20 hot ideas for Windows 10

Vox populi: Windows Feedback means you can prod Microsoft to change Windows 10 -- but you must vote now.

Top 20 Windows 10 Feedback suggestions
Top 20 Windows 10 Feedback suggestions

The Windows 10 Feedback mechanism offers a unique way for you to change the course of Windows development. While Microsoft's made only a few, very minor changes to the Win10 Technical Preview in response to feedback, the time to get your vote in is right now, while the dev team goes into an intense six-to-eight-week full-court press.

The following list aggregates feedback items that many Windows "Insiders" feel are most important, with a bit of cheering from the mouse-and-keyboard peanut gallery, and vetting from yours truly. If you want to see these changes in the shipping version of Windows 10, speak now or forever hold the pieces.

Let’s not let the tragedy of Windows 8 be repeated on our watch!

If you aren't already running Windows 10, it's easy to use Microsoft's ISO file to install the latest version, Windows 10 Technical Preview build 9879. Get with the system and get your opinion heard!

Windows 10 Feedback: How to be heard
Windows 10 Feedback: How to be heard

When you are officially signed up for the Insider Program and have the latest version of Windows 10 Technical Preview installed, go into the Windows Feedback application by clicking Start, then choosing the Windows Feedback tile on the right side of the Start menu.

Take a few minutes to orient yourself in the Windows Feedback app. In particular, note how you can add a Me Too to any of the existing feedback items. That's the key. If you find a suggestion that rings your chimes, give it a Me Too. If you have a suggestion that's slightly different from one you see, write up the details as a New Feedback -- but don't forget to add your Me Too vote to the original item. Microsoft counts Me Toos.

Section: Apps/OneDrive
Section: Apps/OneDrive

1. Tester's Feedback: Not at all pleased with the changes to how OneDrive interacts with this latest build (9879). In the OneDrive folder ONLY the synced stuff shows up. Things that are online only have to be gotten to by going to the website. Not good imo.

You can see the problem in this screenshot. On the left, in File Explorer, my OneDrivePictures folder has a folder called Camera Roll and a handful of individual files. On the right, if I log in to OneDrive, there are two folders -- including an extra one called Photos. The file called Photos isn't synced, so it doesn't show up in File Explorer. In fact, if you looked at your OneDrive folder with File Explorer in build 9879, you'd have no way of knowing the Photos folder existed -- applications can't get to it, Windows searches won't find anything in it, you can't save to it.

It's a controversial move that, in my opinion, makes Windows 10 and OneDrive considerably less useful than they should be. Computerworld's Gregg Keizer has an excellent synopsis of the controversy. Peter Bright at Ars Technica posted a more conciliatory analysis, and Microsoft has responded. I, for one, think that CITEworld contributor Mary Branscombe hit the nail on the head with her original post, which garnered 7,100 votes, then was pulled by Microsoft.

You can't vote for Mary Branscombe's original. But you can, if so inclined, vote for its proxy, listed above.

Section: Apps/All Other Apps
Section: Apps/All Other Apps

2. Tester's Feedback: We need a new Windows Media player. Most people install other players like mpc and vlc because of the lack of codec support and features. WMP should have a playlist that can be detached as a separate window. The playlist should support auto save in case you've added new files to it but the player was closed unexpectedly…

3. Tester's Feedback: Don't preload so many junk apps: Travel, Games, News etc. If people want an app for it, they'll go to the Windows Store to get it. Not including them will also make the OS be smaller and configure faster.

I get that Microsoft wants to sell Xboxes, games, music, videos, and the like. I don't get how that translates into poorly behaved Windows apps that I'm forced to install but will never use.

Looks like Windows 10 will be able to play FLAC and MKV files -- only 10 years late and 10 cents short.

I give a Me Too to both suggestions -- with a twist. Some inside scuttlebutt says Windows Media Player may be dropped in Win10, or at the very least, it won't be improved. Good riddance, sez I. Hey, Microsoft, why not include a copy of VLC with Win10, kill WMP, and make Xbox Music and Xbox Video optional?

Section: Apps/App behavior on multi-monitor
Section: Apps/App behavior on multi-monitor

4. Tester's Feedback: Add the ability to set other desktops to another monitor. This will provide users with Multi-display setups to have more multitasking functionality when combining the power of Multiple desktops and Other displays.

I'm surprised this wasn't in the design spec from day one.

Although the user interface for assigning desktops to monitors might be challenging (context menu on each of the thumbnails?), the ability to set up a desktop, then send it to a different monitor would be a godsend for many multi-mon-munchkins.

