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Iconic Windows UI element makes a comeback -- but perhaps not how some hoped

In many ways, Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) new Start Screen -- originally codenamed Metro -- represents the old-fashioned start menu on steroids.  There's both good and bad to this; on the one hand it allows for rich animations, powerful sorting, and better support for touch.  On the other hand, many app developers make poor use of its extra space and many users feel it's uncomfortable and bloated on a traditional PC.

As it marches towards Windows 8.1, Microsoft is looking to show it's listening to criticism from its fans -- halfway listening at least.  The Verge is reporting that its sources are saying that the beloved Start Button will make a comeback in the upcoming release.

But this isn't your daddy's start button -- it will dump you right back into the Start Screen (Metro UI) similar to the Charm.

Windows Blue
A new Start Button is reportedly being added to Windows 8.1, but it doesn't work like the start button of yore. [Image Source: WindowsForum.eu]

The second report corroborates  ZDNet's chief Windows expert Mary Jo Foley, who last week said her sources were buzzing over a Start Button comeback, contradicting previous rumors that it would stay dead:



For those looking to stay on the desktop and navigate a more traditional start menu, you can always grab a third-party app like Pokki.  As of January Pokki had already recorded 1.5 million downloads and was used on average 10 times a day by customers, despite Microsoft's insistence that its own internal research showed customers were no longer using the Start Button.  (Pokki monetizes itself via a bundled third-party app store).

Microsoft sold 60 million Windows licenses as of January, but a significant portion of those are though not yet to have made their way to end users.  Regardless of the actual number of live Windows 8 users, it's clear a relatively large minority have opted to restore the Start Button via third party workarounds.

Windows 8.1 will also reportedly have the option to boot directly to desktop via a setting.  The new operating system is expected to launch sometime in the next few months.

Source: ZDNet



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Start
By Da W on 4/22/2013 9:41:39 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
despite Microsoft's insistence that its own internal research showed customers were no longer using the Start Button


Because those who use the start button also know how to disable sending data to microsoft.




RE: Start
By GoodBytes on 4/22/13, Rating: -1
RE: Start
By 3minence on 4/22/2013 11:10:00 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
In reality advance users just hit the Win key on their keyboard, type what they want and hit enter.


In reality, advanced users use all sorts of different methods, based on their own preferences. I'm an advanced user and I use the start button. My six frequently used apps are pinned to the taskbar, the rest are in the start menu.

Don't assume the way you do it is the only correct way.


RE: Start
By retrospooty on 4/22/2013 11:17:26 AM , Rating: 3
Exactly... I don't use it at home, but at work I do a ton of different things and the taskbar isn't big enough to set up that many shortcuts, so I use the start menu for the "2nd tier" things I do fairly often, and the taskbar for "1st tier" things I do constantly. In W8 its a pain in the ass because the start menu forces you to leave the screen you were on to go to a menu and choose your next shortcut. It kind of kills the ease of multitasking that we have had for a decade... Other than that I like it though.


RE: Start
By Pirks on 4/22/2013 2:25:39 PM , Rating: 1
This is pretty funny BS retro, because when you popup the start menu, you are not interested in the windows on your desktop anyway, your attention is 100% on the start menu 'cause you're looking through the shortcuts searching for the one you need. Hence your BS that you NEED those other windows on the screen when you are focused on the start menu is not gonna work. It's obvious you're BSing us, the question is why?


RE: Start
By Belard on 4/22/13, Rating: -1
RE: Start
By Pirks on 4/22/2013 5:03:08 PM , Rating: 1
Your fanatical BS about "internet chat" of losers and dorks like yourself has no relation to my post about start screen being worthwhile replacement for the smart menu, I have no idea why you changed topic, and neither have you :P


RE: Start
By Pirks on 4/22/2013 6:20:51 PM , Rating: 2
smart menu == start menu


RE: Start
By Pirks on 4/22/2013 6:34:22 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
NO major tech site has done a full review of Win8
How about this: http://arstechnica.com/staff/2012/10/windows-8-dee...

