Concept: Windows 8.1 Overlay/Snapped Start Menu


My latest idea for Windows 8.1 tries to adress a huge issue Windows 8 desktop users had for a long time: The full-screen Start Screen behaviour. It drives you away from your workflow, and sometimes brings a "jarring" feel when switching between Metro and Desktop paradigms (they are too different).


To adress it, my idea is to add the ability to invoke the Start Screen in two new ways, and users can switch between them at any time.

Overlay mode


It brings the Start Screen as a 320 px layer over the current content. It only appears if it's needed, and allows to have a quick look at live tiles, without that annoying full-screen context switch, so users can still see their current windowed apps. Overlay Start Menu is activated with the lower-left Windows Logo/Start Button. Of course, users can change the button behaviour to bring the full Start Screen if they want.

Here's how it would look like with Internet Explorer:


And Twitter:


Snapped mode


Alternatively, the Start Screen can be snapped as any other Metro App, so it can be dragged to both left and right sides of the screen. Te main advantage of this option is to have the Start Screen always visible, so it could be used as a pseudo-notification center.

Again, examples with Internet Explorer and Twitter:



In either cases, the Start Screen retains all its features, like the Apps list or Personalize:



What do you think?