The headlines are loud and clear today. Microsoft brings back the Start Button in Windows 8! Huzzah! ZONG! But don’t believe the hype. We’ve been duped.
Windows 8.1′s Start Button isn’t the Start Button of old. The classic multi-step application launcher is still missing. Windows 8.1′s Start Button is more of a shortcut to the Start Menu — you know, the screen with the little colorful icons.
A right-click on the so-called Start Button pulls up a quick launch menu of shorts. The menu displays a list of administrative tools like Power Options, Event View, Disk Management and Windows Shells. It’s not customizable.
Microsoft essentially installed a shortcut to the Start Menu and called it a button. This does nothing to fix the core issue of Windows 8.
With Windows 8, Microsoft dramatically changed how the user interacts with the computer. The Start Menu replaced the Start Button — a full screen menu replaced the task of a tiny application launcher. It is a step backwards for productivity. To open a new application, the user has to completely leave the workspace. It’s horrible on a laptop.
It’s clear that Microsoft switched the paradigm to address multitasking on a tablet, and it works well on a tablet, especially so when all the applications are Metro based.
But for those of us that greatly prefer the classic Desktop — mostly because of the lack of mainstream applications — having to switch back to the Start Menu to load a new app is a waste of time. A shortcut to this screen doesn’t change that fact.
I’ve been looking forward to the return to the good ol’ days ever since the news broke that Microsoft was bringing back the Start Button in Windows 8.1. Windows 8 runs like a champ — noticeable better than Windows 7. But even after 6 months of using it, I still try my hardest to stay within Desktop, mostly the browser, and shake my head ever time I have to see the Start Screen.
Also, startup idea: Customize people’s Windows 8′s start screen for them. Or better yet, develop a little plug in that does it automagically. I tried to do it once, but quickly discovered it’s a horrible chore.