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50 Suggestions: What I Want to See in Windows 8

Article By: Andre Da Costa
Date: April 06, 2011

A couple years ago I posted a wishlist on Channel9 of suggestions and changes I wanted to see in the next version of Windows, (Windows 7 at the time). Just the other day, I went looking for that list to scan through it and I was surprised by how many of the suggestions were actually implemented, such as simplifying the editions (although it was not to my actual specifications, Microsoft did listen). As a technology and Windows enthusiast, I am always thinking about what comes next. So, itís natural for me to start wondering about the successor to Windows 7. Some of the obvious areas I suspect Microsoft might be focusing on are Tablets, Cloud Computing and Mobile devices.

In January at the Consumer Electronics Electronics show, Microsoft held a special press briefing discussing their support for new System On a Chip (SoC) Architectures from ARM Holdings, Intel and AMD. What this means is, we should see some interesting devices that focus more on mobility, simplicity and performance. Lets get into the matter at hand, what I want to see added or improved in Windows 8:

  1. Integrate Windows Live Skydrive into Computer explorer as a Mapped Network drive where I can drag and drop files on my personal computer and save to it directly from within Windows and third party applications similar to Drop Box. You can do this today with a couple work arounds and third party solutions, but I want to see approved and acknowledged out of box support from Microsoft. Some persons might ask, why not just sync the User folder to the cloud instead of having separate cloud storage, since this would simplify access across multiple devices? Personally, I donít think everyone is ready to push all their personal data to the cloud and would prefer to still have some information kept locally and separated, but there are some things you probably want to always have access to.

  2. Internet Guest account, this brings down your settings on any high speed internet enabled Windows vNext computer, a very secure high encryption account, once you log out settings and personal files are removed. Pretty much similar to InPrivate Mode in Internet Explorer. Your Windows Live ID is used to do this and there must be no option at all to save username or password on the computer. Personalized options include, access to your personal files saved to your Skydrive, this would be excellent for public computers and kiosk. In fact, Skydrive should be your primary form of storage when using Windows in this manner. If you need to have access to personal files not saved to your Skydrive, you can use Remote connection to your PC to augment this similar to how Windows Live Sync works.

  3. Local PC Syncing, Microsoft did a great job with HomeGroups in Windows 7, but one of the things I would like to see added to Windows vNext is local PC syncing. I have three networked machines at home, itís a chore keeping all of them on the same page. I would like to have the option be able to sync all three machines so their data, settings and even applications are the same across all three systems. You can do data syncing today with Windows Live Sync, but its restricted Windows Live and requires an Internet Connection. The ability to log in to any PC on my home network and have all my settings the same, wallpapers, and even application shortcuts would be really cool.

  4. Ability to use ĎBackup filesí in ĎBackup and Restore Centerí in Windows vNext to backup files to Skydrive. Please note this is only for Documents, Pictures, Music, Videos (basically the contents of the User folder), also with the option of selecting specific files, since there is a limitation to Skydriveís storage capacity and file size support.

  5. A ĎTaskí drop menu next to ĎOrganizeí drop down menu on the command bar in explorer windows for common options such as moving files, saving explorer settings and options that were once available under Task Panes in Windows XP explorers.

  6. Turn ĎPersonalizationí appearance options into tabs, meaning, the various options such as Windows Color and Appearance, Desktop Background, Screen Saver, and Sound, instead of a separate explorer view or dialogs; you will simply click a button next to the setting link that expands to reveal options related to that applet. When the button is clicked, all the options are put into view, it will simply quicker access and reduce the need for these unnecessary cluttered dialogs and use up a lot of wasted space.  (Please view concept).

  7. Try and make more dialogs in the system into actual explorer windows that can reveal more information such as:
    - TCP IP Properties.
    - Advance Settings under System Properties.
    - Folder Options and the various applets in the Control Panel that use dialogs. Dialogs to me are unproductive, lacking detail and just confusing how information is revealed to the user. Most were great for Windows 95 when screen size was 800 by 600.

