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back to article Windows 8.1 Start button SPOTTED in the wild

Leaked screenshots of a prerelease build of Microsoft's forthcoming Windows 8.1 update reveal that the rumors are true and the Start button really is coming back – though perhaps not in the way users of previous versions of Windows might like. Screenshot of Windows 8.1 showing new Start button Thar she blows! That little icon …

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Meh

This seems rather half-arsed

and I don't think it will satisfy the requirements of the masses.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This seems rather half-arsed

Oh, that's understated wonderfully. Congratulations sir.

I can sort of admire the way that Microsoft promises to listen to customer demand and then blatantly ignores what the customers actually want. In a kind of spectator way it's fun to watch the resultant train wreck since i'm not on Win8.

I'm not deploying Win8 until I can do it without my users demanding my severed head on a plate though, so no Win8 for us until they this gets fixed.

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Re: This seems rather half-arsed

The problem MS have is: can they actually put the start button back without the third-party start button/menu vendors crying foul and potentially having their complaint upheld by the EU?

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Re: This seems rather half-arsed @ roland6

Certainly they can, if it was provided in a similar way to the third party offerings. They could provide it as a download from a support website or possibly as an optional update. Perhaps a 'start menu' choice screen to preempt the EU bureaucrats?

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Re: This seems rather half-arsed

> The problem MS have is: can they actually put the start button back without the third-party start button/menu vendors crying foul and potentially having their complaint upheld by the EU?

The real question is "Can they ctually put the start button back with the menu and not have everyone ask why they would want it rather then Windows 8?"

Especially seeing as though the populous are not crying out for Metro apps?

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They pulled another Apple.

Apple went on and handled Antennagate by saying "oh, death grip happens with all phones" and swiped away the real problem: touching the gap would short the antennas and kill signal reception, which was an iPhone4-only issue.

MS goes "oh, you want your Start Button back? There it goes!" while swiping away the real complaint: "I want my Start MENU back!" coupled with "how do I disable this baby toy UI?"

Hopefully, users will hold on and *not* buy in on Win8 even after these "changes".

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@Roland6

"can they actually put the start button back without the third-party start button/menu vendors crying foul"

Does this half-arsed mockery *block* 3rd party replacements... call me cynical but I won't be even slightly surprised if this hijacks that bit of screen and deliberately breaks 3rd party replacements, at least till they hack around it.

So MS partially correct the misuse of invisible UI elements but it's just window dressing, not real change and certainly not what users are screaming for. How not surprised do I look?

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Re: This seems rather half-arsed

So it's obviously too much to ask that the users actually get what they want, rather than what Microsoft tell us that we want? So it's now two strikes and still not right, and we all know what happens on three strikes...

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Trollface

Re: This seems rather half-arsed

The train wreck is even more fun if you aren't on Windows at all.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This seems rather half-arsed

If they change it massively they get accused of messing up big time. Better to gradually nudge it in the right direction.

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Re: This seems rather half-arsed

The third party start menu applications work by activating hidden/deactivated features of the the Windows GUI.

Given that I think it would be difficult for them to complain about much

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JDX
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Re: This seems rather half-arsed

Customers complained they can't find how to launch apps. MS add a start button. THe way apps are laid out is not the issue and in fact for "your granny" a single screen of apps is arguably better than delving through pop-up menus which close if you move the mouse a bit hastily.

There is also nothing really wrong with a full-screen start menu because you cannot multitask while the start-menu is open anyway.

I had zero problems using the W8 start screen, it's simply people complaining about change and deliberately finding things difficult (Reg Users anyway).

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Re: @Roland6

So MS partially correct the misuse of invisible UI elements but it's just window dressing, not real change and certainly not what users are screaming for. How not surprised do I look?

Precisely, it's not the lack of start menu that's the problem. The full screen start menu isn't the worst thing in the world, if done right and with enough flexibility and so the damn thing doesn't look like a useless screen full of incomprehensible icons, which I suppose they're starting to fix. It's the idiotic invisible "you need to know to thumb here" mentality in the entire UI that's the most pressing problem. The second most serious problem I'm not sure is either the context switching between Metro (whatever) and desktop environments and the differences between the applications that are in them, or the fact that half the interface is only properly usable with a touch screen which is utterly useless for desktop systems, barely useful for laptops and only properly useful for tablets.

Subjectively I find the entire Metro UI, the capitals everywhere, the irritating lack of a way to easily find functionality and the bland icons of nothing much very ugly. But that's my opinion, some people like it.

