Windows 9: ten ways for Microsoft to save Windows

Microsoft, we need to talk. The way you’ve been behaving lately, it has to stop – you’re nothing but frustrating. We want things to go back to the way they were.

In Windows 8.1, the return of the Start button was functionally useless, but when you admitted it could have been improved many people took it as a step in the right direction.

Windows 8.1 Update 1 has repaired some of the damage to the desktop, making it easier to use Windows Store apps with a mouse and keyboard. And with Windows 9 rumoured to be arriving in 2015, you have an opportunity to listen to your users and make the operating system Windows 8 should have been.

Here are ten of our suggestions for how you can save Windows – plus a selection of the best ideas from PC Pro readers. Send yours to [email protected] – and feel free to CC Microsoft’s new CEO Satya Nadella.

Power struggle

Barry Collins, journalist and former PC Pro editor: “The one thing that stops the Surface Pro from replacing my iPad 2 on a day-to-day basis is its power management. If I leave the Surface overnight, it takes 11.4 seconds (I just timed it) for the Surface to reach the password screen after I press the power button; my iPad 2 is ready the moment I flip back its case.

“Even if the Surface hasn’t gone into overnight hibernation, it still takes a second or two longer to resume than an iPad. These sound like petty complaints, but they affect usability. If I want to quickly check an email or send a tweet, I reach for the iPad every time.

“My other power-management gripe is that the Surface Pro will lose around 10-20% of its battery life sat in my bag overnight. The iPad barely loses anything. That means the iPad usually lasts a working week, while the Surface needs charging every two or three days.

“That just isn’t good enough, especially for a device that’s heavier than the iPad and twice as thick. If Microsoft wants Windows 9 to be a great OS for tablets and laptops, it needs to sort out the power management.”

Taking Metro to task

Tim Anderson, Windows journalist and developer: “Microsoft went overboard with what it calls an ‘immersive UI’ in Windows 8. Apps run full-screen, and even to show a menu, you have to swipe or right-click. It’s mad.

“I’d like to at least see a status bar in the Metro environment and have it show time, date, connection status and battery status, and be available for app developers, too. Live Tiles are designed for status updates, but you see those only if you go back to Start. In fact, I’d be happy about having the entire taskbar in Metro, which of course includes a notification area. Imagine switching to another app or to a desktop app with a single tap or click. Leaks suggest Microsoft is putting Metro app icons on the desktop taskbar, so it’s moving in that direction. Here’s hoping it goes all the way.”

Metro taskbar

Windows 7 mode

Tim Danton, editor-in-chief: “There’s so much that’s great about Windows 8 compared to Windows 7: the improved task manager; the integrated cloud storage via OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive); the fact Microsoft put so much effort into streamlining the OS to make it faster and more responsive. Yet how I yearn for Windows 7’s clean interface.

“All I ask is for the traditional desktop to be the default when I’m using my computer with
a keyboard and mouse. If I detach my tablet from its keyboard, then it makes absolute sense for Windows to shift into a more traditional tablet-style interface. But even then, dear Microsoft, I want you to make it easier to understand. I’ve lost count of the number of people who look at those tiles in bewilderment and then simply give up.”

Bring windows back to Windows

Nicole Kobie, news and features editor: “There’s one aspect of Windows 8.1 that makes me want to cry out in frustration: when a Windows Store app opens in full-screen mode, yanking me away from my work. Whatever happened to multitasking? If Microsoft wants me to use the Facebook app rather than open Facebook in a browser tab, it must let such apps run in their own window on the desktop.

Windows back to Windows

“Leaked builds of Update 1 suggest Microsoft’s moving in this direction, making it easier to use apps with a mouse and placing app icons on the taskbar, for example. But it needs to go a step further: in Windows 9, they must run directly on the desktop. That will not only make Windows less frustrating on the desktop, but it will encourage us to use such apps – good news for users and developers.”

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