Posts tagged Windows 8.1

Windows 10 revealed: Microsoft’s next OS fuses Windows 7 and 8

At a press event on Tuesday, Microsoft launched the next version of Windows: Not Windows One, not Windows 9, but Windows 10, which combines the reborn Start menu with Windows 8’s colorful live tiles and adjusts its behavior depending on how you’re using your device.

Windows 10 will officially launch in the middle of next year, but you’ll have a chance to try it out before that via a new Windows Insider program, launching Wednesday. The platform’s most vocal fans will have a chance to download the technical preview before it launches next year.

Microsoft executives unveiled the new OS at a small press event in San Francisco, where the company tried to position the Windows 10 OS as a “natural step forward” for both Windows and Windows Phone, which will also be renamed Windows 10.

Windows 10 will be designed for the enterprise, Terry Myerson executive vice president of Microsoft’s OS group, said. It will have a “familiar” interface, whether it be for Windows 7 or Windows 8. “They will find all the tools they’re used to finding, with all the apps and tools they’re used to today,” he said.

Windows 10 will be compatible with all the familiar management systems, including mobile device management. MDM tools will manage not just mobile devices, but PCs, phones, tablets, and even embedded devices inpart of the Internet of Things, Myerson said. Enterprise customers will be able to manage their own app stores, so that ther employees get the right apps for them. As Windows 8 did, data security will be a priority, he said.

Windows 10’s ‘Task View’ includes multiple desktops, a feature long desired by power users.
Joe Belfiore, who runs part of the OS team focused on the PC experience, showed off the new OS, which he called a “very early build.” Yes, the new build has the Stat menu, combining the icon-driven menu from Windows 7, plus the added Live Tiles to the right.

Belfiore used the analogy of a Tesla to describe how Windows 7 users would feel when they upgraded—something that Microsoft desperately wants them to do: a supercharged OS, but one that will feel familiar.

One of the things that Microsoft wants to ensure is that Windows 10 is personalized results, including search results, Belfiore said.

Windows 8 had a universal app platform, with a common Windows Store that handle updates independently. Belfiore said that Microsoft wanted all those Windows 7 uses to get all the benefits of Windows 8 apps. Apps will be shown in the Live Tiles, with no real indication whether they are “classic” apps or modern, Windows 8 apps. Apps can be “snapped,” like Windows 8. Users will also not have to leave the Windows desktop to use modern apps, as expected.

Multitasking will also be a priority, with a stated goal being able to “empower” novice users, Belfiore said. On the taskbar there will be a “task view” where users can switch back and forth between different environments—whether it be 32-bit Windows 7 apps or modern apps. And yes, they will include virtual desktops, with the ability to switch back and forth between virtual environments. A “snap assist” feature will allow users to select similar windows to snap alongside other apps. And up to four apps or windows can be snapped to the four corners of the desktop, Belfiore said.

Even more advanced uses will be able to take advantage of new keyboard shortcuts, with the ability to ALT-TAB between desktops. “It’s a nice forward enhancement to make those people more productive,” Belfiore said.

Microsoft even improved the command line interface, with an improved keyboard interface. (You can use Crtl+V to paste now!)
Touch when you need it

Belfiore wrapped up by talking about touch: “We’re not giving up on touch,” he said. But he did say that that massive numbers of users were familiar with the touchless Windows 7 interface, while supporting those who have jumped to Windows 8.

So that means that the Charms experience will be revamped. When you swipe right on Windows 10, the Charms bar is still there. But Belfiore said that the Charms experience would change. When people swipe in from the left, Windows 10, you’ll get a task view. “I’m using touch in a way that accelerates my use of a PC,” Belfiore said.

Microsoft is also working on a revamped UI that isn’t is in Windows 10, yet. For two-in-on devices, a “Continuum” mode will adjust the UI depending on whether or not the mouse and keyboard is present. When a keyboard is disconnected, the Windows 8-style Start menu appears and a back button is available so that users can easily back out to a prior command. Menus grow larger. Bu when a mouse and keyboard is connected, the desktop mode reappears, Windows apps return to desktop windows, and the Start page disappears.

