Microsoft: Full Start Menu Coming Back to Windows 8

Brandon Dimmel's picture

Microsoft unveiled its future plan for Windows 8 at the 2014 Build developer conference this past weekend. The path appears to be backwards, with Microsoft introducing several new features that effectively revive Windows 7 functionality.

For example, Microsoft executive vice-president of operating systems, Terry Myerson, showed off a new Start Menu that is fully integrated with Windows 8's "Modern" (formerly "Metro") interface. Myerson also said Windows 8 users will soon be able to launch Modern applications from the desktop interface.

Myerson says the changes will be offered as a downloadable update for Windows 8, but didn't say when that update would become available. (Source:

Windows 8: Full Start Menu Making a Comeback

Experts see this as an important step for a company that completely ditched the Start Menu with the transition from Windows 7 to Windows 8.

Outrage among PC users forced Microsoft to bring back the Start button for Windows 8.1 (released last fall), but that offering simply wasn't enough. The firm has faced continuing pressure from users to revive the entire Start Menu, which includes a complete list of installed applications.

User-experience expert Jesse James Garrett, who serves as the chief creative officer at design consulting firm Adaptive Path, says it's about time Microsoft focused on building an effective and accessible Start Menu for Windows 8. Garrett says that Microsoft's decision to revive the Start Menu is evidence that the Redmond, Washington-based firm has acknowledged that the Modern interface just didn't work.

"It was just too different," Garrett said. "I think they made a lot of decisions that make complete sense if you're bringing a completely new tablet [operating system] to market. But the PC experience is loaded with expectations that go back decades. That was completely up-ended by what they put in front of people." (Source:

Moving forward, it appears Microsoft's new plan is to create two very different operating systems: a desktop-based system designed for PC users, and another using the "Modern" interface targeting tablet users.

Combining Desktop, Tablet Features "A Mistake", Expert Says

Overall, it appears Microsoft made a significant miscalculation in expecting that touch-oriented devices would overwhelm the PC market. While PC sales are declining, it's apparent Microsoft underestimated the influence of a still very large population of users who don't care for touch-based devices.

"I think the initial idea to combine desktop and tablet was a mistake because it assumed that tablets would be the next evolution of the desktop," noted Coty Beasley, a user-experience expert with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "That idea certainly didn't take hold in the way Microsoft was expecting."

Microsoft will be hoping the changes to Windows 8 attract users of Windows XP, the aging operating system that will no longer be supported after Tuesday, April 8. Microsoft says it will finally stop providing security updates for Windows XP, which is now twelve years old. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Do you think Microsoft is headed in the right direction with its recent changes, including this announcement regarding Windows 8? What other changes do you think that the company needs to make in the coming years? Lastly: if you're a Windows XP user, will you be upgrading to Windows 7 or Windows 8 considering that Windows XP will officially reach its end of life next week?

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adh773's picture

Contrary to what the experts say there are a lot of people like the new style. maybe it was introduced to sudden instead of transitioning it in. There was always the option of using classic shell for those that preferred to stay as was. Overall Windows 8 has worked out fine in my estimation and a lot of other people. Lets face it an operating system that is 12 years old needs to be replaced.

kroyles79's picture

I have been using Windows for some time and updated to 8.1 with no problems. I have used windows from the first to XP and yes I liked XP but that was more to do with being used to it. I like 8.1 and it is a lot better than XP and a lot faster. what ever OS that Microsoft puts out will get complaints, every single version of windows has been complained about. it seems to be an international sport to bash Microsoft.

bigjohnt's picture

Well spoken!

DavidFB's picture

If you happen to buy a new touch-centric tablet or similar, Windows 8 may make a lot of sense. But if you buy or are upgrading a non-touch system, Windows 8 is a dud with a mouse.

If you're like the vast majority of users, your main apps are some email & Facebook with a little word processing. All of these are type-intensive and better suited to a keyboard. If you're working in an office, more so. A lot of people get confused by having 2 application environments, neither of which behaves like it used to. Many businesses have not upgraded due to the retraining costs and lost productivity of the change. And for what point? Whats the business case?

As the recent series by tech author Lincoln Spector suggested, a tablet - even converted to a workstation - is not well suited as a productivity platform for a lot of people.

