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9/13/2014
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Windows Threshold Videos Leak

Videos offer a peek at Microsoft's Windows Threshold in action, including Start menu features that could appease keyboard-and-mouse fans who hate Windows 8.

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Earlier this week, alleged screenshots of the next version of Windows, codenamed Threshold, leaked online. The images provided the first in-depth look at Microsoft's upcoming OS, including support for virtual desktops, the inclusion of a notification center, and the new Start menu.

Two videos have since appeared that purportedly show the Start menu in action. Both were posted by German blog WinFuture, which also, along with another German website, posted the screenshots. Microsoft's decision to remove the Start menu from Windows 8 alienated some traditional PC users, many of whom dismissed the new user interface as too touch oriented. The new videos give these disgruntled mouse-and-keyboard users additional reassurance that Microsoft's PC interface is headed in the right direction.

If you hate Windows 8's tiled Start screen, the video suggests Microsoft has heard you, as Threshold will allow users to completely purge Live Tiles and the Modern-style apps they represent. Even so, the new apps are a central part of Microsoft's strategy; they allow developers to write software that will run on any Windows platform, from the Xbox to smartphones, and could eventually offer users a seamless digital experience as they move from device to device. For that reason, Threshold appears to include several ways for users to interact with Modern apps, even if those users spend most of their time in the desktop UI.

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In April, Microsoft previewed an early version of the new Start menu, which at the time included a Windows 7-like list of common destinations and apps in a column on the left, and a collection of Live Tiles in a column on the right. The screenshots and videos are consistent with this look. They also support recent rumors that claim the new Start menu won't replace Windows 8's Start screen as much as absorb it.

In the video, the Start menu's left column includes links to File Explorer, the Documents folder, and other frequent destinations that should be familiar to Windows 7 users. But the left column evidently also can be switched to an "all apps" list. The right column, meanwhile, includes any Live Tiles the user has pinned there. In the Threshold system settings, this right column is still referred to as a Start screen, but unlike the version in Windows 8, it takes up space only within the Start menu, rather than needing its own screen.

Users can open, pin, unpin, and uninstall apps directly from within the Start menu. The upshot is that if you don't use any Modern apps, you can simply refrain from pinning any to the Start menu. You can also uninstall any that might happen to come pre-pinned when you upgrade or buy a new machine. That way, if you don't want to see any tiles, you won't.

If you choose to pin tiles to the Start menu, they can be resized and moved around, just like Windows 8.1 lets you do on its Start screen. Some of them also appear to be truly "live" in that they display a constant stream of updates, whereas others are just regular icons. This is also consistent with the way Live Tiles work in Windows 8 and 8.1.

In the videos, when Modern apps are launched from the Start menu, they open in floating windows on the desktop, just like legacy applications. These windows can be moved around, resized, and layered on top of one another, whereas current Modern apps in Windows 8 and 8.1 are viewable only in full-screen mode.

Based on the new leaks, Threshold will still contain a Windows 8-style Start screen, but it will be disabled by default. If enabled, the OS will boot directly to the Start screen. This resembles the UI customization options available in Windows 8.1, which chooses its default settings based on the type of hardware on which it's running, and then lets users make changes. They can choose, for example, to boot PCs directly to the desktop, or the Modern Start screen. Even though Threshold includes a number of features aimed at desktop users, it makes sense to include both UIs, since the OS will also run on not only conventional PCs, but also on two-in-one devices and touchscreen PCs. But Threshold looks to give users even more control over how and when the two UIs interact. 

Microsoft reps haven't commented on the leaks, but even if they're legitimate, a lot could change between now and Threshold's official release, expected in spring 2015. In fact, according to some rumors, change is at the forefront of Microsoft's goals. The company is expected in the next month to release a "Public Enterprise Technical Preview" of Threshold that will allow users to provide one-click feedback. According to ZDnet's Mary Jo Foley, who has a good record for pre-release Microsoft info, different users might be given different versions of Threshold depending on what kind of feedback they provide. For Microsoft, it seems the idea is to gather a lot of real-world data about what works and what doesn't, and implement necessary changes before shipping the final product.

Later this year, Microsoft is expected to release a second, consumer-focused preview for tablet and smartphone users. At this point, it's still not clear what Microsoft intends to call Threshold when it comes to market. Some indications, including a social media post from official Microsoft account, indicate the next version will be called Windows 9, perhaps to distance the new release from Windows 8's poor reputation. But other reports say Microsoft might drop version numbers and just refer to all its operating systems as "Windows." Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has made broad allusions to such a strategy, and the new videos and screenshots contain references to "Windows" but not to "Windows 9."

