Rejoice! The Start button WILL return in Windows 8.1

Ringo Starr admits he gets frustrated that all people ever want to talk to him about is The Beatles. The developers of Windows 8 must feel similarly annoyed that despite all the changes in the new OS, all anyone wants to talk about is the Start button.

Windows 8 gets a lot of things right, and a lot of things wrong, but the lack of a Start button and menu in the desktop is the one thing that seems to unite all the haters. It’s symbolic of how badly Microsoft judged our attachment to the status quo in its rush to embrace the future. Fortunately with Windows 8.1 Microsoft gets a chance to fix things and give us the OS we should have had in the first place.

Windows 8.1 will sport a lot of tweaks, including additional tiles sizes, the ability to personalize the Modern UI, and split-screen apps. It also introduces new built in apps and Internet Explorer 11. You can find out more about what’s on offer here.

But of course all anyone wants to talk about is the Start button, so let’s do that. Yesterday Microsoft blogger Paul Thurrott confirmed the return of the button in the Windows 8.1 Milestone Preview and showed the first screenshots of it.

He also confirmed that boot to desktop was in the new build, and off by default. His posting was light and sadly pretty devoid of important details, like exactly what happens when you click that button.

However, Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet says reliable sources tell her the Start button will have an option to go directly to the Apps List (the list you see in Windows 8.1 when swiping upwards) instead of the Start Screen when clicked or tapped. So instead of a Windows 7 style menu, you’ll get a full screen of programs you can launch. These icons can be ordered by name, date installed, or usage.

While a lot of people will hate anything that isn’t a straight up Start menu, I actually like this approach, and provided Foley’s information is correct (and I believe it is) I think Microsoft has actually come up with a decent compromise. Tap the Start button, and select the program/app you want. Sounds like a Start menu to me.

However, the beauty of the Windows 7 Start menu is you can launch other programs, and access folders and settings without losing sight of any open windows. The Apps page is full screen, which will -- understandably -- annoy some people.

What do you think about the news that Windows 8.1 will reintroduce the Start button, and is the suggested compromise good enough in your opinion? Comments below please.

Photo credit: kurhan/Shutterstock

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