May 9, 2013
Windows 8.1 Brings Back Start Button, Boot To Desktop Features
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
Microsoft may be bringing back its traditional Start Button, which had been discontinued with Windows 8, in the upcoming release of Windows 8.1 later this year, according to multiple media reports on Wednesday citing sources familiar with the plans.
The company may also be bringing back the ability to boot straight to the desktop, rather than having to visit the tile-based Start menu screen first.
The new Start Button is expected to look nearly identical to the existing Windows flag used in the Charm bar, but will act as merely as a method to access the Start Screen, The Verge reported.
Microsoft said on Tuesday that a revision to its operating system, codenamed Windows Blue, will be unveiled during the three-day Build developers conference in San Francisco next month, but did not disclose any specific changes to the platform.
The software giant said a final version of Windows Blue would be released before the end of the year, and suggested it would give users the option of booting their PCs directly into Windows 8's desktop mode.
ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley cited sources that said Windows Blue would likely include the traditional Start button as an option.
The demise of the traditional Start button in Windows 8 was one of a number of controversial changes Microsoft made in its latest operating system. The company attributed the change to customer feedback it received from its Customer Experience Improvement Program, but the return of the Start button is also believed to be due to customer feedback.
More than 1.5 billion devices used Windows 7 and previous versions of the operating system when Windows 8 was launched, making the OS highly popular and one of Microsoft´s most important sources of revenue.
However, because sales of tablets and other touch-screen devices had been growing at a much faster pace than PCs, the company introduced a new start screen, initially dubbed "Metro", which contained resizable tiles that could be tapped and swiped to launch and navigate apps.
Users can still switch to the conventional desktop mode by clicking on an icon, but the environment lacks the start menu button offered since Windows 95.
This has caused some confusion about how to shut down the PC and conduct other tasks, leading several third-party developers to release their own software that restored this functionality.
Microsoft has acknowledged that "there is a learning curve [to Windows 8] and we can work to address that," but points out it has sold a comparable number of licenses for Windows 8 as it did during the first six months of Windows 7's life.
"It's too early to say that it's flopped," said Benedict Evans, a digital media specialist at research firm Enders Analysis, during an interview with BBC News.
"However, there's clearly a lot of pushback from consumers and corporates about the radical change the firm wants to make in the user interface.”
"The broader issue is that Microsoft is building an operating system designed with a touchscreen in mind. That's essential for its future because computing is shifting to tablets and mobile, where Microsoft has been irrelevant."
"What in effect they've done is compromise the desktop experience to create a great tablet and mobile experience. The problem is that it's the desktop buyers that pay for everything right now."