back to article Is this photo PROOF a Windows 7 Start Menu is coming back?

Microsoft seems willing to try almost anything to increase the use of Windows 8 these days – including rolling back some of the software's least-loved features, and even giving it away for free in some cases. The latest batch of tweaks to Redmond's latest OS comes in the form of the Windows 8.1 Update, which shipped to MSDN …

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  1. southpacificpom
    FAIL

    LOL

    Well its a case of back to the fucking future. Next new feature will be Clippy in the next version of Orifice.

    Something tells me they have suddenly realised the fuck up that they have made of Windows 8 and now trying to backport from Windows 7 to stop the rot. How many times did they hear the cry of users that didn't really want a MetroSexual interface?

    1. kb
      FAIL

      Re: LOL

      But they STILL don't get one of the most fundamental rules of business which is if you have a flop, or a product with a horrible rep? you sell that sucker CHEAP. Instead Windows 8.1 is priced the exact same as a copy of Windows 7...LOL yeah like anybody is gonna grab Win 8.x with Win 7 at the same price!

      They need to drop the price of Win 8.x Home to $50 USD or less, I'd personally say $35-$40 USD. this would get more users to try it, might even get some of those later XP machines to switch, but all they are doing by keeping the price high is getting those people whose XP is about to go EOL a reason to be looking at Chrometops and Android tablets, dumb move MSFT.

      1. jgarbo
        Linux

        Re: LOL

        I'd suggest Linux Mint, dual boot, for $00.00, then compare at your leisure, and decide,

        1. BobChip
          Linux

          Re: LOL

          Actually, forget the dual boot. Just stick with the Linux mint. (Posted from a Mint 14 machine)

          1. Miek
            Linux

            Re: LOL

            Thumbs up from a Linux Mint 16 Desktop

          2. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: LOL

            Thumbs up to the mint users (posted from a mint 14 machine)

          3. Chika

            Re: LOL

            So that's two mentions so far. While I have nothing against Mint in general, as is my wont, I'd suggest that Linux is not Mint.

            But then all I'm doing here is feeding the t-word...

            Actually, this whatever-it-is looks a bit more reasonable than Windows 8.x has done up to now, but overall I've seen nothing to convince me that Windows 8.x has anything in particular that beats out Windows 7 except possibly a speed increase (which I've seen so many mentions of but wherever I have used Win 8 I have never really noticed).

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: LOL

              possibly a speed increase (which I've seen so many mentions of but wherever I have used Win 8 I have never really noticed).

              It's that same speed increase that they always claim to have with each release; Smoke, mirrors, and better hardware.

              "but this time, we mean it!"

              I've had it installed for a little over a year, and now that win-rot has set in.. it's as sluggish as usual.

          4. Kunari

            Re: LOL

            I've swapped a few computers here at work for Mint. They're mostly just a Terminal Server client but works great until I get the budget to replace them.

          5. Rick Giles
            Linux

            @BobChip Re: LOL

            "Actually, forget the dual boot. Just stick with the Linux mint. (Posted from a Mint 14 machine)"

            Looks like the Wintards are out in force today, BobChip.

            Gave you an up vote to even it out at 14/14. I suspect it won't last long.

        2. Defiant

          Re: LOL

          I'd rather use Windows 95 than Binux

          1. Rick Giles
            Trollface

            @Defiant Re: LOL

            "I'd rather use Windows 95 than Binux"

            I wouldn't trust you using anything more complicated than a light switch...

            What the hell is Binux?

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: LOL

        They need to drop the price of Win 8.x Home to $50 USD or less, I'd personally say $35-$40 USD. this would get more users to try it, might even get some of those later XP machines to switch, but all they are doing by keeping the price high is getting those people whose XP is about to go EOL a reason to be looking at Chrometops and Android tablets, dumb move MSFT.

        It's true that the migration path from XP seems unnecessarily complicated and expensive.

