Hands-on with Leaked Builds of Windows Blue 8.1

Interface: Changes to the Start Screen

Interface Changes

First off, the big, divisive interface question: Does Windows Blue really herald a return of the Start Button and a Boot to Desktop option as per rumor mill speculation? Well, there's no sign of a Start Button on the builds we've tried out. Interestingly, build 9369 seems to boot to desktop on our test machine, though we can't find any toggle or option for that.

Start ScreenStart Screen

The Start Screen holds some interesting surprises and tweaks, from new apps to little interface features to make things easier for keyboard and mouse users. First up is a new "All Apps" button at the bottom left of the Start Screen, allowing you to get to the All Apps page quickly from the Start Screen, great for getting a denser listing of apps while providing a sort of poor man's start menu.

All Apps ButtonAll Apps Button

Personalization Options, Settings & Synching

Numerous system and personalization options have also been rearranged or made available to make things a bit easier for tablet and desktop users both. The Settings charm now includes Personalization right at the top level, with color sliders replacing the preset color combinations, and changes to the start screen will reportedly be synced across PCs using the same Microsoft Account.

Settings such as Default Apps and others are also being moved to the Settings Charm, reducing the need to shuffle between Desktop's Control Panel and the Settings Charm. It seems the syncing may also extend to Internet Explorer, with cross device syncing of tabs for seamless browsing.

About the author
John Corpuz

John Corpuz flip-flopped between computer science and creative writing courses in school. As a contributor to Tom's Guide he's found a happy middle ground writing about apps, mobile gaming and other geekery.

This thread is closed for comments
36 comments
    Top Comments
  • 1) Boot Screen
    2) Boot Screen Choice A: Touch screen device, Choice B: Standard Device
    3) Boot Into desired desktop mode and remember thereafter unless you change setting to take effect on next reboot.
    4) The end

    Is it really that hard to figure out MS?
    18
  • Us customers want desktop simplicity. Return to your old-ways.
    17
  • The biggest thing they need to do is return familiarity to the desktop. What that means is putting a damn start button on there. Win8 isnt bad and it's tile interface is actually pretty cool for a touch enabled device. However the lack of a start button complicates things for traditional desktop users and gives them almost zero incentive to make the switch from win7.
    11
  • Other Comments
  • Us customers want desktop simplicity. Return to your old-ways.
    17
  • The biggest thing they need to do is return familiarity to the desktop. What that means is putting a damn start button on there. Win8 isnt bad and it's tile interface is actually pretty cool for a touch enabled device. However the lack of a start button complicates things for traditional desktop users and gives them almost zero incentive to make the switch from win7.
    11
  • Will definitely look into the preview. If they work on combining some of the control panel items, so we don't have what should basically be the same (at least "parent") panel split between what you see in metro and what you see on the desktop, it'll take care of one of my annoyances, at least.

    We'll see.
    0
  • 1) Boot Screen
    2) Boot Screen Choice A: Touch screen device, Choice B: Standard Device
    3) Boot Into desired desktop mode and remember thereafter unless you change setting to take effect on next reboot.
    4) The end

    Is it really that hard to figure out MS?
    18
  • Yeah includes an option if you have a touch screen or not. My desktop and laptop are not touch screen.. Fix this and I may upgrade to win8 till then I will not make the change..
    5
  • O and make it boot to desktop also. I hate the metro tiles..
    1
  • testing
    1
  • Still don't want to play with BLOCKS.
    3
  • Full disclosure I'm a closet Linux-geek (no trolls).
    But it's annoying that MS is pushing touchscreens on laptops... Which would you rather have a decent IPS panel or a rather useless touchscreen...
    The restricted boot crap is just "vendor lockin" by another name.
    Never mind the fact that Windows 8 looks like a "worst of both worlds" compromise between a mobile OS and a desktop OS!!
    7
  • i do not want microsoft to replace the start button . just putting the explorer folder icon on the taskbar is much better than a start button . start buttons are a wasted extra step . the explorer folder icon is more flexible . also windows 8.1 should give users the option of booting directly to the desktop without first raising the opening screen picture ( why do they have that thing ? ) plus give users the option of doing away with the password screen ( i don't need to enter a password and if anyone wants to go into my computer and look around then she must be the most bored person on earth ) . finally give users the option of bypassing the metro screen which is the biggest waste of time in computer software history . so my request is this : you power up your windows 8.1 computer and within seconds your desktop appears with essential program buttons on the taskbar . this is what every single windows user really wants . if you decide to include the other preliminary boot screens and password screen and metro screen then simply make those options available to whoever wants them . this is the true way forward microsoft . are you listening ? i doubt it .

    doggrell3000
    new york ny
    -2
  • StitchExperiment626
    Microsoft doesn't care because people that don't buy Win 8 are buying Win 7.
    1
  • doggrell3000i do not want microsoft to replace the start button . just putting the explorer folder icon on the taskbar is much better than a start button . start buttons are a wasted extra step . the explorer folder icon is more flexible . also windows 8.1 should give users the option of booting directly to the desktop without first raising the opening screen picture ( why do they have that thing ? ) plus give users the option of doing away with the password screen ( i don't need to enter a password and if anyone wants to go into my computer and look around then she must be the most bored person on earth ) . finally give users the option of bypassing the metro screen which is the biggest waste of time in computer software history . so my request is this : you power up your windows 8.1 computer and within seconds your desktop appears with essential program buttons on the taskbar . this is what every single windows user really wants . if you decide to include the other preliminary boot screens and password screen and metro screen then simply make those options available to whoever wants them . this is the true way forward microsoft . are you listening ? i doubt it .doggrell3000new york ny


    you can actually have 'windows explorer menu' if you enable desktop shortcut on the taskbar.