Or this: http://www.anandtech.com/show/5630/indepth-with-th...

Or this: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/windows-8-revi...

Or this: http://www.theverge.com/2012/10/23/3537710/windows...

Or this: http://www.engadget.com/2012/10/30/windows-8-revie...

Or this: http://gizmodo.com/5934932/windows-8-review-incred...

Or this: http://reviews.cnet.com/windows-8-review

Belard, after looking at all these reviews, I wanna ask you this: are you a fucking braindead moron? A sad idiot? A cunning liar? All of it maybe? Just who are you and why are you lying about the lack of major Windows 8 reviews? What is your agenda man? I wonder if you are a smart astroturfer who's on Apple or Google paycheck, or are you just a retarded loser from your mama's basement or something?


RE: Start
By Captain Orgazmo on 4/22/2013 9:49:30 PM , Rating: 1
Maybe you should read those reviews, you abusive loser. Windows 8 is lame, I bought it and got rid of it after 3 months. It is useless for traditional mouse and keyboard desktops; NOTHING UI related in it is easier to use or better than Windows 7. At $40 it was useless, at the current price a complete ripoff. The OEM "Starter" edition bundled with new PCs is worse than even Vista Basic.

This is coming from a rare fan of Microsoft.


RE: Start
By Pirks on 4/22/13, Rating: 0
RE: Start
By inighthawki on 4/22/2013 11:04:21 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The OEM "Starter" edition bundled with new PCs is worse than even Vista Basic.

WTF are you talking about? There are twoconsumer versions of the OS. Windows 8 and Windows 8 pro. The non-pro edition lacks some of the power user functionality like encryption, hyper-v and domain support. Otherwise they are the same. If you think that's is even close to as bad as Vista Basic then I have nothing to say, I'm utterly speechless.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_8_editions#Co...


RE: Start
By Piiman on 5/18/2013 12:47:11 PM , Rating: 1
I got it for 15.00 and it still wasn't worth it. Went back to Win 7 and haven't looked back. I'm very dissappointed that while they are bring back the start button its looks like its just another way to make you open that Metro Bull shit.


RE: Start
By Belard on 4/22/2013 11:26:31 PM , Rating: 2
Whatever Pirks... you are your usual self. I work for none of the major tech companies.

Your links:
1) Anandtech = Gee, didn't know that Win8 was released in March 2012... it wasn't. That was a PREVIEW, 6 months before release. You can't read?
Here is a vista SP1 review: http://www.anandtech.com/show/2452
A review on vista: http://www.anandtech.com/show/2163
WP7 REVIEW: http://www.anandtech.com/show/3982/windows-phone-7...
Windows 7 *REVIEW* - which is updated from its RC1: http://www.anandtech.com/show/2864

What YOU linked to Anandtech was a product that sure as hell wasn't the public release version of Win8 and even then, they were not too impressed.

I was wrong on the other sites... somewhat... you got me.
engadget.com = not much of a review, you wrote more words on this DailyTech article.
Cnet = usually sucks microsoft's tit. Its only TWO pages. And as typical as most reviews on Win8, they praise that it boots up much faster than Win7 (its more wake up then boot up) and they ended it with " does the learning curve make it worth strongly considering other operating systems? We think not."

gizmodo.com = liked it, but not really glowing. "Should You Buy It? Many of you won't have a choice."

Engadget and Verge are not heavy hitting tech sights... just media-tech sights. Verge says "A steep learning curve
A lack of Windows 8 style apps, Awkward to control with traditional keyboards and mice / No true windowing on Windows 8 style apps, full-screen"

Not many people complained about the functionality of Vista (the OCP sucked ass)... its problems were under the hood.


RE: Start
By Integral9 on 4/22/13, Rating: 0
RE: Start
By Pirks on 4/22/2013 5:16:08 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
my Start Menu is better organized than the one in Windows 8 because IT HAS FOLDERS
Quite moronic excuse, 'cause you can group tiles on a start screen too, every group is your former folder from Win7, so what's the problem?


