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  (Source: Microsoft)
Is this the start button you're looking for?

Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) "Release Preview" builds of the upcoming free Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1 upgrades aired today.  Windows 8.1 represents Microsoft's bid to revive slumping personal computer sales and make up for the misses of Windows 8, which led some to pan the ambitious user interface redesign.

The changes in the Release Preview are pretty much along the lines of what was previously shown in media previews:
  • "Start Button", which switches you to the "Modern UI" Home Page
     
  • Color theme customizations
     
  • Large and Tiny Live Tiles
     
  • Batch Live Tile operations (move, etc.)
     
  • Improved knowledge-enabled global, unified search
     
  • Side-by-side resizable app panes
     
  • Improved Windows Store
     
  • Improved SkyDrive support
     
  • Camera UI and photo slideshow on lock screen


The first change is the most notable -- and probably the most controversial.

After initially saying that customers no longer were using the Start Button and thus it was gone for good, Microsoft took note of the noisy outcry surrounding this topic and changed its mind, allowing the Start Button to make a comeback in Windows 8.1.  

...well, sort of.  Instead of the traditional Start Button, which pops up a menu of apps (on the same screen) in Desktop Mode, the new "Start Button" yanks you out of Desktop Mode and drops you onto your "Modern UI" (aka "Metro") Home Page.

It's clear that this won't be the Start Button many Windows traditionalists were hoping for.  But it does allow faster transitions to the Modern UI, for better or worse.

Windows 8.1 Preview

Microsoft has a full guide on the other new features here, and a Faq on Windows 8.1 Preview here.  Microsoft warns that some systems with 32-bit Intel Corp. (INTC) Atom processors will need to update their drivers before running Windows 8.1.

To get the update itself, go to the Preview page, which will install the necessary updates, then take you to a download link in Windows Store for the main installer.

Microsoft's annual BUILD Conference for developers is kicking off today and runs through June 28.

Sources: Microsoft [download link], [YouTube], [Blog]



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RE: Right Click on Start
By Mitch101 on 6/26/2013 4:16:56 PM , Rating: 2
I use that as well and you can have the best of both worlds if you have multiple monitors. Start8 Works like you state on my main monitor and I get the Windows 8 GUI screens on my other monitors which works pretty well for being like an RSS feed on another screen. Its not ideal but its not hurting anyone.

The whole hate around the Windows 8 GUI is easily fixed with Start8 or a free app so Im not sure why most people have to be in an uproar when nothing prevents them from changing it its not mandatory as you and I know and if you don't like it change it and move along.


RE: Right Click on Start
By retrospooty on 6/26/2013 4:46:51 PM , Rating: 3
"not sure why most people have to be in an uproar when nothing prevents them from changing it"

Because they shouldn't have to go find a $5 app to make the UI not suck.


RE: Right Click on Start
By Mitch101 on 6/26/2013 4:55:07 PM , Rating: 2
Do you not install any other apps than what comes with the OS?

Do you not replace notepad with something like Context or Notepad++?
Do you not load Office or Open Office to replace Wordpad?
Do you not install Firefox to replace using IE?

People are competent enough to install alternate applications to replace the apps that come with the OS but completely incompetent at installing an App to replace the GUI?


RE: Right Click on Start
By Mitch101 on 6/26/2013 5:01:29 PM , Rating: 3
Here is 6 FREE apps if you wants a Windows 7 Style start back.

Windows 8 Start Menu replacements: 6 free apps to bring the Start button back
http://www.techradar.com/us/news/software/applicat...

Classic Shell
StartW8
Start Menu 8
ViStart
Power8
Pokki

Microsoft does not prevent anyone from installing any of these FREE apps.


RE: Right Click on Start
By retrospooty on 6/26/2013 5:26:29 PM , Rating: 2
Great... And now with Win8.1, users dont HAVE to go find a way to make the UI not suck. Its not the couple dollars for the app, or even free apps, its the need to do it. You shouldnt have to, and most users wont.


RE: Right Click on Start
By Da W on 6/27/13, Rating: -1
RE: Right Click on Start
By Mint on 6/27/2013 9:52:51 AM , Rating: 3
I thought win8.1 still doesn't give you the start menu


RE: Right Click on Start
By cyberguyz on 6/26/2013 5:44:01 PM , Rating: 5
You are missing the point.

What we are saying here is that Windows 7 works the way we want it to work with none of the jarring whipsaw back and forth between graphical desktop and almost monochrome-ish full screen applications/start panel (I refuse to call that monstrosity that Windows 8.1 displays a "start menu" -- it takes over the whole freaking screen!!).

