You may have heard about Windows 8.1, also known as Windows Blue. It’s a new version of Microsoft’s desktop operating system and this week we’ve learned that it may be bringing back one of the most-missed features left out of Windows 8: the good old Start button.
According to sources speaking to The Verge, the button won’t bring up the old-style Start Menu, but will instead bring up the Metro-style Start screen. The button is said to look nearly identical to the Windows flag found in the Charms menu. The inclusion of the button might be accompanied by a change in Windows hardware specifications, which currently favour a physical Windows button on tablets like the Microsoft Surface.
The move comes as one of a few steps that Microsoft is taking in response to feedback from traditional non-touch / desktop users of Windows 8. We also learned recently that there will be an option to boot directly to the desktop, instead of going to the start screen by default.
Both of these points have been raised often by critics of the Windows 8, and are underscored by the popularity of utilities like Start8 and Pokki that restore the start button, start menu and boot to desktop functions. Start8 has seen 3 million downloads, while Pokki has had half that number, both proving that people want the Start button and menu back in Windows 8.
While apparently most internal builds of Windows 8.1 don’t yet include these new options, it may yet appear in the Windows 8.1 Public Preview, which is slated to go live during Microsoft’s Build developer conference in late June. Failing that, the feature should go live in the final release of the software due by the end of the year.
What do you make of the news – is this a good idea by Microsoft to listen to consumers, or should they tough it out and stick to their guns?