The Windows Start Menu Is Coming Back (But Not Yet)

The Windows Start Menu Is Coming Back (But Not Yet)

One of the most-hated aspects of Windows 8 was that it eliminated the Start Menu. After two years of users screaming, it seems Microsoft has finally listened: a future version of Windows will include the return of the Start menu in enhanced form.

At the Build 2014 developer conference, Microsoft showed off prototypes of a future version of Windows 8.1 that will include a desktop start menu. It will be able to access both Modern and traditional Win32 apps.

[related title=”BUILD 2014″ tag=”build-2014″ items=”9″]There have been good third-party Start menu replacements available ever since Windows 8 emerged, but making it a default option is a better choice for most of us. It’s also a tacit admission that the touch-first focus of Windows 8 so far hasn’t totally caught fire.

Another example of that: Microsoft also announced that equipment manufacturers making tablets or phones with screens of less than 9 inches can immediately license Windows for free. That will also apply to all versions of Windows in the future, though there isn’t yet a timeframe for that, or an indication of whether features might be missing from the free release.

Disclosure: Angus Kidman travelled to San Francisco as a guest of Microsoft.


  • What about the desktop application borders? I havent seen if they are still locked to that god awful light blue or if aero is available

    • Its never been locked to light blue, its automatic, based off the background color, but you can change it to whatever color you want if you don’t like automatic.

      But i have my doubts aero will come back, i wont miss it though.

  • I am not surprised that they are retuning the start menu. My suspicion is you will be able to switch between metro or start menu in Control Panel.

  • Ugh, a panel of Metro.

    What happens to a pure, uncluttered TEXT menu with a small icon next to it. This flat, pastel, low contrast, tiled interface Microsoft developed under Balmer is a severe turnoff.

    Information clutter makes performing a task harder.

    If I want to start a new program I want to do it fast and with as little pain and distraction as necessary. I don’t want to be distracted by a counter that shows I have 27 unread twitter messages, 5 unread emails, that it’s raining outside and my dog needs her teeth cleaned on the weekend.

    Kudo Microsoft for finally letting us power our machines off instead of holding down the power button for 6 seconds, but really, can we just can Metro completely?

    • I love the modern UI, because I don’t have to hunt for my apps. I can belt the start button and click on the one I want based on it’s position and colour. I don’t pay attention to the “live tiles” where it shows info about that program (e.g. 200 unread emails) so I save a lot of time doing stuff on my computer.

      Plus I love the docking feature. I put a video app on the right, my desktop on the left, and no programs ever cover up the video., nor will the video ever cover an app.

      The “classic” start menu may be good, but I don’t want to see the future of computing compromised because people don’t want to adapt (I’m not saying that’s your case, but it certainly is with some people I work with). A similar thing has happened with Moodle (I think) — people had written terrible code to customize their Moodle and whined when updates broke those. So the Moodle team kind of worked to retrofit those changes into the code base. As a result, there’s a ton of legacy code and features that only exist for those who probably still run Windows XP and PHP 3

    • The advantage of keeping a part of Metro in the start menu is that you can pin more stuff to it. In Windows 7 and earlier, you couldn’t put specific folders (excluding system folders such as Documents) or files on the start menu.

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