Yet more tidbits have emerged over the kinds of changes we can expect to see with Windows Blue, a planned update to Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system that is set to be rolled out sometime later this year.
The Windows 9 Beta blog was the first to report that a leaked version of Windows Blue somehow found its way onto several file-sharing sites. The file, which appears to be genuine following checks on the setup.exe within the download, shows off a number of new features that will, with any luck, improve the overall user experience and win over some of those that have slated the operating system.
One of the major changes looks to be with the tiles on the metro-style interface. Windows Blue appears to incorporate more tile sizes, allowing users to miniaturize them to just one quarter of the size of a ‘standard’ tile, or alternatively expand them up to four times as big. This is a cosmetic change at best, but it could appeal to those users that don’t want to have to bother scrolling along to access all of their apps, as they could just miniaturize everything they need to appear on one screen. Similar, the larger icons might appeal to someone that can’t see as clearly.
It also looks like Microsoft is trying to make it easier for users to customize Windows 8 as well. A whole bunch of new options have been thrown into Windows Blue, including what can best be described as a Charms Bar menu called “personalize”. From here, users will be able to alternate between different backgrounds, swap colors, and perform other visual edits straight from the sidebar.
Microsoft has also made it easier to access the PC Settings section from the metro interface, something that’s probably aimed at appeasing those critics that moaned about having to jump through hoops (you know, by hitting the Windows button, then entering desktop mode) in order to do so before.
SkyDrive has also been given a bit of a makeover, with a new option for configuring the service added to a breakout menu. Further additions include a separate “Update & Recovery” menu for accessing the auto-update settings, and new Network and Apps settings menus. There’s also a new “Screen” menu that allows users to alter their power-saving settings, flip touch feedback on and off, and tweak various other display settings.
But perhaps the coolest new change has been made to the split-screen mode, which has until now been limited to the “snapped view”, in which one app (or the desktop) takes up three quarters of the screen, with the second app opened up but squeezed into a panel to one side. With Windows Blue, it looks as though we’ll have the option for a true, 50/50 split-screen mode that lets us devote equal display room to each app. Meanwhile, for those who are absolutely hell-bent on multi-tasking, there’s also an option to display four apps on the same screen at once, meaning it’s possible to draft an email, play with some spreadsheets, watch YouTube and shop for new apps simultaneously.
The leaked Windows Blue is available to download on a variety of file-sharing sites for those who are curious to have a look. Bearing in mind it’s a leak, we cannot post the links ourselves, but a quick search for the file name 9364.0.FBL_PARTNER_OUT13.130315-2105_X86FRE_CLIENT_EN-US-IMP_CCSA_DV5.ISO should point readers in the right direction. Readers that would prefer to check out a more ‘legitimate’ version of Windows Blue probably won’t have to wait too long to do so, as our sources tell us that Microsoft is likely to come up with an officially sanctioned preview in the coming months. This will probably be followed by an official launch of Windows Blue towards the end of the year.