Why The Windows Blue Start Button Debate Doesn't Really Matter

Much of the discussion around the forthcoming Windows Blue update centres around whether it will reintroduce the Start button in some form. It's understandable that this stirs up emotion, but from the perspective of IT managers it's largely irrelevant.

Confirmed information about Windows Blue is fairly thin on the ground. We know that we'll see interface enhancements and under-the-hood tweaks, and that the update will not be called Windows Blue when it emerges. Microsoft hasn't officially confirmed plans to reintroduce the Start button or the ability to boot direct to the 'classic' Windows desktop, but rumours suggest those options are being considered.

It's not entirely clear how this might work; in its simplest form, the 'Start button' might be nothing more than an icon in the bottom left corner which launches the Windows 8 Start screen. A halfway solution would be a stripped-backed menu with (perhaps) search and a locked-down selection of apps; a full-blown Metro-styled Start menu on the desktop would represent a somewhat unlikely extreme.

There are two points to make here. The first is that if you want to reintroduce the Start button or the ability to boot to the desktop, there are plenty of ways of doing that right now with third-party programs. I'm a big fan of Classic Shell, which performs both those tasks, If your sole reason for resisting Windows 8 is the lack of a Start button, you haven't thought the issue through.

The second point is this. People don't like change, and one of the arguments against Windows 8 in a corporate environment is that training will undoubtedly be needed to ensure that staff can master the nuances of Windows 8. However, merely returning the Start button won't eliminate the need for that kind of training. Even if there's a start button, there are still new elements of the interface that will need to be learned: just off the top of my head, features like Charms, left and right swiping (especially on non-touch devices), installing and updating Windows 8 apps and even working out how to power down your machine all require learning new methods.

That's true any time an operating system updates; I still encounter friends and colleagues who never learned to use the Search options on the Start menu. Whether the trade-offs are worthwhile is a decision that will vary for every business, but the Start button itself is unlikely to be a deciding factor, I think. Your thoughts?


Comments

    I have installed Windows 8 on my work pc , I used it out of the box for 2 weeks, but in the end had to install classic shell, I also had to google how to shutdown\reboot my machine the first time -couldnt find the button !! Another gripe is Office 2013, excel and word are pretty good, but Outlook is so clinical looking and makes it harder to find anything quickly in the gui by just looking at it.

    The one issue I have with Windows 8 within a business environment is the Mail programme or app and Outlook itself, it confusing employees a little too much.

    Also, the mail app for home use doesn't really allow you to install any other account other than a Microsoft account. I would like this changed to any account.

    Last edited 23/04/13 10:27 am

      I use the mail app on my home computer with my Hotmail, Gmail and my Exchange email. Having trouble adding the account?

        When Win8 first was released, it was only Microsoft Email account that it can be linked to but since the update, I think you can add more accounts. When the missus got her Win8 laptop, it wouldn't accept her gmail account. I don't know.

    Boot to desktop would be very handy. Reintroducing the start button? Not so much.

    I've been using Windows 8 since it arrived in Australia, and the new start menu does what the old one did -- display apps for you to click on and launch. Yes, it's annoying having to right-click and hit "All Apps" to see anything not pinned to the start menu, but I can honestly say that in the last 6 months, I've only done it about six times.

    Accessing the start menu is a little different too, but not by a whole lot. The start menu is still in the bottom corner, you just have to push your mouse right to the corner and click, or just press the Windows key.

    I really don't see what the fuss is. As a power user, I adapted to it within an hour. I quickly learned that you can whack the Windows key and start typing to find an app, and it's FAR quicker than Windows 7's app search.

      Windows 7: press windows button, start typing to search

      Windows 8: press windows button, start typing to search

      How is that far quicker when it is the exact same thing, except now the windows button opens an annoying full screen metro menu that takes you away from the desktop and your open apps instead of the nice start menu in previous Windows versions?

        Easy. Windows 8 loads results quicker than 7. Just tried it on my win 8 & 7 VMs. Unless your computer is running a graphics card you won in a box of cereal, loading the start screen should take no longer than opening with 7 start menu and for the five seconds you're in the menu, it shouldn't take you away from anything in your desktop

    Look...! If you have a touch screen then the Metro (or whatever) screen is great, if you don't then it's a pain in the arse. "Classic Shell" does sort this for free but you shouldn't need to download something just to be able to do what Windows did before. Afic it was an arrogant thing to do from MS in the first place. Just let those of us using regular PC's be able to choose from install whether they want to boot into 'Metro or the original desk top. That isn't too much to ask given the prices they are charging!!

