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IDC: Lack of Start Button Deflates Windows 8 Interest

By - Source: CNET | B 93 comments

An IDC analyst says that potential Windows 8 users are turned off by a lack of a Start menu.

IDC analyst Bob O'Donnell told CNET in a recent interview that Microsoft made two mistakes when it revamped its Windows platform: removing the Start button and preventing users from booting up into desktop mode. As we've said for a while, there's a $5 app that can fix both issues, but a lack of out-of-the-box support for both nevertheless is seemingly hurting sales.

"There were certain decisions that Microsoft made that were in retrospect flawed. Notably not allowing people to boot into desktop mode and taking away the start button," he said. "Those two things have come up consistently. We've done some research and people miss that."

He added that there are a lot of people who boot up Windows 8 and go straight into desktop mode to do most of their work. Occasionally they go back to Metro, but ultimately they're more comfortable in familiar desktop-based territory.

"It's possible [Microsoft] is making changes to the OS [to allow a boot to desktop mode]," he added. "There's a lot of debate about it. Certainly if you talk to PC vendors, they'd like to see Microsoft do that. Because they recognize some of the challenges that consumers are facing."

One of the biggest roadblocks Microsoft likely faces is that mainstream consumers are reluctant to change. At first glance, the overhaul is too radical to the point that even corporations are reluctant to update, unwilling to spend time and money re-training employees. The move of overhauling the experience to satisfy a tablet audience has seemingly shunned the core mainstream desktop audience.

Also hurting Windows 8 sales is a lack of consumer-friendly touch-based desktop and notebook solutions. Touch screens are one of the more expensive components which is why so few Windows 8-based devices (outside the tablet and AIO sectors) are up for sale. Touch screen prices are definitely falling, but likely not fast enough for Microsoft which seemingly depends on the technology to make Windows 8 work as intended.

Microsoft is reportedly gearing up to launch the first of its "Windows Blue" annual updates later this year, and could possibly place the Start button back where it belongs. Previously Microsoft defended its removal by saying that customers simply don't use it, that they merely pin shortcuts to the taskbar instead. But the negative backlash following Windows 8's retail release indicates otherwise.

O'Donnell said that Microsoft may "stick to its guns" and leave the Start menu off the new OS, and continue to force customers into booting up into Metro. We'll see what happens later this year, but customers should have the right to choose which interface the platform initially loads. In the meantime, Windows 8 users can add the Start button by installing this $5 app.

 

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  • 22 Hide
    tokencode , March 13, 2013 7:22 AM
    Microsoft should have simply detected whether a touch device was present or not. If there is no touch device, default to a standard windows 7 style desktop interface. It's that simple, Microsoft should be following the Hippocratic oath, first do no harm.
  • 12 Hide
    benji720 , March 13, 2013 7:17 AM
    Or they can use Classic Shell which does the same thing and saves you $5.
Other Comments
  • 0 Hide
    LORD_ORION , March 13, 2013 7:09 AM
    I think I'd be PO'd again if I bought the 3rd party "fixes" only to have MS add them.
  • 5 Hide
    antilycus , March 13, 2013 7:13 AM
    So dumb. If you are going to force change on consumers they will look for alternatives such as linux and mac. Some will pay the rip off prices for MAC some will take the free and open linux and some will stay. Either way yuou are forcing them to make decission whereas previously they didnt need to. Split up yoyr market...yet another great business idea on behalf of MS.
  • 5 Hide
    tadej petric , March 13, 2013 7:15 AM
    Not getting 8. If I can live normaly without ever having vista than its same thing with 8. Worst windows to date
  • 12 Hide
    benji720 , March 13, 2013 7:17 AM
    Or they can use Classic Shell which does the same thing and saves you $5.
  • 22 Hide
    tokencode , March 13, 2013 7:22 AM
    Microsoft should have simply detected whether a touch device was present or not. If there is no touch device, default to a standard windows 7 style desktop interface. It's that simple, Microsoft should be following the Hippocratic oath, first do no harm.
  • 6 Hide
    visa , March 13, 2013 7:23 AM
    tadej petricNot getting 8. If I can live normaly without ever having vista than its same thing with 8. Worst windows to date

    I think Windows 8 is leaps and bounds better than Vista. I've been using it for months without issues, other than getting used to lack of a start button. I guess you don't remember all the driver and compatibility issues with Vista?

