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A wish list for Windows 9

Whether it comes in October or next year, there are some features I'd really like to see added.

I have to give Reddit some credit for becoming the place where people make amazing admissions. The Ask Me Anything (AMA) threads are always interesting, fascinating and sometimes shocking.

A few weeks back, a Windows interface designer did an AMA with some shocking admissions that will either cost him his job or were approved at the top levels of the company. What he said was the despised Windows 8 interface was made with casual data consumers in mind.

The designer went on to discuss the thinking, and it all made sense, but at the same time it doesn't matter. What it told me was Microsoft catered to the lowest common denominator in terms of users and ignored the vast majority of users who knew how to navigate the desktop.

There's an old joke I used to tell to Apple users (before they started getting violent): If you build a machine even an idiot can use, only an idiot will use it.

Throughout the testing of Windows 8, Microsoft ignored the criticisms. It may have even shut down a former employee who ran a harshly critical website about the Windows 8 UI. Honestly, we don't know what happened there, but the sudden disappearance of the ex-Microsoftie Windows 8 critic sure looked fishy.

But that was also reflective of the obstinate style of Steven Sinofsky, who has by now welcomed Steve Ballmer to the Microsoft Retirement Home. He wasn't known for being a good listener, but he did have a knack for changing products radically, and not always for the better. Don't forget, he gave us the Office Ribbon.

So I really hope Terry Myerson, the head of the Operating Systems Engineering Group, is more receptive to input. I go through this ritual with every Windows release. I never get what I want, but it's always fun to vent.

1) Voice command. Forget this touch nonsense, I want J.A.R.V.I.S. I don't want to smear my monitors with my fingerprints, I want to say to the microphone "Create a new Word doc and save it in the March 2014 Network World directory." Or "Find the email from [insert editor I work for here] on my [generic] feature." Or ask "Has WTFComics been updated since I last visited?" and have it check the website to see if it has indeed updated.

You get the idea. Dragon is nice for dictating but I don't like to dictate my work. What I want is contextual command of the PC to replace a whole lot of mouse clicks and searching. To me, that is more important. It doesn't have to have Paul Bettany's voice. Scarlet Johansson's will do.

2) Bluetooth smartphone integration. When I get into my 2012 Toyota Camry, the in-dash system immediately syncs with my iPhone. From the steering wheel I can make calls, take calls, and flip through the contacts list. When a call comes in, the radio goes off and I see the name or phone number of the caller on the screen.

Why can't a PC do that? A Bluetooth adapter and some software should do it all. I should be able to send and receive calls on my PC without ever picking up the phone; all I need is the keyboard and mouse (or voice commands) along with the Webcam microphone and computer speakers.

3) SSD install. Many people have a similar setup as me - a solid-state drive (SSDs) as the C: drive, with 1TB and larger drives in the D: spot. SSDs are great, but the capacity doesn't rise like HDD. If you double the capacity of an SSD, you double the price.

So many people have 150GB C: drives and struggle with capacity, or install it on the D: drive. Windows should recognize that the C: drive is a small SSD and there is a very large HDD down the chain. The system should ask users if they want to put their data and applications on the big D: drive. That way, they could keep the SSD running just Windows and put everything else on the hard drive, which is more reliable and easily backed up.

4) Desktop virtualization. The XP compatibility mode in Windows 7 was a nice try, but it didn't work very well. Hyper-V should be a part of the desktop OS and allow older apps to run in containers, similar to how it's done now on the server side. People stalled on their Windows 7 deployments for compatibility reasons, but if they knew they could run Windows 7 (or 9) and their XP apps would run in a secure sandbox, there would not have been the hesitation.

5) Better driver management as a part of Windows Update. I'll grant you this won't be vital for long. Hardware changes so fast that driver and BIOS updates tend to trickle off after six months to a year. And Microsoft does this now, to a degree. But I still have to go to Gigabyte for the majority of my driver updates. Let's put it all in one place.

6) Make rollback work. I've messed up my installs plenty of times, but the rollback feature in Windows has never worked. Ever. Either get this thing working or just take it out and leave it to the third-party aftermarket.

7) Full Windows Phone integration. Seriously, you want to make your phone a success? It should have seamless email, contact, and calendar sharing between the phone and PC.

Fingers crossed.

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