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Microsoft shows the Start menu, coming in future Windows update

by Mark Tyson on 3 April 2014, 09:55

Tags: Windows 8

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As part of Microsoft's BUILD 2014 conference in San Francisco, its operating system head Terry Myerson announced that it will finally be bringing back the Start menu in a future Windows 8.1 update. When Microsoft first decided to remove the start menu, many were upset and complained that it made Windows 8.X harder to use. The company last night showed off what the revamped menu will look like - it is not simply the classic Start menu everyone is familiar with. Besides the conventional mouse-friendly features, users will be getting additional Live Tiles, which Microsoft has been encouraging use of as part of Windows 8 and Windows Phone.

The company made the announcement as part of an example of its efforts to be backing off from its 'Metro' interface and their plans to make all of Microsoft's universal Windows apps to run in one Window, blurring the lines between its Start screen and the desktop.

With every update, Microsoft seems to be sneaking in concepts from older versions of Windows in an attempt to retain its business desktop and laptop workstation audience. The firm has said that the Start menu will be returning to Windows in a future 8.1 update but it is unclear when this will be taking place. We will of course update you when more information is at hand.

The new Windows 8.1 update is set to arrive on 8th April, with several changes made to accommodate mouse and keyboard users. "The Windows 8.1 Update delivers a collection of refinements designed to give people a more familiar and convenient experience across touch, keyboard and mouse inputs. It also brings improvements for business customers, really accelerates opportunity for developers, and enables device makers to offer lower cost devices," wrote Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc in a blog post.

On the Start screen, there is now a Power and Search button on selected devices. The updated OS also allows an automatic boot to desktop as a default setting option. Windows Store apps which were developed for the start screen mode can now be opened in Windows and pinned to the desktop taskbar to allow users to open and switch between apps right from the desktop. The taskbar is also made available on any screen just by moving the mouse to the bottom edge of the screen.

The minimum hardware requirements to run Widows 8.1 have been reduced with devices previously requiring at least 2GB of RAM now reduced to 1GB, alongside a storage requirement reduction to 16GB, thanks to code optimisations in the update. This means that OEMs can now build even cheaper Windows 8.1 OS devices.

Improvements for business customers includes Enterprise Mode Internet Explorer which enables IE8 compatibility on IE11, allowing companies to run existing web-based apps on Windows 8.1 devices, and extended Mobile Device Management introducing additional policy settings. More details can be found on the Windows for your Business Blog.



HEXUS Forums :: 37 Comments

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If they've got live tiles in the new, improved Start menu, how about offering the option to turn off MUI on the desktop since it seems a little redundant now? Losing the (endlessly annoying!) forced context switch between MUI and “old desktop” would go a LONG way to persuading me to get a copy of ‘8.

Having a “Start Menu” wasn’t a big deal for me personally since I use app search a lot these days, but it's nice to have and I realise that there's a lot of folks out there who need a folderised list of their applications.
As above, ditch the MUI or give me the option to turn it off and I would have to consider win 8 also.
I know there are plenty of 3rd party apps etc to do this but you shouldn't have to have extra things running just to make the OS run how you want it to imo.
I actually like the new start menu, that + Windowed metro apps is defiantly a step in the right direction, now give us touch + K+M versions of the apps and it should be a winner.
For those that use Windows 8 without a start menu application, like Start 8, this might be helpful but for me it makes no difference. It is interesting that they are taking two very popular programs that Stardock sell, and I bought, and putting that functionality into Windows by default like it should have been from the start.

I am interested in the added right click context menus though, MUI apps are dumbed down to the point of being devoid of useful features. I installed OneDrive on my Windows 8.1 system yesterday only to find I need to right click the folder in explorer to be able to move it to my preferred location; no right click context menu or any sort of button/menu inside the app offering that ability which is crazy; I can't control the app from inside the app, so frustrating on a desktop system.

Without some significant changes I don't see MUI being popular on desktop systems. Great for touch devices, and possibly acceptable on the Xbox, but when you strip features from programs (placing them outside the program in obscure places) that were working fine on desktop systems you do not provide any benefit to the user.
The start menu looks a little dated to me, but other than that I'm really pleased with all the changes coming in 8.1 - although personally I really don't have a problem with 8, especially since Update 1 introduced the boot-to-desktop option.