Having a way to quickly access content within an app is a great feature and we're happy to see the enthusiasm and increasing usage for jump lists in Windows 7. We have developed something new for Metro style apps that builds on the jump list concept. We think it will be even more powerful for end-users and an even richer opportunity for app developers. But first, some background on jump list usage in Windows today.
Current usage of jump lists
Though jump lists are often referenced with positive energy by our enthusiast users, the fact of the matter is that the usage of jump lists in the Start menu (most recently used documents for an app, for example) has not really gained as much traction as on the taskbar. To compare, 20% of sessions record a click to open a taskbar jump list, while only 1.2% of sessions record a click to invoke a Start menu jump list. People also use hover to invoke the Start menu jump list (and drag to invoke the taskbar jump list), but it’s difficult to use these numbers because we can’t tell whether the menu was opened intentionally or simply because the mouse was hovering over the item long enough to trigger it. Either way, even with accidental activations via mouse hover, at best, the Start menu jump lists are used half as often as those of the taskbar.
Applying this to Metro style apps
Given this data, we knew it was important to keep jump lists on the taskbar for your most commonly used desktop apps. But, we wanted to build something more customized for Metro style apps. The downside of existing jump lists is that they’re limited to what Windows understands best– files. This is great for file-centric apps, but apps today are moving away from the notion of files and turning to hosted content, which makes the concept of document jump lists less relevant.
Instead of building on and promoting file structure, our view for Metro style apps is more app-centric. The apps know better what kind of content they host: whether it’s an RSS feed, an album, a score tracker, or a person’s profile, and they can do a much better job exposing quick access to this content to the user. This content doesn’t involve files on the system that Windows knows about – it’s knowledge within the app. We’ve expanded the jump list concept to provide semantically richer links.
But we don’t want to have to manage several lists of our favorite stuff. One of the promises of the Start screen is that it is your personal place to host the apps that you love. We based the secondary tiles feature, on the notion that people want fast access to app content that they require for work, and they want a single, predictable place to access it. With this feature, any Metro style app can allow a user to pin a new tile to their Start screen that can navigate them to any part of the app. The tile can even be live, providing updates for that specific content. There's no reason a file-centric app would not provide this same functionality for files. We know from usage data that people are fairly meticulous and deliberate in reusing common documents—MRUs composed of pinned files are extremely popular in Office apps and on the taskbar. The support we provide for developers makes this straightforward.
For example, I can have a social tile of my best friend pinned to my Start screen and keep up to date with her updates. Or I can track the XKCD feed from my RSS reader. Or quickly jump to a playlist that I like to listen to in the morning the same way I would have from a jump list. We expect line of business applications to allow this “deep linking” to specific machines for monitoring, account information, or other exception handling (as we described with our bug tracking application). All from the Start screen. All of these organized among other apps that I like to use, so they are fast to access and get me quickly to the content that I want to consume.
Building on secondary tiles
We’re continuing to invest in enabling Metro style app developers to provide personal and rich content to their users through live tiles. Secondary tiles will be a big part of making your machine feel more useful and personal, and something that you love to use. To help, we’re building even more live tile templates into our catalog so that developers can enable more scenarios for their users.