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. 1: And my most direly desired feature request ...

... bring back the Start menu. OK, I lied. I said I wouldn't moan about the Start menu again. But I can't help it.

There's a precedent. If you've been using Office for a while, you've actually seen a similar morphology.

Office 2003 had menus: text in a row near the top, with drop-down text options in columns that appeared when you clicked on the column header. Click on File, for example, and you saw New, Open, Close, Save, Save As, Print, and so on -- you know, regular old menus.

Office 2007 introduced Ribbons. Instead of menu text at the top of columns, Microsoft gave us "tabs." Click on a tab, and a bar of icons appeared, running across the page, not down. This, I'm told, was Progress (with a capital "P"), but Microsoft was forced to make compromises.

For example, an Office 2007 user still had to open files. Instead of using a "File" menu column header, Office 2007 users were expected to magically understand that they had to click the Office orb in the upper-left corner in order to perform File-style actions. It's kind of like knowing you have to hover your mouse in the lower-left corner of the Windows desktop in order to get to the Metro Start screen or right-click in a Metro Internet Explorer screen to bring up a new Web page.

I call it alacrity through obscurity.

By the time we got to Office 2010, Microsoft apparently discovered that normal folks like you and me were mystified about clicking an unmarked orb floating in the upper left in order to open or print or save a file. So we got a modified "File" menu back. Click on the Office 2010 File menu (er, sorry Julie, File tab) and you see many of the old File functions: Save, Save As, Open, Print and so on. They're all listed, in text, on the left side of the screen, like a good little menu, although they're in a jumbled-up sequence unlike the menu items in Office 2003.

Now in Office 2013, we get a File menu with most of the old Office 2003 menu items back in order: New, Open, Save, Save As, and Print are all there, and they all appear as text, running down the left side of the screen.

We've come full circle, at least with the File menu in Office, from fully visible and usable to highly inscrutable to usable again but oddly rearranged to a near-complete restoration of the old menu items. I would even argue -- please don't shoot me -- that the Office 2013 File menu is better than the Office 2003 File menu.

Perhaps we can beg for the same thing in Windows 9?

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This story, "10 must-have features for Windows 9," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in Windows and mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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