  8. Windows Macro Tool for automating simple task throughout the user interface. Make it easy using flow charting capabilities and standard set of templates users can start with and more they can download from

  9. Make initial phase of Windows Setup when launched from within an existing running version of Windows minimize to Notification Area, so you can do something else while files copy from the Windows vNext Source. When the files have finished copying, a mandatory 1 minute notification should appear informing the user that a restart is required to continue installation, save all work and click ok to continue. I can do this now, by initiating the Windows + D command, but itís cumbersome and does not feel official. My idea around this is to make upgrading to a new version of Windows feel like less of an event and just a normal everyday activity. If you look at programs from Microsoft recently such as Internet Explorer 9 and Windows Live Essentials 2011, they are not these huge on screen wizards telling you that this is a major upgrade, its just a new version with some really cool new features you are gonna love. Windows vNext should evoke that same calm, collected, less, chore OMG not another Windows Upgrade I need to do this on weekend feeling.

  10. Create a System Restore point on first boot, seems like a good idea to me. So, if you do hose your system with the first app or driver you install, Windows vNext got you covered.

  11. Include Remote Desktop in all editions of Windows vNext and make the ability to access remote computers easy over the Internet, but secure. Itís easy now, but I still see some complexity to it especially differentiating the separation between a LAN and WAN. I live in Jamaica, I am on a business trip in the States, make it easy for me to access my Windows vNext PC at home with my Windows vNext notebook in the hotel lobby. I am not talking about remote assistance; I want an actual rich experience. This will become less irrelevant with cloud storage, but, for persons who want the same desktop to travel with them, it would be a great solution I believe.

  12. View photos in the Pictures folder from multiple locations by including filters in Pictures explorer, whether they are on your Windows Live Skydrive, Facebook, My Space or Flickr. The same should apply for videos, whether they are on Facebook, Vimeo or YouTube.

  13. Include viewers for common applications like PowerPoint, Word, Photoshop, and Illustrator. I am not asking for the ability to edit, just view them if I donít have the appropriate applications installed. You might say I should download the viewers for PPT and Word or buy the application, but I think with the ubiquity of Office, the ability to view them should be native in the OS. Make previewing richer and more agile, by simply hovering a file I can see a full preview of the file (with the ability to turn this feature off. (basically I am asking you copy Mac OS Xís quick preview feature)

  14. Make the Properties bar at the bottom of each explorer window show more information about a file, try to eliminate the need to go to properties of the file to reveal more meta data, you could integrate the tabs for from the properties dialog of a file such as Sharing, Security and Previous versions into the Properties bar, just have a chevron collapsible panel button on the properties bar, when clicked reveals more information. 

  15. Preview files by hovering over them, whether itís a song (embedded control), or image in Pictures explorer similar to Photo Gallery.

  16. Make the look of Wizards more consistent.

  17. Ability to change the color intensity of non-key (non-active) windows when Aero Glass theme is being used.

  18. Glow to selected icons on desktop instead of the square box, ability to turn it off and use the classic selection highlight of icon like in Windows XP.

  19. Make URLs work through Run dialog box without having to type in http://

  20. Put pictorial representations of Start menu common links icons beside the worded link instead of at the top of the Start menu. The User profile picture in my opinion takes up just too much space and it looks useless.

  21. Include a built in dictionary, I would suggest the Encarta Dictionary, could also make it a Gadget.

  22. Improve the Windows Aero Basic theme; I think itís the worst looking theme in the entire Universe. I recommend something that looks more like Office Communicators theme with the Vista Aero Glass styled min, max, restore and close buttons. If Windows Media Player 11 for XP and Windows Live Messenger  can have it, I donít see why an improved Windows Aero Basic in Windows vNext cannot have this. Give users who donít have powerful enough PCís to run the high graphics tiers something to feel confident and pleased about, a theme that I would feel confident enough to switch to even if my PC has the capabilities to run Aero Glass. Since I wrote this, screenshots have leaked showing what seems like construction on a new replacement theme for Windows Aero Basic in Windows vNext.