Section: File Explorer/File Association
Section: File Explorer/File Association

5. Tester's Feedback: Give us an option to unassociate file types! If someone, for example, associates by mistake a system file type to a 3rd party program, then all files of the same type will appear to open with that program.

6. Tester's Feedback: Don't check "Use this app for all .xyz files" by default. This drives me nuts. I use Open With to open a file with a different program in a one-off scenario. I constantly have to uncheck it.

The two problems go hand in hand. Advanced Windows users frequently open a file with a one-off program and forget to uncheck the box. That leads to the situation where you want to get rid of the association.

I've seen people royally mess up their machines by assigning an unusual program (say, Notepad) to a critical filename extension (for example, .dll). Try diagnosing that one.

Section: File Explorer/File Picker
Section: File Explorer/File Picker

7. Tester's Feedback: Tabbed browsing! We use it daily with our Web browser. Our file browser needs it built in, so I don't have to keep using third-party programs.

(There's a similar item in the section File Explorer/Ribbon and context menus)

Meet Clover, the best-known third-party program to add tabs to the Windows 8 (File) Explorer. Clover has a very simple user interface: Exactly as you would drag and drop websites to create browser tabs, you can drag and drop locations inside Windows Explorer up to the top, to turn them into tabs.

Click on the tab, and Windows Explorer navigates to the location: easy, intuitive, effective.

This screenshot shows Clover working perfectly well with the Windows 10 Tech Preview build 9879 File Explorer. The tabs across the top are the ones I chose to speed up navigating. Why can't Windows 10's built-in File Explorer do the same thing?

Section: File Explorer/Libraries
Section: File Explorer/Libraries

8. Tester's Feedback: I would like the option to open file explorer to "This PC" instead of "Home" or the ability to add drives to the Frequent folders under "Home."

9. Tester's Feedback: Windows + E should take you to This PC, not Home. Or give the option to include This PC to my Favorites.

10. Tester's Feedback: The home folder should be customizable.

Windows 7 opened Windows Explorer to your Libraries. Windows 8 doesn't play well with Libraries, so Microsoft changed Windows Explorer to open in a made-up place called "This PC," which includes the primary folders (Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, Videos), Devices and Drives, and Network Locations. In Windows 10 build 9879, File Explorer (different name, same app) opens to a new made-up place called "Home," which, as of this build, lists Frequent folders and Recent files.

There doesn't appear to be any way to modify the contents of the "Home" location, so you're stuck with Frequent folders and Recent files. Clearly, Microsoft hasn't thought this through very well.

Section: Windows Installation and Setup/First sign-in Start screen layout or app registration
Section: Windows Installation and Setup/First sign-in Start screen layout or app registration

11. Tester's Feedback: Please add the ability to register a local user account without logging into the Microsoft online account.

12. Tester's Feedback: You can sign in with a standard account, but the need to select "create a new account" under "sign in with Microsoft account" is misleading, having the "Make a local account" under it would be better.

13. Tester's Feedback: I don't like being forced to use Microsoft accounts as my Windows account, so I had to go through hustle of providing fake Outlook account to force install process option where I can create local account.

Similar Feedback under Windows Installation and Setup/Out-of-box-experience and under Windows Installation and Setup/Windows installation, Personalization and Ease of Access/User accounts, and several others.

Microsoft is still stacking the deck, trying hard to get you to use your Microsoft account as a Windows logon. If you don't want to use a Microsoft account (or convert a current email account into a Microsoft account) to log onto Windows, when you create the local Windows account (see screenshot) you have to click "Sign in without a Microsoft account (not recommended)," then at the bottom of the next screen click "Local Account."

Microsoft's playing Google's game. When you use a Microsoft Account to log on to Windows, Microsoft can keep track of where and when you're logging in, correlate your user ID with your IP address (and thus your Bing searches and visited URLs in IE), and track all of your local searches.

If you think Local Accounts are for power users only, ask yourself this: If a typical Windows customer understood that using a Microsoft account let Microsoft track them and their searches, what would their reaction be? I don't know about you, but my Aunt Mergatroid would be aghast.

Section: Network/Network and sharing center
Section: Network/Network and sharing center

14. Tester's Feedback: There should be a more intuitive way to change the type (private vs public) of a network.

As it stands in build 9879, the only way I've found to change a network from public to private, or vice versa, requires you to "Forget" the network. The only way to do that, as best I can tell, is to bring up the Network pane on the right -- click Start, PC Settings, Networks, Manage, and at the bottom click Open Network Flyout (see screenshot). Then right-click on the connection you want to change, and choose “Forget this network.”

