Windows Threshold: The modern UI takes a backseat for desktop users

Microsoft is hard at work on the next major update to Windows and we don’t mean Update 2. Threshold, as it is currently known, is a wave of updates coming to Windows and other platforms; much like how Blue brought new features across many of Microsoft’s key platforms.

While it is still a little unclear if the Threshold update for PCs will be called Windows 9 or something else, what is starting to become known is how that OS will deviate from Microsoft’s past. For mouse and keyboard users, Threshold will be the update many have been waiting for as Microsoft continues to move away form the Sinofsky vision of hybrid OS.

Threshold will be a further move away from the Modern UI environment for desktop users. In some builds of Threshold, the Modern UI is disabled by default. You have to manually turn it back on but this is situation dependent, if you wish to access the live tile environment. 

If you are on a tablet, the Modern UI is still present and takes precedence over the classic desktop but on traditional PCs, the Modern UI is no longer utilized by default. This is where some of the confusion comes in that we had been hearing about a ‘decentralized’ use of the Modern UI but this is device-specific; for tablet and hybrid device users, the touch-focused UI is still a focal point. The biggest changes are in store for users of desktop-class systems.

How is Microsoft going to move forward without a Modern UI by default for Windows? It’s quite easy to see the path and our sources are confirming this information. Microsoft will still allow Modern apps to run in a windowed mode on the desktop and with the new Start menu (also present in Threshold) having the ability to launch un-pinned Modern apps, mouse and keyboard users can happily live on the desktop without being troubled by Metro-esque menus and screens if they wish. 

By having full control of Modern apps from the desktop with other enhancements brought with Windows 8.1 Update 1, the modern environment is no longer needed for desktop users and is shut off.

Don’t worry though, app snapping is still present in the current builds of Threshold and in fact, there are enhancements in this area too. The details are a bit sparse at this time but snapping has been further refined and may include new positioning for modern apps.

We have also been hearing that the UI is ‘visually distinct’ too, meaning that when you see Threshold, it’s easy to tell that it is not Windows 8.1.

It’s important to note that we are still in the early stages of Threshold and that anything and everything is subject to change. But from what we have been able to gather, Microsoft is once again listening to all the complaints that said ‘let me turn off the Modern UI’.

Image Credit: Zman982 (Neowin Forums)

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According to Mary Jo Foley and Paul Thurrott, there will be no optional Start Screen in the desktop version of the OS. It will have the Start Menu Frankenstein which could be "maximized" to feel the screen. Can't say I like this. First of all I got used to the start screen with my custom background. Secondly, this will probably mean the death of the "Interactive Tiles" demonstrated by Microsoft Research wchich I was really looking forward to.

agtsmith said,
According to Mary Jo Foley and Paul Thurrott, there will be no optional Start Screen in the desktop version of the OS. It will have the Start Menu Frankenstein which could be "maximized" to feel the screen. Can't say I like this. First of all I got used to the start screen with my custom background. Secondly, this will probably mean the death of the "Interactive Tiles" demonstrated by Microsoft Research wchich I was really looking forward to.

Not encouraging.

Also, if this new Start Menu is tile-based, and will still support the Store, and Metro applications, I'm not sure what you mean by "Turning Metro off". Metro is still very much there.

I think OS change only upsets the non productive people, those who prefer to stare at a lovely Desktop/Start menu rather than the people who never see the Desktop/Start Menu because they are busy working/using the application that covers it.

You seem to completely misinterpret the notion of the "desktop" which should not be understood as "a wallpaper with a couple of icons". "Desktop" is short for "desktop environment".

agtsmith said,
You seem to completely misinterpret the notion of the "desktop" which should not be understood as "a wallpaper with a couple of icons". "Desktop" is short for "desktop environment".

No I didn't, when I sit at my computer I am looking at the applications desktop not the OS.

Yazoo said,

No I didn't, when I sit at my computer I am looking at the applications desktop not the OS.

Thank you for proving my point. You do not understand what "desktop" means in this context.

Metro UI, or what ever they call it now is the dumbing down of Windows. I am all for freedom of choice, and to each his own. I prefer a clean desktop and pin my most used programs to the start menu instead of storing and displaying most recently used. Any seasoned Windows user knows his way around the Windows and system32 folders, there is much more to Windows than meets the eye, or the Moderm UI. I have tried 8.1 on a touchscreen laptop I purchased as a gift, and use touch on Windows 7 Pro computers at my place of employment, no thank you very much. Startisback or Classic Shell do fine for me thank you Microsoft. Usually my Windows 8.1 computer, with all its high-end hardware, sits, waiting.

Not with a comment like that - if anything, you DON'T trust either developers OR users, if you insist on making everything revolve around an arbitrary set-point (whether it be formfactor or any other). I pin my "go-to" applications to the Taskbar - which is still there - or to the desktop - which is ALSO still there. You are plain and simply reliant on the Start menu - which is what is missing; so much so that apparently Classic Shell, StartIsBack, or ANY of the third-party alternatives doesn't suit you. If the third-party utilities worked, why would - or should - Microsoft bring the Start menu back? You are trying to blow smoke up my posterior - and I am having none of it.