  23. Colorize folders, this can actually make even searching easier, so you can filter search results by color of folder. So that report I wrote, I knew I put it in the Orange folder.

  24. Postpone restarting my computer to install updates option to Ďwhen I feel like ití? A recently leaked screenshot proves that Microsoft might be indeed considering this functionality for the next release.

  25. Built in support for Industry Standard image based file formats, there is some degree of support .VHD, but I would like to see it taken to the next level, in addition to support for the ubiquitous .ISO, ability to mount, browse and burn from within Windows 7.

  26. Under Desktop Background in Personalization Explorer, make the Picture Location list box be located beside the wallpapers, itís annoying to change in the list box to look at different wall papers. (Browse while I simply click is the concept here), itís a waste of so much real estate too.

  27. Every task link that leads to a dialog in an explorer window must be a Radio Box that leads to an explorer.

  28. Make the Network icon balloon icon when hovered over in the Notification area reveal sent and received packets. In addition to a how long have you been on the net, especially handy for dial up users who are still out there in large numbers. The entire world is not broad band ubiquitous just yet and I donít think it will be by 2010.

  29. Only two editions of Windows vNext, Professional and Home. Eliminate Starter, I am from a developing country and I have seen persons who are not economically sound with a brand new DELL laptop with Windows 7 Home Premium. PCís have become so commoditized these days, having cheap useless SKUís that consumers are only going to want to upgrade from or find a pirated copy of Windows to replace it with make it redundant to bother with this SKU. Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic are just pointless, Microsoft, please listen to me, to whoever is in marketing pushing this poor man, middle class editions business, please change your ways.

  30. Windows Enterprise and Ultimate SKUís, eliminate them, they are pointless too, the only difference between Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate is the $20 extra and support life cycle. Make the features that are unique to the Windows Enterprise client available through MDOP/Volume License. So, you will only have two SKUís across all product lines, Windows vNext Home Edition and Windows vNext Professional, for volume customers, if they need MUIís, UNIX Subsystem, Branch Cache, DirectAccess and whatever else makes it unique, they can move to Windows vNext Professional with MDOP.

  31. Since we are still on the top of SKUís, I think its time the Windows folks too some of the maketing philosophy from the Office folks and eliminate Upgrade packages. Again, this is about making it simple for consumers and businesses to buy Windows. Strategies such as this will make it easier for users to stay legal, avoid auction sites selling MSDN/Technet keys or pirated packages.

  32. Pricing: hmm, $100 and $200, I canít think of nothing simpler and attractive. Choose what you need, Windows vNext Home ($100), Windows vNext Professional ($200). There is still a need for multiple SKUís, not everyone will need features such as Domain Join, Remote Desktop, Encryption, Group Policy Editor. At least, it will make the up sell easier, and the upgrade path less confusing if warranted.

  33. Built in system wide spell checker. Having this built into Windows is not gonna make persons stop buying Microsoft Word or Microsoft Office.

  34. Reset Windows vNext Settings; reset Windows vNext to its default settings. Meaning, when I buy an OEM branded computer, I can remove all the third party programs that OEMís often include without having to reinstall the OS from scratch, this should not affect device drivers. But even virus protection software must be removed in the reset process. Let me the user; decide what I want to put on my computer. Internet Explorer has a similar setting.

  35. Update personal file location changes in Windows and applications installed on Windows 7. For instance, I saved a file in my Documents folder, then a couple days later, moved it to my Public Documents folder. When I open that same file link from the Recent Items menu or say the application it was created, the link should automatically know the new location without presenting a cannot find file window or searching for file dialog.

  36. Multi-selection of Windows Wall Paper themes instead of just having one theme at a time. Also, donít let changing a theme turn off my current active screensaver. I notice every time I change a theme it disables the screensaver.

  37. Ability to pause on a wallpaper within a theme.

  38. A better Windows Touch user interface that looks like it was created for 10 fingers instead of a mouse and keyboard yet still familiar with the traditional Windows Explorer elements. See figure for idea.