    I do think it is pretty strange that they didn't even think to include an option to enable a start button though. I think most people looking in these forums can work around it without problems but it could be very difficult for the average office worker.
  • 2 Hide
    anxiousinfusion , March 13, 2013 7:25 AM
    Quote:
    "Windows Blue" annual updates later this year, and could possibly place the Start button back where it belongs.


    I'm pinning quite a bit of hope on the Blue update. They need to reorganize the interface into something logical again.
  • 2 Hide
    ubercake , March 13, 2013 7:30 AM
    If they didn't put the Metro interface in there and introduced a desktop that just let you boot to the traditional desktop and gave you a start button, on the surface it wouldn't seem like much of an upgrade.

    We'd all have even less of a reason to upgrade from 7.

    I do like the idea of the integrated environments though between the phone, tablet, PC, Console, etc... But when it comes to the nitty gritty (office documents, programming, normal copy paste operations, multiple windowed environment, etc...), everything is done in the desktop.

    From a purely entertainment standpoint (browsing web, streaming video, social networking, live tiles, online shopping, etc...), the Windows 8 metro interface is sufficient across platforms. Although, the non-metro browser interface for most of the entertainment functions is far more robust. I can't stand shopping on Amazon through the Metro Widget.
  • 3 Hide
    sot010174 , March 13, 2013 7:31 AM
    I don't get Microsoft. I'm using 8 on my X202e and It's great. But why force the Windows 8 Metro or whatever if beyond me. OK, let's fix Win8:

    1. Allow the user to select between Win 8 or Win 7 interface mode. Being that Metro is still accessible via an icon.

    Done.

  • 1 Hide
    sot010174 , March 13, 2013 7:32 AM
    Windows 8 Fix:

    Allow the user to select between Windows 8 or Windows 7 interface mode. In win7 mode, allow the user to access metro as a program.

    Done.
  • 0 Hide
    tomfreak , March 13, 2013 7:32 AM
    tadej petricNot getting 8. If I can live normaly without ever having vista than its same thing with 8. Worst windows to date
    dude, windows 8 + startmenu fix is much better than the unfix-able performance problem Vista.

    What Microsoft did wrong is not provide a bridge between the 2 diff UI. windows 8 should have both metro UI and the old UI. Back then winXP has win9x UI to bridge the gap. win Vista/win7 all has classic mode. It is rather surprise Microsoft stop this in win8.
  • 1 Hide
    ibjeepr , March 13, 2013 7:37 AM
    Booting directly to desktop seems like it would have been such an easy thing for MS to add. At least make it an option.

    That said I have no issue with no start button. I would prefer to boot to the desktop though and use the start screen as simply the updated start "button." Putting the mouse into the corner without having to actually make sure you are on the button is actually faster for me.
  • 4 Hide
    Branden , March 13, 2013 7:43 AM
    windows 8 is great, in virtually every aspect it is the best windows yet - the list of pros is pages long.
    unfortunately, the only thing on the cons list is a biggie (and a deal-breaker for many people) - the start button.
  • 1 Hide
    ubercake , March 13, 2013 7:48 AM
    Quote:
    I don't get Microsoft. I'm using 8 on my X202e and It's great. But why force the Windows 8 Metro or whatever if beyond me. OK, let's fix Win8:

    1. Allow the user to select between Win 8 or Win 7 interface mode. Being that Metro is still accessible via an icon.

    Done.


