Microsoft to bring the start button back in Windows 8.1, but not as we know it Jim

Microsoft is set to reintroduce the famous Windows start button in Windows 8, according to sources familiar with company plans. A report over on The Verge points at Windows 8.1 (aka "Blue") as to when consumers will be able to see a start button in desktop mode without utilising third-party software. The only downside is it's noted the button will simply take the user back to the start screen and not fire up a menu.

The button is said to share the same visual appearance as the existing Windows logo present in the Charms bar. This change follows a similar alteration based on consumer feedback. Microsoft is said to be working on implementing a boot to desktop option. This will enable consumers to boot straight into the traditional desktop, bypassing the new Windows 8 start screen. So is it all doom and gloom with the new desktop mode start button? Not at all.

The start screen has essentially replaced the menu used in versions of the desktop operating system prior to Windows 8. A single click will bring the user to a screen with numerous Live Tiles and easy access to all installed apps. That's not including the new search functionality, etc. so it seems Microsoft is attempting to find some middle ground and bridge the gap between the new start screen and the traditional start menu.

How will consumers react to the inclusion of a start button but no menu? That's yet to be seen, but taking into account the number of downloads accumulated by software vendors who published tools to enable a menu of sorts shows that a portion of the user base wish to have the traditional experience returned.

But what are your thoughts on this potential update? Would you be satisfied with more convenient access to the start screen, or is it a requirement to have the menu back in desktop mode?

Source: The Verge

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds is Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

285 Comments
  • Consumers are idiots. On your keyboard you already have the start button...
  • Exactly.
  • We want a Start menu in WP8 !!! And a boot to desktop too
  • Right-click lower bottom corner? Not same but pretty close but I'd be surprised if many people knew about that.
    Also windows key + R will give you run dialog.
  • Guys, look
    I am using computers since before the PC was born, I was using every version of windows from 3.1 up to 8, and I want the start button in desktop.
    I don't think what MS claims is true, in fact I believe it is a lie. I dont believe that when users ask for the start button they mean a button for the new Win8 tile screen. I believe they want the old Windows7 menu, and so do I, and I'll explain why:
    Desktop has a way of doing things, there are windows on screen, all of them there on the desktop, and I work with all of them at once. I WANT A MENU THAT DOESN'T HIDE THE DESKTOP!!! That's the desktop philosophy, that's why the start button must remain there.
    What I do agree with MS is that for the new Windows RT UI the new tile menu is indeed the way to go, and it is beautiful. Yet, this is no reason to crap the Desktop experience which was quite alright in Windows 7.
  • Dual Screen works like a charm here. Live in the now, man....
  • Lies. No human can work with several Windows at the same time. Multitasking is impossible for the human brain. No matter what you do you can't focus on more than one thing at a given time. You may be able to quickly switch between things, but not at the same time, NEVER! (Well, some autists may be able to multitask)
    Anyways, why do you need to look at your windows when using the startmenu? The startmenu is not a place you spend a lot of time in. It's a quick hub to start new applications. There's just no need whatsoever to quickly have a look at other windows while doing something as simple as launching an application. And the new Startscreen does that just as well as Win7 Startmenu did + it has livetiles for a quick check of statuses.
    Face it, it's just a habit. Using the Startmenu for 20 years just made it a deeply rooted habit for many people.
     
