Our long, national nightmare is over: according to a rumor sourced by the Verge, Redmond will bring back the Start button in the lower left corner of the upcoming Windows 8.1. This icon – essentially a copy of the “charm” that appears on the right side of the desktop when you mouse to the edge of the screen – will simply bring up the live tile interface. It is not, however, a real start menu like the one activated by Pokki, a start menu replacement.
While naysayers will point to this as a failure on Microsoft’s part – “no compromises” and the like – I suspect what this really is is SOP thrown to IT departments who are afraid their users will bolt once they see the jolly candy-colored tiles. Given that the vast majority of enterprise and legacy software will not be rewritten to take advantage of Windows 8, it makes perfect sense to boot into desktop mode. After all, a computerized lathe controller on a shop floor probably doesn’t need much of an interface.
In the popular imagination, Microsoft seems to be flailing. In reality, I’d wager they’re right on track, compromises and all.