    Right-click on the taskbar. Toolbars > Desktop (tick)
    Then you can re-arrange the position to the most left to replicate Start Menu.
    0
  • I forsee Stardock's Start8 becoming the most pirated software by the end of the year...
    0
  • Quote:
    "Files" shares SkyDrive's icon, and tapping it brings you to a view of your file system
    (emphasis is mine)
    Tapping?! Fo' real?! How do I tap it, with mouse or keyboard?
    Quote:
    t's nowhere near the level of the more mature desktop File Explorer yet

    And add to it no boot from ReFS drives, no Start menu, calculator getting now some functionality that was present in earlier editions...

    I don't think that one can think of worse things to say about Win8 than naming new features of Win8 Blue is. I can imagine MS engineers in their labs going around saying things like "I used to be IT expert like you, but then I took a tablet to the knee".
    -2
  • I'm amazed that the UI in Linux Mint is more Windows like than Windows 8 is. I would never have considered Linux for my gaming PC in the past, but I've been playing around with it and it's awesome so far. All I have to say is that I wouldn't be looking at Linux if it wasn't for Microsoft's arrogance and shoving this crap UI down everyone's throat on desktops and laptops. I'm so put off my the Modern UI being forced on the desktop that I don't even want to see it on a tablet or phone at this point. Good going Microsoft.
    2
  • how about giving people the damn option for a start menu and to boot to their desktop MS is that so hard to ask for?
    1
  • I don't care about the addition of a start button or "boot to desktop" mode. All I care about is that Windows 8.x stops downloading massive bandwidth when I've told it not to, and that it stops ****ing up my hard drives. So far I've had Windows 8 destroy two hard drives. I managed to recover most of my files via Linux live CD. Windows 8 does this thing where it forces a scan and "repair" on boot, and there's no real way to skip the repair process or disable it completely.
    -1
  • Hmm, not FAT32 option in the 'format drive' application.

    I wonder if the Metro File Explorer will support file paths longer than 255 characters in lenght, and if the Windows Explorer will support it as well?
    I know the Windows 8 Explorer does not, so I have to use Total Commander to manipulate files in deeply nested folders. Come on, support 255+ character paths already.
    -1
  • hetneo(emphasis is mine)Tapping?! Fo' real?! How do I tap it, with mouse or keyboard?And add to it no boot from ReFS drives, no Start menu, calculator getting now some functionality that was present in earlier editions...I don't think that one can think of worse things to say about Win8 than naming new features of Win8 Blue is. I can imagine MS engineers in their labs going around saying things like "I used to be IT expert like you, but then I took a tablet to the knee".


    This makes me wonder if you have even used 8 at all. this is the Metro app calculator. The normal calculator still includes this functionality.

    The Start Menu is a bit over rated. I only used it in 7 to get to Control Panel or search for a file.

    ReFS is new and while it may have advantages, still needs to be tested before it goes out into the wild and people start complaining cause it has issues.
    2
  • OK, Windows 8.1 looks SHITTY, just like that bullcrap, so-called "OS", Windows h8.
    No start button - NO I DO NOT WANT 3rd PARTY SOFTWARE FOR THAT.
    FUCKED UP INTERFACE DESIGN
    NO STYLE AT ALL!

    TRUST ME, we could all "design" that interface in Microsoft Paint right on Windows 98.
    This is a disaster, but Windows 7 will be here until 2020. Then, there will be a mass of people migrating to other operating systems. Microshit is a joke together with Steve Ballshit.
    Until we don't get a SERIOUS operating system, we're surely be reluctant to Paint-made so-called "Operating Systems". I don't give a shit about the tweaks under the hood.
    They say : " Windows 8 works perfectly fine."
    Well, I say: "Windows 7 works perfectly fine AND it all looks A TON BETTER".
    Who the hell would want to downgrade to Windows h8, then?

    I deal with a lot of computers and I ALWAYS recommend 7 over h8. I do my best to prevent people from having such dumb headaches with Windows h8.

    Serious people use serious operating systems, not Ballshit jokes.
    Once Microshit drops supports for Windows 7, we'll have to look for other operating systems.

    Maybe a touchscreen display would change the experience a bit, but the INTERFACE couldn't look any more AWFUL! AWFUL! AWFUL!

    (yes, I am (actually used to be, given how many shitty products they make now) a Microsoft fan)
    -4