New reports about Microsoft reviving the Start button for its upcoming Windows 8.1 operating system suggest that previous rumors are in fact reality.
Codenamed Windows Blue, Windows 8.1 will be the first system update since the October 2012 release of Windows 8, which completely overhauled the Windows system that had remained largely unchanged since the mid-1990s. Users have overwhelmingly rejected the Metro-Style Start menu of Windows 8, which does not include a Start button and replaces traditional computer icons with live tiles.
Sources told the Verge that the Start bottom will indeed make a comeback on Windows Blue. They note it will only serve to make the current Windows 8 Metro-Style Start menu easier to navigate and that there will be not boot-to-desktop option, as has also been rumored.
ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley brought these developments to the forefront last week after tech website Neowin discovered a line of code in the twinui.dll file in the Windows 8.1 (build 9364) by Microsoft Portal that reveals the upcoming OS may take users directly to a desktop when starting the system.
Foley also spoke to an anonymous source who confirmed the Redmond, Wash., company is considering reinstating the boot-to-desktop and Start button options for Windows Blue in order to make the user interface a bit more familiar.
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The newly leaked Windows 8.1 Pro Preview (build 9374) highlights the easy customization options being proposed to make the system’s Start Screen and features neither a Start button nor boot-to-desktop option, which could be concerning if the OS update doesn’t bring back these sorely missed features.
The Windows 8 interface, intended more for touchscreen use, has been criticized for being confusing, especially when being accessed on personal computers that require a mouse. Microsoft has denied these claims, stating that Window 8 is "easy to start to learn."
While owners of touchscreen Surface tablets have adapted to the system, Foley said many PC users continue to use Windows 7 due to frustration with Windows 8. Others have opted to installing third-party Start menu replacements such as Classic Shell or Start8.
According to Softpedia, even Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is pushing for the return of the Start button. The Verge reports Microsoft is still figuring out how to implement these traditional features into the new system and we will see the Start button return first, while the boot-to-desktop option will return in later Windows 8.1 updates.
Many have noted how heavy criticism of the User Account Control, or UAC, in Windows Vista, which included a number of unsolicited security pop ups, prompted Microsoft to tweak the feature in Windows 7 and use that as hope that Microsoft will do the same for Windows 8.1.
Foley’s source noted that we won’t know what direction Microsoft takes until the Windows update is released, adding, "Until it ships, anything can change."
We will likely see Windows 8.1 release in August, with a public preview expected to go live in June.