    This makes sense. The metro interface has it's place as in the integrated environment between platforms, but I use it very little on my Win 8 laptop. The inability to arrange windows as I see fit, the inability to perform normal copy paste operations and the lack of metro app functionality (compared to standard browser counterpart functionality- like netflix or amazon) are stoppers for me.
  • 2 Hide
    Saji Thabolingam , March 13, 2013 7:52 AM
    i think it would help people understand windows 8 better if they thought of the metro interface as a big start button screen.
  • -2 Hide
    TheMadFapper , March 13, 2013 7:53 AM
    Even if they add the start button...it's still garbage. Especially if you do an upgrade from 7 rather than a clean install, it takes a seemingly random sample of your programs and files to place upon Metro and the "Apps List". I felt so disorganized even after a full night of clean up.
  • 0 Hide
    Cryio , March 13, 2013 8:02 AM
    I think people are retarded thinking the whole OS is simply broken, nonfunctional and incompatible with everything simply because the Start has a different interface.
  • 2 Hide
    visa , March 13, 2013 8:06 AM
    TheMadFapperEven if they add the start button...it's still garbage. Especially if you do an upgrade from 7 rather than a clean install, it takes a seemingly random sample of your programs and files to place upon Metro and the "Apps List". I felt so disorganized even after a full night of clean up.

    I wouldn't see a reason to update from 7 to 8 unless you're using a laptop with a touchscreen.
  • 5 Hide
    diddo , March 13, 2013 8:06 AM
    IMHO most analysts underestimated the enormous size of Windows 8 disaster.
    Windows 8 user adoption rate is not only small, it is negative.

    The sense of this statement is that machines does not live forever: there is an average lifespan for machines, and if the user adoption rate of the new system is lower than what is needed to replace retired machines it means your market share is reducing.

    If a desktop PC average life is 5 to 10 years, 12 months/year, that means the replacement rate needs to be 1.66% to 0.84%/month

    If you are the company owning the 90% of the market, like Microsoft, you need to keep up with the 90% of this replacement rate if you want to maintain the market share, say you need to get the new product to 1.5% to 0.75% of the market.

    A rough approximation may be: if you are Microsoft you MUST sell to more than 1% of end users each month, or you are losing ground - that nowadays doesn't mean someone is necessarily buying a Mac (that was happened with Vista) or an Ubuntu box, but more probably people are moving to alternative markets (tablets) or moving data and programs to the cloud in the effort to need to use less PCs.

    The problem with 8's user adoption is not only is smaller than Vista's one, the real problem is that it is well below the bar of doom - 1% - to point out loudly Microsoft is losing ground every day in its very stronghold.
    Last months, despising the immense traction of Office launch, in fact it was below HALF of the death bar!
    Even more worrying, is the fact Windows 8 aims to a wider market, so it would need to grow even faster to keep up with competitors.

    Face the numbers of the disaster, Ballmer, Windows 8 is far below the death bar while being 1) actively promoted by the largest MS advertising campaign so far 2) being sold to a wider market than any of its predecessors 3) notwithstanding the costly launch of dedicated hardware and port to ARM world 4) notwithstanding 30% of your user base is on XP, good but 12 years old.

    The latter part is especially worth of attention: 6.x kernel improved security and stability of NT.x kernel, but not dramatically; 7 and 8 improvements made the kernel quite a good performer, but the system is still huge and on low end hardware hardly matches XP, and on high end hardware it is more efficient, but again not in a dramatic way.
    OK, XP was released in 2001, 8 in 2012, it contains 11 years of development from one of the biggest software house in the world.
    Now compare what can you do on XP and 8, and compare what you can do with XP and a system 11 years older than XP, Windows 3.0.
    And after that let's talk about MS' missed decade.
  • 2 Hide
    ubercake , March 13, 2013 8:08 AM
    Quote:
    i think it would help people understand windows 8 better if they thought of the metro interface as a big start button screen.

    That's true, but one you have to scroll through with no branching.

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