    I do agree though, that the "All Apps" view is crap. But no one really needs it, just as no one really needed the Programs list of the old startmenu. Since Vista we use search which finds the programm in 1 or 2 seconds.
  • if you ever used MS Word, you might had needed to use say Calculator for a quick calculation needed in your document. With start button you could conviniently open calculator on top of MS word window, place some numbers you see on your page(which you conviniently see at all times) in your Calculator app, and finally get the result in your document page.
    During this simple usage example, why do I need the distraction of having my MS Word page(which contais everything my mind is focused on) hidden? There is none, it only distracts me from my tasks. Seeing a blue screen with tiles makes me maybe to forget what I have typed or thought in my document seconds before. I will need another second or two when I go back to desktop to remember where I want to place may calculation or some other thing.
    You may say this is just one case that favors my theory, I dare you to give me any case that demonstrates clearly(objectively) the benefit of having the new Win8 start screen between two desktop operations.
  • We?! What do yo mean we?!
  • and why is that, what is it about the current setup that u find so difficult at this point?
  • exactly!! we don't need Start button/icon now!
  • Hahaha I told my buddy this he looked at me in amazement
  • My granny, who is on a pc constantly and has been for work for YEARS, when i told her that the windows key was a start button, she was shocked.
  • Or just tell her to move the mouse a few mor pixels to the lower left and you will get a Start "menu" pop-up.  It's not that difficult.
  •  
    Seriously it absoutley amazes me how a visual button is a top requested feature!!!! It barley any extra movement and if youve ever used windows you should be used to going to that corner in the first place. (facepalm)
  • i agree. When someone tells me theres no start button as one of the reasons to not get Windows 8, i correct them. "Its there, just hidden till you need it"
  • I agree
    I don't know why people complaining in regards to this point it's no make sense at all
  • A visual button is not the the top request. People want original start menu like windows 7. Blue isn't giving that old menu, just a button to Modern UI. Because, if that start button open menu like Windows 7 and in addition to straight boot to desktop, then Microsoft will dissapoint many developers, coz meny people will never ever use modern UI and so less customers for the apps in app store.
     
    SOLUTION: I think, MSFT should bring back Windows 7 start menu, but add some other method to access Modern UI. Maybe 2 Start buttons, 1 for W7 menu, and the 2nd start button on Charms for Modern ui.
    And give customer the option to configure keyboard start button to any one of the start menu.
     
    With straight boot to desktop, this means old school users can have their W7 back, at the same time W8 users can also have W8.
  • NO DUDE...THE EFFN MENU IS GONE. FOREVER. ADAPT.
  • I told her that but she oddly keeps forgetting, and when she doesn't she doesn't move the mouse all the way into the corner... (She's like that sometimes). Still, the windows button has existed on keyboards since windows 98 if im not mistaken (I had a 98 PC with one once), yet a lot of people have no clue as to what it does. Its somewhat humorous and baffling at the same time.
  • Yes, the Windows key has been present since Windows 98.  In fact, the Windows key invokes a number of Windows hotkeys (which have been present for years).  For instance, WIN+E brings up File Explorer.  WIN+W brings up Search.  WIN+C brings up the Charms bar.  Those are just a few things you can do with the keyboard.
  • WIN+X Bring up the menu editor
     
  • WIN+D brings you to Desktop, minimizing everything.
  • Most keyboards have a "Break" key on them too, and I don't know anybody that remembers what it does (outside of IT/IS circles). Heck, I still have people that don't know how to do screenshots too.
     
    In other words, this doesn't surprise me.
  • I remember computers with Windows 95 and the keyboards already had the Windows key.
     
    Fun fact: IBM's keyboards before the Lenovo transition had no Windows key.
  • and interestingly the 'popup' is actually a representation of your start screen - take a close look at the colors of the squares!
    with a start button revived there would be 5 (!) different ways to return to the start screen on a Surface.
  • Exactly! Not sure why we have all the confusion.
  • +1 ^This.
  • +920
  • Except when one hand is on the mouse and the other on a sandwich...
  • Lol!
  • There's something called hot corners that brings up a start button.
  • I know--it was a bad joke. ;)
  • No it was an awesome joke.  :)
  • Thanks, but on the serious side, WinFan1 is correct. :)
  • It doesn't just bring up a start button. One of them IS the Start button.
  • Your hand glued to the mouse?
  • Click on the bottom left corner, problem solved.
  • Shh, don't speak common sense... you'll be frowned upon by the average Joe :-(
  • eyes suddenly searched for a like button, sadly i only have reply :)
  • I have to be honest. I didn't know how to get there after I opened a new app. I'm a programmer. My friend (@wesbos), also a programmer, tweeted that he was stuck on the desktop and didn't know how to get back. There's a million ways, but if you're new to the system, on a non touch devices, its not very intuitive. My brother installed it and called me saying he had to keep rebooting because he couldn't figure out how to get to the tile screen. I feel stupid for not knowing, wesbos said "I feel like an idiot", but this is actually a problem and why they are needing to put it back in.
  • End users who do not take the time to familarize themselves... and programmers... dude. 2 seconds in a web search and you get a thousand sites explaining how to navigate the metro interface.
     