Now, Microsoft needs to take the next step: pitching enterprise customers, Myerson said. And that’s critical for Windows’ future, analysts said. Expect more details on the consumer flavors of Windows 10 early next year, more application details at BUILD, and then a launch of Windows 10 near the middle of next year.

“For businesses, I think there are some businesses who have picked it up and they are really early adopters, but in general, the sense—when we engage with customers, we’re not hearing a lot of reception out there,” Wes Miller, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, said in advance of the briefing. “We’re hearing a lot of businesses even before whatever that thing comes out tomorrow, before that came out, businesses were saying, we’re going to hang out on Windows 7, it’s stable, it does what we need to do.”

Starting Wednesday, Microsoft will launch a Windows Insider program, distributing the technical preview of Windows 10, Myerson said. Through Window Insiders we’re inviting our more vocal Windows fans” to help refine the Windows experience, executives said. Users wil be able to sign up at preview.windows.com, he said, where they will be able to hold private discussions with Windows engineers and give feedback.

“Windows 10 will be our most open, collaborative OS project ever,” Myerson said.


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10 Windows Start menus for Windows 8.1

Although Windows 8’s Start menu is still MIA in Windows ‘Blue,’ a smorgasbord of replacements can fill the void

Start here
Seems Microsoft really has put its Windows Start menu out to pasture, alongside Bob, Clippy, and Rover. Sure, the forthcoming 8.1 update to Windows 8 has a shiny new Start button, but clicking it doesn’t cause a familiar menu to pop up, providing users quick access to their preferred apps and files. Why’d Microsoft retire the menu in the first place? It was a design choice made by Steven Sinofsky, former head of Microsoft’s Windows division.

If you fall into the category of users who don’t share Sinofsky’s vision of a menu-less Windows 8, take heart. Several third-party developers have built menus for the operating systems — and some are arguably superior to any that Microsoft has ever made.

Classic Shell
Classic Shell was originally designed to replace the Windows 7 Start menu with the XP-style Start menu. Now it brings a Windows 7 Start experience to Windows 8 users. Apps can be pinned to the menu area via drag and drop. A pair of flyout menus provides access to classic Desktop programs and Metro apps, respectively. The program also supports starting directly in the Desktop and disabling Windows 8 hot corners.

Classic Shell adds changes to File Explorer, too, such as an icon ribbon populated with commonly used file commands (cut, copy, paste, and so on) and the ability to shut off the “breadcrumb” trail in the address bar and replace it with the full folder path.

Author: Ivo Beltchev
Cost: Free (open source)

Pokki Menu
Pokki Menu is a more ambitious program than many of the others shown here. SweetLabs hasn’t so much restored the original Start menu as provided an enhanced replacement for it. Beyond delivering familiar Start menu functionality, for example, it also serves as a source for notifications. It does this via various apps available in Pokki’s own app store, which include clients for common social networks.

The Pokki Menu has undergone a significant facelift since InfoWorld looked at it last year. Aside from such aesthetic changes as new colors and layout, the app has improved search and the ability to set files and apps as favorites from File Explorer.

Author: SweetLabs
Cost: Free

Power8
Another open source option, Power8 provides a self-sorting menu of commonly used applications, a set of flyouts for the main Start menu app hierarchy, and flyouts for Computer, Libraries, Control Panel, Administrative Tools, and Network shortcuts. The old search functionality is also replicated, Metro features (charms, hot corners, etc.) are disabled, and — one very nice touch — Windows 7 taskbar jump lists are retained. Among the drawbacks, Power8 is short on configurable features.

Since InfoWorld last dabbled with Power8, its developers have made several upgrades and fixes, including boosting the file-system event watching and a more flexible updater.

Author: Power8 Team
Cost: Free (open source)

RetroUI Pro
RetroUI isn’t designed to be more than a strict replacement for the traditional Start menu. Clicking the RetroUI Taskbar icon brings up a tile grid that’s reminiscent of the Windows 8 Start screen, but outfitted with flyouts that borrow from the original Start menu (Libraries, Computer, Control Panel). Also included are handy shortcuts to the Metro task switcher and Charms bar. Another taskbar icon opens an icon-grid view that displays Metro apps and major system locations.

