Windows 10 on Tablets Musings

So now that my venting is properly done on Windows 10 running in ‘tablet mode’, I was thinking now’s the time to be more constructive. Windows 10 on desktops is great–perfectly (or at least nearly) meshed with those needs, what should it look like when you pop off the tablet from the keyboard? Surprisingly, not all that much. So here are some ideas/suggestions for the undocked range free tablet mode:

  1. Get rid of the taskbar in tablet mode. It’s ugly in full screen mode, too small to be useful, and a constant reminder of the desktop, which has no place in the modern UX. So have that just turn off when in TM (tablet mode). We’ll get to the other functions other, more tablet-y ways.
  2. Make Action Center more action. We need to add back some of the features from the Charms bar/settings slide out menus. Maybe a toggle at the bottom to switch the space from Notifications (less useful) to Controls (more useful). Eliminate the things that were questionable in charms (Devices, Search) and leave a way to Share, Go To Start, and in-context Settings. Let that slide out menu be a kind of control panel/notify combo.
  3. Revamp Task Switch for swiping through apps. Just lift the swipe to switch right out of Windows 8.1 and put it back in. Multiple desktops and the Task Switch ‘picker’ view is great and useful for desktops, hopeless kludgy in TM. Anything to do with the desktop(s) should be minimized/removed in TM. Flipping quickly through apps is something so much better than any other tablet OS Microsoft should not abandon it. Keep the innovations that work in touch!
  4. Figure out Snap mode. This I got nothin’. It’s hard to snap modern UI apps in Win 8.1, but almost impossibly cryptic and non-discoverable in Windows 10. Better minds than mine can probably figure this out. But Snap Mode of modern apps is really useful to have. Don’t just hide it.
  5. Swiping from Top/Bottom can bring in the app specific controls. But just the system level ones (close, share, search. I can give on this one. App bars, which I actually liked because it made for a clean interface, was hard to discover and use–even to this day, sometimes I forget the controls are there.
  6. And finally, Make the Start Screen a beautiful showcase of the OS. Not the cluttered mess it is in this build. Really just display it like it was in Windows 8.1, swipe up for all apps, pinning, multi-select, transparent background, etc. Or better yet, make it even cooler, add animations, more live tile functionality, more size/color options. Make the Start Screen a truly interactive dashboard–a showcase of cool. Right now it’s ugly and ‘noisy’ in Windows 10. Truly switch into a tablet look and feel, get rid of the micro icons and most used (that’s for the desktop, lose it).

Mostly that’s it. Much of the other things are good or at least good enough. But tablet mode needs to really shine when it’s on, and show just how good the Windows experience can be, even for new users. Tablets have to have a cool factor. Otherwise it’s Tablet PC days all over again. Who knows, some of these things may already be in the works for later builds–but Microsoft needs to have a real competitor in the tablet space on all sizes, not just under 7 inches. It’s not a giant, impossible list of things to do either–to truly weave these two environments together should be the goal.

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