Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 22nd Apr 2013 12:10 UTC
Windows The Verge confirms an earlier story by Mary Jo Foley. "Microsoft is preparing to revive the traditional Start button it killed with Windows 8. Sources familiar with Microsoft's plans have revealed to The Verge that Windows 8.1 will include the return of the Start button. We understand that the button will act as a method to simply access the Start Screen, and will not include the traditional Start Menu. The button is said to look near-identical to the existing Windows flag used in the Charm bar."
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Missing the point
by Morgul on Mon 22nd Apr 2013 15:06 UTC
Morgul
Member since:
2005-07-06

"We understand that the button will act as a method to simply access the Start Screen, and will not include the traditional Start Menu."

Assuming this actually happens, Microsoft has missed the point again. While I find the mysterious hot corner to be a source of initial confusion, moving my mouse where years of muscle memory have taught me to move it got me past that particular hurdle pretty painlessly. The problem isn't the lack of visual indicators.

The problem is the Start Screen.

To put the finest point on it that I can, the Start Screen's visual metaphor fails. It assumes that all applications are created equal; something that simply is not true. Unlike mobile devices (or pretty much anything with a Palm lineage, like all modern smart phones, tablets, etc.), when I install an application, there's a good chance I've installed multiple executables, several of which I will only use once, maybe twice. (External configuration applications and uninstallers are good examples.) I don't want, or need immediate access to them, so hiding them under a folder (as done in the traditional Start Menu) makes perfect sense. Having them show up on the Start Screen (which has been my experience) is not what the user wants.

Desktop applications assume a hierarchical representation. Mobile applications do not. The Start Menu had a functional visual metaphor for showing both hierarchical and flat applications (The 'pinned applications' list). The Start Screen does not.

I guess, the final nail in the Start Screen's coffin is the fact that it's design is awkward (at best) for keyboard/mouse navigation, it takes up your entire screen (The Start Menu had a much higher information density, and worked great in the 1/2 x 1/5th rectangle allotted it.), and it's visually jarring.

No, Microsoft, it's not that your users miss having a button. Rather, it's that your users miss not having to struggle to find their applications. That's the whole problem with Windows 8, desktop users hate the Start Screen. Fix that, and you fix Windows 8.

Heck, I think a Metro-ized Start Menu could be really cool looking, as well as functional. Especially if on hybrid laptops, it expanded into the full start screen when switch to tablet mode. That'd be neat, and have some novelty...

Or, flip everything on it's head, and use something like Alfred on OS X( http://www.alfredapp.com/ ). Give us a floating search bar in the middle of the screen, in both the desktop and in Metro. Allow type to search, but also give a button to expand a traditional 'All Programs' style menu. It changes up the paradigm, and gives both tablet and desktop users something that works well.

I don't know. There's thousands of solutions to the 'Windows 8 Problem'. Microsoft, stop pretending it's not there, and fix it.

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