RE: Start
By boobo on 4/22/2013 7:25:14 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is that you have only one level. You can't create groups in your groups, like you can in the start menu. A single level of organization for an entire computer? It's not just insufficient, it's simply unusable -for me-.

If I had the desktop's taskbar visible in the start screen and I could create n-level groups within groups (with a back button, of course, to be able to go back to the previous level), I would not mind using the start screen.


RE: Start
By Integral9 on 4/23/2013 2:34:04 PM , Rating: 2
Because folders allow me to group similar icons under a common name in a singular place using just one object. While the flat menu system of windows 8 forces me to always have all that extra clutter about and scroll across several screens worth of desktop to find the icon I am looking for with the abbreviated description.

eg: Microsoft Office
My Windows 7 start menu has a single Microsoft Office Folder. In it, contains 1 sub-folder and 17 items all of which fit into a space about the size of a 3x5 index card. Of those 17 items, I only need to use about 3 of them on a regular basis. However, I do need to know about those other applications as I do have a need for them from time to time. So in Windows 8, I have to keep all 17 icons on my start screen and dedicate an enormous amount of screen space to do so, requiring me to drag my mouse all over the damned desktop to find something.


RE: Start
By Piiman on 5/18/2013 1:03:44 PM , Rating: 2
Problem is it is just as likely to add 20 new tiles when you install something and then I have to go clean it all up. At least with folders they were already contained in their own area.

If you want to love Win8 good for you but if you can't see its a clunky mess you're either lying or stupid.


RE: Start
By InsGadget on 4/24/2013 6:30:03 PM , Rating: 2
You don't need touch to use Win8. I'm using Win8 on an existing non-touch laptop, hooked up to an non-touch monitor, and I'm having exactly zero problems. Don't believe/spread the FUD.

Also, I spend about as much time on the Start Screen as I did on the old Start menu: very little at all. It's just a menu. The real meat, on the desktop, is exactly the same or better. Better task manager and much better file transfers.


RE: Start
By Piiman on 5/18/2013 1:13:09 PM , Rating: 2
Talk about FUD.

You can't even tell if a program is not responding in the new Task Manager without expanding it. It has some nice new features for sure but the basic screen you access first is rather worthless now.

Just wait until MS figures out no Company is going to put this in house and their business sales drop like a rock in water and see how fast they change things back.
Face it win8 is a tablet OS and doesn’t belong on a productive desktop.
Just because you think Metro and Win8 is super cool doesn't make it so.


RE: Start
By retrospooty on 4/22/2013 3:33:23 PM , Rating: 2
Pirks, you clearly lack an understanding of the word focus as it relates to Windows ... Possibly brain bandwidth as well.


RE: Start
By Pirks on 4/22/2013 5:23:49 PM , Rating: 2
You still look lame, and your excuses smell BS because you still don't pay attention to anything else when you work with start menu, ergo start screen is no different to you, you work with a single object on a screen always, be it start menu or start screen, other windows behind start screen or start menu do not matter. Could you please come up with excuses that are not so stupid?


RE: Start
By retrospooty on 4/22/2013 7:49:39 PM , Rating: 2
"Could you please come up with excuses that are not so stupid?"

Pirks, I honestly cannot come up with an excuse that you can understand becasue I am not making excuses. I just dont prefer it. No big deal, I just dont like it on my work PC. ITs OK for my home PC. And it's its not because the reason is stupid... That is just you. I explained why in my post above, you you cant understand it, then dont reply. If you simply disagree, then fine. We disagree. I do use W8 at home and I like it fine. I am not going to re-load my 7 backup image, I am keeping 8 on my main PC. Just not at work.


