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Microsoft's reenvisioning of the classic Desktop Mode Start Menu may be taking longer than expected

Top Windows blogger Mary Jo Foley wrote a post last week seeking to clarify exactly when Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) was planning on releasing its revived, reimagined version of the Windows Desktop Start Menu.
While slightly overhauled to feature a flatter, more graphical rich Modern UI style, the new Start Menu will be available in Desktop Mode and is expected to function much like the old Start Menu you knew and loved from Windows XP/Vista/7.
The bad news, according to Ms. Foley, is that the new Start Menu likely won't be finished until the launch of Windows 9 in April 2015.  We already know that Windows 9 is expected to be a pivotal release, unifying the APIs and app marketplaces of Windows, Windows RT, Windows Phone, and Xbox.
According to Ms. Foley's sources -- sources that have a "good track records on Windows information" -- Microsoft had initially hoped to offer the Start Menu revival with its Windows 8.1 Update 2, which is expected to launch later this year.  However, it wasn't satisfied with the results, so it decided to push that item on towards Windows "Threshold" -- a codename that is believed to stand for the next major version of Windows, Windows 9.

Windows 8 Start Menu
[Image Source: Redmond Pie]

The ability to run Modern UI (Metro) apps in a windows form in Desktop Mode has also reportedly been punted until Windows 9.
So what's Windows 8.1 Update 2 going to include, since the two big-ticket items (Start Menu, windowed Metro apps) are gone?  Ms. Foley says she's not sure, writing:
So now what's going to be in Windows 8.1 Update 2? Will there be any user-interface changes or will it be more a vehicle for under-the-covers programming interface and reliability improvements? I don't know at this point.
If true, this is rather disappointing news for many Windows fans, but it is not altogether unexpected.  At BUILD 2014 in April, Ms. Foley asked Microsoft's Windows executive vice president Terry Myerson why the Start Menu wasn't included in Windows 8.1 Update 1.  He explained at the time:
The reason we (showed) that work is we thought it was important to share with developers. When do I deliver it? I really don't have anything to share there. We're just not ready yet.
If Ms. Foley's sources are to be believed, it sounds like Microsoft is still feeling the same way, hence it has opted to make an already major release (Windows 9) even more of a leap.  For now Windows 8 users will have to make due with less tightly integrated third party alternatives, such as Start8 from Stardock and the Pokki Windows 8 Start Menu, if they want a Start Menu on their Windows 8 desktop.

Source: ZDNet

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RE: Report...
By retrospooty on 6/9/2014 1:02:34 PM , Rating: 3
"It was still there in the Win 8 Alpha and Betas. 3rd parties have re-implemented it no problem."

Exactly... It was there and removed on purpose and re-enabling it is so easy, it's freeware. But... To be fair, the hybrid menu is different, it's live tiles on the small non-full screen menu - Still, I cant help but think it was to generate more hype for 9 than "its not ready". Oh well MS, it's your business.

RE: Report...
By Solandri on 6/9/2014 3:10:24 PM , Rating: 5
You're all assuming it's a technical reason why they're not implementing it. It's not.

Like I've explained before, this is about how software is bought and sold. The desktop and Start menu represent the original model (buy software in retail store, install it on your computer, access it via desktop and start menu). Metro and the Microsoft Store represent the "App Store" model (All software sold through one OS-locked store where the store owner happens to take a 30% cut). As each side gains the upper hand in that battle within Microsoft, we hear that the Start menu is coming back, or that it's being delayed.

Metro apps can only be bought and installed via the Microsoft Store, and Microsoft gets a 30% cut of anything sold through the Store. That 30% cut is the huge carrot driving Microsoft's behavior. The techies and engineers at Microsoft probably just want to make software and are pushing for a return to the desktop and Start menu. But the accountants' and executives' eyes are probably glazed over at the prospect of a 30% cut of all software sold for Windows.

As each side of this struggle within Microsoft gains the upper hand, we get announcements that the Start menu is coming back, or is being delayed.

RE: Report...
By retrospooty on 6/9/2014 3:14:13 PM , Rating: 1
"You're all assuming it's a technical reason why they're not implementing it. It's not"

I know it's not... That is why I said "It was there and removed on purpose and re-enabling it is so easy"

You may be right as far as why it seems to keep going back and forth tough... But lets also keep in mind, this was an unconfirmed rumor. The last I saw, when MS released that screenshots is that they were looking to the Win 8.1 Update2 in August (but not guaranteeing it).

RE: Report...
By Labotomizer on 6/9/2014 3:26:16 PM , Rating: 2
I think they let us read too much into the entire thing. They said Update 2 would continue to improve support for desktop and mouse users and they showed the above screenshot. Same presentation, different times. Perhaps they were hoping to have it ready for Update 2. I don't think getting the start menu back is the hard part though, even with the live tiles. I think getting Metro apps to run in a window is probably what's taking up the bulk of their time. And in their mind those two are tied at the hip and I agree. If you have the start menu then suddenly throw someone to a full screen app it will be less than pleasant.