  39. Fix importing large files from a Windows Backup, I noticed when I tried to restore my Windows Backup which contained a recent .VHD that was 18 GBs in size, Backup refused to restore, I had to manually browse the backup, restore it to an alternate location then copy it to its original location.

  40. Fix Windows Easy Transfers issue with mangling Outlook .PST files when backing up.

  41. Combine the best of both Windows Easy Transfer and Windows Backup and Restore into an enhanced backup solution. I notice Windows Easy Transfer backs up things Windows Backup doesnít have a clue to backup, like installed Windows Themes, Bookmarks from web browsers.

  42. Make it possible to image a Windows vNext installation on a larger hard disk to a smaller hard disk. For instance, when I do a system image of my Windows 7 installation, my only options when restoring is to restore on a hard disk of equal size or greater. Suppose I buy a new SSD which you already know is expensive but is probably smaller than a mechanical hard disk due to the price per GB? Instead of putting me or other users through the chore of backing up, finding program discs and having to reinstall from scratch, make it easier to migrate to different partition layouts.

  43. Make Windows Anytime Upgrades simpler and less confusing. I have witnessed folks purchasing Anytime Upgrades thinking they were able to upgrade Windows Vista and Windows XP systems with it. Just a less confusing name, such as Windows vNext Enhancers, allows you to upgrade to a higher edition and get more features. At least the user will obviously know this is a Windows vNext thing. Another good thing, because of less SKUís, means, less confusing array of Anytime Upgrade paths.

  44. Remove Windows DVD Maker, make this a downloadable component as part of Windows Live Essentials or functionality part of Windows Live Movie Maker.

  45. Include a default email program in Windows vNext, if it means putting an older version of Windows Live Mail, so be it, but based on what I have seen out there, persons want a out of the box email program, its just an expected part of the operating system. What you can do for instance, is let Windows vNext come bundled with Windows Live Mail 2011 before Windows Live Mail 5 is released, you could offer an instant upgrade option when it becomes available similar to Microsoft Security Essentials. I personally believe that removing certain applications was too drastic, although programs such as Movie Maker, Photo Gallery and I believe even DVD Maker are not core parts of the operating systems, email is expected to be built into the operating system, just like a web browser.

  46. Windows Virtual PC needs accelerated graphics support, also, Microsoft needs to update the free Windows XP Mode VM to a Windows Vista Mode solution. You would be surprised the amount of applications and drivers out there that work with Windows Vista, but not Windows 7. For instance, my HUAWEI modem is compatible with Windows Vista 32 bit, but refuses to install or work at all in Windows 7 32 or 64 bitÖyes, I have tried work arounds.

  47. Since we are on the topic of Windows Virtual PC, I would like the option to connect to USB devices outside of the Virtual Environment. For instance, if I want to use my USB device within a vitualized application, it must first be attached.

  48. Make the User folder shell folder icons not be partially hidden by the folder icons. When browsing the User folder its difficult to quickly find what you want to open. For instance, let the Documents folder be represented by the documents icon, let the videos folder be represented by the film strip icon, let the Music folder be represented by the musical note etc.

  49. Slip streaming utility in Windows to make servicing Windows vNext easier, so when the first Service Pack for Windows vNext arrives, a built in tool under System Tools in Windows 7 automatically does it for you, only thing you need to provide is a blank DVD. This slip stream utility could have additional options for adding authorized drivers provided by certified IHVs and authorized software, such as a new version of Internet Explorer, Media Player and so on.

  50. Centralized Windows Update Service Ė what I mean by this is, Microsoft needs to partner with industry ISVís and have a working relationship with them to have their wares updated through Microsoft. So, if I have Adobe products or AutoDesk products installed on my system, I can use Windows Update as an efficient way to ensure all those products are kept updated. It will also ensure that systems are always up to date and secure, especially for products like Apple iTunes, Oracle JAVA, Adobe Flash and Reader. This will take a lot of commitment, partnership and trust, but I think it will ultimately benefit the companies reputation along enhancing customer relationship.


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