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Interface: Changes to the Start Screen

Hands-on with Leaked Builds of Windows Blue 8.1

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.

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