If they do it right then April of next year will be well worth it. And shy of Windows tablets, enterprise wasn't going to deploy Windows 8 no matter how good it was. Windows 7 rollouts are still going on and, in major enterprise, has been being planned since prior to Windows 8's release. Windows 9 may gain desktop enterprise traction but it won't be until 2017 at the rate those rollouts go.

RE: Report...
By Samus on 6/9/2014 11:44:57 PM , Rating: 3
Lift the shell code from Windows 7, drop into Windows 8. Forget about the Metro integration until Windows 9.

In the words of Jeremy Clarkson "How hard can it be?"

RE: Report...
By Labotomizer on 6/10/2014 9:29:30 AM , Rating: 5
Why half ass it? They would rather implement it correctly. And I'm okay with that.

As has been pointed out by other posters, Windows 8 is written off by the consumer and industry at large. Just like Vista. Vista with SP1 or SP2 and current drivers was quite good. But at the point everyone was regurgitating hate for Vista that it didn't matter. Windows 8 is dealing with the same thing. No matter what MS does, it's still "Windows 8 sucks". The smart thing to do is bring the new start menu back with Windows 9 and get a fresh start in the consumer and enterprise mindshare.

RE: Report...
By FaaR on 6/10/2014 6:53:38 PM , Rating: 2
The start menu from windows 7 is half-assed?

I think about a quarter billion win7 users disagree with you there, but even so, considering how dismal a failure win8 has been for MS so far (even Vista sold better over time I seem to recall reading somewhere some while ago, which should tell you something), that ANY help this OS can get should have been a top priority for MS.

They just don't get it though, those fking suits over in Redmond. It's a prestige dickwagging thing, they just can't stand having to admit they were wrong about metro and the start screen. MS ran the software world for so many years, and it went to their heads. Now that they're no longer the center of everything and all their mobile efforts turn to muck instantly after being released they become headstrong and stuck in their ways, preferring to pretend they're still almighty, dominant and the center of everything.

"We're the leaders - wait for us!" is their constant call these days.

RE: Report...
By Labotomizer on 6/11/2014 9:56:43 AM , Rating: 4
Reading your post it's fairly clear you have no idea how consumer and business minds work. Windows 8 has been written off. What they do to Windows 8 now will not help. They're better off releasing an improved start menu and windowed metro apps for Windows 9.

Metro apps are important because they can run on different architecture and on Windows, Xbox and WP. Is it really that difficult to understand? Do you really think you know more about the market than the executives at Microsoft? That's laughable at best. If you did, you'd be working somewhere making those kinds of decisions instead of posting on a forum.

RE: Report...
By DT_Reader on 6/9/2014 7:41:56 PM , Rating: 2
My employer makes software for the health care industry. Consequently, our products are FDA regulated medical devices. There is no way we would sell them through the Microsoft store. The sole reason we're on Windows 8 tablets and not on Android or iPad is because with Windows 8 we can sell to our customers, who then install the software per FDA certified procedures (including configuring our software to work with their other FDA approved software). This isn't something that the general public should be allowed to just buy off an app store, nor is it something that our customers are allowed to just install and use, let alone the idea of giving Microsoft or Apple or Google a 30% cut. If our customers are not allowed to load the software directly then we're out of the tablet market.

RE: Report...
By marvdmartian on 6/11/2014 10:29:04 AM , Rating: 2
But the accountants' and executives' eyes are probably glazed over at the prospect of a 30% cut of all software sold for Windows.

On the other hand, when they tick off the users who DON'T require Windows-only (or limited) software for their home computers, like MS Office, they might just be losing long-time users of Windows to their competitors. I'm sure that Google appreciates all the new Android users they're likely inheriting, while Microsoft continues to stumble along, trying desperately to play catch up.

RE: Report...
By piroroadkill on 6/10/2014 9:45:36 AM , Rating: 3
Small menu with live tiles instead of full screen? Yeah, Start8 can already do that.

Microsoft don't have a particular reason to delay it, but that's fine, it means people sensible enough not to buy into Windows 8/8.1/8.1U1 will get a more polished OS with 9.

RE: Report...
By retrospooty on 6/10/2014 10:37:44 AM , Rating: 2
"Small menu with live tiles instead of full screen? Yeah, Start8 can already do that"

Start8 has live tiles? When did that happen? I used it a while back and it didnt. It did put (pretty much) the old start menu back, but not live tiles.

RE: Report...
By Motoman on 6/10/2014 12:49:33 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah I don't think so...although Stardock has other utilities that let you run Metro apps in the normal desktop.

I've been using Pokki regularly for a long time now for's free and people seem to like it. The customizable Favorites screens are nice, and otherwise it works like a normal Start menu.

It's not perfect...on occasion it loses icons for example. But it's free...and pretty good.

"I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For [Paramount] to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks!" -- Movie Director Michael Bay

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