Why the hell would I want a single application or even the Metro desktop completely obliterating my view of the desktop I want to work in? Especially when I have a 30 inch screen? I don't even run my games full screen for just that reason! Do I need a 30-inch screen to work with MS Word? I do if I have word in one window, control panel in another, excel in a third, this browser in a fourth, that game, etc at the same time and still be able to monitor all of these windows at the same time? Windows 7 lets me do this. Windows 8.x does not unless I want to install third party applications to change the way it behaves. I should not have to do that!! After all the operating system is called "Windows" not "Walls" or "Doors".

quote:
Microsoft does not prevent anyone from installing any of these FREE apps.


Microsoft would have a really tough time selling their operating system if they did. In fact they are hearing public opinion about their latest debacle now as Windows 7 sales hit an all time high and Windows 8 sales sit at the bottom of the trash can.


RE: Right Click on Start
By retrospooty on 6/26/2013 6:31:42 PM , Rating: 5
"Why the hell would I want a single application or even the Metro desktop completely obliterating my view of the desktop I want to work in? Especially when I have a 30 inch screen?"

Exactly... The bigger your screen, the worse the UI is. I dont get why Mitch keeps defending MS on this. Even MS knows it was a huge mistake and is adding it back, at least partially.


RE: Right Click on Start
By Mitch101 on 6/26/13, Rating: 0
RE: Right Click on Start
By retrospooty on 6/26/2013 10:01:39 PM , Rating: 2
I agree and I did change it. But you and I are not normal. Normal people don't come to sites like this LOL


RE: Right Click on Start
By Reclaimer77 on 6/27/13, Rating: 0
RE: Right Click on Start
By Mitch101 on 6/27/2013 8:55:16 AM , Rating: 2
I don't bother to read your posts through anymore so you should keep them to one to two sentences. You provide nothing of value to this site ever. I have yet to read of you solving or offering anyting of value to its users other than to tell others how moronic they are when they have a difference of opinion than yours.


RE: Right Click on Start
By Reclaimer77 on 6/27/13, Rating: 0
RE: Right Click on Start
By Mitch101 on 6/27/2013 9:09:20 AM , Rating: 4
Im convinced INSERT NAME works for INSERT COMPANY because they like a product that I do not agree with.

Sorry have never worked for Microsoft but I haven't ruled them out as a future opportunity. I do make a good living supporting their products. I am the highest level of engineer on certain products of theirs and when there is an issue have to dial into their support lines. In a few cases Ive worked along side Microsoft Rangers.

While were at it Im also working with Google too with their search appliance.

I also often throw Linux a bone.

I need to stop responding to you because like before I find your posts useless and of no value. If anything you made me dislike Samsung products.


RE: Right Click on Start
By Reclaimer77 on 6/27/13, Rating: 0
RE: Right Click on Start
By Mitch101 on 6/27/2013 7:54:49 PM , Rating: 5
Douchebag says what?


RE: Right Click on Start
By InsGadget on 6/27/2013 4:32:18 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Do I need a 30-inch screen to work with MS Word? I do if I have word in one window, control panel in another, excel in a third, this browser in a fourth, that game, etc at the same time and still be able to monitor all of these windows at the same time? Windows 7 lets me do this

Windows 8 does too. All your old Win7 applications will run fine in desktop mode, and you can arrange the windows however you want them.

It would seem you don't really know how Windows 8 works.


RE: Right Click on Start
By cyberguyz on 6/27/2013 9:44:08 AM , Rating: 2
I certainly do. I've used Windows 8 for a few months and absolutely hated it for two reasons:

Its insistence on switching modes even after I have modified it with add-ins to never show the metro start screens. If I am using the desktop, I do not want the OS yoinking me away from it for any reason. Being pulled to a full-screen control panel or start page (via this new start button) is as annoying as a BSOD.

The UI that Microsoft decided to use is butt-ugly. Sorry, but IMHO Microsoft should have fired their entire GUI design team and got someone in that knew wtf they are doing.

Windows 8 (including this laughable "start button/menu" solution) is fine for tablets and phones, but it is pretty dysfunctional in the desktop world. And it will continue to be that way as long as Microsoft insists on the center of the Windows universe is to pull you away from your Windows and throw you against a metro Wall.


RE: Right Click on Start
By Labotomizer on 6/27/2013 11:50:21 AM , Rating: 2
I think the point is that it's more flexible than before. You have the option of having another start menu, where you didn't before. And I've seen many that are better than the old Win 7 and earlier start menus. So users actually have more choices now, not less.

