Windows Red

An open letter to Microsoft about Windows Red

All the talk of Windows 8.1, aka Windows 'Blue,' suggests changes will be minor. InfoWorld proposes a radical upgrade in Windows Red -- and invites Microsoft to comment

Dear Microsoft,

InfoWorld has reviewed your products for more than three decades. Some we've loved, like Windows 7 or Windows Server 2012. Others, like Windows Vista or Windows 8, not so much.

Now, with the "release" of InfoWorld's Windows Red, we'd like you to review one of ours. Sure, Windows Red is a proposal rather than an actual product -- an article plus a slideshow created by us -- but the changes we've laid out are perfectly feasible. Perhaps some are already built into your Windows 8.1 upgrade, code-named Windows "Blue," due to arrive on June 26 (though the chances appear to be slight). Or you may believe Windows Red is a fatally flawed idea. Either way, go ahead: Turn the tables and let us know what you think.

You've said you're bringing back the Start button in Windows "Blue." In Windows Red, we've gone much further. Almost every reviewer has said the same thing: Windows 8 is two operating systems awkwardly bolted together and difficult for users to navigate. So in Windows Red, we've taken the obvious measure of separating them.

There's no other way to say it: Metro is a touch UI that has no business on a desktop or laptop screen. It's impractical to raise your hand from the keyboard to touch the screen and studies have shown it can be ergonomically harmful. On the flip side, a tablet should not be forced to run the traditional Windows Desktop, whose icons are too small for a touch interface and which demands so much power that Windows 8 tablets have been burdened by heavy batteries and short battery life.

Separation is good, but so is some degree of interoperability. Windows Red preserves the ability to run Metro apps on the desktop, including live tiles, but in a way that doesn't compromise the Windows Desktop experience. We also suggest you make Windows Phone and Windows tablet (Win8 and RT) apps binary compatible, so Metro apps can run on any Windows platform.

Beyond these fundamental fixes, the Desktop version of Windows Red proposes new capabilities, many inspired by Metro's own innovations: integrated sharing functionality, an improved Control Panel, a Desktop version of Windows Phone's People app, and a new grouping function for Desktop apps and folders. The Mobile version of Windows Red, based on Windows RT, ditches the unintuitive Charms bar, enhances the Applications bar, features a more flexible Snap View, and adds a much-needed Settings app. We also believe Microsoft should create a native Windows RT version of Microsoft Office designed specifically for touch.

We hope you take Windows Red in the spirit in which it was intended: a practical proposal for fixing Windows 8 rather than another harsh critique. Judging by previous user comments that have appeared on our site, we believe the basic tenets of Windows Red will be supported by many InfoWorld readers. No doubt they'll let us know. Meanwhile, Microsoft, we'd like to hear what you think.


Eric Knorr

Editor in Chief, InfoWorld

This article, "An open letter to Microsoft about Windows Red," originally appeared at Read more of Eric Knorr's Modernizing IT blog. And for the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld on Twitter.

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