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Meh

Re: This seems rather half-arsed

I am no longer on Windows at all as a direct consequence of having installed Windows 8 on my laptop. Linux finally became easier to use for day to day computing.

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FAIL

@JDX Re You seem rather half-arsed

But your granny isn't going to get a single screen of programs on the Start Screen unless you uninstall all the crapware that ships with Windows 8. It's more like 3 or 4 screens that scroll sideways in a manner counter-intuitive to the way she has been using GUI's since her first BBC Micro.

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FAIL

Re: This seems rather half-arsed

Understatement of the century.

I hope at least they'll have the decency to allow a way to make it disappear (as the author said) in the final version.

In the meantime, I'm sticking to Pokki which does the job wonderfully, since I only use Win8 in desktop mode (and it's pretty good in that way too).

So ... yeah ... much ado about nothing, really.

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Re: This seems rather half-arsed

Probably not without them crying foul, but I doubt the EU would uphold the complaint in this case. The start button is just a button as Microsoft has it, even though they've created an entirely separate application to replicate those functions.

However, seeing that the new button doesn't really do what the public has asked, I doubt they're in any danger whatsoever. At most, they'll have to provide a new icon.

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FAIL

half-arsed.. no full arsed!

If you have (as I do) a large touch screen monitor, without a "windows button", putting back the start menu is not an enhancement, it is a bug-fix, pure and simple. For touch-screens with a border (i.e. not edge to edge glass), the charm-bar doesn't work either.. so they need to add the "charms" to the start-screen... and for large 23'+ screens, the start-screen needs to come-up at the side, like the spilt screen mode... which is err.. just like the old start-menu.

No, they'll only learn when Oracle/Google come out with a start-screen that launches Java/Android apps in preference to TIFKAM apps.. then they'll be forced to follow.

Show an arse to customers, and they might just kick it.

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@JDX: You're trying too hard

That menu screen looks like crap. I'm a guy with almost no sense of aesthetics and that screen offends me. If Jobs were still alive we'd see a repeat of his Mac and PC guy commercials, and PC guy would be wearing it on his shirt.

Best menu was probably their 9x system, but they can't ever let anything be a best of. So they try to improve it and break it instead.

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Childcatcher

Re: This seems rather half-arsed

THe way apps are laid out is not the issue and in fact for "your granny" a single screen of apps is arguably better than delving through pop-up menus...

Yes, but what about those of us who want to do more than open a browser, an e-mail client, and a chat session? All that clutter is crap! It should not amaze me that MS is taking a leaf from Apple's playbook and shutting down flexibility and customizability (if that is even a word), but not even the free advertising this move is generating is worth the pushback it has caused.

I will not be buying into this "upgrade" myself, but I will almost certainly have to support it. No matter how bad it is, it will not be (I hope) worth changing careers over.

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Alien

Re: This seems rather half-arsed ( you are a very kind person! )

... but it is actually Microsoft delivering the biggest FU in the history of FU's ever delivered to her customers.

And even that is understating it. Ray Charles can see the problems in Windows 8 yet Ballmer and his team of overpaid under-achievers cannot.

For over two years since the first leaked builds tech bloggers have been warning them about this MetroTard walled-garden approach. For over one year since the CP when they pulled the Start Menu we have been overwhelmingly swamping them with comments about this FUBAR fantasy. Sinofsky and his blog were overrun by painstakingly detailed comments and he ignored them and even deleted them.

I'm trying to remember a similar example of corporate suicide and the closest thing I can recall is after IBM lost the i386 war to Compaq and then immediately turned inward, with the same siege mentality that Microsoft now displays, and the result was the relatively locked-down PS/2 with MCA and steep licensing which set the entire 3rd party clone industry against them. They completely gave up 6 or 7 years later, selling off the division and bailing from microcomputers.

Ironically, this incident with IBM is what empowered Microsoft to monopolize the OS and become the billion dollar company they now are. You would think that Microsoft might remember those years starting in the late 1980's, but apparently Steve Ballmer was too busy partying to take notes.

Ah well, maybe this latest Microsoft screw-up will finally wake up the sheeple. Microsoft are copying to the letter the Apple walled-garden approach. The first steps are in killing the x86 operating system and with it all the independent developers that create, sell and even give-away their software outside of Microsoft's blessing. Their version of an app-centric iOS, with a Microsoft Store and approved apps by approved developers may be called Metro but is better known by all of us as pOS.

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@AceRimmer - how do you use non-existent code?

"The third party start menu applications work by activating hidden/deactivated features of the the Windows GUI."