I agree with the "expert". They need 2 OS's - one for touch-centric portability and one for desktop productivity. Similarly, I have 2 such devices - a tablet and a laptop wired for desktop use. The tablet is great for sharing photos or a read. But if I need productivity, the laptop comes with me. The tablet, btw, runs Android.

ralphy_willy's picture

Which is what the problem is. Because with my Surface RT tablet (OMG), I have no need for an extra laptop (how could that even be possible!?!). It's in productivity mode when I need it to be (WTF?), and a tablet with a kickass little kickstand that I can chill with in my lazy boy and control my xbox360 (GTFOH). Not to mention it syncs seamlessly to my Windows 8 desktop (non-touch Fing impossible!), that is exactly like Windows 7 but faster. ;)

joela44's picture

Finally! It's about time. Contrary to comments above, the VAST majority of MS's base is in business. Enterprise users NEED a mouse and keyboard. Ever tried to create or even edit a spreadsheet on a tablet? Tried writing a letter in word on a touch screen? Don't bother, it's maddening, frustrating, and frankly impossible to get ANY work done in that format. Touch interface for tablets and phones, Wonderful! Serious PC users NEED the mouse/keyboard combination in order to accomplish ANYTHING at work.

IdeasVacuum's picture

That is absolutely true, even the most well-designed apps for Tablets are completely inefficient compared to WIMP. Let's not forget the more specialist apps like CAD-CAM too. I wonder what the MS hardware division design office thought of Win8 - I remember them having issues with Vista. Some specialist apps have there own peripherals too, digitisers, sensors etc, so the main user-interface innovation should be with the apps, not the OS.

ralphy_willy's picture

I'm sure the "MS hardware division design office" had absolutely no issues with Windows 8, since when running that style of software you would be working in an environment exactly like Windows 7. If you had ever used Windows 8, you would know that, which makes your comment irrelevant, and nothing more than silly nonsense really.

IdeasVacuum's picture

They are sure to have had some issues but hopefully not the show-stoppers they experienced with Vista. As I recall, they use Catia, a very large CAD-CAM program on which I have thousands of hours experience.

Win8 desktop is similar to Win7 and I would say superior (I use Win8.1 every day) - it has brought nuances from XP back that were hidden away in Win7. Let's not forget, Win7 is effectively Vista, modified to work at an acceptable level, and part of that transformation was going back to XP basics. However, to get the best desktop experience out of Win8 has required a 3rd Party solution to restore the Start Menu and suppress the Modern Interface, which would otherwise interrupt your work -by springing out the charms menu for example, what a pain that is when you are recording a help movie!

For businesses, the way Win8 is, by default, more connected to the outside world is either a great convenience or a potential headache. More automated access to the outside translates to greater security risks. In Europe, generally your company will only provide you with internet access if your job needs it. Extreme example: best way to keep data secure in a nuclear submarine design office is to not have an internet connection! From a commercial angle, it's more difficult to stop employees doing things that they should not do. That ranges from wasting company time on social networks to ferreting away company secrets onto a private cloud. Some of the worst customer privacy breaches have actually been caused by employees deliberately stealing data in the hope of selling it on. So, though Win8 might be more secure from attack from the outside, it potentially increases weakness on the inside. Time will tell of course.

I'm looking forward to installing Win8 patch 1 ~ I hope Microsoft have considered the fact that millions already have a 3rd party Start Menu installed.....

bigjohnt's picture

It's easy to weed out the children. Just read some of the nonsense people post, as in the above.

ralphy_willy's picture

Enlighten us though. How did/does Windows 8 make "the mouse/keyboard combination" any different to use than in Windows 7? Or XP, or osx (turd) for that matter? Because I have been using "the mouse/keyboard combination" with Windows 8 without issue for about a year and a half now... In fact, it's more functional than ever. But...yup, YUP... you know what's UP, don't ya bro... ;)

People might actually take you seriously if you had used the software before commenting. Because the way you EMPHASIZED certain words, you actually must think you have some VALID, FACTUAL information to share. Butt you's don't ;;{ lol

Commenter's picture

Oh, thank G-d somebody has finally come to their senses over there. The transfer to Win 7 goes smoothly for most former XP users, but the jarring changes with Win 8 have caused some of my older users to seriously consider retirement. That's not an exaggeration.

At my work we have users on both Win 7 and Win 8. I really don't see any great reason to move anybody to Win 8, especially those who are currently using Win 7. Win 7 works better for most of them considering that we have software that hasn't yet been updated by the publisher, software that will require a new enterprise license (expensive!), and proprietary software that will need to be totally rewritten in some cases. Add to it hardware that's not compatible with Win 8, and it doesn't make economic sense to push users into Win 8, regardless of whether or not we want them to "get with the times" or use Classic Shell to mimic earlier versions.

