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Apr 16, 2013

The Return of the Start Button: Microsoft Switches to Plan B for Windows 8




Back in October, Microsoft rolled out the first Windows version so far without the traditional Start button, a change that brought an avalanche of criticism and, more importantly, a massive hit in the overall sales of the company.

Fast forward five months and Windows 8 remains a very controversial operating system whose market share barely reaches 3 percent. While many have already got used to the Start Screen, others can’t live without a Start button and called for Microsoft to bring back this feature in Windows. It appears that the Redmond-based tech giant actually listens to feedback sent by users and is now working on a new option that would basically mark the return of the Start button in the Windows world. ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley revealed that Microsoft could use Windows 8.1 to reintroduce the button in our lives, even though several executives have said it loud and clear that we should all get used to the Start Screen. And bringing back the Start button pretty much makes sense. Here’s what some of our readers told us about the lack of such a feature in the new operating system:

“I have been a loyal Microsoft user for more than 20 years and I have had almost every new version of Windows and Office so far. In other words, I have been a Microsoft lover during all these years. Steve Ballmer and his team has changed this during the last couple of years: I have become a Microsoft hater.”  “Will be returning my new laptop with Win 8. One reason is no start button / menu on the desktop nor can one put icons / shortcuts on desktop from the new start screen.” “I've been using computers since Radio Shack came out with the first home computer. This is the first time I've had to search the internet to find out how to shut down my computer. Windows 8 is the worst operating system I have ever used!”

“Windows 8 takes the ‘friendly’ out of user-friendly. This is the final straw. I'm switching to Linux!”  Unsurprisingly, many people are blaming Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for this dramatic change in Windows 8, especially after Steven Sinofsky, the man in charge with the Windows division until late 2012, decided to leave Microsoft. Here are a few comments published by our users and criticizing Steve Ballmer’s way of doing business:

“Well, I think the problem is, Ballmerized Microsoft became much too despotic, autocrat and dictating. They certainly could have given an option to get to the desktop screen without going through the start screen, also, tablets and laptops and desktops are not equally favorable for the touch screen.” “Steve Ballmer is to Microsoft, what Tony BLAIR was to ‘Socialism’. In case you don't know what I mean, he deserted his party's natural supporters, so, they then deserted ‘New Labour’. This is exactly what Microsoft's supporters will do for Microsoft, they will walk away from it.” “Sold my MS stock years ago because of Steve Ballmer's management. Might re-buy MS Stock once he is gone. The removal of the Start button is just an item in a long list of how to mess up Microsoft. Windows 8 is horrible. As is the entire experience.”

As for Windows 8.1, nobody knows for sure if it’ll have the potential to reignite the falling PC market or not. The good thing is that the leaked builds revealed that Microsoft would try to fix many of the controversial features available in Windows 8, including the Start Screen and the lack of a Start button. Windows 8.1 is expected to hit the market sometime this year, with the BUILD developer conference in June likely to witness the public debut of the preview version. Expect the stable release in August or September.

Windows 7 was the last Windows OS to feature a Start button.

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