RE: Start
By Pirks on 4/22/2013 8:41:31 PM , Rating: 2
RE: Start
By retrospooty on 4/22/2013 8:54:42 PM , Rating: 1
WTF is wrong with your brain? You replied the the post yourself. Not somewhere underneath several threads away, you replied directly to the post "at work I do a ton of different things and the taskbar isn't big enough to set up that many shortcuts, so I use the start menu for the "2nd tier" things I do fairly often, and the taskbar for "1st tier" things I do constantly. In W8 its a pain in the ass because the start menu forces you to leave the screen you were on to go to a menu and choose your next shortcut. It kind of kills the ease of multitasking that we have had for a decade... Other than that I like it though."

You lose your focus window, you lose your entire screen while the menu takes over 100% from edge to edge, where Win7 and previous took up what, maybe 5-10% max depending on your screen size... The start menu as is in W8 would be fine if it weren't full screen. It kind of loses the whole point in the name/theme "WINDOWS"... No, that is a wall, not a window.

If you cant accept that then I suggest you get therapy and try to understand why it is you cant seem to accept OTHER peoples reasons for not liking every single thing about a a product in every single circumstance.


RE: Start
By inighthawki on 4/22/2013 9:14:10 PM , Rating: 2
An argument that is almost entirely invalidated when you realize that virtually nobody looks anywhere other than that "5-10% of the screen" when it's open (Microsoft has done eye tracking tests to validate this information, not just guesswork and telemetry data). If you notice that people don't look at 90% of the screen when it's open, why not change it to maximize the amount of space you can use, while utilizing a 2D space to maximize visual memory?


RE: Start
By retrospooty on 4/22/2013 10:12:05 PM , Rating: 2
??? I dont really care. I was splaining why I dont use it on my work computer. I am not upset about it, I am not railing against it and I am not complaining. I use 8 at home and 7 at work and I am fine with it. Pirks for whatever reason seems pissed that I dont like 8 at work... Whatever.


RE: Start
By Pirks on 4/22/2013 11:02:43 PM , Rating: 2
inighthawki above already debunked your BS so I have nothing to add to his words

feel free to argue with him though :P


RE: Start
By SlyNine on 4/27/2013 7:29:09 AM , Rating: 1
That's bullshit, there are plenty of things you could be doing that might require you to look over to see what project you're on. Say I need to open an particular Excel sheet for a certain database when I'm working on multiple databases. How about converting blu-rays to MKV files, that's a multistep process (depending on how you go about it) and sometimes it helps to look back and see where I'm at and exactly what program I need for the next step.

I use the start menu all the time. It's small and unobtrusive. Metro does not jive with how I do my work.


RE: Start
By Piiman on 5/18/2013 1:16:00 PM , Rating: 2
Reload your Win7 it will put a smile on your face. At least it did mine. It was like coming home after a long bad trip.


RE: Start
By The0ne on 4/22/2013 6:47:45 PM , Rating: 3
I find this hard to say but I have to agree with Pirks. If you monitor your desktop usage you'll noticed that you use shortcuts for many of your daily tasks. The start menu is really for those one off things that isn't pinned to your taskbar or desktop.

At 1600x900, small icons, you have have almost 50 icons on the taskbar. Desktop is even larger. Then if you need more you can choose to increase the taskbar by 2 rows instead of one. If lacking real estate is the issue then you jump to Virtual desktops.

And if you want to get organize there are 3rd party utils available that can help. I like Stardocks' Fences. Double click and it hides your group.

I use the start menu for those one off things and when I'm lazy I select windows update instead of typing it. That's pretty much about it. Advance users make use of virtual desktops and a robust file manager that never closes. Consider them.


RE: Start
By Belard on 4/24/2013 8:56:37 AM , Rating: 2
And yet metro doesn't fix anything.


RE: Start
By Wolfpup on 5/14/2013 9:28:12 AM , Rating: 2
Great response. Yep, "advanced users" do it however it makes sense for them.

I certainly used the Start Menu, and actually having a button there even if it just dumps you back to Metro makes more sense IMO then taking it away, and making users have to know they have to kind of hover in the corner.

