Microsoft’s next version of Windows is expected to launch in early 2015, but the company’s also expected to release a preview version this fall. Now a couple of websites including Computer Base and WinFuture have published photos from an early version of Windows 9 Technical Preview that give us a better idea of how the operating system will work.

w9 start menu

As expected, the Start Menu is coming back to the Windows desktop. That means you won’t see the desktop won’t disappear and be replaced by a Start Screen when you tap the Windows key. But the new Start Menu combines some elements of the Windows 7 menu and the Windows 8 Start Screen.

There are shortcuts to frequently used apps and locations, a search bar, and a menu option to view “All Apps.” But next to those items there’s also a series of Live Tiles to give you quick access to features including News, Mail, Calendar, and People (contacts), among other things.

w9 virtual desktop_01

There have also been a few taskbar tweaks including new icons for search and virtual desktops — oh yeah, and there’s now support for virtual desktops. This lets you create separate workspaces so you can have a couple of work apps open in one app and entertainment apps in another, for instance. Then you can toggle between those desktops depending on what you’re trying to do.

It’s sort of like having a multi-monitor setup, except that instead of moving your head to look from one display to the next, you hit a button to switch the view in front of you. This is a feature Linux users have had for years, and there are third-party apps that let you do something similar on Windows. But now it looks like virtual desktops will be baked right into the Windows operating system.

w9 notifications

There’s also what appears to be a new notification center which pops up when you tap a button in the right side of the taskbar.

For the most part the leaked images show an operating system that looks like it was designed for laptop and desktop computers and not for tablets. You can run Windows Store apps, but you don’t have to run them in full screen mode — they can be resized and run in windows just like any other Windows apps.

w9 apps

Microsoft isn’t giving up on tablets — Windows 9 is expected to run on tablets and 2-in-1 convertibles. But on at least some tablets it’s expected to take a different approach to what we’re seeing from these pictures: instead of hiding the full-screen, touch-friendly user interface Windows 9 will hide the desktop for tablet-only users.

via The Verge

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23 replies on “Windows 9 previewed in series of leaked photos”

  1. the entire asthetics of windows is abysmal even with windows 9 so drab and almost childish we have gotten so used to what MS served us over the years that even little changes make us happy
    Microsoft should introduce better fonts and follow google’s material design

  2. That is one massively ugly desktop wallpaper behind an unremarkable UI (which is perfectly fine as long as its efficient and fast)

  3. But will this work well with a touchscreen? There are going to he lots of great 2 in 1s coming with the core m chips.

    1. Desktop optimization doesn’t mean the touch support goes away… though, a lot of that will depend on the app support…

      Besides, what they’re really doing with the OS is allowing it to finally optimize itself for the device form factor you are using…

      Meaning, if installed on a tablet then the tablet Metro/WinRT UI will dominate and conversely if installed on a desktop system then the desktop UI will dominate…

      What remains to be seen is whether the OS can auto adjust between the two extremes… Such as when a 2 in 1 is docked with its keyboard to be used as a laptop and conversely removed from the dock and used as a tablet… It is what they’re shooting for but implementation doesn’t always go as planned… So, we’ll have to wait and see…

      But they’re not going to overly rush this release… The upcoming preview is basically just a beta release and people who try it out will have to subscribe to monthly updates… Meaning MS will continue to refine and make changes and what we see in the early preview may still be very different from the final release…

      In the meantime, Windows 8 is still part of the upgrade cycle and many of the things they test out for W9 may make its way to W8 users… and the final W9 release may even be a free upgrade/update, but again we’ll have to wait and see…

  4. I hope they make the UAC parts much more customizable. It is a fact that a fair number of windows applications require administrator privileges. The user then either has to handle the UAC popup every time or disable UAC or run as administrator always. Add more alternatives inbetween! Let the user whitelist a number of applications to run with administrative privileges without any prompts.

  5. If people couldn’t figure out the Start Screen, the virtual desktop feature is going to cause widespread panic: “ALL MY OPEN WINDOWS OF REGEDIT AND SOLITAIRE JUST DISAPPEARED!!!”