        I think that upgrade licences for Vista, 7 and 8 have to bought. Obviously, there's not a lot of hardware running XP that will actually run Windows 8 but still a single upgrade licence (and software that would actually upgrade inplace) would be an encouragement.

        1. big_D Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: LOL

          Charlie,

          At a guess, I'd say a lot of the corporate fleets that are on XP would be upgradable, in pure OS terms. It is often the applications that stop them moving from XP, even though they are using relatively modern hardware.

          There are some cases, like my last employer, who was running Windows XP SP1 on Athlon 1Ghz machines with 256MB RAM in 2010! The network was riddled with viruses, because the installed AV software never scanned, because it rendered the machines unusable for 72 hours and the regular scans and the on-the-fly scans had been disabled! :-(

      3. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: LOL

        The problem is, Win8 dowsn't run on a lot of those XP machines. MS needs to keep Win7 around, otherwise those users will be defecting to Linux

    2. Bob Vistakin
      Happy

      Re: LOL

      The comedy gift that just keeps on giving.

    3. big_D Silver badge

      Re: LOL

      I'll be sticking with the Start Screen, thanks all the same.

      1. Chris Beach

        Re: LOL

        Agreed, though the number of times I actually launch things from it on my two desktops can be counted on one hand. They're either pinned to the taskbar or opened via file association.

        Unfortunately I can't justify spending 100 to upgrade the laptop, which I think would have a more traditional usage model, as I use it for development. If the £50 deal was still on, I'd have upgraded from 7Pro.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: LOL

          Agreed. I have all my commonly used Desktop applications pinned, so I need to go into the start screen once or twice a week for "normal" applications on my laptop/desktop - the same with my Windows 7 work machine, I use the Start Menu very rarely, the applications I use on a daily basis are all pinned or are opened through file association.

          I only really use the start screen for Modern apps and on my tablet.

      2. Tony Paulazzo

        Re: LOL

        I'll be sticking with the Start Screen, thanks all the same.

        And that's great, but now, we all have a choice, which is better.

        When my Lenovo is in tablet mode I'm happy using the Start Screen (and even, sometimes, the apps, tho' some of them are beyond craptastic), but when it's in secondary screen mode with primary large screen plugged in and USB keyboard & mouse I prefer the desktop with Start Menu.

        It's all about choice.

    4. Starace

      Re: LOL

      What they also need to understand is that it's not just the Start menu, or the desktop, or the Metro bit, it's all those little subtle things they messed around with that just get in the way of the user.

      Under the skin is a very good operating system and things like the Task Manager tease with what could have been.

      But some of the changes are just stupid - why (for example) did the Wifi management get removed in 8.1? It makes life difficult and there's no obvious reason for it! Needing to drop back to the command line or drilling into the adapter settings just to change a password is a real backwards step and completely illogical. And there must be twenty similar things I hit daily.

      I'm not anti Windows 8 - I'm using it right now to type this and even have a touchscreen for the full Metro experience - but it does feel that design got in the way of the engineering and that the design side went for shiny over usability.

      1. Kunari

        Re: LOL

        Agreed Starace, I'm using Win8 as well on a non-touch device. I also use "Classic Shell" start menu but also, along with the traditional ones, the new short cuts to run apps "Windows"-S to search and find apps is faster than searching the Start Screen and "Windows"-C opens the right pane.

        The removal of the Wireless management console is very very annoying.

      2. SumDood

        Re: LOL

        "even have a touchscreen for the full Metro experience"

        cf. jumping onto the tracks for the full underground experience.

