10 must-have features for Windows 9

Desktop users deserve a significant rethink of the Windows 8 gaffes and omissions for the next version of Windows

I've been using Windows 8 for almost a year now, and I constantly bump up against gaping holes in its design. From the beginning, Microsoft has offered users an awkward experience, one that, even when fully baked, has not impressed, leaving desktop diehards in the lurch as to how to make the most of Windows 8.

It's almost as if Microsoft is banking on Windows 8 being a fertile feedback loop for Windows 9 -- where to steer its direction and how to make up for what two-faced Win8 lacks.

[ See our in-depth Test Center review of Windows 8 and find out how much you know about Microsoft's OS with our Windows IQ test. | InfoWorld covers Microsoft's new direction, the touch interface for tablet and desktop apps, the transition from Windows 7, and more in the Windows 8 Deep Dive PDF special report. | Stay atop key Microsoft technologies in our Technology: Microsoft newsletter. ]

No, I'm not whining about the Start menu. Again.

So with the Windows dev team hunkered down in the Win9 spec (or "Windows Blue"?) process -- when they aren't gossiping about Sinofsky, anyway -- it's due time we diehards speak out. Here are my 10 most important Windows 9 features, from the point of view of a dyed-in-the-wool desktop user.

Windows 9 must-have feature No. 10: "Get out of hell" modal dialog

Yes, I know the Metro Start screen is part of the package now, and I'll have to negotiate its tiled hoops from time to time. What I really want is some way to scan my system to see under what circumstances it'll jump from the desktop over to the Metro Start screen.

Some of the hell-jump triggers are obvious: Double-clicking on an MP3 file hops to Metro Music, for example, where you're engulfed by advertising for Microsoft's music store. I know I can cure that boorish behavior by installing a desktop music player.

But other jarring transitions aren't so obvious, their cures not so clear. Please, Microsoft, come up with a way to warn me in advance before I'm tossed to the Metro mutts.

Windows 9 must-have feature No. 9: Metro mute button

If Metro IE lands on a noisy page or I find myself inadvertently playing a Metro Video that's set to earsplitting levels, it takes a zillion clicks (or swipes and stabs and slides) to turn down the bloody volume.

I know my PC is supposed to have a volume control button. But it doesn't. I have to hover my mouse in the upper-right corner of the screen (or remember Windows-C) and wait for Windows to bring up the Charms bar. Then I have to click on the Settings icon, run my mouse down to the volume control, click on the volume icon, move to precisely the right place, and slide the volume bar down. It's hard to do that when the Web page is showing the start line at a Formula 1 race, at full throttle.

No doubt it's too much to ask for predefined volume keys for the standard keyboard, but just a mute button would come in very handy. Windows-S for "shut up"?

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