In Pictures: 8 ways Microsoft could improve Windows 8

Here is our wish list of things we’d love to see in an update or service pack for Windows 8.

  • Windows 8 improves on Windows 7 in several areas, such as the File Explorer, the File History tool, and an overall speedier-feeling performance in the Desktop environment. Still, after using and tinkering with it a lot, there are several things that could use improvement. Here is our wish list of things we’d love to see in an update or service pack for Windows 8.

  • Restore the Start button Yes, we’re beating a dead horse here. But Microsoft should implement a classic Start menu UI into an update of Windows 8, and allow the user to choose using it over Modern. There are already several third-party options that let us use a classic-style Start menu in Windows 8, but we’d like to see you provide your own. If not, we recommend that you buy Start8 from Stardock and patch it into a Windows 8 Service Pack.

  • Cut down on the steps to restart, shutdown, sleep The power functions are set three levels in -- to restart, shutdown or sleep our Windows 8 computers, we have to summon the Charms Bar, click/tap Settings, and then the Power icon. We think the Power icon should be relocated to the Charms Bar itself, cutting down the steps to two. This would work faster when using Windows 8 with a mouse.

  • Let users customize Hot Corners We think Microsoft should give users the ability to change what the four Hot Corners access when we move the cursor to these areas (or tap them on a touchscreen). For example, in Desktop, moving the cursor to the lower-left (or tapping this area on a touchscreen) summons a thumbnail of the Start screen menu to click/tap in order to access the Modern environment. But if we’d prefer to have the upper-left Hot Corner do this, we cannot re-assign this function to it.

  • Let users change the placement of the Switcher and Charms Bar Windows 8 confines the app Switcher to the left side, but why can’t we move this panel to the right, even along the bottom or top. Furthermore, maybe the Switcher could be set to display the thumbnail shortcuts of all currently open/running Windows 8 apps laid out in a grid that, when summoned, appears over the Desktop or Start screen menu.

  • Merge the Desktop and Modern multitask environments Because there are two multitasking environments in Windows 8 (Windows 8 apps and Desktop), you can forget when you have programs running in one environment while using another. You basically have to juggle programs between the Switcher and Desktop Taskbar. Further, W8 treats the Desktop as though it were an app, placing a thumbnail of it in the Switcher panel. Why can’t Microsoft bring together the two environments into one seamless multitasker?

  • Add multiple-pane functionality to File Explorer We like the addition of the Ribbon UI, which gives us greater flexibility in how we can manage our files. We think Microsoft should add the ability to view individual folder branches in separate panes, which are all contained within the main File Explorer window. For example, one pane would show the files on our Windows 8 system’s main storage medium, and another pane would show the files on an external drive. And we should be able to drag-and-drop files between the panes.

  • Redesign Windows Store We’re mystified by Microsoft’s apparent fixation for laying out panels throughout the Modern UI where frequent side-to-side swiping (or horizontal scrolling with a mouse) is required in order to access application icons. The worst example of this is the Windows Store. We’d rather the featured apps be neatly presented on one screen; but if more content is required, then just have additional content laid out so we swipe/scroll the screen down to see more... you know, like the way a web browser works.

  • Touch up Internet Explorer The add-on ecosystem of the Desktop version of IE has become unappealing. At the official IE add-ons site, many add-ons are outdated, of questionable use, or shareware that are actually Windows apps that need to be installed outside the IE program environment. In the Modern version of IE, the browser is speedy but so simplistic that it doesn’t feel effective for regular use without a touchscreen.

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