    This is not 1989 anymore, computer ignorance is no longer an excuse, especially from a programmer.
  • I did. I could litterally show you my searches. I googled "how to close IE10 metro" and things like that. I was using it right when it came out. There wasn't as many people bitching about it then. But here:
     
    https://www.google.com/search?q=how+to+close+IE10+metro&aq=f&oq=how+to+c...
     
    There's no real results explaining it. At that time it didn't cross my mind, and I didn't know, that each metro app was closed the same way. I figured there was a "quit" button or something somewhere. I didn't think of googling "how to close metro apps" I was thinking "how do I close IE10".
     
    I understand it's easy for you, but you need to understand that this is obviously such a big problem they're adding it back.
  • Well, that was your first mistake. You "Googled" for the answer, instead of Binged it. ;-)
  • "Well, that was your first mistake. You "Googled" for the answer, instead of Binged it." My thoughts exactly, lol.
  • Well thats the sad part. you say you are a programmer?
     
    and im not trolling you but really? you and your friend didnt know simple things?
     
    starting with how new apps dont have to be closed if you dont want to. also, there has been always a F1 for help in desktop. F1 has been there since... i dont remember since I never needed it, but I always check it, and it has videos and all (in windows 8). how is it possible your friend and you would rather make searches in google than using the oficial windows 8 help? its like a manual.
     
    yeah i wish Microsoft made a better guide for new users, just "dont show next time" checkbox and no need for a start button. a guide, a video, like old days. but they seem to try to please people with a useless and pointless button that will be just a waste of space in taskbar, than making a proper guide just like old windows (i think XP was the last one having one)
     
    try F1 and you would see the help it would have given you when you didnt know how to navigate win8. :P
  • See http://www.wpcentral.com/comment/366485#comment-366485
  • well i never called you stupid :P
    but it was easier to deal with F1 when you got confused about windows 8, than doing a search in internet.
     
    when you get a electronic device you dont go to internet to search how to install it or use it. you use the official manual. and thats F1 at the moment.
     
    thats where i agree where Microsoft should make the Tutorial be there for new users until they check "dont show next time" checkbox. so people cant complain they didnt know how to use it, if they decided not to watch the tutorials. the instalation guide is nice, but only shows you how to use charmbar start button, and it only shows that for a couple of seconds when you create and account, then it disappears and never comes back.
     
    I didnt mean using win8 was "simple things" but.. i mean, moving mouse around and finding somewhere to click would have been my style, using keyboard start button, or esc+ctrl. instead of restarting the computer.
    of course people like you, and anyone, can get lost if they dont know how to do stuff like closing win8 apps, so again, a button to me its useless, i dont see a point of it, it wont fix anything. Microsoft should do a proper tutorial to watch it everytime you restart the computer if necesary.
     
    and its not about feeling stupid. but sometimes users complicate things more. but again, Microsofty mistake is not takeing button away, is not doing a tutorial like old Windows. This button wont fix anything if you go to win8 apps, and then you dont know what to do.
     
