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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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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!


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