As I mentioned in a previous post, Windows 8 has been bothering me for its ‘almost there but then it all goes wrong’ approach to the user experience of the interface. So I decided to fix it.
This is the space where we currently spend most of our time on our present computers. As such, it needs to be really functional as a workspace.
My problem with the desktop is the lack of the Start button - and not because I’m nostalgic about it, but because of how we use computers. So I’ve come up a solution. We don’t want to ignore metro, so let’s put metro into the Start menu. Touch the re-introduced Start orb and full screen metro pops up. But CLICK the orb (with the mouse) and up pops MiniMetro across the bottom of the screen, because the computer recognises you are in super functional desktop working mode. (Click the orb again to launch full screen metro.) Mini metro is like the 30,000 ft view of metro that you get when you pinch the screen; the tiles are simplified, probably just showing the title of the app, but other than that all the shortcuts are arranged as they are in metro so you know exactly where everything is. Underneath the tiles are the titles of your folders or ‘clumps’ of tile. Click on the title of the clump and both title and clump will quickly swish to the left of the minimetro area and you can click on the app you want to launch. This means it is easy to organise apps and quick to get to them with minimum mouse movement (Start orb, up a bit to title, up a bit to app, done). You can click on the windows logo beside the search bar to the left and the minimetro will change from a metro layout to your most frequently used apps in metro layout. Once again, dead quick.
Between the start orb and the titles is the search bar. Type to search apps and they start appearing above in the minimetro area or hit return or click the search icon to launch full search of everything.
On the right side of the screen are the settings buttons and advanced options.
You should be able to click and drag copies of tiles from the minimetro area to the desktop area to create shortcuts there if you want a cluttered desktop.
You should also be able to run full screen metro apps in windows if you launch them from the desktop rather than metro.
Windows should have their main chrome at the side (swap for left handed) so you don’t need to cover the window with you arm to reach the chrome at the top to move the thing around.
Moving windows/icons/files to the bottom of the screen should open up the delete bar.
The metro start screen is going to get difficult to navigate very quickly when it starts filling up with apps. Introducing a Clump Title at the top, displayed in a similar way to xbox UI, would allow quick navigation to tile clumps and so speed up the whole process.
3. Charms and multitasking access
Swipe in from the sides of the screen brings up various menus. So, in desktop mode, move the mouse to the limit of the left of the screen and click and multitasking appears as it would if you had swiped in. Forget about corners, it should be the whole limit of the screen edge, just like it is with touchscreen. Similarly on charms from the right; move the mouse to the right limit and click. This should also be used for menus from the bottom of the screen. Click the top and rather than immediately closing the app, you are given a pop up (or pop down) with a nice big ‘x’, or side by side mode or minimise option. As the future will be tablet and laptop rather than desktop, we should make use of gestures on the trackpad. Swipe in from the left on the trackpad should be the same as swipe in from the left on the screen. (I tested earlier and I mostly start my fingers in the centre of the trackpad and move out from there for normal movement of the curser). Alternatively, use three fingered swipe, left to right to bring up menu on the left side. This sort of use of gestures makes much more sense than it does even on OS X to bring up these sort of menus.
I can’t wait to have a go on Windows 8. Unfortunately I don’t have anything on which to run the consumer beta, so please forgive me if some of this already happens.
But for now, in my mind at least, problem solved.
Edit. After playing around with the prerelease of Windows 8, I have now decided that the desktop can die a long , cold death. Every element of it, bar the programs themselves, becomes superfluous in the new Modern UI. Everything -especially office - needs to move to this new environment. It is a brilliant paradigm and I hope Microsoft pull off the ecosystem to go with it. It could be awesome if it gets the developer support.