We've talked a lot about Microsoft's renewed focus and vision in recent months, and as I see it, the company's move to place Satya Nadella as its latest CEO is already resulting in some great changes. This couldn't be more true on the Windows side of things - it's clear as day that Satya wants to make sure Windows 9 doesn't follow in the footsteps of Windows 8 in terms of adoption and customer reaction.
In June, we got our first high-quality glimpse at what the Start menu will look like in Windows 9 (it's still tentative, but it seems certain that the basic design will remain), and it really looks fantastic. Microsoft bringing back the Start menu isn't just acknowledgement that the Start Screen was a bad move for desktops, it highlights the fact that Windows is still meant to be a power user's OS.
Windows 9's Start Menu
As we learn today, even more desktop-enhanced changes are coming, including the complete removal of the Charms Bar, and the addition of virtual desktops. Yes - I said "virtual desktops".
Apple's OS X and numerous Linux desktop environments have offered a virtual desktop feature for a while; as it sounds, this allows users to use more than one desktop. On one, for example, you may have a browser open along with a music player, whereas on the second, you could have an Excel spreadsheet and Photoshop open. Separating apps like this can help increase your focus, and in effect, increase productivity.
The fact that Microsoft is finally adding a virtual desktop feature really highlights the fact that it wants to please power users this go around.
The Charms Bar - Gone in Windows 9
As for the Charms Bar, it's always been a bit of a clunky feature on the desktop, requiring subtle mouse action at the bottom-right corner to make it appear. Originally, this bar was required to shut down the PC from within the desktop, but once 8.1 came out, Microsoft gave us a second option with a context menu that appears when you right-click the Start icon. Since that introduction, I haven't used the Charms Bar for a single thing, so it strikes me as no surprise that the company is going to be removing it. On a tablet, it makes sense - a desktop, not so much.
The fact that the Charms Bar is going to go the way of the dodo ties into the fact that Microsoft will be making its Windows 8 apps work like any other - they'll be windowed, and can be moved around the desktop. Any options inside of a Windows 8 app that required the Charms Bar will be moved to a menu within that app instead.
With all of this coming to Windows 9, and the fact that we might see some stellar pricing on the release, I admit I'm getting a little excited. Who's with me?