Windows 8.1 Restores Start Button, With Twist - InformationWeek

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5/30/2013
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Windows 8.1 Restores Start Button, With Twist

Microsoft confirms Windows 8.1 will include boot-to-desktop options and a restored Start button. But other interface criticisms remain unanswered.

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8 Free, Must-Have Windows 8 Apps
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Microsoft announced Thursday that Windows 8.1 will restore the Start button and include a boot-to-desktop option, confirming a series of reports published the previous afternoon.

At face value, the tweaks smooth over several of Windows 8's most-criticized rough edges. What remains to be seen, however, is if the new features' implementations will mollify detractors, or merely shift criticism for the OS, which has struggled to gain users, in a different direction.

Corporate VP for Windows Program Management Antoine Leblond confirmed the new features in a blog post. Specifically, he said "Boot to Desktop is Coming" and "the Start Button is Back -- Sort of."

[ What else does Microsoft need to do? Read 5 Windows 8 Gripes Microsoft Must Address. ]

Rather than replicating the Windows 7 button, the new version will connect to the Start screen -- that is, to the same Live Tile interface to which Windows 8 currently boots. Users can set the button to summon an "All Apps" view, however, in which app icons can be arranged by usage, installation date, name or category.

The Start button will most likely benefit traditional mouse-and-keyboard users, but users with touchscreens will be able to access "All Apps" by swiping from the bottom of the display. The Start button will be visible at the bottom of the taskbar when the user is in desktop mode but will only appear in the Modern UI if the user moves the mouse to the lower left-hand corner of the screen. Microsoft also said that newly installed apps will only appear on the Start Screen if the user pins them there.

And yes, Win 8.1 will allow users to boot directly to either the desktop or the "All Apps" screen in Windows 8.1.

Windows 8.1 will feature greater multitasking flexibility within the Modern UI. Users will be able to run up to three apps per screen, and multi-monitor viewing will be supported. Each open app can be freely resized, and users can run multiple windows of the same app, such as two instances of Internet Explorer.

Windows 8 currently forces users to jump from the Modern UI to the desktop when they need to access the Control Panel. Windows 8.1 will make more tools equally accessible in either interface. Leblond specifically mentioned controls for display resolution, power options, system information, product keys, Windows Update and SkyDrive.

Live Tiles will come in more sizes, bringing some welcome customization to the Start screen. Users can also use the same background for both the Start screen and the desktop, an option that could make moving between the UIs more cohesive.

Leblond stated people inadvertently move tiles on the Start screen. For that reason, Windows 8.1 will require that users press and hold -- or, for desktop users, right click -- an icon before moving it around.

In Windows 8.1, the search function will return files, apps, Bing Web results and SkyDrive files. Windows 8.1 also will feature stronger and more numerous hooks to SkyDrive.

Windows 8.1's native apps are getting upgraded. The blog post said, for example, that the Photos app will include editing features, and that the Music app has been redesigned.

Leblond offered little information about IE11, expect that users will be able to open as many tabs as they want, and that open tabs can be synced across all Win8.1 devices.

Microsoft's announcement falls in line with rumors posted by several websites, including ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley and Paul Thurott's Supersite for Windows.

Indeed, most of the features that Leblond confirmed have been part of the rumor mill for months. Nevertheless, most Win8 critics are likely to welcome this news, which suggests Microsoft is both listening to and acting on customer feedback. That said, these adjustments do not constitute a panacea for Windows 8's woes.

At least one report suggests, for example, that Windows 8 users -- even those on tablets -- have relatively little use for Modern-style apps. By allowing users to boot directly to the desktop, Microsoft will remove the mechanism that currently forces users to look at those apps each time Win8 boots up. With that strong-arming no longer in play, what must Redmond do to keep Modern apps from languishing? Will Windows 8.1's refreshed native apps be a step in the right direction?

And what about traditional desktop users? Leblond promises that this group has not been forgotten, and to mouse-reliant users, Windows 8.1 should be easier to navigate than the current version. But is it enough to tempt Windows 7 users to upgrade their desktops?