Thankfully after a week or two I came up with work arounds for 8, like I've got a folder with shortcuts I used to have on the start menu, and have that basically pinned in place where the start menu used to be, which ends up working well.


RE: Start
By kmmatney on 4/22/13, Rating: -1
RE: Start
By Cobra Commander on 4/22/2013 3:01:53 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder how many non-Engineers cares about your degree. :)


RE: Start
By BRB29 on 4/22/2013 6:09:00 PM , Rating: 1
Hey guys! who do engineers build products for?

According to kmmatney, it's other engineers because only smart people like him can use its so advanced crap.

News flash! engineers are paid to build whatever they build for everyone else. I don't give a crap if you don't like your own products, your job depends on other people to like your product. I'm sorry that you think you're smarter than the rest of us. I hope accounting department got some dumb people so they don't get your paycheck right every month.


RE: Start
By HoosierEngineer5 on 4/22/2013 11:40:06 AM , Rating: 5
So, it's like DOS, except you need to hit the Windows key first?


RE: Start
By nikon133 on 4/22/2013 6:27:50 PM , Rating: 2
No, you have to type "Windows_Key.bat". Like in DOS, remember?


RE: Start
By DeanSch on 5/7/2013 12:05:42 PM , Rating: 1
I'm an advanced user and I still use the start button and start menus all the time... And no not just for "pinned" items... Not everyone has the same preferences as everyone else no matter how "advanced" they are.


RE: Start
By Cstefan on 4/22/2013 11:44:11 AM , Rating: 3
Want some hilarity? Try using Server 12 with this same inane crap shoved at you. It's supremely angering.


RE: Start
By tayb on 4/22/2013 1:08:15 PM , Rating: 1
It's not. I use it every day on my production server. It's only annoying if you just can't understand that start screen = full screen start menu. There is no reduced functionality.


RE: Start
By xdrol on 4/23/2013 6:19:50 AM , Rating: 2
You mean, except for jump lists, a 'recently used' list, jump lists for recently used applications (not just for pinned ones), documents/my computer/control panel/favorites/.. pop up menus..?

Yeah, no reduced functionality, just only if you used Win95's start menu so far.


RE: Start
By timothyd97402 on 4/28/2013 5:22:19 PM , Rating: 2
No reduced functionality??? The previous reply covered it pretty well but add Start Menu folders and even subfolders with in them.

Ergonomically speaking, having to move my mouse pointer clear across the screen to choose an item to run, or even screen to screen to hunt amongst hundred of icons is a step backwards.

You fanbois can make all the excuses and come with all the "fixes" you like. Forcing a tablet/phone UI onto a desktop is wrong from the outset. The ergonomics of touch on a smaller, handheld screen and a keyboard/mouse operated desktop/laptop with the screen somewhat further removed is just too different. One size fits all poorly!

The thing is MS could have allowed the user some choice but has adamantly refused to do so. When XP came out we were allowed to revert back to our "classic" start menu and desktop aesthetics. Why not this time?

They can't sell tablets and phones on their own so they will force desktop users into a less functional, more difficult UI in order to "educate" and "familiarize" the public with a UI that just wasn't that good to begin with when they put it on the Zune!


RE: Start
By Piiman on 5/18/2013 1:28:36 PM , Rating: 2
Thats what these defenders of Win8 don't get. WE USED TO HAVE OPTIONS so that we could work the way we like to work. Win8 has taken much of that away and forced crap on us.

If I do'nt want Metro I shouldn't have to have it.

If I don't like the new Start screen I should be able to us the old start button.

If I want to boot to he desktop I shouldn't have to go to the start screen and select a tile to get there.

Why don't you Win8 butt kisser not understand that?

Please tell me why I should suddenly have to change because you and MS think I should.

OPTIONS OPTIONS OPTIONS Get it?!


RE: Start
By Motoman on 4/22/2013 12:17:13 PM , Rating: 3
Never trust any such "internal research" - I've never seen any such thing that bore anything more than the vaguest of resemblances to real life.