Please tell us how they invoke Start Menu code that Microsoft deleted from Win8 a week before RTM? It's simply not there to be used. They also tried deleting some of the OS hooks replacements use but that just wasted days of dev time working around the sabotage.

Why did they remove it so completely? Because people kept turning it back on all the way through the Win8 test period! A sane company would see that and conclude disabling it was a mistake. MS physically excised the option and it's rumoured Sinofsky ordered engineers to delete the history from revision control so it can't be brought back - insanity.

Microsoft are trying to use their desktop monopoly control to promote other products but when did it start making sense to piss off users trapped by the monopoly? Degrading my desktop will not endear me to WP8 or any incarnation of Metro on other devices.

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FAIL

Re: for your granny

But my mother knows how to use the pop-up menus. She really doesn't want to have to learn a completely different means of operating the damn system, she just wants it to work the same way it always did, but carrying on with the old kt is starting to get completely unsustainable.

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Re: This seems rather half-arsed

That little loophole will be surely closed in 8.1. No more 3rd party apps to embarrass Microsoft. It's their way or the highway....

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FAIL

Re: This seems rather half-arsed

FWIW, my current non-touchy screen lappy (which arrived with Win 8 installed) will be my last Windows device (if I can possibly help it).

Heroic fail from MS on this - how could they have possibly ballsed the "fix" up so much.

MS can keep the bloody useless Metro thing, swipes, charms, their accursed full screen "apps", the fact they call everything "apps" rather than programs, their MS accounts, online store, shit wi-fi handling and only-works-if-you're-online "help" system.

Time to man up and find out what this linux thing is all about...

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Re: This seems rather half-arsed

Why doesn't Ballmer bugger off ?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This seems rather half-arsed

Putting a Windows button on the screen . Since only Windows keyboards would have ridiculous combinations like alt-F4, Windows-C and other bullshit. What century is this?

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FAIL

Aaaargh, why dont they listen?

Please Microsoft, just put the sodding thing back properly. I dont want a bloody link to that horrid start screen, I want a start button like the win 7 one, as does everyone else.

Stop half arsing it and do it properly....please.

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Re: Aaaargh, why dont they listen?

Microsoft still doesn't get it. It IS NOT THE START BUTTON THAT WE WANT! It is the original START MENU! I could care less for the button itself, it is convenient for the mouse but honestly I use the start menu button on the keyboard about as often I push it with a mouse. I want to simple, concise, and easy-to-use menu found in Windows 7. Until you deliver that, it shows you still don't get it.

When you must run ads to say how easy and better your new design is then it ain't easy or better. If something was easy, people will not need to be told how easy it is because they will figure it out naturally. If something was better people would not complain about it so loudly. So Microsoft, take your head out of the sand, take your fingers out of your ears, and start listening to your customers. Because obviously you still don't get it when you put a start button in but not the start menu people associate with the start button.

And I want my Aero back.

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MIc

Re: Aaaargh, why dont they listen?

"everyone else" that's the problem with hyperbole. I don't want it back. Not even in the slightest.

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FAIL

Re: Aaaargh, why dont they listen?

They're listening...but you have to understand what they're hearing.

There is some serious Millennial Marketdroid ego on the line here. The fools that forced this down the collective user community's throat (which are the same wanks that foisted the gawd-awful Ribbon on us) have bet their asses on this interface, and they are not going to admit defeat. The higher-ups are feeling the heat from the community, and forcing them to backtrack, but these are marketing people, folks, and they are always right, even when they are dead wrong. (Just ask 'em!)

So this is about as much of a concession you're gonna get, until they are physically removed from the company. Which, of course, isn't gonna happen for at least this development cycle; look how this will be presented to the higher-ups: "See? We put back the damn Start button, already. Now get off our asses...we have the Windows 9 UI to fuck up...uh...develop and test...yeah, user test...that's the ticket!...yeah....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Aaaargh, why dont they listen?

""everyone else" that's the problem with hyperbole. I don't want it back. Not even in the slightest."

I was thinking the same thing. I don't miss snaking my mouse cursor through cascading menus one bit, or having to go back to the beginning when the cursor goes outside the menu area.

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Meh

Re: Aaaargh, why dont they listen?

Why not go back to Windows 7, or even Vista (gag)

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Facepalm

Re: Aaaargh, why dont they listen?

"So this is about as much of a concession you're gonna get, until they are physically removed from the company."

Ummm, he was removed from the company, a few months ago, his name is Steven Sinofsky... he was shown the exit in November last year....