    I just found it funny you and your friend didnt move the mouse around like i would have. but im not calling you stupid. but you must admit, F1 is your bestfriend if you want to know shortcuts and how to navigate win8 easily. but you forgot about F1, which is understable.
  • All you had to do was look at a brief overview video. Every major tech blog had a video showing how to use win 8. The problem is you searched for ie10. Opening and closing apps is an os functions and you should have searched for a tutorial on using win 8. I will agree on one point. The little animation that plays during the install isn't enough. They should have a 5 minute video pinned to the start menu to show users the basics. If the users choose not to watch it, than any aggravation that is caused is on them.
  • ALT+F4 still works.
  • Understandable. But now you know how to get there. Once you figure it out, you don't forget. Microsoft's biggest problem is having to support legacy products. This keeps them from moving forward too radically. They have to drag their entire history into future products!
  • And why do they have to drag there history into future products? Because of complainers who resist change and software vendors who don't want to spend the money to rewrite old programs.
  • I don't know why people think this so hard. I am not a developer, and the first time I used windows 8 was when I got my knew Lenovo last month. Having never seen or used not once have I even went looking for the start button. Windows8 is beyond easy to use, most people are to stuck on habits to realize all the other ways to do what they need.
  • So you missed the hot corners tutorial when you started Windows 8 for the first time, bummer dude.
  • When my computers are setting up I personally get up and walk away. I'd rather go on another computer while it sets up and do something productive :)
  • Everytime I read a complaint about not knowing how to do something in Win8 I think of this. I'm honestly tired of trying to help people understand the simplest of things. Its far beyond ridiculous and I almost want to think that people are being facetious purposefully just because its easy to draw out a negative reaction to change.
  • Do people not read anything anymore? As a programmer, I would expect that you would want to keep upi to date on new software. When windows 8 came out, the first thing I did read an article about it and watch a demo video. Took me maybe 10 minutes to do that. That was all I really needed to get the basic and intermediate stuff an average user would need. I learned the advanced stuff by playing around for another 1/2 hour and looking through all the menu options and find where all the setting are. People keep talking about being intuitive. There isn't an os out there that is completely intuitive. They all have features that need to be learned. My wife got a mackbook pro from work. Neither of us really fully know how to use it yet and people keep bragging how great and intuitive osx is. I had to search the web for instructions for doing many basic things. Everything is learned and people have become to lazy to read anymore.
  • I came here and posted that comment under the intetion of sharing my personal frustration. Yes, I've been following Windows 8 for sometime and I'm an OS X user. I was excited abuot Windows 8 because it's so different. I actually like Windows 8. It's the first Windows version since 95 I've been excited about. I actually switched from iOS to WP8 (https://medium.com/adventures-in-consumer-technology/4b06dcbb98c9) However, I'm greeted by this community. 
    You're all digitally lynching me. I fucked up. I didn't figure it out. My friends also trying it didn't figure it out. I said in my comment that I felt stupid. My friend said he felt like an idiot. I wasn't even complaining that Windows did that. I like that the menus are hidden. I love swiping to see the menus. I think it's rad. I just didn't know what to do when I first started. I didn't even think of reading the F1 docs. I haven't read those since I got internet. Never crossed my mind. I googled for 20 minutes solid. I have 1,300+ followers and when I tweeted "how do I close IE10 metro", not a single person responded. I couldn't figure it out. I didn't watch the install video becuase, well, I didn't feel like watching an OS install. I find that pretty boring. I didn't know it'd have a demo.
    I understand that some of you "got it". That's fantastic, but calling people who didn't get it stupid after they already said they felt stupid isn't constructive. It doesn't really welcome us testing the waters with switching communities. In fact, this whole comment thread is pretty off-putting. If whenever I have to ask a question I'm going to get called stupid and get dozens of email notifications about people calling me stupid I'm out. I want no part of this. In the future, remember that just because something was easy for you doesn't mean it's easy for everyone. MSFT doesn't fix things people bitch about. MS Word has things that have been broken forever and people complain about. They fixed this because it was a massive problem. If you got it, great, but putting people down who already feel dumb doesn't help anyone.
  • Yah, people are real jerks on here. It's not your fault, the fact that people are saying you should have had to look up or pay attention to some training material speaks to the obvious fact Windows 8 is not intuitive. Intuitive means no one should have to "learn" it. Microsoft could have done a MUCH better job introducing people to Windows 8 by using hinting, an interactive tutorial, ANYTHING, but they don't even so much as show you a video. That tutorial when you first install Windows? It doesn't show you anything. Terribly planned, IMO.