Anarkii said,
*eats popcorn and laughs at the comments*

And certain people said the desktop was dead.

:p

The desktop can't be dead.

When Modern apps run in a windowed mode... they need to float above something!

And while we're at it... we'll keep running our desktop software too!

Nobody said the desktop was dead (at least those of us that wanted the Start menu to stay gone) - in fact, other than DotMatrix, we all are running Windows 8.1, not RT, as the primary version of Windows. (Even DotMatrix runs Windows 8.1 on his non-primary hardware.) There is a FEAR that ModernUI (and the applications thereof) will kill the desktop - however, from what has been seen on the application side of ModernUI, there is little to no chance of that - and that is something that Dot has said, that DConnell has said, and something that I have been rather vociferous in saying repeatedly. What in Ned are all of you anti-ModernUI fanatics scared of?

Not scared of anything, I just hate Modern UI on the desktop, along with 99.999999999% of other windows users. And FYI Dot DID say the 'the desktop is dead'.

Dot is also the only one of us running RT, not 8.x - however, I get WHY Dot's the exception; other than Office RT, are there any non-ModernUI applications for RT, from anybody? Nobody running 8.x (other than the anti-ModernUI critics) doesn't see a use case for Modern/RT-type applications - even where traditional applications also exist; however, just like traditional applications, each application competing with an existing application must prove itself. (Didn't I say exactly this way back when the Consumer Preview was let out onto the Internet?)

All blanket dismissal says is that your mind was likely made up and that applications are not getting a fair comparison. While few ModernUI applications have survived my use testing, I haven't dismissed ModernUI as a whole - instead, I have whacked individual applications on a case-by-case basis. Some ModernUI applications DID survive the gauntlet - MetroTwit was one of them. All I have asked is that users not let themselves by ruled by fear/FUD - the same applies to developers, of course.

Why is that so hard?

Anarkii - I get that much; however, you haven't said WHY you hate it. Does the despising of ModernUI have a reason, or are you like the infamous Supreme Court Justice Learned Hand (who is responsible for the insensate quotum "I can't define obscenity, but I know it when I see it!")?

Hand was, unfortunately, a REAL Judge of the United States Court of Appeals (Second Circuit) - while liberal and progressive on many issues, he despised pornography (as did many jurists - on both sides of the political fence).

As I asked before, what in Ned are you scared of? The only way that ModernUI applications are going to threaten desktop applications is if developers let that happen. Properly-written ModernUI applications SHOULD, if anything, encourage desktop application development - from what I am hearing, the fear is that it will do the reverse. Are you that pessimistic when it comes to desktop application development? Never mind that very few ModernUI applications are up to the standard of desktop applications (which is something that DConnell and I have been saying repeatedly); they scare a lot of you silly. What I want to know is *why*.

PGHammer said,
As I asked before, what in Ned are you scared of? The only way that ModernUI applications are going to threaten desktop applications is if developers let that happen. Properly-written ModernUI applications SHOULD, if anything, encourage desktop application development - from what I am hearing, the fear is that it will do the reverse. Are you that pessimistic when it comes to desktop application development? Never mind that very few ModernUI applications are up to the standard of desktop applications (which is something that DConnell and I have been saying repeatedly); they scare a lot of you silly. What I want to know is *why*.

There is nothing to be scared about, I am just not happy, I am a developer and I want a proper UI framework, I had to switch from WFP/C# to Chrome Apps / JavaScript just to get a better UI and performance, and had to deal with tons of Google stupidity there as well.

The new full screen apps provide nothing, I waited for the day Microsoft created the Apps store, and waited to get a new framework that I can use in the apps store, and it turns that the only thing that can be done with it is full screen apps, no, limited full screen apps, nice :-)

Nobody says that you MUST write ModernUI applications - remember, Win32/Win64 (traditional-style) applications and games still work. I have been pointing that out since the Developer Preview - has nobody (especially developers) been listening to any of us? If a windowed application is more suitable, you can write one - the usage case for those hasn't gone away.

I feel like MS will be back to where they started.

If they do the things that the article says, what will be the difference from Windows 'Threshold' and Windows 7. Yes, there were heavy changes in the underlying code of the OS, but why would anybody buy it? And they need to have tablets be able to run the thing too!

The one OS for tablets & desktops approach is way better than taking Apple's approach where they took an already limited iOS and slapped it on a tablet.

Am I crazy, but shouldn't a tablet be able to do more than a phone!

"We have also been hearing that the UI is ‘visually distinct' too, meaning that when you see Threshold, it's easy to tell that it is not Windows 8.1."

Ah, hopefully that's meaning they're going to be doing work on the Visual Style again! The one they've had since 8.0 is terribly undercooked at the moment.

is this the taskbar of threshold? that looks lame. like a gnome 2-3/kde/win7 mashup but with having taken the worst parts of each. thats a bit of a dockbar, a bit of a taskbar a bit of whatever....

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