    1. Yeah, like it’s such a problem for Android and iOS users… Never mind all the people already using it with Windows 7 with 3rd party add-ons… Never mind the Linux distros that have it as default, among other examples…

      People really have to stop confusing not wanting to learn with things actually being hard to learn!

      1. OS X has had virtual desktops for years now, too. At least since version 10.5, and maybe before. I can’t remember because I never used them much. Still don’t. Won’t use them on my Windows machine either. That said, there have been a few specific times when I’m working some major projects that the feature has been very useful.

        Average users don’t know the virtual desktops exist. If done right, that’s how it should be.

        1. Yup, virtual desktops (a.k.a. virtual spaces) are a very common and popular feature in most Unix GUI’s… So they ended up in many distros and OS based upon it…

          Apple just confuses it a bit by calling them “Spaces” instead of virtual desktops and you’re right that it was introduced in OSX at 10.5… and a lot of people who convert or are new to OSX don’t really know that it’s in there… but it does let you have up to 16 different work spaces, you can even designate specific applications to run just within a particular space, which is very handy for creating a tidy work environment…

          Virtual desktops is just mainly a power user feature but so too are many features that most full range OS like Windows and OSX have long had and few outside of power users ever really use or even know about…

          Thing about a flexible OS… It can’t be made just for one type of user… While, a lot of people could do worse than learn more about how their OS works and what features can help them if they just bother to learn that they both exist and how to use them…

          With computers getting into pretty much everything, the average person needs to raise the bar for what they know…

          Though, MS definitely needs to improve by leaps and bounds on how well they go about educating the average user on how to use their software and that will be the real test as to whether they’ll succeed or not as even a great product can fail if it gets no real support to even get it started properly…

          1. Yes! This, this, and more of this:

            “Though, MS definitely needs to improve by leaps and bounds on how well they go about educating the average user on how to use their software and that will be the real test as to whether they’ll succeed or not as even a great product can fail if it gets no real support to even get it started properly…”

            It frustrates me how so many people insist on remaining ignorant on how to use computers. They embrace their mental block. I understood that in 2004, but I don’t get it in 2014. I’ve seen people write several pages of text only documents in one cell of an Excel file and all sorts of insanities.

            I’m a low-end power user, though a non-tech person would probably think I’m high end. I just believe in getting the most out of a system to increase my productivity and make my life easier. OS’s have so many great options people miss. For me, it’s always about custom keybindings in OS X or in Microsoft Word. I don’t like to take my hands off the keyboard home row to do basic tasks like text navigation, copy and paste, and such.

            I returned to Windows 8.1 after ten years of Mac-only computing, with a few Linux experiments thrown in for giggles. I use both OS X and Windows now. The Mac for book publishing, cover design, and home tasks like pictures and taxes. My Windows workstation is basically a shrine to Word 2013, with a little bit of browsing and other tasks kicked in. And I have to say, I feel more productive on Windows 8.1. I like the way it does things. Which is funny, because I fled Windows out of frustration. It took the intriguing new design to make me pay attention to the fact that while I was gone Windows became far more stable and secure. Microsoft failed in getting my attention about those things.

            The funny thing is: I still love the Start Menu design that got my attention, but I never use it. I’m always in desktop mode. To the extent that I installed Start Is Back to make things simpler for me.

          2. Yeah, the Start Screen was best optimized for tablet usage but it is also held back by the lack of developers making full use of live tiles…

            Even with the upcoming W9 and the improvements MS is making to Live Tiles that will make them capable of a lot more user interactions, like you would a widget… but a lot hinges on getting developers to make full and proper use of them before the average person can really see their potential…

            While the lack of good apps also hinges on the developers…

            Though, MS are making other improvements that apply to the Metro/WinRT UI side of things… Like the Start Screen should finally support folders for better organization options, among other changes… We’re just mainly hearing about the changes to the desktop right now but that’s not all they’re changing and improving…

            And MS is starting to make some concessions on how the App Store is run and easing restriction, like on side loading… Though, still mainly a option for business owners and Enterprise rather than individuals but if they continue to make such changes then they may finally convince developers to take their ecosystem more seriously, as well as make the whole thing a lot easier to use…

            Something they’ll eventually have to do if they really want to provide a universal OS that fills every possible need… Provided someone else doesn’t beat them to it…

          3. You know, you probably make too much sense to be commenting on the internet 😉

            It really is all about the developers. For me not so much since I use almost exclusively Microsoft apps on Windows, but other people need lots of apps. I’m just not an apps kind of guy anymore. I get a few solid apps that do exactly what I need and then I’m happy.

