Windows 9: More BIG Changes Announced
Windows 9, which is also known by its codename “Threshold”, has some big changes up its sleeve to keep users happy: removing the pesky charms bar from the desktop and finally introducing virtual desktops built-in as standard.
The “Charms Bar” pops up on the right hand side of the screen whenever you move your mouse into the top or bottom right hand corner of the screen, and allows users to search their PCs, go to the Control Panel, press yet another Start Button, share information from with others and go to your devices menu.
On touch screen tablets, the feature is actually useful and easy to use – and might remain in some form for tablet users or those in the full-screen app environment.
When using a touch tablet, you just swipe leftwards from the right hand side of the screen to see the Charms Bar, but on desktops, the feature is annoyingly displayed because you moved the mouse to the top right hand corner of the screen when all you really wanted to do was to close or minimise a window.
It also pops up when you’re simply trying to press the area at the bottom right of the screen which lets you shrink all open windows to the task bar, letting you instantly see the desktop.
I cannot tell you the number of times I have seen users of all expertise levels, from absolute beginners to veteran computer users bring the charms menu up by accident when navigation around the desktop.
The Charms Bar then takes a second or two to disappear, making you needlessly wait so you can see the close or minimise buttons and click.
I’ve helped many a Windows 8/8.1 user install the free Classic Shell Start Menu replacement which lets you disable all “corner” interactions in Windows 8/8.1 completely, something that users were very happy to see.
Now, Microsoft is finally going to fix the problem in Windows 9, and will probably simply incorporate the Charms Bar features into the Start Menu, where they always were before.
The next big change is the addition of virtual desktops, which have been available for years on Mac OS X and Ubuntu.
A series of virtual desktops lets you have multiple windows open at the same time, but spaced out on different desktops rather than in small windows on the one desktop, or with windows hidden behind the main window that is open.
On Mac OS X, you can use four fingers to simply swipe left or right to go between the virtual desktops you’ve set up, and Mac owners I’ve shown the feature to have been very happy to use it as it allows much easier management of several open programs at the same time.
The image below is how Ubuntu implements its virtual desktops, but we don’t yet know just how Microsoft plans its virtual desktop implementation. Hopefully it doesn’t involve putting your mouse into a corner as with the failed Charms bar experiment.
There are sure to be more Windows 9 surprises to come before its April 2015 release, along with a beta version due to arrive in September or October 2014 – the US “Fall” or Autumn, which is our Spring.
Winbeta was first to report the elimination of the Charms Bar, while Neowin was first to report the addition of the Virtual Desktops. Veteran Microsoft watcher Mary-Jo Foley has also confirmed the news.