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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:]

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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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. 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
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
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 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.

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