We are lucky to have the choice to use Win 7 with our enterprise license, but not everybody can.

The point is the choice isn't always XP or Win 8. The choice for many is Win 7 or Win 8.

At the very least, we need a version of Win 8 that doesn't require significant downtime for my users to learn, and the best case scenario would be the choice to use Windows 7 until Windows 9 is available. Surely that will be a more usable version, a la Windows Vista to Windows 7.

ralphy_willy's picture

What software? I have not seen a single piece of software, or hardware for that matter, that ran on Windows 7 and did not run on Windows 8. I would love to hear the name of this "software that hasn't yet been updated by the publisher", and hear what platform this mysterious "proprietary software that will need to be totally rewritten" was coded on. LOL I get such a kick reading some of these comments.

Commenter's picture

Thank you for your numerous comments, Mr. Willy. (I'm trying to suppress the snicker, but it's hard.) I am sure that you are the supreme authority on what will and will not work with Windows 8, what with the obvious crush you have on it. What a lot of time you must have spent testing every application that runs on Windows 7 to know, absolutely, that they all run on Windows 8! I'm in awe of your omniscience. Thank you so much for the sacrifices you made in order to spread your wisdom to the masses. That must have really cut into your XBox360 time.

But since I'm such a nice person and all, sure, here you go. Today I couldn't install Blumen on Windows 8 but it installed on Windows 7. Yesterday our police force had software that I'm not identifying for you that is going to either have to be upgraded (new license, I suppose) or totally replaced. All or almost all of our Fujitsu fi-xxxx scanners aren't integrating with PaperWise, and we've ditched maybe 50 - 75 GX 270s and 280s in the last couple weeks because they aren't robust enough to handle Windows 8. They would have run 7. Slowly, true, but they would have run it. We didn't bother and just gave them some old 520s and 755s with Windows 7 on them since we had the hardware in storage.

As for the software that was written for us, I have no idea what platform it's written on. I'm in IT tech support and network support, not programming.

There's more, but whatever. Believe me or not, it's your choice. Your belief has no effect on reality.

Now here's my question for you. Are you going to pull up your big boy pants and admit that perhaps ... PERHAPS ... you could have been ... *gasp* ... WRONG???

IdeasVacuum's picture

Essentially, the closer Desktop Win8.1+ becomes to WinXP, the better! Businesses need a simple work-horse OS, to run their every-day apps. I noticed people remarking that the speed of Win8 is superior to WinXP. That is true for start-up, but the overall speed gain is largely from the newer technology hardware it's on. It's certainly a bit faster than Win7, which after all is really a 'fixed Vista'. If someone bench-tested neutral flavours of XP64 and Win8, I'd expect the performance to be similar for typical office type apps.

I really like the 'flat' Win8 desktop GUI. To use the 'Modern' interface (not such a great name for it?) for desktop app work is impractical. Even when a Modern interface app is delivering something potentially useful, you are going to need arms like a gorilla to use tab-style touch for a whole day.

Microsoft's gamble on Win8, like their gamble on Vista, was doomed from the start. I hope now that they have a better understanding of what their customers need the OS to do, because they probably won't get away with a third disaster. It is almost as though they were panicked into being 'more like Apple' ~ yet they have a huge customer base that grew up with Windows PCs and are probably very happy to stick with MS. If however, you present a new OS with a big learning curve, then obviously people will check-out the other OS' available to compare ease of use and day-to-day practicality (and cost). With that regard, I think MS have been lucky, as most customers probably expected that they would fix Win8, and decided to wait until they did. There could have been a mass move over to Linux........

Don Cook's picture

I have been using computers since they started, before "Windows" & I bought Windows 8 to use.
I found the package only had 2 Disc's & about 3 small printed cards, non of witch told me anything about starting, using & changing Windows 8.
This is Reprehensible of the owners of Windows to do this.
I hope the new free add-on to windows 8 fixes this inconsistency.

bigjohnt's picture

Everything needed in Win8.1 is in the "F1" key. No matter what you are trying to do.

jbmax2's picture

I think Win 8 is just fine with or without, Srart,but bringing back the option to start in safe mode if needed really can make it the best operating system!

darylhutchins's picture

Honestly, things must be pretty good in the computer industry if all the pundits can find to talk about is the Start Button in W8/8.1.

The damned thing was put back by third parties if not before the first release, by the end of the first work day thereafter.

Get a grip, put it back and move on!

pa.frazier2009_2142's picture

Why change something when it ain't broke???? PROFIT??????????