The ribbon toolbar was another result of that...and it's not just Microsoft. Opera, quite a while ago, removed the URL history arrow from their address bar - based on their "research" that indicated people don't use it anymore.

The thread protesting the change is the most-viewed post ever on the Opera forums, aside from ones they pinned up themselves. User fury is huge. Sure...you can turn it back on, if you know how to get into the innards of Opera. But for the vast majority of people, if I tell them to "try Opera" they'll download it, install it, quickly see that there's no little dropdown arrow on the address bar for them to easily go back to previous websites they've been to - and then uninstall it, and tell me how stupid I am for recommending such a useless browser.

"Just start typing in the address bar" Opera developers say - note the similarity to something that Metrosexual UI fans frequently say. Both forgetting that the whole reason we left DOS and went to GUIs was so that we didn't have to type everything anymore.

At least Microsoft is *kind of* admitting their error with the Start menu. Although I don't get what they think they're accomplishing by having it force you back into the Metrosexual UI.

That's not fixing the problem. It's actually kind of a slap in the face of people who aren't stupid enough to think the Metrosexual UI is a good idea in the first place.

At least Stardock et al will remain in business while this BS goes on. But it's not going to help PC sales at all, that's for sure. Just put the normal desktop and Start menu interface back in there and stop f%cking around. You're not hurting consumers, really - we're either going to stick with Win7 (or Vista or XP) - which hurts Microsoft and all PC makers due to lost sales.

Yeah, a lot of us will use Start8 or something else. But the vast majority of normal consumers haven't got the slightest clue how to do such a thing, nor the desire to do it. They'll just keep on *not* buying any new computers.

Hope current reserves of Windows 7 licesnses/disks hold out for a looooong time.


RE: Start
By acer905 on 4/22/13, Rating: -1
RE: Start
By drycrust3 on 4/22/2013 12:39:47 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The vocal minority always likes to pound fists, make enough noise to make them seem important, but they are always the minority.

Which still leaves the matter of falling sales of computers with the Windows OS on them. Your explanation is ... ???


RE: Start
By Da W on 4/22/2013 2:02:11 PM , Rating: 2
Haven't you seen profit grew?

Declining PC sales don't take tablets into account nor old still good PC that got upgraded. More people use windows 8 than you'd like i'm afraid.


RE: Start
By Pirks on 4/22/2013 2:32:12 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly, I installed it on three of my home computers already and I enjoy it very much, my wife too. Always fun to read desperate screams of some MotoRetroLuddite in here hehe :)))


RE: Start
By retrospooty on 4/22/2013 3:39:47 PM , Rating: 2
Stop acting like such a child... I said I DO use Win8 at home, but not at work because the lack of a start menu makes me less productive with a computer I do a great deal of different tasks on... Hardly what anyone would call "desperate screams", I just dont prefer it on my work PC.


RE: Start
By Pirks on 4/22/2013 5:37:46 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
the lack of a start menu makes me less productive with a computer I do a great deal of different tasks on
How so? Do you feel head ache when you see start screen or your nose becomes very itchy when you see live tiles or what?


RE: Start
By kmmatney on 4/22/2013 1:54:43 PM , Rating: 2
I've gotten used to the ribbon, but I recently had to do a lot of work on an Office 2003 equipped machine, and quickly found the old normal toolbars great to work with. I can use the ribbon, and it looks nice, but it doesn't help with productivity. Maybe its better in Office 2010 - haven't tried that yet.


RE: Start
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 4/23/2013 12:58:06 AM , Rating: 2
The big difference for the ribbon from 2007 to 2010 was that you could completely customize it. Put what you wanted on each ribbon tab or invent your own. I found it a welcome feature and let me setup a tab for some of the advanced functions I use for specific tasks.


RE: Start
By FITCamaro on 4/22/2013 12:26:31 PM , Rating: 2
HA! Very good point.


RE: Start
By jjlj on 4/22/2013 12:55:57 PM , Rating: 3
Same thing with windows mediacenter.


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