A lot of people are hoping that the upcoming Windows 8 update, codenamed Windows Blue, will bring back the traditional Start Menu and get rid of the new Modern UI as a part of the daily desktop computing experience.  Naturally that won’t be happening, but there are lots of other neat things that we can realistically look forward to.  Some of the most recent rumors and leaks are definitely painting a pleasant picture.

The most important improvements will be the less impressive ones, unfortunately.

Reports indicate that the new software will be much more efficient in its power usage, for one.  Intel-based devices will be able to operate more like Smartphones and Tablets by adapting to the needs of the situation and keeping important apps up to date even when on Standby.

Windows Blue Fresh Paint Demo via MSFTKitchenImproved Touch controls should be no surprise and will definitely be a bit more apparent, but they probably won’t have a huge impact on most people for the time being.  A recent internal demonstration of the updates using Fresh Paint was impressive, but hardly game changing.

Enhanced searching capabilities powered by Bing are practically a given at this point.  There has been a lot of effort going into expanding this side of the business and Microsoft seems to have a desire to make the Charm bar handle practically any search you can imagine including the presentation of general web results.

Hopefully, based on many rumors, we’ll be seeing support added for smaller devices with Windows Blue as well.  There has been no real opportunity for a 7” tablet market to develop with Windows 8 and it’s going to have to come sooner or later.  The demand is there, if they can provide a great user experience.

Multi-screen Windows Store apps are also far too long in coming.  There is no reason to expect the current limited implementation to continue.  Expect to be able to pull up at least two apps (one docked) per display after the update.  It’s probably going to be a while before we can dock to both sides of the screen at once while still having a main application window, but somewhere down the line it’s expected.

More customization of the Modern UI should also be allowed.  The most obvious implementation of this would be an expanded Live Tile size configuration.  If Windows Phone 8 has three sizes of tile then there is really no reason for those of us running larger displays to have to stick with just two.

Browser choice would work in this heading as well.  Right now you can only have one default browser that works in the new UI.  While there isn’t any reason to force people to choose every time they load a web page, the ability to launch directly into whatever browser you want from the Start Screen without being kicked to the desktop would improve the consistency of the user experience, especially on Windows 8 tablets.

There’s very little that is completely solid about Windows Blue, but that sums up what we have floating around right now.  Anything you were hoping to see?