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Windows 8 Start screen search functionality detailed

by Alistair Lowe on 20 October 2011, 09:25

Tags: Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Windows 8

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Following on from our recent report on the new Windows 8 Task Manager, Microsoft has now revealed details on its Start Menu’s search functionality.

Windows 8 App Search Results

I'm going to be up-front and frank with my opinion that a full-screen search menu is not the way forward for Windows. Sadly, this is exactly what Microsoft proposes to give us, in an attempt to cater for the tablet and touch device market. As the owner of an iMac running OS X Lion, which features a full-screen application panel, much like an iPad, I can concur that the experience is intrusive and overwhelming on larger monitors as you are stripped of your desktop view and any hopes of multitasking. Having to refocus and pull your eyes from one side of the screen to the other in desperate search of your application is no good thing.

Windows 8 Search Result Hilighting

On the other hand, Microsoft has made some smart choices. Unlike OS X Lion, icons and search elements are smaller and more refined, whilst remaining large enough for touch use. The search functionality itself has been improved with highlighting of search terms, auto-complete and toleration of spelling errors - features expected of a modern Google search. Searches are split into three categories; Apps, Settings and Files, thus avoiding the unwanted and uncontextualised results inherent in Windows Vista and Windows 7. Apps gain precedence over other searches as Microsoft's research has revealed that 67 per cent of searches are run to locate programs.

Windows 8 Typing a Path in Start

While primarily designed to work well for a touch interface, keyboard functionality has remained. Enhanced arrow navigation and new shortcuts to jump to the two lesser categories by using the Windows key + either W (settings) or F (files). Microsoft-dubbed ‘Metro-style’ apps, a coinage for a full-screen power app, can also use and integrate this search functionality 

If we factor in tablet and touch usage scenarios, perhaps this compromise of full-screen vs. a faster search experience is the best we could hope for if there's to be any chance of interface standardisation across mobile and desktop Windows 8 platforms. Somehow, though, the thought of compromise leaves me clinging a little to the recent strength in market that Windows 7 has managed to build up, as it pushes aside XP as the dominant OS. What do you think?

HEXUS Forums :: 17 Comments

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Is this forced on the user? I was under the impression with Windows 8 you could just use the standard desktop view and with this use the start menu search bar?
I REALLY hope that you can change the view to Windows 7 style. Dont like the look of that at all. I am so used to Windows Explorer and the functionality of the current start menu I wont want to be changing it to that new look.

I do think you will be able to change it to Win 7 style, you can still change the menu style on Vista and 7 to XP. I think if they forced that on users they would end up getting no end of complaints. Yeah it works on phones and tablets, but on a desktop most users know exactly what they are wanting.
It seems as if W8 won't feature a fallback Start Menu of W7. I'm entirely unsure about the qualities of the new search.
The traditional Windows upgrade path remains intact. Buy one, miss one. I just want an OS that sits in the background, keeps out of my way, and doesn't cause me stress. Win7 seems to do that remarkably well.

The scary thing about all this is that according to discussion on the Windows Weekly podcast, Win8 is very heavily designed around the feedback MS gets from people out in the wild who have allowed data to be sent back to MS. So it's an OS being aimed firmly at the median user.

That should be enough to frighten anyone.
I REALLY hope that you can change the view to Windows 7 style.

Yes you can