The truth behind Microsoft’s start menu ‘demo’

By | July 5, 2014

Lately there has been some discussion on MDL forums about whether or not the start screen and windowed apps Microsoft demoed at BUILD 2014 were a real build or just mock-ups. Let’s settle this once and for all!

There is something important everybody seamed to forget in this debate. That screenshot that’s all around the web is actually taken from the BUILD keynote livestream, go ahead and re-watch the keynote: http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Build/2014/KEY01 (the start menu demos start around 2h08m)

It’s not a screenshot, it’s actually a video, so most likely taken from a real build! But there’s more, take a look at some sreencaps from the video below and pay close attention to the date and time in the bottom right corner:

vlcsnap-2014-07-05-17h23m16s131

vlcsnap-2014-07-05-17h23m46s176

vlcsnap-2014-07-05-17h24m01s66

vlcsnap-2014-07-05-17h24m26s63

You’ll notice the date is the 2nd of April ’14, the exact day of the BUILD keynote and the time goes from 10.11AM to 10.12AM in the video! So it’s a live demo? No! The keynote started at 8.30 AM, the demos are shown at 2h08m into the keynote, so around 10.38AM, the time is off by almost half an hour!

Then there are the differences between the first two screencaps and the last two: different battery levels, different running apps, the first 2 desktops don’t have a watermark…

The windowed apps look photoshopped, they’re both active, the mouse cursor in the Bing search box doesn’t blink and there is no interaction in the windows. In the last 2 screencaps IE and Mail are not even listed on the taskbar.

Conclusion: The start menu is probably taken from a working build, but the 2 windows are probably pasted in in post-production. The clocks are faked to try and make it look like a live demo, but the keynote’s schedule didn’t line up with the demos as expected. The only question is why would Microsoft go through all this effort to make us believe it’s a working build?

Thanks to all MDL users, especially sM4llziE for helping me analyze the demo.
  • bztzt

    My guess is it’s probably a UI prototype. I understand the teams working on each part of the UI make these prototypes to test designs for each feature. They’re basically interactive mockups, often done in Flash or WPF, used to get feedback on the design.

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