Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 26th Jun 2013 16:41 UTC
Windows Microsoft has released the Windows 8.1 preview for download, but they region-locked it to 13 specific languages, and Dutch is not one of them. So, even though my Surface RT has been completely and utterly English from the day I bought it, I can't install Windows 8.1 and tell you something about it. Those of you who can download it, why don't you tell us what it's like - or you can head to The Verge who got early access. In case you couldn't tell, I'm a little annoyed that we're arbitrarily being left out once again.
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RE[8]: Start Button Useless??
by Nelson on Thu 27th Jun 2013 22:14 UTC in reply to "RE[7]: Start Button Useless??"
Nelson
Member since:
2005-11-29


Considering the fact that the tiles consume enormous amounts of space I don't really think it would be more results.


I implore you to give it a try then, it certainly is more results. This isn't really an arguable point, it either is or it isn't. You can try it yourself and find out. If you'd like I'll screenshot my Windows 7 machine with the Start Menu open, and my Windows 8 machine with the All Apps screen open.

And as I've explained before in the past, I find it horribly jarring that the Start Screen takes over the whole display, completely removing me from whatever it was that I was doing; depending on my mood and the day such a jarring transition can completely kill my productivity.


I think this is a little extreme, kill your productivity? As in you're not able to pick up where you left off? Windows 8 physically impedes you from getting work done? That sounds more serious (if not melodramatic) than an UI problem.

Let's tone the rhetoric down slightly. Its an inconvenience at best. For a brief second the All Apps view takes over your screen.

While it was mildly annoying in Windows 8, with 8.1 the only time this happens is when you don't already have an idea of what the app you want to open will be. If you did, you could just search it using the search pane which retains context.


Also, about the tiles: they do not provide me with any information that I would find worth it. I launch the applications themselves if I want to see something and thus the tiles just do not offer me anything that regular old icons don't, except that they take more space on the screen.


I think this can be a genuine difference in opinion. The Live Tiles are designed to provide at a glance information and invite the user to open the app. My own app analytics has shown that the addition of a live tile has increased my retention rates. I don't remember the exact figures off the top of my head, but I saw a decent increase in the amount of people who used my app and kept using it as the days went on.

From what I've heard, other developers have had similar experiences. So certainly it does have a positive effect for some users.

In 8.1 there is an additional "small" tile size (about 4 of them fit in the current Windows 8 standard tile size, and it matches Windows Phone) which allows you to deemphasize the apps which you do not need such up to date information.

You also can turn off the live tile for any app in the OS.


This is all in addition to the fact that I do not use any Metro-apps except for Netflix.


This is a big problem, but one that is hopefully going to get better fast. Microsoft announced a bunch of new applications coming to the platform, improved the platform itself in concrete ways, and struck deals with a lot of vendors to support developers in more ways.

So yes, today there are a handful of very very good Metro apps -- but there is also a lot of bad. Windows Phone went through this transition while developers learned the ins and outs of the platforms. Most new Windows Phone applications are actually pretty good (leaving out the unavoidable spam apps, lame rss readers, and standard app store stuff).

I think key to helping things in this department was the Windows Store redesign in 8.1, it is easier to find better apps now.


Simply put, I do not like Start Screen. I could get my stuff done with it, but as long as I have a choice I choose to avoid it because the old method suits my style and needs better.


And that's a perfectly reasonable position, and one I've been hoping more people come around to. Windows 7 is still around. Linux is still around (and rapidly improving). There's Chrome OS. There are even Android Netbooks (god, why??). So there's choices abound.


I don't think that would work for shortcuts that reside in the system-wide folder, it would probably only show shortcuts specific to the user. Alas, I don't need to try that, anyways, as I am running Start8 on my laptop.


You're probably right on the system wide applications. The Start8 thing is a good point as well, it is still Windows -- you can tweak it however you want.