I do think the Start Screen could have been handled better and I think the changes in 8.1 help. But I don't have a problem with KB/Mouse. When I access the start menu in Win 7, my focus is there. I don't multitask while using it and the vast majority of people are the same way. So if it takes up a corner or the whole screen, the result is the same.

Is it better on a desktop/laptop sans touch? No, I don't think so. But I also don't think it's worse. It's just different. But it is a massive improvement on a touch screen and hybrid devices are the future of computing. MS is smart to get the baby steps out of the way now for the long term goal of having an OS that flourishes in hybrid environments.

I could almost think of Windows 8 as being similar to NT4/Win2k and Win 9x. There was a phase where both were needed. Eventually that was phased out. I think we'll see the same with Win 7 and 8/9. Win 7 will be good for legacy system designed but eventually hybrids will be normal and will move to Win 8/9.


RE: Right Click on Start
By Ytsejamer1 on 6/27/2013 7:50:45 PM , Rating: 2
I just thought I'd plug StartIsBack...It's really slick and I like the fact that it just uses the native MS code that is already in the OS. For a couple bucks, I'm sold. www.startisback.com . I don't work for them or anything, but figure it's worth a mention.

I like the speed of the OS and it seems a bit snappier. I was battling the stupid native metro apps (still haven't figured out a way to close the app other than dragging it down to the bottom), and other things I'm used to doing. It was too much back and forth for me.


RE: Right Click on Start
By parowOOz on 6/28/2013 7:07:14 AM , Rating: 1
I've been a long time lurker on Dailytech but I just had to register to reply to this.

First of all Notepad++, Office, FF actually add and improve on the basic apps you get with Windows. They do not bring core functionalities back. If anything Metro UI is like installing Notepad on a machine that came with MS Word - it's stupid and pointless.

Besides you're missing the point. If you don't like smoething you don't buy it. You vote with your wallet. What you and other MS apologists are doing is actually rewarding MS with your money for bastardising the UI. Saying you can change it is not a valid argument. It's like giving your dog a treat after he/she went on the floor and saying "well I can allways clean up after him/her".

It's a deja vu of the whole iPhone 4 antenna fiasco where people didn't see anything wrong with having to buy a case for their phones to make them work correctly.

You shouldn't have to buy a stupid case to make your phone not drop calls and you shouldn't have to buy/install 3rd party apps to fix MS' blunders. Period.


RE: Right Click on Start
By althaz on 6/26/2013 9:27:52 PM , Rating: 3
The thing is, the start screen is a LOT better than the start menu (although to be fair, the start menu is woeful at finding and launching apps, except for search which is still worse than in 8.1).

There's a small subset of people that don't like it - so they can customise :).


RE: Right Click on Start
By retrospooty on 6/26/2013 10:05:27 PM , Rating: 2
True for small touch screen devices... Not for laptops and desktops and even worse for large screens... Especially if you multi task alot


RE: Right Click on Start
By datdamonfoo on 6/27/2013 10:33:26 AM , Rating: 3
This simply isn't true. I have no problems with Windows 8 on my laptop, my 47 inch tv or my dual 27 inch monitors. And I multitask A LOT. I'm in and out of the start screen in just a few seconds, otherwise my computers all look just like Windows 7.


RE: Right Click on Start
By Mint on 6/27/2013 12:03:22 PM , Rating: 2
With monitors so cheap, most heavy multitaskers have an extra one, and Win8's dual taskbar is much better for that.

The start screen is a launcher for infrequently used apps (frequently used ones are pinned). It's designed to let you go in and out as fast as possible.

Honestly, I think Win8 is better for heavy multitaskers. It's the light multitaskers that don't care about the second monitor not having a taskbar, that didn't have a bunch of programs to navigate through in a tiny start menu, that didn't adopt pressing the Win key and typing as a result, etc.

If other programs put so many options into a nested menu, it would be considered poor UI. Chrome gives me a few items to go back to in a menu, but for more items it covers what I was looking at with a history page. Office 2010 covers my work with a load screen when I click on "File".

There's nothing moronic or unconventional about a start screen. Where MS made the mistake was in underestimating how comfortable people were with the start menu, and removing the option of bringing it back.


RE: Right Click on Start
By Breakfast Susej on 6/27/2013 3:12:56 PM , Rating: 2
While this is true, and my first thought about Windows 8 in general and the start menu apps, something occurred to me today.

That is despite the success of android, and my overall like for it, I use a pay app (nova launcher) to make the ui not suck on my nexus 4 (I also use start8).

Microsoft isn't the only guilty party in this regard.


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