Building a Desktop for the (near) future of Windows.
The desktop is here to stay, for a while longer at least. But with Windows 8 pushing the overall UI/UX in new and different directions without also evolving the desktop, they have created a discordant bridge between the two. Someone who primarily uses the start menu, the 'Modern UI' and downloaded apps still occasionally finds themselves thrown to the desktop environment for certain programs, while the Desktop user can often be confronted with tasks that require the start screen or other 'modern' menus. In order to make the user truly feel at home with the entire experience, the desktop needs to feel like an extension of the Start Screen/Modern UI and vice-versa.
The way forward is to build a new desktop experience that retains the multi-tasking, at-a-glance, drag-and-drop features and overall productivity of the desktop environment while introducing the experience of using the modern interface along with some of the useful features it can provide like live-tiles.
To me, this means introducing a new Start menu to the desktop that is consistent with the Start Screen, while offering quick-access to settings and other commonly-used desktop destinations. In keeping with this introduction of the new UI to the desktop, I would also include the ability to dock live-tiles to the desktop, to exist side by side the files, folders and program icons that already populate it. Other than these small changes, the desktop retains most of its classic appearance, with some minor visual alterations to bring it more in line with the rest of the Windows interface.
(Please note: these early-stage concept images are for the purpose of illustrating the basic ideas to facilitate additional brainstorming, so don't take anything too serious)
The Desktop, as it would normally appear:
An early concept for the Start menu and search function. This menu would be accessed through the use of the left windows button, a swipe up from the taskbar or a 'click' of the 'Start' button:
Along with bringing up your most commonly used Apps and Live-tiles, you have your user settings there and some of the standbys of the old start menu. Swiping up again from this menu would take you to the Start Screen, as would clicking 'Start' or simply using the right windows button (as it already does). From here you can also drag live-tiles to the desktop (removing them would simply require swiping them off screen after a long press/click)
Typing while this menu is active would automatically switch to the search menu, as it does on the Start screen:
This is fairly self-explanatory I should hope. Clicking the 'more results' would take you to the full search screen. Items can also be dragged to the desktop environment from here, or simply launched from the menu.
Obviously this is still very rough and needs quite a bit more work before would be a truly viable bridge between the two Windows experiences, but I think it is a good start and I would appreciate input from any of you who feel you have anything to contribute. I have no plans to turn it into a product, this is primarily a brainstorming exercise because I'm crazy like that. If YOU would like to turn it into a product though, I would appreciate credit.