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3 New Features Demoed in Latest Windows 9 Leaks

Ah, those crafty Germans. The fine folks at Winfuture.de (h/t to Ars Technica) are who we have to thank for the latest leaks, videos, and pictures of a developer build of Windows 9.

Windows 9, aka "Threshold," is the upcoming "fix Windows 8" version of the operating system, set for public beta later this month.

What have we learned from the latest leaks? As expected, the Start Menu is back with a ton of customizability -- from bare-bones menu to full-on Windows 8 Start screen. Windows 9 will also pick up a couple of features off of its Apple counterpart: virtual desktops and a notifications center.

Start Menu: As 'Metro' As You Want to Be

We could tell you, or we could have the Germans show you. Enjoy the techno:

Or, if you really hate live tiles and want a bare-bones, text-and-icon menu:

There's not a whole lot new to say about these leaks -- they are exactly what Microsoft previewed at this year's BUILD conference. It's a mouse-friendly Start menu, with Windows 8's live tile slapped on -- a compromise between Metro and retro that should satisfy those of us who avoided Windows 8 like the plague.

Virtual Desktops: This Could Be Handy

Mac OS X has had "Spaces" for the past few years. Linux has had virtual desktops even longer. A screenshot on WinFuture.de shows that Windows 9 will have it as well.

So what is this new-to-Windows feature? Think of it as a way to group all of those dozens of programs and browser tabs by task: a desktop for all of your office management and billing programs, one for Client A's appellate brief, one for your online dating sites that you shouldn't be looking up at work, etc.

By grouping these tasks into their own workspaces (or virtual desktops), it keeps you focused on the task at hand, without having to comb through the six other programs you left open for later.

Notifications Center: Let's Hope This Works Better Than Mac

A notifications center is super helpful on a mobile device: All of your alerts (Twitter, email, application updates) are gathered in one place (the top of your screen) so that you don't have to open up each program to check for updates manually.

On a desktop PC? Mac OS, again, has had a notifications center for a couple of years, and it's a graveyard of missed and unimportant alerts. Mine has a few notifications about tweets from a few weeks ago and a LinkedIn request from July, and unless I clear them manually, they are out of sight, out of mind.

Hopefully, Windows 9's Notifications Center will be more useful.

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