Microsoft’s Windows Blue (Windows 8.1 for PCs) update may well bring with it an option to boot straight to the desktop. This built-in option would be popular with a vociferous section of PC users who see the new Start Screen as inferior to the old Start Menu and don’t even want to see it once per reboot.
A Russian website called Microsoft Portal first revealed the “boot to desktop” code, which is found inside a system file called twinui.dll. These changes are seen in one of the recent leaked builds of Windows Blue/Windows 8.1. However if you have one of these test versions of Windows installed there is no switch or option in the control panel to make use of this feature or option at this time.
As you can see in the screenshot above the twinui.dll file has a parameter called "CanSuppressStartScreen". We might assume that exists to be passed an option such as TRUE or FALSE, via some kind of switch. If it was enabled a user would be able to boot straight to the desktop automatically.
In my own experience, on my desktop PC which has Windows 8 Pro installed, I think this would be a good option to include for Windows 8 users. However when my PC was freshly installed with Windows 8, with none of my favourite programs pinned to the taskbar or shortcuts on the desktop, at that time going straight to a blank, featureless desktop would have been pretty useless. So I can’t imagine the boot straight to desktop option being enabled as default behaviour for a fresh install.
Windows 8 sales performance, more analysis
An article on Computerworld yesterday quotes an analyst saying that the recent steep decline in PC sales wasn’t the fault of Windows 8. Stephen Baker of the NPD Group analysed data that his company collected for Q1 2013 and came to the conclusion “It wasn't about Windows 8, it was much more about the price challenges facing OEMs”. He added that “People want cheap touch devices, and that's where Windows 8 devices can't compete right now.”
Last week’s IDC report cited Windows 8 as a contributor to the slowdown in PC sales. However NPD say that the price of touch enabled hardware is the problem. Steven Baker said Apple Macs are also experiencing a similar downturn and “The market is flat, and no one is outperforming the others”.
Interestingly NPDs Mac sales data wasn’t in line with that collected by IDC and Gartner, there are 15 percentage points between the rival market research and analysis firms. However, as Computerworld reminds us, we will find out the true figures for first quarter Mac sales during Apple’s investor conference call on 23rd April.