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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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Why are you still using the start menu???
By tayb on 6/26/2013 6:51:24 PM , Rating: -1
Your hands are on the freaking keyboard... use it! There are few reasons to go to the start menu and even fewer reasons to actually move your mouse all the way over there. What a waste! Hit the freaking Windows key and type for what you're looking for. Why the hell are people so addicted to moving the mouse all over the freaking screen? Just because we're in a GUI doesn't make the moust superior for every. single. function.

Put your commonly accessed applications on the task bar. It fits close to 30 without overflowing depending on your resolution.

Right click where the start button is.

I use Windows 8 on my work laptop, work desktop, and personal laptop and I haven't seen the start screen in months. Why would I? There is no fucking reason to go there.

By inighthawki on 6/26/2013 7:18:38 PM , Rating: 2
Put your commonly accessed applications on the task bar. It fits close to 30 without overflowing depending on your resolution.

Unless you don't group your icons and have text labels, then they just waste space

RE: Why are you still using the start menu???
By Fujikoma on 6/26/2013 10:33:29 PM , Rating: 4
Your hands are on the freaking mouse... use it!
Why the hell are people so addicted to typeing all over the freaking keyboard? Just because we're in a GUI doesn't make the keyboard superior for every. single. function.

Oh that's right... it depends on what type of work you do, whether you'll predominantly use a mouse or keyboard.

You don't seem to do any real work. I need SAP, excel and a proprietary company application open and side by side on one screen while the other has photoshop and the occassional minor app. open. My hand is typically on the mouse and I don't care to type one handed any more than I type now. I mainly type numbers, so the keyboard isn't a major component of my work (barring some photoshop commands I can enter with my left hand).

It is far easier for me to use a mouse to go to the start button and go through the menu system... because I actually spend the time to organize ahead of time. That typing b.s. doesn't do any good when most people don't properly organize their pictures, music, videos to begin with. Hell, most users may not even remember the correct name for a lot of applications they occassionally use.

It must be nice to only need a candyland interface, but there are a large population of workstation users that not only need the consistency, but the ease of use of an established interface (and don't care to re-train office/production employees with something that shows no real benefit).

Personally, I don't need all those garbage tiles on my screen. It's the same reason I don't run widgets or toolbars. It's a personal preference due to past experience AND it's more efficient for me. Same as with all the other people that prefer it. You might as well argue that you find it more efficent to fill a car on the left side as opposed to the right side (or maybe behind the license plate... who knows).

RE: Why are you still using the start menu???
By inighthawki on 6/26/2013 10:40:44 PM , Rating: 1
Honestly I don't understand peoples' disabilities to use both, but hey. If you guys want to keep arguing over which one to use for everything then have at it.

By Mitch101 on 6/27/2013 12:06:27 PM , Rating: 1
That would take a hand off their penis or the thumb out of their ass.

Moving a second limb is hard for some.

RE: Why are you still using the start menu???
By Ramstark on 6/27/2013 2:51:30 PM , Rating: 2
Just a piece of advice...that lovely input hardware you hold to? It's destined to disappear ...

I don't say, it's not an opinion, its FUNCTIONAL evolution...

By mik123 on 6/27/2013 11:22:38 PM , Rating: 2
Why? Have you invented something better?

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)

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