Just the other day there was some speculation about what Windows Blue would be bringing to the table as far as new features and now we have solid evidence. The guys over at Winforum came up with some leaked screenshots from a fairly early build of the impending update that show off a few pleasant interface optimizations. It looks like more progress has been made to make the Modern UI versatile than we might have expected.
Additional tile sizes have been added, which should make a lot of people happy. Users can now choose from three sizes with the smallest simply being an icon in a block ¼ the size of the current small tile. These will obviously not have any live update capabilities.
Spacing between tiles seems to be somewhat adjustable now, which may improve usability for a segment of the intended audience. There has been some complaint about the close grouping of things on the Start Screen before now.
Expanded app snap capabilities are an important addition as well. Given that one of the most common complaints about the new environment was its lack of function on larger desktop displays, this could make a huge difference for some users.
There is a new 50/50 view that will make it possible to have two fully active applications running side by side in a fashion similar to desktop window snapping.
You can also now have up to four “snapped” apps running on the same screen at a time.
Most importantly, the Modern UI interface is no longer locked to a single display. You can now take full advantage of a multi-display setup, potentially having eight or more snapped applications running at once. There are signs that developers will have to update their apps to take advantage of some of this, but it opens up a lot of usability options.
Tablet users will be pleased to note that the Windows 8 System Settings menu has been expanded to make trips to the desktop Control Panel pretty much unnecessary. All the major functions have been mirrored in the new setup.
In terms of program updates we’re seeing some more SkyDrive integration and a bump up to Internet Explorer 11. In neither case is there a lot to go on as far as what advantages the change brings, but it’s definitely going to be around.
There’s more, of course, as well as any number of things that we simply can’t guess at just from screenshots. For now though that seems like it addresses all sorts of complaints about the shortcomings of the design introduced with Windows 8. As expected there is no sign that the Start Menu will ever be coming back, but further refinements on a rapid schedule will do a lot to make that undesirable for most people in time.