Thinix has continually updated RetroUI since InfoWorld’s last review, adding features such as optimized file searches, the ability to set default shutdown actions, and caching technology to speed up the Start menu.

Author: Thinix
Cost: Starts at $5 per seat

Start8
Stardock Software has created a Start menu replacement that behaves uncannily like the original. From its accordion-style opening of folders to its subcategorized type-to-search results, Start8 delivers all the familiar functionality, alongside considerable configurability.

Apps can be pinned to the Start8 menu via a right-click contextual menu option in File Explorer. Even the system shortcuts (Control Panel, Computer, etc.) can be toggled as needed. Better yet, the bottom-left hot corner can take you straight to Start8, even from within a Metro app. Hot keys can bring up Windows 8’s own Start screen, hot corners can be selectively disabled, and Metro apps can be hidden from Start8 if you don’t want them there.

Author: Stardock Software
Cost: $5 for a single-user license

StartIsBack
StartIsBack is a startlingly precise recreation of the Windows 7 Start menu, orb and all, although a good deal more tweakable than the original. Each Windows 8 hot corner can be selectively toggled. The Start screen can be skipped on login, invoked with a dedicated hot key, and reserved only for Metro programs. Just right-click a program in Explorer to pin it to the StartIsBack menu.

Since InfoWorld last tested StartIsBack, developer Tihiy has made numerous upgrades. For instance, you’ll find a new shortcut to the Start screen in the Start menu, the option to display all programs in a multicolumn flyout menu, and the option to enable the Start screen hot corner on the Desktop.

Author: Tihiy
Cost: $3 for two-PC license

StartMenu8
Launch StartMenu8 and you’re greeted with the familiar Windows 7 Start menu orb, along with a fairly spot-on reconstruction of the rest of the classic Start menu. The StartMenu8 interface wasn’t as customizable as its competitors when InfoWorld tried it out last December. There was no way to toggle things like the links to the games folder or the Control Panel, and most of the program’s behaviors appear to be hard-wired. Users can log in directly to the Desktop, and StartMenu8 can deactivate the Windows 8 hot corners and the Metro Charms bar. The latest version includes a key for opening Metro, a new Settings interface, and some aesthetic improvements.

Author: IObit
Cost: Free

Start Menu Reviver
Start Menu Reviver brings the Metro look, fat-finger friendliness, and lots of customizability to a Start menu for either Windows 8 or Windows 7. Like a mini Windows 8 Start screen, Reviver presents buttons and tiles (large or small, as you like) that give you direct access to literally anything on your PC — documents, folders, desktop apps, Metro apps, favorite URLs, you name it. A flyout menu provides speedy access to everything else. Along with the tiles, menus, colors, text, and tile icons, a few other settings are configurable. You can boot directly to the Desktop or have the Windows key open the Start menu.

Author: Reviversoft
Cost: Free

StartW8
StartW8 is a good classic Start menu recreation, though it lacks much in the way of customization options, and pinning programs to the Start menu isn’t as straightforward as it could be. Options include the ability to switch to the desktop immediately after signing in; the ability to activate the menu with the Windows key; buttons for logging off, locking the system, and powering off; a traditional search field; and the ability to designate favorite apps. The latest update adds the option to ignore Hot corners, along with an automatic update feature.

Author: SodatSW
Cost: Free

ViStart
ViStart is a free Windows Start menu app that boasts a high level of customizability. The latest version comes with three Start Menu skins and four Start menu buttons, alongside a renewed skin manager. You can download 25 additional skins and 20 buttons from the developer’s site. A new control lets you configure Windows 8 to skip the Metro screen and boot directly to the Windows 8 Desktop. You can also disable features such as the Charms bar and start corners. ViStart even indexes the Start menu to speed up searches for files and programs.

Author: Lee-Soft
Cost: Free


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