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What's your favorite Win8 UI modification software?

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  • User profile image
    dentaku

    I know some of you have installed special software to transform the Win8 interface to function more like Win7.

    What are your favorite ones? Stuff that makes the PC boot directly to the desktop, turns off anything that swishes out of the sides and corners of the screen and maybe even gives you a Start Menu and a real shutdown button that's easy to find.

    I don't particularly mind the Start Menu because at least it's customizable and live tiles are a good concept BUT there are other things that are just less efficient especially when you're using a mouse. It's not just people being afraid of new things, it's taken quite a while for businesses to upgrade to Win7 and I don't see them ever upgrading to Win8 until they have the ability to modify the interface to something acceptable for a non-touch computer.
    The whole separation of Modern UI apps and settings and Desktop apps and settings is also jarring.

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    Deactivated User

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  • User profile image
    wkempf

    I've used Win8 not only without touch, but in a remote session as well, and have lost no productivity in doing so. I get that you have a preference, and you're not wrong in your preference, but claims about it being unusable and so it will never be adopted are simply wrong. It might not get adopted, and it might be because of the UI changes, but it won't be because it's not usable/productive.

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    Deactivated User

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  • User profile image
    wkempf

    For me, it's not even more clicks. But then, I've always used Windows predominantly with hot keys, not the mouse, and with pinned (or shortcuts prior to Win7) apps or "WinKey+type command" rather than using the start menu. So I've got less retraining to do than some. In the end though, it's not just "usable". There's no loss in productivity. That doesn't mean I think Microsoft made the right decisions. From a UX standpoint, I can't stand the loss of affordance and discoverability. For enterprises that is going to mean higher costs in training, and an initial loss in productivity while employees are trained. In the end, though, there is no loss in productivity, much less usability.

  • User profile image
    PaoloM

    I bought a 5 PC license for http://startisback.com and use it on work machines, where I pretty much live in the desktop. Home machines and tablets run unmodified, as the experience is great in that case. 

    Classic shell is garbage.

  • User profile image
    dentaku

    , wkempf wrote

    I've used Win8 not only without touch, but in a remote session as well, and have lost no productivity in doing so. I get that you have a preference, and you're not wrong in your preference, but claims about it being unusable and so it will never be adopted are simply wrong. It might not get adopted, and it might be because of the UI changes, but it won't be because it's not usable/productive.



    I actually like what they've done, it's just that it's what I would call "going a bit too far" by not letting mouse users fall back to a Win7 mode.
    Mice are still better for many things so scattering things around the outside makes perfect sense for a tablet where your hands are holding the device along the edge of the screen but it's not efficient for mouse users with a very accurate little pointer, at least 2 buttons and a scrollwheel.
    Whenever I move a mouse pointer into a corner and things swish out I know it was designed for fat fingers on a small portable device and it just feels wrong (swiping motions especially feel wrong).
    I'm glad some people can use it just fine but I have a feeling a majority of people feel it's a step backwards and a bit too scattered everywhere for us mouse and especially trackpad users.

    I never use my start menu other than to get to the control panel and maybe once in a while hit restart or shut down but the Start8 menu still looks nice to me. Being able to start up directly to the desktop is a very nice feature.
    I wonder if it turns off the Charms Bar and the menu that pops out of the top left while you're in Desktop mode? I only want that when I'm in fullscreen Modern UI mode.

  • User profile image
    elmer

    I have a physical issue to deal with and absolutely avoid using the keyboard at all, if I can just move the mouse/wheel a few mm to get what I want. I find the Win8 UI to be too 'physical' and the Win7 UI to be more 'usable' for my personal needs. Of course, as for 'touch' ...I'm not even going there.

    I tried Win8 + the Stardock solution but it still didn't make me happy. Nothing glaringly wrong with it, and I can't quite put my finger on what it was, but it just felt like a 90% finished product.

  • User profile image
    wkempf

    @dentaku: The Start Menu is a case of "move a mouse pointer into a corner and things swish out". There's really two issues, from a UX POV, with what they did.

    1. There's no visual cues or affordance.

    2. The hit area, in some cases, is simply too small. Fitt's law is great, but it doesn't work reliably here. Remote sessions means the UI could be windowed and there won't be an infinite virtual space to try and hit, and the same sort of issue occurs with multiple monitors.

    Like I said, there are problems with what Microsoft did. I'm not trying to be an apologist. They need to fix this. It doesn't mean they have to through the Win8 concepts out and go back to the Win7 way of doing things. Providing the ability to optionally behave like Win7 isn't really addressing the problem, and isn't what they should do.

  • User profile image
    evildictait​or

    , wkempf wrote

    @dentaku: The Start Menu is a case of "move a mouse pointer into a corner and things swish out". There's really two issues, from a UX POV, with what they did.

    1. There's no visual cues or affordance.

    2. The hit area, in some cases, is simply too small. Fitt's law is great, but it doesn't work reliably here. Remote sessions means the UI could be windowed and there won't be an infinite virtual space to try and hit, and the same sort of issue occurs with multiple monitors.

    Like I said, there are problems with what Microsoft did. I'm not trying to be an apologist. They need to fix this. It doesn't mean they have to through the Win8 concepts out and go back to the Win7 way of doing things. Providing the ability to optionally behave like Win7 isn't really addressing the problem, and isn't what they should do.

    ++

    Try using Windows8 in a non-fullscreen VM with mouse-integration and try and click the start corner. It's really frkken annoying.

  • User profile image
    MasterPi

    @wkempf: I agree with not needing to go back to a Win7 UX. Having gone through the usability testing process a couple of times, I can say that you really don't have to make drastic changes (like bring back the legacy UI) to improve a user experience. Doing something simple like changing the color of a button can transform a completely clueless user into a more informed one. Additionally, you can add elements that encourage a particular mental model upon the user (e.g., affordances like knurling on the corners of windows or a row of dots, one for each page in the view).