    Last edited 23/04/13 11:38 am

      You didn't "need" to download anything, it was a choice you made because you were unable to adapt to a few simple changes. Everything you could do previously is preserved in Win8, even clicking in the lower-left corner to bring up the Start Menu. It's just that the button isn't there any more and the Start Menu has become a Start Screen. But in terms of functionality it is all still there and at least as easy to access as it was previously. The only exception I can think of is shutting down or restarting, which now requires one extra click of your mouse button. Hardly the end of the world.

        It's always nice to have you shove your 2c worth down our throats mate but honestly, if MS just gave us the choice from the beginning this argument would be moot! Or are you going to deny the thousands, nay millions who have complained about the thing not being there anymore because you're the all knowing seer on all things MS..?

          The only start button I know that never changes on any operating system is the one to turn my PC on....

          There's options Timmahh - stick with a previous Microsoft operating system for the rest of time immemorial and get left behind OR take a risk and install a linux variant, oh wait they don't have 'start' buttons either............ looks like you may need to stick with 7 or XP my friend that way you won't have to pay for the price of innovation!!

            Actually many Linux Distros do have "start" buttons, Mint (my preferred distro) has a modern-ish style start menu. Zorin is a Windows-esque style Distro with various interface styles based on the different windows versions. That's just a couple off the top of my head that I'm familiar with and many other distros actually allow you to stick another interface on them. Ubuntu is the only distro I'm aware of that has ditched the more traditional start menu style interface and went for an Apple inspired one (hence why I no longer use it). Try learning a little bit about Linux before you go making statements about it. If you really want to look into other options there's also ReactOS which is a Windows (and I use this word very loosely) compatible OS designed around being binary compatible with Windows NT systems but is a long way off the necessary compatibility for day-to-day tasks. If it wasn't for the fact that I play a lot of games I wouldn't be using Windows (currently 7, I aint touching 8) and would have Mint as my primary OS. Thankfully Steam is slowly dealing with that. Overall there isn't a huge operational difference between 7 and 8 aside from interface a few performance tweaks and you no longer get Windows Media Centre included there is no actual need to "upgrade" to it.

            For the record I work in a computer store selling custom built PCs offering people the choice of 7 and 8, since it's launch I think I've perhaps sold 5 copies of Windows 8, the store in total selling maybe 20-30 compared to countless copies of 7. Some of those people that bought Windows 8 on their PC have even come back to purchace Windows 7 as they cannot stand 8. I've also had many people bringing in their PCs they purchaced from prebuilt retailers for us to install 7 on them. People clearly don't want the OS and are either just putting up with it as they don't want to spend the extra to downgrade or are spending the extra money to get 7 as the hassle of dealing with 8 is more than the cost to make their PC usable to them.

            There are many things I like about Windows 8, unfortunately there is a lot more that I don't like about it and will be staying on 7/voting with my wallet until either MS fix the future versions of Windows, Linux gets more games compatibility or hardware support necessitates it.

            Dafuck are you smoking mate?
            I use and prefer Windows 8 over 7, my whole point was that MS should have given us a choice!
            Ease up on the Red Bull/whacky backy combo before you comment....

        It isn't about the fact that the metro screen is as functional, it is that it fills the whole screen and takes you away from the desktop. I like the start menu because it is quick and small, so you can see your other programs when using it,

          Every Start Menu since Win95 has taken you away from the desktop. i.e. You cannot have the Start Menu open and access anything on your desktop or any open application. It was an either/or situation before and it's still the same either/or situation now. It's just that now we have something that is far more useful.

            I think one of the problems with the way the menu works has a bit to do with this:

            http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=why-walking-through-doorway-makes-you-forget

            I often find when I am busy doing a job and go to get a tool from my shed that I can't recall what I was doing, then have to go back to what I was doing to remember. I think the way the interface works, coupled with the interface being unfamiliar can sometimes trigger this in people.

              That article is about being distracted whilst in the middle of something, I can't see how it applies here. I think it is a simple matter of most being far too resistant to change.

    I think the main things needed for desktop usage are more control over snapping metro apps (having say, 2 side bars followed by my desktop could be nice), close buttons in the top corner of metro apps (my dad got a new Windows 8 PC, he couldn't figure out how to make a metro app go away once it was launched), and discoverablility of things like the shut down button needs to be looked at.

