A wild Start screen Personalization applet has appeared

New personalization applet in Windows 8

Windows 8 Build 8175 – Start screen Personalization applet (© The Verge)

Back in September, I dissected the new Start UI in Windows 8 and wrote that readers should expect a new personalization UI. Well, it’s official! The Verge, today, uploaded some photos of a newer Windows 8 build running at CES, with a shot of the new Personalize applet amongst them. As suspected, Microsoft is offering users the option of customizing the background color and image, with limited options. Before you balk at the idea of only having 9 colors and 8 parallax background images to choose from, think about usability.

Good color Bad color

I’m not a UI designer or usability guru but you don’t need to be one to picture the hell that would ensue if a user set their background color to a bright orange. (If you can’t, I provided an example above.) The tile, as you can see, immediately loses its depth (due to the background image being impossible to see) and becomes difficult to retrieve information from.

Good background image Bad background image

Limitations have been imposed on the background image as well, for similar reasons. While my example isn’t great, you can kinda picture the problem. The left image has a square-based motif that slowly pans left or right, depending on swipe direction. This creates the illusion of depth. The image on the right, however, uses a custom horizontal gradient that creates infinitely reaching bars. As the user swipes left or right, the bars would remain unchanged in appearance. The effect would be lost.

While the customization community would lead you to believe they know what they’re doing and prefer unfettered customization access, the reality is Microsoft knows what’s better for all of us. If you insist on having that access, however, I’m sure desktop customization king Stardock will have something to play with soon enough.