          4. I wouldn’t say most people needs lots of apps, as most end up using just a core set of apps, but we’re all different and thus lots of people needs lots of combinations of core apps…

            While good apps often require competition for developers to provide the best apps… Mind, even MS apps could still be better right now…

            Along with there still being a lack of higher end productivity Metro/WinRT apps for mobile and tablet users to not be so dependent on the desktop…

  6. I only use the desktop side of things (even on 8″ screens) and if they make it more like or better than the Windows 7 desktop then that’s great.

    What I really care about though are performance and security improvements which is the main reason I use Windows 8 for my machines that don’t run Linux. These kernel and user security enhancements don’t get backported to Windows 7.

  7. I really hope you will be able to put live tiles on the desktop (like widgets in Windows Vista/7). I like the return of the Start menu. I won’t have to install Classic Shell on every new computer a friend of mine buys. I actually like the live tiles, but I don’t like the dual interfaces of Windows 8 (I don’t anyone personally that does). If you can pin the tiles to the desktop, then you’ll get the best of both worlds. Having them in the Start menu is OK, but you’ll only see the notifications when you have the Start menu open (which reduces their usefulness in my opinion).

  8. I hope there’s more to Win9 than the Start menu, virtual desktop, and windowed Metro. I’ve yet to see any substantive improvement for the desktop. Start menu is something Win7 already has, virtual desktop is old hat for those who want it, and windowed Metro assumes there are worthwhile Metro apps that desktop users care about (read: not really).

    I get the Win9 moniker is marketing, and “Win-Next” is basically another point upgrade for 8. But the Big Deal(tm) is supposed to be the new improved UI, and from what’s shown, I’m not feeling it.

    1. That might be all that’s outwardly visible in leaks, but there’s likely plenty of under-the-hood changes. Windows 8 was way more than just the Metro UI and a neutered desktop. There were significant improvements to enable it to run well on very modest hardware, better than 7 in many cases.

      1. Yeah, there’s only so much you can gleam from a snap shot image… We’ll have to wait until the preview comes out and actual user reviews start being posted to know more…

        While, the preview may still be significantly different from the final release as MS will continue to update and make changes each month, possibly adding up to a year from now, before the final release…

        So, feedback from the preview testers should be pretty important to what we’ll finally get…

    2. Maybe Microcruft will finally restore some of the lost functionality from past versions of Windows?
      Like GIF support, or a copy function that actually comes close to Dos’ old xcopy…?

  9. Sounds “improved” but will the desktop have Icons and shortcuts on it? Will we have to go to the corners to find an Internet Connection? How about Device Manager? Can we auto-hide the Windows 8 apps that block the desktop view? How can this be more efficient than Windows 7 since it throws live tiles on the start menu?

    1. There’s nothing really inefficient about live tiles… They can give more information than any icons and basically replace widgets… While, as the article clearly states, WinRT apps can run “windowed” like regular desktop apps and for laptops and desktops that means they won’t default to full screen all the time unless you choose to…

      Mind, you can also simply choose not to use any WinRT apps… the menu is fully customizable and you can simply remove the live tiles if that’s what you prefer…

      And Windows 8 always allowed desktop icons and shortcuts! Windows 8 even supports more pinned apps than Windows 7 allows!

      While virtual desktops is a feature people often had to add to Windows 7 with 3rd party add-ons… along with many other things like actual multi-monitor support is something Windows 7 didn’t do well by default without 3rd party add-ons… and things like being able to mount a virtual volume, like an ISO file, etc are all things Windows 7 required 3rd party add-ons to do but Windows 8 did by default…

      The main and only valid complaint of Windows 8 has always been having to share the WinRT user space with the desktop space but Windows 9 fixes that issue but keeps all the improvements that somehow so many ignore Windows 8 provides simply because they didn’t like the UI…

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