8.1 hopefully makes a lot of these third party tools even less important with the boot to desktop and the ability to disable hot corners.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[9]: Start Button Useless??
by WereCatf on Fri 28th Jun 2013 03:46 in reply to "RE[8]: Start Button Useless??"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

I implore you to give it a try then, it certainly is more results. This isn't really an arguable point, it either is or it isn't. You can try it yourself and find out. If you'd like I'll screenshot my Windows 7 machine with the Start Menu open, and my Windows 8 machine with the All Apps screen open.


Let's explore this in detail, shall we? First, the whole point with Windows 8 and the Start Screen is those live tiles, not static icons. You can fit about 20 live tiles on 100% of the screen, whereas with the old Start-menu you can fit 24 items on something that takes only about 16% of your whole screen. Space efficiency thus comes down to 20*1=20 for the live tiles and 100/16*24 = 150 for the Start-menu.

Okay, let's do what you suggested and not actually use one of the features that Windows 8 is all about, ie. let's skip live tiles and just count the static, non-live icons: 60. Again, we are using 100% of the screen to show 60 items and therefore that's our space-efficiency. Sure, we do get more items on the screen as 24 < 60, but we have to use the whole screen to do that.

I think this is a little extreme, kill your productivity? As in you're not able to pick up where you left off? Windows 8 physically impedes you from getting work done? That sounds more serious (if not melodramatic) than an UI problem.

Let's tone the rhetoric down slightly. Its an inconvenience at best. For a brief second the All Apps view takes over your screen.


If it's an inconvenience why bother with it all? That's the thing you're not able to answer; if using the Start Screen is more of an inconvenience to me than the Start-menu where's the point in me insisting on using it?

While it was mildly annoying in Windows 8, with 8.1 the only time this happens is when you don't already have an idea of what the app you want to open will be. If you did, you could just search it using the search pane which retains context.


Or I could just not remove my hand from the mouse, move over to the keyboard, type in the search term and press enter, followed by moving my hand back to the mouse, simply by skipping the above and clicking the mouse button 3 times at a location that comes from muscle-memory.

I think this can be a genuine difference in opinion. The Live Tiles are designed to provide at a glance information and invite the user to open the app.


Alas, I do not do anything that would benefit from that. Also, for me to see the live tiles I would actually have to have the Start Screen visible: when I'm at the computer I am always doing something, not staring at the Start Screen, so the whole point with live tiles is irrelevant.

My own app analytics has shown that the addition of a live tile has increased my retention rates. I don't remember the exact figures off the top of my head, but I saw a decent increase in the amount of people who used my app and kept using it as the days went on.


I don't care. I'm not the other people, I'm me. And all this time -- as you can verify by reading my comments again -- I've been only talking about myself.

In 8.1 there is an additional "small" tile size (about 4 of them fit in the current Windows 8 standard tile size, and it matches Windows Phone) which allows you to deemphasize the apps which you do not need such up to date information.


So, they've made them smaller than the static icons? You can't fit 4 static icons on a singe live tile.

So yes, today there are a handful of very very good Metro apps -- but there is also a lot of bad.


Irrelevant. If I can't fit 8 of them on the screen at once and align them however I see fit then I won't be using them anyways.

Edited 2013-06-28 04:02 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[10]: Start Button Useless??
by Nelson on Fri 28th Jun 2013 12:02 in reply to "RE[9]: Start Button Useless??"
Nelson Member since:
2005-11-29


Let's explore this in detail, shall we? First, the whole point with Windows 8 and the Start Screen is those live tiles, not static icons. You can fit about 20 live tiles on 100% of the screen, whereas with the old Start-menu you can fit 24 items on something that takes only about 16% of your whole screen.


I don't think its an apples to apples comparison, the Start Screen does not replace the Start Menu. It serves a different function. It is a personalized space for your own apps.

While the Start Menu did support pinnable items, that usage also dramatically dropped off following the launch of the Taskbar in Windows 7 -- so I consider the Start Screen a spiritual successor to the Taskbar.

And I can fit 40 square tiles on my Start Screen, even more if I make them the new smaller tile size.


