I am slowly getting used to not automatically switching to the desktop and using the start screen as a launch pad for my applications; certainly my morning check of the news and weather is done from the start page although, once I start using my development tools, the desktop is my place of choice; and that is where is strikes me why I still have doubts about this OS.
It seems to me that there is a disconnect between the Metro style Start page and the Aero style Desktop.
The desktop is still the ‘old’ Windows 7 way of working with shortcuts to your favourite applications either on the desktop or on the taskbar. Any open applications, web sites or documents are visible on the taskbar and easily viewable via the Peek functionality of the taskbar.
But you can’t see which, if any, Metro apps are running except by using the old Alt+Tab keys to bring up the thumbnail view of what’s running. This key combination does not allow you to peek at them so you end up switching to the app to view it.
Unfortunately we have lost one of my favourite features of Windows 7 which was the carousel of open windows using the Windows+Tab key combination. That combination now opens a sidebar showing a thumbnail of each of the open Metro style apps other than the one you are currently on and, if you have accessed the desktop or have a non Metro style application open, that will show in the bar as well.
So there is a loss of functionality here; an example of a regular scenario for me will help to explain: I am writing this article on a non Metro application; the Windows Live Writer; as I am writing it I want to look at one of the other applications to refresh my memory or confirm something about it.
If the other application is a desktop application I can hover over the icon in the taskbar then push the mouse up on the screen to bring it to the front and read the bit I want. Once I move my mouse away from the thumbnail my working application will bounce back into focus so I can continue writing.
I can’t do this with a Metro app; all I can do is switch to the app then switch back. OK not a big deal but I still have to remember two different ways of working and switching between apps is much less efficient.
It would be even worse if the working program was a Metro style application and I was writing about desktop applications. The Windows+Tab sidebar only shows the last open desktop application you worked with so, if I want to view a second application using this key combination, I have to switch to the current Desktop application and from there peek to the one I want to see. This doesn’t make a lot of sense to me as it should be just another view on the tab system provided by the Alt+Tab key combination which shows a thumbnail for all open windows.
Alt+Tab is also a combination that I, and many others, had stopped using in favour of the Peek functionality and the flashy Windows+Tab carousel.
It’s not going to stop me upgrading when the time comes but it will be a bit annoying when I can’t see what’s running just by looking at the taskbar.