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Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 ... View Full Bio

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SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
9/18/2014 | 7:28:13 AM
Re: Legacy Interfaces & Old Habits
@nomii, I totally understand not liking the Modern UI with a mouse I also hated it at first and still have some issues with it when using RDP to connect and I have to do funny key combinations like alt+home to get to what used to be right there on start menu.   I got fairly used to it because of Server 2010 and working with it every day before Win 8 was released but I do find switching back and forth between the UIs to be clunky.  I also question the charms bar especially on multi display setups.  I use two displays and trying to hit that charms bar can be a real pain sometimes when the mouse wants to jump to the next display rather than slide down and open the charms bar.  All that goes away though when I'm on the road and want to quickly open up a website, my mail or calendar or one of the Modern UI apps I have installed.  When moving to touch screen devices the Modern UI isn't so bad it is split personality feeling when using Win 8 as a desktop UI that most people seem to have issues with.
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
9/18/2014 | 7:12:28 AM
Re: Legacy Interfaces & Old Habits
@SaneIT: Among those user who are sticking with windows 7, many of them will be using it on their desktops and laptops which doesn’t have touch interface and mouse is still the primary device to interact. I personally don’t like to use win 8 dashboard with a mouse by scrolling the bar and would still prefer a start menu. By launching Win8, MS has already shown their emphasis on the mobile side but they shouldn’t forget their primary desktop and laptop users, who should have something more interesting when win7 will expire.
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
9/15/2014 | 1:57:20 PM
neat
It looks pretty nice. It seems legit as well. I can't wait to try it out
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
9/15/2014 | 7:35:36 AM
Re: Legacy Interfaces & Old Habits
@nomii, I agree that now is the time for Microsoft to setup out and push the touch interface but what they did was forget about those that do not use a touch interface or who will be working in more traditional desk bound configurations.   What I've found is that I use the Modern UI much more often when I have my Surface on my lap but when I have it docked I really wish I had a Start menu that didn't drop me out to the Modern UI.  I like the way the proposed menu looks, it seems to be a nice blend of the two UIs.  With the blending of mobile and desktop OSes I think Microsoft has made the most ground, they just put more emphasis on the mobile side.  
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
9/15/2014 | 2:54:17 AM
Re: Legacy Interfaces & Old Habits
Considering the revolution in touch screen, if changing the interface was necessary, I think it was the best time for MS to take this risk. Because they have a hugely successful predecessor and in case of failure of win8 MS doesn't have the risk of losing the market shares to any other company's platform.

They must have known that people will stick to win 7, what they have achieved from win 8 is that they have set user expectations about next OS and also have learned from their mistakes in win 8. This is the same thing what they did with Vista.
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
9/15/2014 | 2:47:32 AM
Re: Legacy Interfaces & Old Habits
Many MS users have never opted to use the new operating system from the day first unless it is necessary. If we see the stats of market share of operating system, the second position is held by XP which means that even windows 7 has not been able to get that market share so neither win 8 will be able to. So windows 8 will have to extract its market share from win 7 users and I agree that the pace is slow because like XP there would be diehard fans for win 7 which will stick to it for the next 10 years.
danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Ninja
9/14/2014 | 1:36:07 PM
Re: Legacy Interfaces & Old Habits
I feel like this is an improvement over Windows 8. But this is just my early impression.

I'd need to acutally use this platform before I could really believe that this is better. It's easy to just say that Windows 8 was so bad that anything would be an improvement over it.

But Microsoft really needs to sell a operating system for PCs that people don't have to get frustrated over. 
TeaI940
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TeaI940,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/14/2014 | 7:04:16 AM
Legacy Interfaces & Old Habits
I just don't get why MS is so blind to user needs ... and customer satisfaction ??

It's easy to leave in legacy user interface modes -- as an optional "skin" for the product.

That would let those that abhor change to remain comfortable and more productive with their largely unconscious habits. Designers, authors, professionals want to focus on the higher level human skills above the application layer and not futz with unlearning and relearning the whistles and bells.

The same goes for aspergers users and others that are overloaded by information and change. It's also a burden for procedure makers, trainers, and supervisors to have to redo business practices -- rather than simply append a new section for a new additional interface.


Change is maya, just the illusion of progress. What has been will be again, whether in fashion, politics, or even news. Microsoft should cater to the larger user base that includes those that do not want to change their habits.

And get a clue about why whole revisions of products are financial disasters like Windows98, Windows 8, etc. And that doesn't mean don't make improvements and updates, especially to security or performance -- under the hood. And definitely, put in new UI's for those that are easily bored and just have to "move the furniture" around to be happy -- while leaving the option for legacy interface modes.

"Return to the old ways and walk in them, and there you shall find rest for your soul."

 

 
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