This past week was a big one for Windows Blue. First, leaked images and video hit the Internet and detailed some of Windows Blue's new features. Secondly, Microsoft finally acknowledged that the Windows 8 update exists in the form of project "Blue," something it had never done before.
Of course, we don't know everything Microsoft has in store for the Windows Blue update, but the leaks did reveal at least a few new features. With Windows 8's big focus on touch capabilities and the new Metro UI, it's obvious that the operating system was designed ideally for a tablet like the Surface Pro or RT. Windows Blue continues that trend by adding new features that will make the Surface experience much better. Here are five features we're looking forward to when Microsoft releases the update later this year.
1. App Snapping
Multitasking on a touch-screen device can still be a pain in the butt, and while Windows 8 allowed users to run two apps simultaneously on the same screen, it didn't divide the space very equally. One app hogged 75 percent of the screen while the second was only allowed a measly 25 percent. With Windows Blue, however, users will be able to devote each app 50 percent of the display, making working the two much easier. Of course, if you prefer the 75/25 split for any particular occasion, it'll still be available as an option.
2. New Apps!
Sure, the ability to multitask better between your existing apps is great, but new ones are always better (scientific fact). The leaked Windows Blue details show that there are at least four new apps on the way: Alarms, Movie Moments, Calculator, and Sound Recorder. Each has its own Metro UI square, but it's a bit unclear as to whether or not they're all default, first-party Microsoft apps. Most of these are pretty self explanatory, and Microsoft will be giving users easy access to them. Movie Moments, however, is a bit of an unknown at this point.
3. Enhanced PC Settings
The Surface Pro and RT both have a desktop mode, but let's face it, having to navigate the traditional desktop on a touch tablet probably isn't the most ideal kind of user experience. Especially for Surface RT users, who get a gimped desktop mode that cannot run anything other than what's already pre-installed anyway.
Thankfully, Windows Blue takes steps to fix this. The new PC settings will offer more options for users who need to access apps that would normally only be available by switching into desktop mode. For desktop/laptop users, this emphasis on Windows 8's Metro UI doesn't mean much for them, but for Surface Pro/RT owners who need to work on a tablet, the convenience is certainly welcome.
4. Customizable Metro And New Live Tile Sizes
One of the big draws of Windows 8's Metro UI is that users can rearrange the Live Tiles in any way they see fit. The placement is completely up to them, and now Microsoft will offer more options by letting users choose between different sized live tiles. Whereas before Surface Pro/RT owners could only choose between a square and a rectangle (the size of two squares), Windows Blue expands the possibilities significantly. There will be tiny tiles that are a quarter of the size of a square tile, and a giant square tile that's as large as two rectangular tiles stacked on top of each other.
Additionally, you'll be able to choose between various new background colors, patterns, and themes for the Metro UI.
5. Better SkyDrive
It's almost strange to say SkyDrive has gotten better; it will simply allow you to do what it should've been able to do from the get-go. With Windows 8, using SkyDrive via the Metro UI meant you could access previously uploaded files but that you couldn't access or sync up anything new. If you wanted to do that, you had to switch to desktop mode and do things that way. The Windows Blue leaks hint that Microsoft will be putting an end to that, thankfully.