Tuesday, April 2, 2013

What I want Microsoft to fix in Windows Blue

I believe you all know that there is something called Windows Blue coming out in a few months. I believe that the amount of changes in this upgrade will make it sit between a service pack and a completely new version of Windows.

Few days ago, a current build of Windows Blue leaked into the Internet. While Microsoft might show that they don't like the idea, in their hearts they know that it is free marketing for them. The Verge compiled a list of changes found in the leaked build in the form of a video.


So, it seems the changes are mostly, if not solely made for the Metro portion on the OS. Right now, that's what I really want them to do because I now have a tablet and some of deficiencies of Metro is killing the great tablet experience.

What else can Microsoft change/add in Windows Blue?

1. Ability to enable a more aggressive mode of auto-correcting, at lead when you are using the virtual keyboard. I don't understand why this should not be an option that the end user can choose for themselves in the first place. While the layout of the virtual keyboard, especially in the landscape view is great, the lackluster auto-correct functionality is not making me wanna use the keyboard too much. I'm not the only person having this problem. It is not as if Microsoft doesn't know how to implement proper auto-correct functionality because Windows Phone seems to do just fine in that area. Just like a dumb design goal it seems. (Edit: I've been writing a part of this blog post on my tablet and actually I'm not so mad about how autocorrect is working. But it seems that the contextual mistakes are not detected properly. For example, if I wanted to say "I'm not so mad..." but typed "I'm not domad...", I would expect it to correct it as "I'm not so mad..". But it doesn't fix it properly. It corrects the mistake as "I'm not do mad". Funny thing was that iOS fixed it as "I'm not Donald". Well, at least it came up with something that made sense. Not praising or blaming anyone, just saying.)

2. Why not add a gesture based virtual keyboard? You cannot use the virtual keyboard as easily as on a phone. A phone doesn't really need a gesture based virtual keyboard because you can easily hold it in your hands and type. Typing on a tablet while holding it is not easy and since you cannot use both hands, it is very time consuming. I'm not liking the split keyboard at all. Back when I was looking to buy this tablet, I saw that TouchPal was coming out with  version of their gesture based keyboard supporting Windows 8. That was a little over s month ago. There is still no information about where they stand as this moment. Sad!

3. Notification center. You get notifications every now and then and if you weren't there when the notification happened, you would miss the notification. The current form of app notifications are same as what iOS was couple of versions ago. Maybe a little bit better because you can see live updates inside the tile. (But I make those tiles small most of the times because it takes up a lot of space. So I lose part of the notifications.) The app tiles will show a number to show that they have notifications just like iOS, but that's not enough. They can easily add one to the charms bar. There is free space alright. I don't understand why they cannot do it soon enough.

4. Further shrinkage of the footprint of the OS. If we are focusing on tablet's - which seems to be the case, which have very limited space, Microsoft should do better to make the footprint of the OS smaller. It's unfortunate that the design model of Windows is not that great for tablets, for example, you need to have large pagefile for virtual memory, a hiberfile for hibernation, system restore partition for backup - because it is self-contained unlike iPad which can get the OS restore via iTunes. Those 3 items alone would cost you 10GB or more.

5. List of available WIFI connections to show if they need a password or not. I ran into this problem when I was checking the tablets prior to buying my Dell Latitude 10 Essentials tablet. The tablets on display were not connected to the Internet. There were many WIFI connections available but because Windows doesn't show you whether you need a password to join in the list of connections, I had to check each of them before finding one that didn't require a password. Yes, I know it is only a few extra clicks, but that's a few extra clicks that can be prevented.

6. Fix that Windows Store. It's slow and gives an error message that you are not connected to the internet every now and then. And you can't get into the main screen quickly from a different location (such as the app updates page or down the search results.). You have to go back page by page to get to the main page. With all those Metro animations it takes a long time to get there.

7. This is not a Metro feature but a bug in desktop. Windows 8 is deleting and rebuilding the thumbnail cache all the time. It seems to be widely known issue in Windows 8 but I don't understand why Microsoft hasn't released a patch to fix this problem.

8. They should give people the option to load the desktop or load the start screen when you boot into Windows. People who use PCs prefer to see the desktop when they log into Windows. But there are workarounds that work perfectly.

9. More apps from Microsoft themselves. Microsoft has many software that they are yet port to the Metro environment. At least the ones in the Windows Essentials suite. They seems to be bringing something to replace the Movie Maker. What I really want right now is a replacement for Window Live Writer. That is an awesome application on the desktop, but it works horribly with touch input. There aren't any good blogging apps in Windows Store. Using the blogger website isn't easy as well. For example, if I select some text and want to add a hyperlink, and if I have to scroll up to see the toolbar, the highlighted text would get deselected. I managed to get over it by using the portrait view which didn't require scrolling up to reach the toolbar, but that's not a good way to do things. I want to see a new podcast app and a rss reader app added to the stock list of apps as well. (edit: I don't understand why Google isn't releasing any of their apps for Windows 8. Well, they have one app: Google Search, but you can do that from internet explorer. Why do I need a separate app for that?

10. Fix the start screen searching. Right now, when you search for something, you need to know what type of thing you are searching in the first place. That is, you need to know whether you are searching for a file or an app or a setting. You cannot sometimes figure out whether you are searching for a setting or an app. What you do is you search for one, and it the search didn't pull out any results, you try the other one. What kind of nonsense design is that? This is another reason why people hate the new start screen. It makes tasks that was easily doable previously, hard or time consuming. This problem was not there with the old start menu, although the number of results that could be shown at once was limits day the small size of the start menu.

Some might say Microsoft should not charge for this release. But I don't really care if the number of changes are reliably large. But they should charge at most like $20.
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