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FAIL

Re: Aaaargh, why dont they listen?

Amen! Preach it brother!

Get rid of the damned tiles, get rid of the damned ribbons, and put the menus back where God intended them to be.

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Facepalm

"I could care less"

So it's not all bad then . . . .

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Aaaargh, why dont they listen?

"I could care less for the button itself"

This implies you care about the button itself to some degree, given that you are in a position to care less about it. I think you meant you COULDN'T care less (implying you don't care about the button at all, therefore being unable to care any less about it).

(Sorry, but necessary)

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Re: Aaaargh, why dont they listen?

That may be your case, but for the vast majority of people that isn't the case. I can tell you that of the people I know who were early adopters of Windows 7, myself included, no one has gone 8. NO ONE. And we are the geeks. We are the hard core users. I've been using Windows since v1.2, using every version of Windows except ME. Microsoft is shooting themselves in the face. Only a complete idiot drops a 17 year old UI overnight.

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"I could care less for the button itself"

There is no "correct" way to express this thought.

Brit English; "I couldn't care less"

Yank English; "I could care less ?"

Both are equally clear, in context.

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Re: Aaaargh, why dont they listen?

"I don't miss snaking my mouse cursor through cascading menus one bit, or having to go back to the beginning when the cursor goes outside the menu area."

Well, that's a fair point but only one that suggests that the people who wrote the menu system are not very good programmers, not that there's anything wrong with the idea of the menu as such.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Aaaargh, why dont they listen?

The original start menu doesn't work well with tablets. You seem to be forgetting this is their tablet OS as well.

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Trollface

Re: Aaaargh, why dont they listen?

Don't you all see, Microsoft is just acting like a responsible company for the first time rather than a Monopolist and it is protecting this new market niche called "start menu" replacement programs like Start8 and the like.

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Trollface

Re: "I could care less for the button itself"

Yank English?

We invented the language; the least they could do is use it.

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Re: "I could care less for the button itself"

Incorrect. Your "yank" example is simply incorrect.

It's not even correct in the context of American English. It's simply a retarded saying that has spread by people who barely have two brain cells to rub together. If you thought about it for, say, 3 seconds, you'd realise how nonsensical it is.

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Re: Aaaargh, why dont they listen?

Aero Glass was stupid nonsense. So was Luna. Windows Classic is what you want, and although I haven't used it, Edge UI looks pretty similar to Classic.

The Window Vista/7 Start menu was also crap, forcing everything into a small window. Windows XP did it best: pin common stuff to the first stage of the start menu, use flyouts for other stuff. The reason Windows Vista/7's start button was useful was because it presented the built in search to you so you could hit the Windows key and start typing without losing context. You can hit the windows key and start typing in 8, but that brings up the start screen nonsense, which makes you lose context.

I'm still stuck on Windows XP at work and we have to use the Windows 2000 start menu, we're not allowed to use the XP-style one, so I've got a workaround: I PATHify all the apps I use regularly (Chrome even does this itself!) so I can just hit Windows+R and start applications with a few keystrokes, like a command line, but better.

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Boffin

Re: "I could care less for the button itself"

@Fihart let me try and explain

"I could not care less" means that there is no circumstance where something could be less relevant.

"I could care less" means that there is some way that could reduce my feelings about the matter.

This is not a Brit/US thing. It is not even a concept for pedants. Neither phrase is wrong. They just have very different (opposite in fact) meanings.

Consider it in French (Courtesy of Google Translate)

I could not care less - Je m'en moque.

I could care less - Je m'en fous.

The two phrases are different

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Headmaster

Re: "I could care less for the button itself"

Both are equally clear, in context.

Perhaps, but one makes sense and the other doesn't.

Brit English; "I couldn't care less" is comparable to "It could not be better", in other words, "It is very good, as good as can be"

Yank English; "I could care less" is comparable to "It could be better", which is usually taken to mean "It is bad or mediocre",

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Re: Ummm, he was removed from the company,

Nope, he was just the scapegoat. If all the people responsible for it had been removed, they wouldn't have tried this full arsed joke as the fix.

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Re: You seem to be forgetting this is their tablet OS as well.

No we're not. That was their biggest crap idea and the one that needs fixed even more than the missing menu list.

Maybe, maybe they can have a common core base for both operating systems. But the two have distinctly different user interface needs, so they need different GUIs. Even Jobs wasn't this boneheaded and he was a dictatorial bastage. Sometimes brilliant, but a still a bastage.

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Devil

Re: least they could do is use it.

We do. And fixed it up in places where you lot had broken.

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