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    6. pirithous

      Re: LOL

      Microsoft is moving in a slow pattern of progressive improvements so Windows 9 will be the showstopper. If they did all the cool transparency stuff and a complete UI overhaul to 8.1 Update 1, Windows 9 wouldn't be that big of a deal in terms of being the attention getter. I think we all know that with MS's resources, they could have beautified Update 1 more than they did, and could have added back features which didn't make it over from Windows 7. It seems that Windows 9 could be a do or die moment for Microsoft. What this means, is that it needs to succeed in every way possible. It needs to conform and bend to everybody's standards, to prevent the potential caliginous and ambiguous fate that Windows faces. The ball is in Microsoft's court, and it's 100% obvious that they are moving in a direction of listening to customers better.

      Linux and BSD have their own problems and shortcomings. Every OS has its strong and weak points, and when we focus on the weak spots, we hope those weak spots can only improve. With Windows 8.x, we didn't improve; we just went sideways. As someone once wrote: "It seems to me that Microsoft has always been a bit out of touch with their customers."

      -Windows Registry needs to become deprecated; it's turned into a complete mess and I don't feel secure knowing it's there. http://rwmj.wordpress.com/2010/02/18/why-the-windows-registry-sucks-technically/

      -The app store has a kill switch in it, and I don't agree with another company having remote control over my system. MS has purposefully been silent on this issue because of the obvious lack of popularity, and potential customer backlash if publicized widely. http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-02-17/the-kill-switch-comes-to-the-pc

      -ReFS doesn't sound all that hot. Where's the competition with EXT4, Btrfs and ZFS? http://blog.zorinaq.com/?e=74

      -Do not ask a myriad of personal information-related questions upon install. A user should put the DVD in, enter some very basic information, and the installer should go from A-Z without all the annoyances currently found in 8.x. Do not make it difficult for the user to get around creating a Microsoft account. We understand why this "feature" is there, but foisting only alienates.

      -Better organization of system files. On a Linux system, libraries are neatly organized in their appropriate folders. On Windows, system files are scattered about.

      -Allow the user to lock down Windows right out of the box just as Linux is, with a simple dialogue box. Passwords, no root access, etc.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: LOL

        "Better organization of system files. On a Linux system, libraries are neatly organized in their appropriate folders. On Windows, system files are scattered about."

        What really pisses me off on Windows is stuff like myriad directories in Program Files containing a SINGLE dll or config file. MSBuild? Reference Assemblies? Microsoft.NET? Windows Portable Devices? Zero G Registry? Why the fuck are these messing up my Program Files directory rather than being in Common Files/Microsoft Shared or out of the way in WinNT? Who the hell thought it was a smart idea to make an entire new directory off Program Files just to store "sqmapi.dll"

        Idiots.

    7. Lodmot347

      Re: LOL

      Quiet. You know you're going to use it eventually. Windows 7 will at some point cease getting support just like XP and Vista. Windows 10 or 11 will be out at that point, and everyone will complain about it, and you'll be hanging for dear life onto your precious Windows 8.1 because it's the one OS that went back to a remotely traditional way of doing things.

      Or maybe due to all the staff changes, Microsoft will be a completely different company from this point forward and start putting out really good versions based on general consumer feedback.

  2. btrower

    Still hate the tiles and the window decorations

    It is better lipstick, but there is still a pig underneath it.

    I am not sure that the guts of Windows 8 are all that bad. Were they to offer an inexpensive version of Windows 8 professional (non-crippleware) at something like $29.00 they would likely sell a few to me just so I could keep my legacy stuff alive while switching to Linux.

    The current course is just confirmation that their users have been screaming about what they want, that they have heard and have compromised on this rather than just give people what they asked for.

    Lots of us would have settled for a less buggy version of 64 bit Windows XP and skipped the smoking Vista disaster, the bland Windows 7 recovery and the subsequent plunge into hell with Windows 8.

    I am still a techie at heart and I like interesting new stuff. I am not quite an early adopter, but ahead of most. None of Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8 were all that interesting, most of what was new was irritating and the same old bugs were joined by new ones.

    Microsoft has poisoned the well so badly that even old gadget junkies like me just want to get on with their work.

