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

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Windows 9 must-have feature No. 5: Desktop Charms that do something

Right now, the Charms just sit there.

Search pops me over to the Metro Start screen. Oh boy. It won't even run a Bing search inside Internet Explorer 10 -- useless.

Share is comical; it can't pick up what's in the clipboard, much less attempt a fancy Metro-style Share contract. "Nothing can be shared from the desktop," it says. So why are you on my desktop?

Devices invites me to install a second screen -- golly. Why can't Devices give me access to my, you know, devices, the way Windows 7 does with the Devices and Printers applet? That way I could see if any of my printers are jammed or a network-attached scanner isn't responding. Instead I get an insipid offer to extend my horizon to a monitor that doesn't even exist.

And Settings ... oy! I can choose Internet Access and get a sliding panel notification that's completely useless. I can play footsie with the volume slider or turn the machine off -- although I can't log off the current user or switch users, both of which require the Metro Start screen. I can bring up the Control Panel -- the stunted Control Panel, which doesn't control everything. Be still my beating heart.

Windows 9 must-have feature No. 4: Meaningful notifications

At least the toaster notifications in Windows 8 are cool -- in fact, the name "toaster notification" is so quintessentially right-on that my hat is off to whomever came up with the idea.

But why can't I get notifications about things that matter?

If my Internet service provider suddenly dies, why can't a toaster notification tell me the Internet's, uh, toast? If my connection to the server goes shiny side up, why doesn't Windows notify me? If my 4G turns to 2G, I'll realize it sooner or later, but why can't Windows watch out for me and warn me proactively?

More than that: SMART, aka Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology, has been around for almost two decades. Why in the world can't Windows monitor the SMART status of my hard drives and tell me when they're hiccupping? Why can't I get a temperature warning for my CPUs or a notice that one of my fans has failed?

Windows 9 must-have feature No. 3: Dual monitor with Metro on the side

I've tried and tried, and there's no way to put a small monitor on the side of my big screen that'll catch the trips to Metro land. Someone could make a fortune creating 10-inch touch-sensitive monitors that are designed to sit next to big, classic monitors, with the sole purpose of showing the Metro Start menu. If I do something stupid and flip over to Metro, my big screen stays on the desktop, but the little screen helps catch my stumble -- and lets me tap-tap my way back to sanity.

Win8 has good multimonitor support. But it isn't smart enough to keep Metro on one screen and the desktop on the other(s). It should be.

Windows 9 must-have feature No. 2: Multiboot

No, I don't mean multiboot in the sense that you mean multiboot.

I mean it should be drop-dead easy to tell Windows, in the Control Panel, that you want to boot to the desktop or the Metro Start screen. It also wouldn't hurt to have the Windows key re-assignable so that it goes straight to the desktop, instead of the Metro Start screen. I doubt that idea will get any traction.

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