(Windows Phone 9 Concept) Windows One - A Fresh Look at What the Near Future of Windows Could Be Like

This concept is a radical reimagining of Windows. But it's grounded in reality; it's not change for the sake of change. I considered a subtle evolution, but eventually I felt a larger change was needed, And yet, you won't find it too unfamiliar, because I've incorporated familiar cues from various versions of Windows, while still keeping to Microsoft's modern design principles. For example, to reach the recent apps screen, you just have to pull down the title bar of the current app.

More importantly, it paves the way for Windows to take on the near future. It has a fully modern user interface without carrying any baggage from the past. One of the first things you'll notice is the lack of any hard navigation buttons. That's because it has a gesture-based UI. It might take a while to get used to it, but it's easier to familiarise yourself with it because it exposes the hierarchy of screens clearly. It'll feel a lot more natural and intuitive too, without sacrificing any speed. For example, to go back, you don't need to stretch for that back button; just swipe right from the left edge.

And it's really simple to use. You either pull up from the bottom to access the Start screen with all your content like notifications, widgets, and apps, or pull down from the top to access system stuff like quick settings and recent apps.

The Start screen is the closest thing to a home screen - but you can also think of it as a drawer. It's designed for a world where apps are no longer everything, but where snippets of information and functionality take centre stage. It's also designed for a more contextually-aware era, with tight integration with Cortana, who intelligently handles your content, but only if you want her to.

It's a hub of information, handling notifications in a more sophisticated way. They're separated into sections, one for whatever Cortana has for you right now, another for all your notifications, and any others you can create for specific things you want to keep track of. And of course, you can sort them however you want, whether in chronological order or by what's most important or relevant, and more. For example, you might want to keep up with what your friends are doing on social media, but their notifications will only appear at the bottom of the 'All' section since what's most important right now are your work email and document collaboration notifications, so you can create a section with just your friends' notifications to keep up with them. The Start screen helps you to make sense of the huge volume of information coming at you and stay focused on what you're doing.

It's also where you'll find your apps, within those same sections as for the notifications. So, there's one for apps Cortana suggests for right now, another for all you apps, and any others you can create to group them up. And of course, you can sort them however you want too. For example, create a section to group all your favourite games together, which will also receive any notifications from those games.

Next, there's the Heads-up Display, which is just a fancy name as I couldn't think of anything better. It's where you can see and control what's going on in the system at a glance. You can see system status and change common settings quickly. You can switch and close apps quickly too, or maybe you just wanted to cancel that Store download, which you can do right from the recent apps screen, so you can just pull down the title bar to zoom out to the HUD, slide to the Store app and tap the Cancel Download button, then slide back to whatever app you were using and tap the window preview to get right back to it.

Your lock screen got a lot more powerful too, showing you a small pane in the middle with a quick summary of the first 8 notifications and still leaving plenty of space for your wallpaper, because you don't exactly want to be bombarded with information the moment you unlock your phone and have your peace disturbed. You can then slide it sideways to scroll through all your notifications, and even unlock straight to them or dismiss them.

Popup notifications appear in a place that makes a lot of sense - not just physically because that's where your thumb naturally lies, but also because it's at the bottom where all your content resides. They never block or cover what you're doing, and you can swipe them away or tap them to go to them while never leaving what you're doing.

You might wonder as you explore my concept below why I refer to it as Windows yet all the mockups are for phones. That's because creating for all form factors would have been too much effort, and I think phones will become the primary hub-like device people will use in the near future, especially for the 'next billion'. Nevertheless, when I thought of all the basic structures and features, other form factors and contexts where always in the mind.

While you're looking through the images, you might think "Hey, this looks like s**t". And yeah, it might. The surface graphics and visual style weren't really a priority for me, though. I basically just followed whatever already exists in Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8. Consistency was more important to me, both so that it would look unmistakably Windows and it would also allow me to illustrate the underlying structures and concepts clearly, without having to bother so much about drop shadows and stuff like that.

So that's my concept in a (big) nutshell. You can explore it in more detail below.

The blank black spaces are actually for the video mockups:

Start: http://youtu.be/RT8-Atj1Yk4

Cortana: http://youtu.be/TFRhImDctNQ

Lock Screen: http://youtu.be/QE40sjj3PFI

Heads-up Display: http://youtu.be/REf2B5hBKN8

Notifications: http://youtu.be/v-K75y1Z1O8

View this project on Behance so the small fonts won't kill your eyes (which the image below was originally created for, hence the black spaces): http://bit.ly/1iMgBDT

Windows One Concept

2014 Rayner Lim. All trademarks and registered trademarks belong to their respective owners.

Thanks a lot for taking the time to see this project! Please do comment on what you loved, liked, didn't like, or hated and why; I'm really interested to know, but please, say something constructive.