Cherished 'Start' button returning to Windows software (Update)

May 30, 2013 by Glenn Chapman
The new Microsoft Surface tablet on display in New York on October 25, 2012. Microsoft on Thursday unveiled an update to its latest Windows operating system that included a return of a "Start" button that had been missed by longtime users of the computer software.

Microsoft unveiled an update to its latest Windows operating system Thursday that included a return of a "Start" button that had been missed by longtime users of the computer software.

The tweaked version of the operating system, nicknamed Windows Blue, will be previewed on June 26 and will be a free update for users of Windows 8.1, according to the Redmond, Washington-based technology titan.

"It's Windows 8 even better," Windows program management corporate vice president Antoine Leblond said in a blog post.

"Windows 8.1 will deliver improvements and enhancements in key areas like personalization, search, the built-in apps, Windows Store experience and cloud connectivity."

Microsoft returned a well-known Windows logo to the lower left corner of computer screens in what was seen as a resurrection of a banished "Start" button missed by users.

"Not only will Windows 8.1 respond to customer feedback, but it will add new features and functionality that advance the touch experience and mobile computing's potential," Leblond said.

Windows upgrades include Bing-powered searches that expand Internet queries to include searching apps and files on computers along with data stored in Microsoft's online SkyDrive service.

The update comes amid a lukewarm reception for Windows 8, an operating system released last year to help the software giant transition from personal computers to tablets and other mobile devices.

It remained unclear whether the return of the "Start" button would placate Windows users who saw the icon as a simple way to get to tools or tasks laid out on desktop screens.

"All I know is that something is back, but until I get my hands on Windows 8.1, I won't know exactly what," said analyst Michael Cherry of Directions On Microsoft, which specializes in tracking the software colossus.

"I think the real problem is that there are no Windows 8 apps that are worth using, so everyone really just wants to get to the desktop first."

Cherry took advantage of the option of customizing Windows 8 on his computer and thus opposes the return of the Start button.

Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc said a public preview of Windows 8.1 will be available starting on June 26, timed with the Microsoft developer conference in San Francisco.

Microsoft said recently it had sold than 100 million licenses for Windows 8 but that the update was planned after listening to customers.

Some analysts say Microsoft was forced to act because of slow adoption of Windows 8, which made some radical changes to the design of the desktop.

With Windows 8, Microsoft was trying to create a system that could be used on mobile touch screen devices while also serving the users of traditional PCs.

Microsoft launched Windows 8 last October, revamping its flagship system in an effort to make inroads in the fast-growing mobile segment. At the same time, it launched its Surface tablet computer.

Explore further: Windows 'Blue' set to preview June 26

Related Stories

Windows 'Blue' set to preview June 26

May 14, 2013

The tweaked version of Microsoft's operating system nicknamed Windows Blue will be previewed on June 26 and will be a free update for users as Windows 8.1, the company said Tuesday.

Windows 8 sales hit 40 million

November 27, 2012

Microsoft said Tuesday it sold 40 million licenses for its Windows 8 operating system in the first month after a launch which got a mixed reception.

Microsoft to release Windows 8 on October 26

July 18, 2012

Microsoft on Wednesday announced that its next-generation operating system tailored for a world shifting from personal computers to smartphones and tablets will be available on October 26.

Microsoft aims to simplify with Windows 8.1 (Update 2)

May 30, 2013

Microsoft is trying to fix what it got wrong with its radical makeover of Windows. It's making the operating system easier to navigate and enabling users to set up the software so it starts in a more familiar format designed ...

Recommended for you

Volumetric 3-D printing builds on need for speed

December 11, 2017

While additive manufacturing (AM), commonly known as 3-D printing, is enabling engineers and scientists to build parts in configurations and designs never before possible, the impact of the technology has been limited by ...

Tech titans ramp up tools to win over children

December 10, 2017

From smartphone messaging tailored for tikes to computers for classrooms, technology titans are weaving their way into childhoods to form lifelong bonds, raising hackles of advocacy groups.

Mapping out a biorobotic future  

December 8, 2017

You might not think a research area as detailed, technically advanced and futuristic as building robots with living materials would need help getting organized, but that's precisely what Vickie Webster-Wood and a team from ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet May 31, 2013
"I think the real problem is that there are no Windows 8 apps that are worth using, so everyone really just wants to get to the desktop first."

I think the real problem is that the very concept of an "app" is a 20 year step-back in terms of user interaction paradigm and multitasking on a computer. Tablet devices are not just scaled up mobile phones. An 8-9 inch tablet held at a comfortable reading distance is actually occupying a visual field that matches a 20" computer monitor an arm's lenght away. There's no reason why it should be monopolized for one "app" and no reason to limit user interaction with software like the Metro interface does. It simply forces users to jump through extra hoops. If I really want my browser to hog the whole screen, I'll just press F11 on the virtual keyboard.

They should focus on adapting the touch interface to the desktop paradigm.
5 / 5 (2) May 31, 2013
So in summary, Microsoft tried to solve with Metro an issue that users did not have.

They envisioned mobile devices to be somehow different in terms of preferred user interaction paradigm, when in reality that's just a legacy from Android and iOS being designed for cellphones, and not the optimal solution. Their biggest mistake then was to think that the same thing would translate back to desktop/laptop machines, when in reality people still buy laptops and convertibles rather than tablets -because- they get the desktop experience instead of a hobbled mobile OS.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.