June 27, 2013
Windows 8 Software Update Will See Return Of Start Button
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com -- Your Universe Online
The "Start Button" is back -- or rather will officially return later this year when Microsoft rolls out the latest updates to its Windows 8 operating system. The Start Button, which had been a key feature on the Windows OS since Windows 95, was removed when the latest version arrived last October featuring the "Modern UI" interface.
CNN reported that this new melding of the Start Button with the new interface won't take users completely out of the desktop mode, but will instead reportedly float a semi-transparent version of the Modern UI over it. This will create a better transition from the old style interface to the Modern UI.
The feature will further allow users to organize the Start screen as they see fit, labeling the various desktop apps and layering them as desired.
For those who have managed to put the Start Button out of their mind Microsoft has reportedly also added a Boot to Desktop option that will put the machine straight to a desktop screen rather than the Start Screen layout of tiles and apps.
A bigger change to Windows 8.1 could be the expansion of the "snap view," which could enable multiple apps on the screen at the same time. The Windows 8.1 update will let users run up to eight apps side by side -- up from the two that were available in the original Windows 8. However, to accommodate this, users will have to have two 2560x1600 resolution monitors side by side -- so those on smaller devices such as the Surface will still be limited to just two apps.
Other features include the ability to change the backgrounds and even lock the screen, which will display a slideshow of photos; while also offering more tile sizes. The tile size option will offer larger titles that can show more information right on the Start Screen.
It isn't just the look that is getting tweaked either. Microsoft is also apparently going to use Windows 8.1 to push its Bing search engine, as it provides universal Bing search from anywhere. This includes the ability to search files not only on the device but also on the web -- the latter option providing a fast way to get online -- blurring the line between local and web.
Windows 8.1 will also provide users with access to the redesigned app store, which Microsoft claims now has more than 80,000 apps with more on the way each day. Among the new apps that users will have access to will be the new "Fresh Paint" and Camera App. The paint app will feature new tools including abilities to blend colors, while the camera app will feature a tablet friendly ability to capture photos before and after the shutter button is pressed, thus ensuring that the best shot isn't missed.
Microsoft, which pushed Windows 8's touchscreen capabilities, must have also noted that users aren't giving up the mouse and keyboard. As a result the new Windows 8.1 update will also include greater keyboard and mouse support, including ability to control multiple monitors.
In addition, the SkyDrive cloud store service will be more integrated into Windows 8.1, and this will include the ability to sync with Windows and app settings on the fly.
These are just a few of the changes that users can expect to see when the Windows 8.1 update rolls out later this year. It will apparently address key complaints, notably that lack of the Start Button.
Exactly how key that Start Button was can't be understated either. Consider that when Microsoft launched Windows 95 it called on the Rolling Stones hit "Start Me Up," which was fitting as the new operating system was very much built around that iconic start button. It will be good to have it back.