    1. Khaptain Silver badge

      Re: Still hate the tiles and the window decorations

      >I am not sure that the guts of Windows 8 are all that bad.

      Definately agreed, if we have the choice to completely switch off all of the Metro stuff it would actually be a very nifty OS.

      1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

        Re: Still hate the tiles and the window decorations

        >I am not sure that the guts of Windows 8 are all that bad.

        It's the main thing that irks me about Windows 8.

        Underneath, the OS seems to be one of the best MS have built. It runs fast and behaves well, even on lower-spec hardware. Even the low-end x86 tablets we have at work run pretty damn well.

        I cannot stomach the interface though. Whereas Vista was rubbish underneath and I was happy to give it a miss, I feel cheated that I can't use 8 purely because of MS's appalling UI descisions.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Still hate the tiles and the window decorations

          The only issue I have with 8 (outside of TIFKAM) is that it feels like I'm being ripped off with it.

          Windows Vista was a massive flop, buggy and nobody liked it. So they release windows 7, which is effectively a service pack for Vista which fixed the remaining bugs and performance issues. I felt ripped off by that, but had no choice but to upgrade because my Vista machine crashed every few hours. (Fortunately I grabbed a student discount copy for around £30)

          Windows 8 comes along and, aside from the interface, it feels like Windows 7 with a service pack to fix a few bugs and improve performance.

          I know the same happened with 95-98-ME-XP etc, but I skipped most of those too, went from 95 to xp, skipping out all the in between, while laughing at my friend who went through crashes on each.

          I'll probably skip 8 entirely unless something really REALLY good comes of it.

          Right now I'm slowly shifting my productivity over to Mint, and when the steam machines come out in force I'll probably shift my gaming to that. Alas that means no more VNs but a sacrifice is needed.

          1. Vociferous

            Re: Still hate the tiles and the window decorations

            > when the steam machines come out in force I'll probably shift my gaming to that

            And that is something which has Microsoft really worried. Just last week they suddenly decided that gaming was a core activity of Windows, and that more resources would be diverted to DirectX & Microsoft Live development, in a pretty obvious attempt at stopping Valve & co from stealing the one killer feature Windows still has: gaming.

            1. Miek
              Coat

              Re: Still hate the tiles and the window decorations

              Microsoft: I'm not scared

              Steam: You will be

            2. Nick Ryan Silver badge

              Re: Still hate the tiles and the window decorations

              I still really wish that Microsoft had gone the OpenGL route rather than the (frequent) abomination that is DirectX. It's not that DirectX is inheritently bad (it's steadily improved a lot since the earlier versions), it's just that working with it compared to OpenGL there is a lot of boilerplate, inefficiencies and lock-ins and more than a few cases where a little more transparency would be nice as it would help figuring out what is actually going on, or just going wrong :). OpenGL has it's faults as well and comparing OpenGL (graphics) to DirectX (graphics, video, audio, input and more) isn't exactly a fair or straight comparison but a more standard approach would have benefitted everybody including Microsoft and the implementations of OpenGL would have improved as well. Instead we generally have to use a further level of abstraction to try to develop in a more cross platform manner and this introduces a whole host of new problems.

              Embedding good support for OpenGL within the windows UI would be a dream for many standard (i.e. not game) application developers compared to the pain of all the work arounds to produce good quality, efficient, embedded imagery otherwise.

              This would still leave windows as a platform competing against others, but it could then compete more fairly and if Microsoft worked hard to produce the best experience and the best (non-lockin) services to support it all they'd be onto a really good thing. Instead games and gamers are steadily moving to other platforms.

              1. Miek
                Linux

                Re: Still hate the tiles and the window decorations

                "I still really wish that Microsoft had gone the OpenGL route rather than the (frequent) abomination that is DirectX. It's not that DirectX is inheritently bad ..."