  • Well, the First Time boot of Windows 8 does show a small tutorial. Microsoft has acknowledged that this really isn't the only time they should have shown it, for those situations like oscargodson pointed out. And with the exception of the Start Screen, pressing F1 will bring up the Help system for either the OS or an Application.
  • Oscar, don't take things too personally. I think most of the ire is due to hearing about how terrible Windows 8 is for months when in fact it is a pretty good operating system. A lot of pent up defensiveness here, and this is one place where most people are of a like mind in favor of MS products so posters feel "safe" in attacking those that hint at support of the feeling that Windows 8 is not "easy" to learn. I agree that certain aspects of the OS are not intuitive, and like many, I prefer to just start up a new piece of electronics (hardware or software) and automatically know what to do. Example: when I went to the store to try out Windows RT (thinking of buying a surface) I couldn't figure out how to empty the trash on the desktop. Who cares, right? Well, I care. I asked all of the store reps (this was a kiosk mind you), and none of them could figure it out either. Probably not a big deal (and I assume it is easy to do), but it was frustrating for me to not have it "just work". It's also frustrating when store reps don't know their product because that leads to a lot of people not buying it. Anyway, keep your head up...for the most part the people in here are helpful/nice except for those damn Lumia 920 owners (can I say that since I am one?).
  • Don't take any of this to heart. Just keep in mind that some on here take this stuff way too serious and personal. I enjoy my Windows Phone. I also find W8 fun to use. I also find my 3DS and Wii U fun to use. But my love for tech ends there and not with some sense of loyalty that I feel I need to defend and ridicule someone just for having a difference in views or opinions.
  • First of all, watch your language!  Not all of us appreciate that.
    It is my opinion that if you have to read a tutorial to use a version of Windows, then Microsoft is doing something very wrong!  Most people want the start button back because of the menu it gives access to.  We don't care about the button itself.  We want the menu!  What does it say about Windows 8, when a small software company sells hundreds of thousands of copies of a program that brings it back?  It says that Microsoft isn't listening to their customers.  Making the user jump through hoops to get simple tasks done is poor software design.
  • Congrats on not paying attention to the installation! When windows is "getting everything ready" it plays a little animations saying move your mouse to any corner to see what happens. Did that ever cross your mind? Do what Microsoft suggested?
  • See: http://www.wpcentral.com/comment/366485#comment-366485
  • very true. I was at a store demo'ing it and it's not intuitive. I bet it'll be easy once you get the hang of it but i agree with your point.
  • People are being jerks to you, so I just want to say you're right; it's not intuitive. And don't rag on this guy because he's a programmer; programmers are regular consumers too and even we have run into issues. Windows 8 is simply not intuitive from the get-go and I started from the Developer Preview. Windows 8 requires you to use the keyboard more than Windows 7; so yes, you get used to it, but it's not the convention average people are used to.
    Also, the "tutorial" when you first boot up Windows 8 is terrible. It doesn't tell you anything. MOVE MOUSE INTO CORNER. By the way, I moved my mouse into the corners during that tutorial and nothing happened; it's misleading, it wants you to wait to do it, but it really needs to be an interactive tutorial. Why can't it go through the basics? It would probably have fixed a lot of user issues. Also, moving a mouse into a corner that shares a corner with another monitor is a terrible UX.
    I think Windows 8 needed a much different interface for traditional desktop, because on a tablet it's awesome (I have a Surface) but the experience is not great on a regular desktop.
    The other thing that's hilarious is that Microsoft says don't include search buttons or search hints in your app, but tons of people still don't understand how the Search Charm works or how to get it to show up. I LOVE the search charm but again, it's not intuitive. To combat this, many apps include a search button in the UI so it's more discoverable. Same deal with app settings...
  • Agreed!!! Also, have any of you tried to hit the corners of the screen in dual screen mode? It is nearly impossible to do so without veering onto the next screen. I have this very situation when using Windows 8 in a VM on my second monitor. My job requires me to use software that needs to be isolated in a separate OS. Unless I setup VMware to run the guest in exclusive mode (which traps the mouse pointer in the guest window) I have a hard time hitting the corners. At the very least, more of the corner needs to be a hot zone, not just a few pixels in the corner.
  • +1
  • Microsoft are the idiots here.
  • +>9000 I don't miss the start menu at all
  • Agreed. I really don't use the start interface either though. I log in and go straight to my desktop where I keep essential icons on the taskbar and a few on the desktop.
  • If you had a hybrid device, you would use both. At work I'm in the desktop, but once I Leave I'm in modern mode. Once MS releases Modern/Metro office, I wouldn't have any need for the desktop except software vendors like Adobe, etc refuse to modernize their programs.
  • Media has dumb consumers down: “I Phone” Duh! You can also get "All Programs (Apps)" by creating a Menu Bar directed to: C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs, and get over it, all your legacy programs straight from the desktop!
  • Exactly, I prefer using the keyboard than to use the start button on the screen. I also love the start screen with live tiles.
  • Thank you sir! You're absolutely right.