Huh, I was thinking more like OS X's notification center. They swipe in from the side, but a touch interface would be quite a lot easier, not to mention being able to have nifty little tools as one does with their phone for instance, in between quick access to settings, control panel, etc.

Edit: Would be awesome to be able to search from this too! I think it would be a great answer to a lot of the issues I have missing the start menu, as it'd still be simple and easy. I know this isn't what they're doing, but the elaboration on something like this is pretty fun...

Exactly. same thought here. Apple has done a great job with gestures and side swiping. On Windows I can see it being more difficult, and as with a mac using these gestures like side swiping full screen apps or the notification swipe using a regular mouse is difficult. The difference is also the hardware, Apple has built hardware like the magic mouse to work well with these

wv@gt said,
Exactly. same thought here. Apple has done a great job with gestures and side swiping. On Windows I can see it being more difficult, and as with a mac using these gestures like side swiping full screen apps or the notification swipe using a regular mouse is difficult. The difference is also the hardware, Apple has built hardware like the magic mouse to work well with these

I think MS also made a touch mouse for gestures.