                If Microsoft had used OpenGL without giving it the old EEE treatment. Most games developers would simply be able to port their games directly to Linux boxes where users would see some favourable improvements in game performance (statements backed up by tests performed by Steam/valve engineers) . From a gaming perspective, Microsoft would not be the be-all-and-end-all of the PC gaming world; Monopoly over.

            3. W.O.Frobozz

              Re: Still hate the tiles and the window decorations

              A bit late for that. As a PC gamer I was vividly aware when Microsoft took the knife and stabbed PC gaming in the heart when the X-Box started to sell. Their laughable "Games for Windows" pledge a few years later only proved how cold the corpse was.

              Fortunately Valve was paying attention as well. I wouldn't say that Windows has any killer feature in gaming anymore given that most current Windows games are terrible console ports. And getting old Windows games going...well, that's hit or miss since Vista.

              Oddly enough, it's getting SO much easier to run old Windows games under Linux via Wine. I've got Thief: The Dark Project (and it's sequel) running flawlessly, DeusEx, System Shock 2, Fallout 1 and 2... The number of Linux and Mac games on Steam is quite frankly impressive.

              Microsoft is trying to catch the horse long after it bolted and the barn burned to the ground.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Still hate the tiles and the window decorations

          Have to agree that under the hood Windows 8 is brilliant, fast and low on resources compared to previous versions. It is just the interface that is a complete failure. Non-intuitive and hard to find a simple setting that needs changing. Ideally we would have the Windows 8 engine with the Windows 7 front end and if they are bringing the start menu back it can only be a good thing.

          The Win8 gui was enough for me to try out Linux Mint and liked it enough to now use it as my main desktop. It's a dual boot machine but never gets booted in to Win8 now. Makes me wonder how many users Microsoft lost to Linux due to the Win8 interface.

        3. Kunari

          Re: Still hate the tiles and the window decorations

          Dr. Mouse,

          I agree, I upgraded a 7-year old laptop to Win8 recently. Sure it's not perfect but it runs pretty good on that old hardware, better than --admittedly bloated-- XP was. I did have to force Win8 to use GPU drivers for Vista since AMD/ATI hasn't made any newer ones for the old GPU. I don't blame AMD/ATI but I'm glad there was a way to get the driver loaded.

  3. James Anderson

    I will have to delete all my tiles then.

    As I get half a dozen new tiles appearing every time I install something, my little "live tiles" menu would occupy most of the screen -- even after aggressively deleting the pesky things.

    Has anyone at Redmond actually tried using windows 8? Its a beautifully written, well crafted piece of software whose main use case seems to be "Disgruntled user reboots to windows XP".

    1. Malcolm 1

      Re: I will have to delete all my tiles then.

      8.1 has already changed that behaviour - newly installed apps no longer get added to the start screen automatically (they obviously realised it was irritating if you'd customised the start screen to your tastes)

  4. SVV Silver badge

    Still doesn't look as usable

    Let's see what still appears to be bad, just from the screenshot...

    - weird left margin with mysterious / sinister black box at the top

    - close button, but no minimize or restore buttons on windows

    - tiny icons with no text in the taskbar (hope that the horrible mess overlaying it is something on the stage, and not on the screen)

    - tiny start button, less easy to click

    - live tiles on the start menu, presumably difficlt to configure and taking time to go and check how many emails you have, what the weather forecast is, etc whenever you click the start button

    - internet explorer icon next to start button, presumably difficult to remove / replace

    - still letting applications install unwanted crap on right of taskbar (and no clock there)

    - that's enough free UI design consultancy from me....

    So, still significantly less usable than Win 7 and even XP by the looks of it - why they just couldn't give the Aero interface as an option until they have a UI version that is demonstrably an improvement, and easy to configure the way you like it, removing all the stuff you find annoying, is beyond me.