    Win8 really just lacks the elements that would guide the user into the right mental model. Once you know how it all works, it's pretty usable - it's getting to that level of understanding that is the issue, and something that can be easily fixed through simple indicators and in general making things more discoverable. For example, I really think they should carry over the three appbar dots at the bottom of WinPhone apps to show that you can swipe up for additional options. They should also flash the task and charms pane at appropriate times to indicate that it would be useful to swipe from the sides (e.g., flash the task pane the moment you open up a new app). Just simple things to fill in the gaps.

  • User profile image
    wkempf

    @MasterPie: Yep, it's mostly small changes that would make a really large difference. It's not just affordances, though. The "edge UI" concept isn't bad, but there has to take into consideration mouse usage in scenarios where Fitt's law doesn't work. Multi-monitor and windowed remote sessions both suffer VERY badly here. A simple solution would be a "button" similar to the Win7 "show desktop" button. Relatively small, unobtrusive, but it gives the necessary visual cues and gives you a hit target large enough for mouse usage in these situations. I expect (read "hope for") these small sort of UI fixes in Blue.

  • User profile image
    karstenj

    I really like Start8  http://www.stardock.com/products/start8/  for my dev box.

  • User profile image
    DeathBy​VisualStudio

    , wkempf wrote

    @MasterPie: A simple solution would be a "button" similar to the Win7 "show desktop" button. Relatively small, unobtrusive, but it gives the necessary visual cues and gives you a hit target large enough for mouse usage in these situations. I expect (read "hope for") these small sort of UI fixes in Blue.

    It's called the Start button. Wink Seriously though just adding some chrome like a start button that invoked the start screen would go a long way IMO. On the Windows Store App front adding a "close" x in the upper right corner when the mouse is detected and/or moved would be a nice crutch for those coming over from the desktop world still stuck on mouse & keyboard (and insistent on closing their apps).

    If we all believed in unicorns and fairies the world would be a better place.
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  • User profile image
    elmer

    , wkempf wrote

    Remote sessions means the UI could be windowed and there won't be an infinite virtual space to try and hit, and the same sort of issue occurs with multiple monitors.

    Yes, likewise if you are needing to manage Win2012 servers via RDP on a multi-monitor client - it can be *really* awkward to find those hot-spots. Ok, I know that some people will say you shouldn't be running a GUI on a server anyway, but that's beside the point.

  • User profile image
    MasterPi

    , DeathBy​VisualStudio wrote

    Seriously though just adding some chrome like a start button that invoked the start screen would go a long way IMO.

    It'd be nice if the bottom left hotspot was used "just" for switching between the start menu and the desktop. Then, you sort of retain that start menu like feel for keyboard/mouse users.

    But, it all depends on whether the desktop is supposed to be an app.

    On the Windows Store App front adding a "close" x in the upper right corner when the mouse is detected and/or moved would be a nice crutch for those coming over from the desktop world still stuck on mouse & keyboard (and insistent on closing their apps).

    Yeah...you shouldn't have to use a touch gesture to close stuff. You still need to be able to drag apps for side-by-side, however. Maybe just have a VS-style radial menu popup when you go to drag the window, with one of the icons being a close button and the remaining two being for side-by-side? Basically...you wouldn't have to move your mouse so much to do something simple like close.

  • User profile image
    Sven Groot

    , wkempf wrote

    @dentaku: The Start Menu is a case of "move a mouse pointer into a corner and things swish out". There's really two issues, from a UX POV, with what they did.

    1. There's no visual cues or affordance.

    2. The hit area, in some cases, is simply too small. Fitt's law is great, but it doesn't work reliably here. Remote sessions means the UI could be windowed and there won't be an infinite virtual space to try and hit, and the same sort of issue occurs with multiple monitors.

    Like I said, there are problems with what Microsoft did. I'm not trying to be an apologist. They need to fix this. It doesn't mean they have to through the Win8 concepts out and go back to the Win7 way of doing things. Providing the ability to optionally behave like Win7 isn't really addressing the problem, and isn't what they should do.

    Actually, with multiple monitors, the corners are "sticky". If I throw my mouse into the general direction of the upper right corner of my left-most screen, it will stick to the corner as long as I hit the upper edge (which is not adjacent to another screen) first. So as long as you don't have monitors on all sides of your main one, it's not that hard.

    There are a few other problems I have with the hot corners though:

    1. The top-left and top-right ones are competing for things you would otherwise try to hit using Fitt's law, like the window close button and system menu. For top-right it's not such a big problem, because the charm's bar won't cover the corner, but for top-left I often find myself accidentally covering up IE's back button by bringing up the app switcher by mistake.
    2. Ever used the Metro RDP client? Even though it's full screen, the hot corners will still belong to the host system. The start screen and charms bar etc. of the remote machine can only be brought up using the keyboard and the app bar (and if their contents are very similar, that's bloody confusing).
    3. Using the hot corners on anything other than your primary monitor will move the start screen and all metro apps to that monitor where they will stay until you manually move them back.

    As for affordance, I can sort of see the rationale between the removal of the start button. The idea is to pretend that the desktop is just an app and not special (even though it is still treated specially in reality). None of the other apps have a start button, so why should the desktop?

    But some more visual clues would definitely have been nice.

  • User profile image
    DeathBy​VisualStudio

    , MasterPie wrote

    *snip*

    But, it all depends on whether the desktop is supposed to be an app.

    I agree with what you said other than the above quote. It should depend on what's the best workflow for the user and not the re-framing of context that the developer wants to make the user deal with.

    If we all believed in unicorns and fairies the world would be a better place.
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