Microsoft is taking to its Windows 8 blog to defend the upcoming operating system's tile-centric Start screen.
Microsoft really wants to justify that Windows 8 Start screen.
Like its choice to include the "ribbon" user interface in
the Windows 8 version of Windows Explorer, Microsoft's decision to offer a
Windows 8 Start screen composed of active tiles is proving somewhat
controversial for a subset of Windows watchers.
"We know major changes like this can be controversial and we
are looking forward to continuing this dialog with you," Marina Dukhon, a
senior program manager lead on Windows' Core Experience team, wrote in an Oct.
11 posting on the "Building
blog, which serves as one of the primary channels for Microsoft
talking about the upcoming operating system. "I wanted to address some of the
specific topics that have been brought up so far as they pertain to the
In the current Windows format, the Start button opens a menu
with a list of applications. An "All Programs" tab within that menu opens a
plethora of folders and subfolders. Microsoft's engineers believe this is an
inefficient system, particularly in light of increased user focus on apps and
"In Windows 8 we assume that there are even more apps (and
sites) than the XP/Vista/7 eras and so we needed even more scale," Dukhon
wrote. "We also wanted to provide an at-a-glance view and a navigation model
that requires much less dexterity." The Windows 8 Start screen, she added,
offers more apps without the need to scroll or click through a file tree.
Microsoft is also developing the customization options
related to the Windows 8 start screen. "The personalization of the Start screen
is one of the features that we want to make great, and we're still iterating on
it and to make it better," she wrote. "In the Windows Developer Preview, you
can already try flexible group sizes, unpinning tiles, and resizing wide tiles
to square tiles. And in the Beta, you'll also be able to use other improvements
based on this dialog, in addition to creating, naming, and rearranging groups."
Microsoft has also used the blog to defend its decision to
integrate the ribbon user interface, which offers tabs and icons in a
horizontal or vertical panel, into Windows 8.
"We chose the ribbon mechanism, and to those that find that
a flawed choice, there isn't much we can do other than disagree," Windows and
Windows Live division President Steven Sinofsky
blogged Sept. 2. "We are certain, and this proved out, that the dislike of the
ribbon is most intense in the audience of this blog."
Certainly Windows 8 will offer a radical departure from the
traditional Windows. That tile-centric start screen will make the operating
system more palatable for tablets, and in theory allow Microsoft to challenge
Apple's iPad in the touch-screen space. In addition, users will have the option
of flipping to a desktop interface. Other entries in the "Building Windows 8" blog
have discussed issues such as the Windows team's attempts to reduce runtime
memory requirements and malware security, in an apparent bid to convince
potential users that Windows 8 can serve equally as a robust operating system
for desktops and laptops, and as a lightweight interface for
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