Only time will tell. For the present, Leblond promised that more information will be revealed between now and late June, when Microsoft is slated to release a preview version of Windows 8.1 at its Build conference in San Francisco. The official version is expected to begin shipping in the following months.

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remmeler
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remmeler,
User Rank: Strategist
6/1/2013 | 5:39:31 PM
re: Windows 8.1 Restores Start Button, With Twist
I do like my Start Button/Menu but

If you miss the Traditional Start Button, then you are probably an experienced Windows users who is going to be on the Desktop a lot.

1. The folder "File Explorer, automatically put on your lower task bar,
gives you most of the capability of the Start Button Menu. Just set
the default to "all folders" if you want.

2. The ability to pin programs is actually the Start Screen on the
Modern Front End or you can pin to the lower task bar or the Desktop
itself or mix and match.

3. The ability to look at all programs is a right click on the Modern Front End

4. Shutdown options can be accessed in various ways, but the three
fingered M/S salute (Ctl, Alt, Del) and press the power icon works in
all situations and gives you quick access to the Task Manager.

The Run Command can be found by mousing to the left corner on Desktop
(that left mousing ability goes away if you install Classic Shell, but
of course you then have a start button/menu) or Click on the Windows Key
+ R

Don't get me wrong, I installed the Classic Shell and got my Start
Button back because it is comfortable for me after all these years.
But, how to do without it can fit on a Post-It Note.
Tronist
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Tronist,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/3/2013 | 10:50:43 AM
re: Windows 8.1 Restores Start Button, With Twist
So what about all that crap cluttering the desktop (a.k.a. Live Tiles)? I assume boot to desktop will bypass that eyesore.
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
6/3/2013 | 1:29:53 PM
re: Windows 8.1 Restores Start Button, With Twist
I think you made a good case for why most people prefer the Win7 Start button not Win8. Too much changed for doing the exact same thing. Microsoft would be very good at training mice, but people don't like change for just change.
DDURBIN1
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50%
DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
6/3/2013 | 1:31:36 PM
re: Windows 8.1 Restores Start Button, With Twist
M$ just can't help themselves can they.
DDURBIN1
50%
50%
DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
6/3/2013 | 1:35:17 PM
re: Windows 8.1 Restores Start Button, With Twist
Its about what M$ thinks will make them more money not about what customers would prefer. M$ doesn't want to give the user a real choice as its afraid we won't choose Metro where the Zune store resides.
DDURBIN1
50%
50%
DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
6/3/2013 | 1:38:21 PM
re: Windows 8.1 Restores Start Button, With Twist
There are plenty of Word compatible third party apps on iTunes and Google Play. No need to use pop's computer once he's got a iPad or Android tablet.
DDURBIN1
50%
50%
DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
6/3/2013 | 1:45:47 PM
re: Windows 8.1 Restores Start Button, With Twist
I see M$ resistance to a real Win7 functioning Start button in Win8 desktop computers pushing more consumers toward Apple and Google products in the PC world. Its only a matter of time before the same thing occurs in business as they won't opt for the massive retrain cost. So go ahead M$, you just keep doing what you're doing.
DDURBIN1
50%
50%
DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
6/3/2013 | 1:54:59 PM
re: Windows 8.1 Restores Start Button, With Twist
Ballmer is absolutely determined to make the Metro strategy work as it's the best strategy to make the most money from the Zune store. At least with Vista the PC manufactures offered "downgrades" for XP but M$ has killed the Win7 OEM licenses to eliminate the choice. More people are going to go Apple and Google instead...just might kill M$.
DDURBIN1
50%
50%
DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
6/3/2013 | 2:02:01 PM
re: Windows 8.1 Restores Start Button, With Twist
" Leblond promises that this group (mouse/key board users) has not been forgotten", so why was this group forgotten to begin with? Close to a billion desktop PCs with key boards and mice in the world and Microsoft forgot about them? How to shoot yourself in the head by Bill Ballmer.
zman58
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50%
zman58,
User Rank: Strategist
6/3/2013 | 4:11:03 PM
re: Windows 8.1 Restores Start Button, With Twist
Sony is not any better. They will take your blood if you let them.
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