Then you have to reconnect to the network, this time specifying either private or public.

Yeah, I think that needs to be more intuitive.

Section: Search/Windows Search
Section: Search/Windows Search

15. Tester's Feedback: The Windows Search button on the taskbar is weird. Is it supposed to be its own app? If so, why whenever you click a link does it go to IE? This is very strange to me. If this is the case, why even have it? I could just fire up IE and do the same thing. Seems redundant.

16. Tester's Feedback: Windows Search result brings search results from the Web which personally is a terrible idea. If I want to search the Web, I will start IE or any other browser and search against Google or Bing or Yahoo search engine.

Microsoft uses Windows Search's extended Web searching -- "Smart Search" -- to sell ads and to add to its Bing hit count. I talked about it a year ago, when Microsoft first introduced the "feature" into what would become Windows 8.1 Update 1.

In a nutshell, unless you turn it off, Microsoft can track every search you make on your machine -- and feed you ads based on your search terms. I'm not talking about Web searches. I'm talking about simple searches for documents, or photos, or music. If you use a Microsoft account and leave Windows Search enabled, Microsoft can amass an enormous amount of information, solely from the way you use your machine on your data.

In Windows 8.1 you can turn it off (or set it off during installation), although it's enabled by default. In Windows 10, I don't see any way to turn it off.

Scroogled? Bah! Microsoft snoops around, too -- and it brags to its advertisers about how effective Windows snooping can be.

Section: Windows Update and Recovery/Backup and restore
Section: Windows Update and Recovery/Backup and restore

17. Tester's Feedback: You should return Windows 7 style backup.

18. Tester's Feedback: Bring back scheduled increment Windows image backups. File history is great, but it's not enough.

19. Tester's Feedback: Make System Restore easier to find! Ever since Windows 8 you've hidden the classic system restore (where you have automatic restore points) inside "Recovery" so you can push Refresh and Reset PC to the front... Make it accessible again for non-computer-savvy users!

Many more Feedback items, in multiple Feedback sections, are in the same vein.

Microsoft buried the Windows Backup tools in Windows 8, tore some of them out of Windows 8.1, and they sure as shootin' aren't coming back in Windows 10. The goal, I'm told, is to present a Chromebook-style backup capability: You don't need to back up anything on your computer because it's in the cloud. To that I say, balderdash. If I want Chromebook backup, I'll use a Chromebook. (In fact, I do, but that's another story.)

Windows 10 doesn't create daily restore points (see screenshot). If there's a way to bring back Windows 7's full-system backup, I can't find it (the Win 8.1 trick of searching for "Windows 7 File Recovery" doesn't work). With OneDrive hitting the skids (see previous slide), backing up to OneDrive is harder than ever.

I doubt that Microsoft will bring back Windows 7 backup/recovery, but I can always hope.

Section: Windows Update and Recovery/Restore, refresh and reset
Section: Windows Update and Recovery/Restore, refresh and reset

20. Tester's Feedback: Allow holding down Shift or F8 or possibly even the Windows key at boot to get the Advanced Boot Options screen. This will make getting into safe mode and other recovery options easier to access before Windows boots.

Booting into Safe Mode in Windows 10 (like Win8 before it) is a convoluted process with a chicken-and-egg element. If you want to get into Safe Mode (or System Restore, Image Recovery, Startup Repair), you have to go into PC Settings, Update and Recovery, Recovery, then click Restart Now at the bottom (see screenshot).

For the 1.5 billion people who've been exposed to F8 on boot, perhaps by proxy or vicariously, that's a big change. It also means Windows has to be working before you can boot into Safe Mode.

Windows 10 Feedback: Speak up now
Windows 10 Feedback: Speak up now

That's my take on the best of the Windows 10 Feedback items.

I didn't include items that have been suggested a million times and ignored by Microsoft (for example, creating a clipboard manager that stores multiple items, or showing filename extensions by default). I also didn't include feedback that's surely already on the dev list (such as dragging an open app from one desktop to another, different themes on different desktops, putting an icon marker on shared folders, bringing back the network icon in the notification area), nor did I include obvious bugs. I skipped over UI suggestions, many of which are fine, but all of which fall into the de gustibus bucket (except for bringing back Aero Glass which, to my uneducated eye, is more like a Holy Grail).

Did I miss one of your favorites? Sound off in the comments! Let's get these design screwups fixed by the time Win10 ships.

Fer heaven's sake, quitcherbitchin, sign up, and tell Microsoft how to make Windows 10 better!