Windows 8 Replacement Leaked

Windows Blue – the NEXT big thing?
After an abundance of rumors we now have concrete evidence of Microsoft’s upcoming Windows Blue operating system.
The leak of “Windows Build 9364” appeared Sunday morning and news of the leak blazed across the internet like wildfire. Although Microsoft hasn’t issued a formal statement about the leak, it’s been reported by many industry news sources such as PC World, C-Net and numerous blogs and forums.

From the information currently available, here are what’s expected to be the 10 coolest features (and hints of new features) buried deep inside this build of Windows.

1. Half-screen app snapping
Windows 8’s ability to “Snap” an app to the side of the screen while another runs beside it gives the OS multitasking that Android and iOS just can’t match. The Windows Blue leak adds a 50/50 snapping option that should’ve been available from the get-go. Being able to dedicate half your screen to two separate apps makes the Snap feature much more useful for day-to-day app-based activities. (The old 75/25 split is still available if you prefer it, though.)

2. The rise of modern User Interface PC settings
One of the worst flaws of Windows 8 is the way it splits crucial settings options between the traditional desktop Control Panel and the modern-style PC Settings found in the Settings charm. Windows Blue fixes this with its vastly expanded PC Settings, which now contain many of the options hidden within the Control Panel.

Windows Build 9364’s PC Settings now let you fiddle with default apps, resolutions, networking details, and a whole lot more—including a new SkyDrive section.

3. Super SkyDrive
The modern-style SkyDrive app is not the same as the desktop SkyDrive app. That difference is glaring in Windows 8, where the modern-style app can only access files previously stored in your SkyDrive—it has no ability whatsoever to sync new files to the cloud. That may change with Windows Blue.

Hidden under the new SkyDrive section of the PC Settings is a Files submenu that hints at the addition of a file-syncing option in Windows Blue.

4. Internet Explorer 11
Also found in Windows Blue: Internet Explorer 11. It’s a very early version of Microsoft’s next-gen web browser—so much so that, functionally, it’s the exact same as Windows 8’s Internet Explorer 10. Under the surface, however, lies an intriguing hint of a new feature for the browser.

Buried inside the “More options” button in the top-most menu bar is an option dubbed Show synced tabs. Internet Explorer 10 introduced synced bookmarks and history to Microsoft’s browser. Were those just the beginning? It’ll be interesting to see if and how the new tab syncing function fits into the various IE iterations spread across Microsoft’s various platforms.

5. New apps?
Alongside the usual Mail, Maps, and Music tiles you know and love/loathe, a quadruplet of new apps appear on the Windows Blue Start screen: Alarms, Calculate, Sound Recorder, and Movie Moments.

6. New Live Tile size options
In Windows 8, you have two basic Live Tile sizing options: A medium-sized square, or a larger rectangle the size of two of those squares combined. Windows Blue ups the customization ante with the introduction of two new tile sizes. One’s an itty-bitty square a quarter of the size of Windows medium Tiles, while the other is a massive Tile as big as a pair of Windows 8’s larger rectangular tiles.

The additional sizing options afford a lot more customization flexibility, giving you the ability to craft a Start screen that isn’t quite as grid-like as what you’re limited to in Windows 8.

7. Say goodbye to accidental tile shifting
One of the biggest frustrations of the Windows 8 Start screen is how easy it is to accidentally move a Live Tile to a new location. If you move the mouse even a little bit while clicking on a Tile, the screen shifts to Semantic Zoom to allow you to move the Tile to another location, rather than simply opening it. Windows Blue eliminates that frustration with a new Customize button.

8. New gestures
That doesn’t mean the All Apps screen was eliminated from Windows Blue, however. The Verge reports that Windows Blue includes new gesture controls, including the ability to swipe up from the bottom of the Start screen to reveal all of your installed apps. Swiping up from the bottom of the desktop reveals a hidden app bar that includes snapping and projector options, amongst other things.

9. Easier personalization
While we’re on a Start screen, it’s worth mentioning that Windows Blue makes it much easier to change the look of the user interface. In Windows 8, the personalization options are banished to the darkest corner of the OS, buried deep in submenu after submenu. In Windows Blue, a Personalization option appears in the level of the Settings charm, right above the familiar Tiles and Help options.

10. Simple screenshot sharing
Maybe it’s because I love anything that streamlines the process of taking and sharing operating system screenshots. Windows 7’s “Snipping Tool” is/was the best thing since sliced bread in my opinion. Windows Blue adds the ability to share a screenshot of the app you’re working in using other modern-style apps you have installed, similar to Android’s sharing function. Again, it’s a simple change, but an awesome one.

The more things change, the more they stay the same
The most telling takeaway has nothing to do with features or functionality, however: It’s the very nature of Build 9364 itself. Previously, there was some debate about whether Windows Blue was a whole new OS or an update to Windows 8. Now we know it’s clearly the latter, as evidenced by the incremental improvements found in the leaked operating system.

And while we’re talking notable non-features, the Start button still doesn’t make it into Windows Blue. Looks like it’s really gone for good!

That said, Windows Blue is a clearly a step in the right direction, addressing many of the basic interface complaints leveled at Windows 8 and Windows RT as they stand today. Will it be enough to woo Windows 7 enthusiasts to Microsoft’s platform of the future? We’ll just have to wait and see.

Want to see a video of Windows Blue new features? Visit our friends at the Verge


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