Okay, let's do what you suggested and not actually use one of the features that Windows 8 is all about, ie. let's skip live tiles and just count the static, non-live icons: 60. Again, we are using 100% of the screen to show 60 items and therefore that's our space-efficiency. Sure, we do get more items on the screen as 24 < 60, but we have to use the whole screen to do that.


Right. If we use the All Apps screen (which is the intended Start Menu replacement) we do see more items while taking up the entire screen. I think we agree here.

This is what I alluded to in the comment you replied to. There are just more things displayed using the All Apps menu, and on top of that, 8.1 expands on the amount of ways you can sort and filter that content.

I do think to be fair though, you likely consider the full screen experience not to be worth the extra items it allows which I think is fair.


If it's an inconvenience why bother with it all? That's the thing you're not able to answer; if using the Start Screen is more of an inconvenience to me than the Start-menu where's the point in me insisting on using it?


I can't speak for you, but from my perspective I don't think it is insurmountably broken or especially more annoying than some things on Windows 7.

With 8.1 they've made the amount of times you need to transition to the Desktop lower. The Control Panel is now more feature filled, you can snap variable width apps side by side, you have built in VPN support in the Modern shell, etc.

If 8.x is a transitional series of releases, 8.1 gets us further down the road. So while it was annoying when 8 launched, its less annoying with 8.1, and will continue to be less annoying with further revisions.

I don't think its a deal breaker necessarily. I've even gotten used to it. I was using 7 the other day at work and found myself annoyed when I couldn't just throw my mouse into a hot corner to open the charms bar.


Or I could just not remove my hand from the mouse, move over to the keyboard, type in the search term and press enter, followed by moving my hand back to the mouse, simply by skipping the above and clicking the mouse button 3 times at a location that comes from muscle-memory.


Yes. There's also Win+C and type which also invokes the 320px search pane. If you happen to be on the Start Screen, you can just start typing. Same goes for Metro Apps which opt-in to the "just type" behavior when supporting the Search charm.

I think this is one area where there's parity with the instant search in the Start Menu (with more results shown, from more sources, including inside of apps)


Alas, I do not do anything that would benefit from that. Also, for me to see the live tiles I would actually have to have the Start Screen visible: when I'm at the computer I am always doing something, not staring at the Start Screen, so the whole point with live tiles is irrelevant.


I think its a function of using the Desktop as your "landing". I do mix a few Metro apps into my daily use so I see the Start Screen more often and can appreciate the information at a glance.


I don't care. I'm not the other people, I'm me. And all this time -- as you can verify by reading my comments again -- I've been only talking about myself.


Right, but we were (if you remember, it was only one comment ago) I did qualify my statement by saying that it is likely down to a difference of opinion. I was providing background on Microsoft's rationale, and explaining that Live Tiles do serve a useful purpose for some people.

Surely if I'm to take your view point into account, you can afford to take the use cases and view points of others into account as well.

I'm also confused with your position. Above you wanted to use Live Tiles to talk about space efficiency versus the Start Menu. Here you're dismissing them as something you don't use or care about.


So, they've made them smaller than the static icons? You can't fit 4 static icons on a singe live tile.


They've made them 1/4th the size of a single live tile at the standard size. If you look at Windows Phone 8, it mirrors that small tile relative to the old tile size.

So you can like I said de-emphasize the apps that you do not find are that important (or unpin them all together, or turn off their live tile which you can do for any app in the system).



Irrelevant. If I can't fit 8 of them on the screen at once and align them however I see fit then I won't be using them anyways.


With 8.1 you can fit 4 per monitor with a minimum width of 320px (or 500px, its a developer choice) and a minimum height of 768px. It is dependent on resolution and physical monitor dimensions. Beyond this you can resize them as you see fit, and take advantage of the responsive UI which adapts its context to match the view size.

So no, its not 8, but it is 4 -- with the multi monitor situation being much better (as a whole for Windows). There's per monitor DPI scaling, 4 apps per monitor, start screen on only one monitor, etc.

Reply Parent Score: 3