Ideas to improve the design of Windows 8
We've all heard, and experienced, the problems with Windows 8. Though Metro is a step above what's offered by Apple or Google at this point, the implementation has been very poor. I'd like to take a step back and look at what went wrong, what the UI has going for it, and how it could be improved or overhauled.
Windows, up until Windows 7, relied on two things, the Desktop and the Start bar. The Desktop gave us easy access to any applications we would like quick access too and the Start bar exposed all the elements of the OS in a simple and easy to understand manner.
Here, the Start menu gives us easy access to all the applications installed, the start bar doubles as both task switcher by exposing all open applications and notification bar by notifying us of any changes. While the UI itself is not touch friendly, the design concepts can be carried over very easily.
In the new Windows, we retain the basic concepts behind this, but utilize Metro design concepts to ensure that it is touch friendly.
The Desktop is divided into a grid on which Application icons can be placed. Icons can be of size 1x1, 2x2, or 4x2. Each application tile must conform to a system wide color scheme such that jarring color changes do not occur. The Desktop is limited to just one screen so Users can pin only a finite number of applications here. Each icon acts as a live tile as well. This is the role played by the Start Menu in Windows 8 but there it is much messier.
Windows Phone has an Applications menu which can be accessed by swiping from right to left on the main screen. Here, all applications are listed alphabetically. It is a very straightforward UI implementation, one that would not look out of place on Windows. This would be accessed by pressing the Start or Applications button on the Start bar, upon which the applications menu could slide onto the screen. System wide search could be built in here.
The task switcher is accessed by pressing the Application switcher button. This slides up, revealing all open applications. This is similar to the UI found in IOS. Multiple windows of the same application are grouped together, individual windows can be seen by pressing the icon in the switcher. For example, if there are three File manager windows open, all of them would be grouped under one file manager icon, pressing this icon would reveal the three open windows from which we can go to the one we want.
Notifications can be obtained by pressing the notifications button, upon which notifications are displayed in a list that slides in from the right. Here a list of all notifications grouped by application can be displayed.
Each application is given a space of it's own, regardless of whether it is a desktop app or a metro app. This will reduce confusion, it will make sure there is no crowding, and it makes sure each app has the full screen. This makes touch easier.
Snapping applications side by side can be done by going to a space, and dragging the other application out from the app switcher.
I apologize for the mockups. This is the first time i've done this and i have no idea how to create accurate ones. It'd be a great help if someone could make proper mockups.
If i've missed anything, or you have suggestions, or you have questions, ask me in the comments. I'll try my best to answer.