      Stardock has an app that allows you to window metro apps.

    "It’s not entirely clear how this might work" Of course it is. Anyone who used the Win8 Consumer Preview can tell you how it worked because it was still there. As you speculate, pressing it simply took you to the Start Menu, exactly as you'd expect it to.

    "I still encounter friends and colleagues who never learned to use the Search options on the Start menu." I'd fall into that category simply because I had no way of knowing they were there. Windows help doesn't really and I am not going to look up help on a feature I don't even know exists. And a feature with no UI is effectively undiscoverable. It wasn't until I read a comment on-line about a couple of years ago that I had the slightest idea about it.

    Anyway, I think MS were stupid and arrogant in removing the Start Button. If there had been some benefit in doing so then I could understand it but it was completely unnecessary and the only effect it has had is to make almost every, single users first experience far more frustrating than it needs to be. Not only should they reinstate it but they ought to fire the dickhead who decided to take it out because I am sure he has cost MS billions in bad press and ill-will.

    Last edited 23/04/13 4:41 pm

    Personally I'd like to see the start button returned to Windows Server 2012 (The Windows 8 Server variant)

    I don't mind the Windows 8 interface like a lot of other people but trying to trigger gesture commands when you need to Remote Desktop/VNC/VMware Console whatever else gets pretty frustrating. Especially when it's confused as to what session you're trying to select.

    Throw Citrix into the mix and it's pretty painful. Installing software like Classic Shell/Stardock is not really an option on enterprise servers either.

    I agree with MotorMouth that it was very arrogant of MS not to provide the option to enable a start button, especially in the enterprise space where 99% of customers will use precisely 0 metro apps for their install base.

    The whole resistant to change argument is only half the story. Those organisation a that I know, tech heavy ones, that have rolled out windows 8 do not complain that it's painful to find the new way of doing the same thing. What they are complaining about is that the same action in windows 8 takes several more clicks in windows 8 than what it did in windows 7. It's the extra actions and the resulting ht on productivity that's bugging those organizations. Shutdown was a click on start then click on shutdown or slide out the sub menu if the default action was something else. Windows 7 even removed the "are you sure" to make it quicker. Windows 8 it's several clicks on opposite sides of the screen, or use the keyboard to ctrl-alt-delete, power symbol and choose the action (which requires two hands n the keyboard then a move to the mouse). This is just the favorite picked on example, but everything is like this now. Searching the start menu only shows application results, if you're looking for control panel items you have to use the mouse to choose settings on the right to get the search results in that context. The it, click start and search for "device manager". Win7 it was in the top results as soon as you got as far as devi, couple of down arrows or so and enter.

    It's clunky with convoluted steps like windows 3.1. Even Offic 2013 save as is now on the file tab first, then save as, then you have to select the file location location before you get the file dialog. Why is that extra step necessary?

    I honestly don't miss the start button, I do miss the list of recent documents.

    Windows 8 rocks, there is a guide (windows 8 for dummies) this is useful for the ones not able to figure the OS out. One mentioned about email not being suitable for business. Use windows live mail. Works awesome with Win 8. Just remember, if using 64bit use 64bit live mail installer.
    Hope this helps
    MVP

    Button or not is NOT the question. I just do not want a screen with tiles I have to take care of, just a list of programs.

    I just hope that MS is able to iron out the non-updating taskbar bug:
    http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_8-performance/bug-taskbar-doesnt-update/b7ce1dde-6681-4d53-b59b-e4ed26dca08e

    Grazy, you have to go to the app-side in order to refresh the task bar+clock time.
    BTW: what is an app - umm, .. a window without a handle!?

    I'm so glad I found this page, I was starting to think I must be the only one who finds windows 8 generally more functional. Frankly, I don't see why the start button is "all that", everyone seems to rave about it as if it were the best invention since the proverbial slice of bread, trying to force microsoft to reinstate their beloved circle in the corner of the screen.
    All I know is, I use the start/metro screen exactly how I used to use the old start button, with no loss of functionality. Also, by some kind of dark microsoft magic, my desktop has about 1/3 of the clutter it used to have, which I blame on the new start screen.
    Control Panel is easy to access (which I used to mostly access from the start button)
    The search function is just better
    Not only do I not care about the start button being 'removed' (although plainly it has just *changed*) I'd go so far as to say I prefer it this way
    Personal preference.

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