    1. jaywin

      Re: Still doesn't look as usable

      - weird left margin with mysterious / sinister black box at the top

      That's part of the set

      - close button, but no minimize or restore buttons on windows

      Minimize & restore buttons are visible next to the close buttons

      - tiny icons with no text in the taskbar (hope that the horrible mess overlaying it is something on the stage, and not on the screen)

      The "horrible mess" is quite obviously a camera. There's no less text than present in W7.

      - tiny start button, less easy to click

      Same size as W7

      - live tiles on the start menu, presumably difficlt to configure and taking time to go and check how many emails you have, what the weather forecast is, etc whenever you click the start button

      It's clear you've already reached a conclusion about the update, without even seeing it in use or trying it for yourself with these sort of comments.

      - internet explorer icon next to start button, presumably difficult to remove / replace

      No different to W7. I've seen loads of installs with IE there, that can be moved / removed like any other pinned app.

      - still letting applications install unwanted crap on right of taskbar (and no clock there)

      There's a clock there, and all the icons are for windows features

      - that's enough free UI design consultancy from me....

      If it wasn't free, I'd be asking for my money back. It's clear you didn't even look at the UI before you volunteered your consultancy.

    2. bigphil9009

      Re: Still doesn't look as usable

      How on earth does this idiotic post garner 8 upvotes? Are people so quick to hate that they'll agree with any old nonsense?

      1. monkeyfish

        Re: Still doesn't look as usable

        His only valid point (and presumably where the upvotes came from?), is that it is beyond him why MS couldn't have given Aero as an option. XP came with a 2000 option, as did vista and 7. I've not used 8 much, so I can't tell you if there is still a 'make it grey' option, but an Aero option would have been nice. For that matter, allowing 7 to access the win8 app store (in a dedicated access and run apps program) would have given them a welcome influx of customers, but nevermind.

      2. RyokuMas Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Still doesn't look as usable

        "Are people so quick to hate that they'll agree with any old nonsense?"

        @bigphil9009 - unfortunately, if it's Microsoft, then the answer will always be a big, fat "yes" - there's too many people who've been burned by them and can't let it go. Plus you'll always have the anti-microsoft zealots who will use any excuse to take a pop.

      3. Chika

        Re: Still doesn't look as usable

        True. You have to admit that it is "kewl" to hate on Windows 8, hence some of the posts. Having used earlier versions of W8.x, I know why I don't like it, but I'm open to improvements. This screenshot does offer a hint at a possible improvement, so I'm happy to wait and see.

        Until then, it's Win 7 + openSUSE + RISC OS all the way for me! ;)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    I've had a Win 7 menu from day 1 on Win 8

    It's called Classic Shell. It costs $0.00. Takes 60 seconds to download and install.

    1. Tank boy
      Pint

      Re: I've had a Win 7 menu from day 1 on Win 8

      I did the exact same thing when I got my new laptop. I was so frustrated with the tile thingies and trying to rid myself of the bloatware, just got to the root of all the problems to make my life a little easier.

      The best part: even the wife can use it now. Although that's a bit of a mixed blessing.

  6. Asok Asus

    Someone must be blind to think thats a Window 7 Start Menu

    How is it considered "desktop friendly" when the "restored" Start Menu is nothing but a reformatted version of the universally loathed Metro UI Start Menu? Microsoft is completely insane. Their first attempt at "restoring" the start menu was just a button that took you back to the dreadful Metro UI. Now the second attempt is just a miniature version of Metro UI. I wonder who they think they are kidding? Certainly not their bread and butter enterprise and SMB customers. If anything, these pretend-restorations just continue to demonstrate the utter contempt that Microsoft has for their rapidly fleeing customers.

    1. Lusty Silver badge

      Re: Someone must be blind to think thats a Window 7 Start Menu

      @Asok Asus it's not universally loathed, I very much like it and know lots of other who do too. My first thought on seeing this picture was actually "why would I want a smaller start screen?". Once I click that start button my task is to find something and launch it, so having any screen space not dedicated to that task just seems wasteful.

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