Custom Tiles for the Windows 8 Start Menu

I upgraded to Windows 8 over the weekend, and I’m quite enjoying the large tiles and groups on the new Start screen. I’m seeing rumors that in 8.2 the traditional Start Menu is returning, so that’s sort of a bummer, but I’ve been working on some custom tiles, using OlbyTile, and wanted to share my progress.

Here’s my current Start screen, with the work programs finished.

Normally, Windows takes the default application icon, centers it, and picks a color from it to fill the space around it.I wanted the icons to be full bleed, without a text label, so I needed the icons to be meaningful to me, without being too text-heavy. I went with Maven Pro, a very stylized, thin font for the icons, utilizing the same convention the CS icons use — when a program has two words in it, we use a capital letter for the first word, and lowercase for the second — and I’m quite happy with how they came out.



My new icon is on the left, and the default means by which Windows creates application tiles is on the right. It’s a lot cleaner now, and we don’t have the long ass text under the icon. That distraction was the major impetus, and it’s been alleviated with my new tiles.

Here’s all the work ones, at their native resolution.

Obly Tiles
From top left to bottom right: Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, Lightroom, PhpStorm, FileZilla, Beyond Compare, Klok, and Sublime Text

I’ve deviated from the convention in two cases, where I use Klok as the full title, and phpS for phpStorm. I’ve drawn inspiration for the colors from the original icons, and shaped them into minimal gradients.

It’s harder now that I’ve moved onto my pinned games. Thus far I have only completed one for SimCity, and I’m relatively happy with it. I’m unsure if I’m going to stick with this one, or go for a more consistent minimal look.

This uses the Game’s logo and a screenshot of one of my cities.


In this one, I've reused my FileZilla icon with Sc for SimCity.
In this one, I’ve reused my FileZilla icon with Sc for SimCity.

Edit: Whelp, I’ve finished up my games section with tiles. I decided to go the route with screenshots and the game’s logo, to make them pop a little more. It gives each game a little more personality and conveys what you’re getting into when you hit the tile. Here’s how my Start screen looks now:

start screen