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Microsoft Confirms Start Button Returns in Windows 8.1

By - Source: Microsoft | B 69 comments

Antoine Leblond, Corporate Vice President of Windows Program Management, wrote a lengthy blog on Thursday that provides a "first look" at Windows 8.1 although we've seen plenty in reports stemming from leaked builds over the last several months. The OS update will deliver improvements and enhancements in key areas, he states, like personalization, search, the built-in apps, Windows Store experience, and cloud connectivity. It will also include "big bets" for business in areas such as management and security.

"We’re only a bit more than seven months into this new, bold approach to computing," he says. "The response to Windows 8 has been substantial— from new devices to strong app growth to key enhancements to the OS and apps. We’ve learned from customers in how they are using the product and have received a lot of feedback. We’ve delivered hundreds of updates to the product and to apps. We’re just getting started, and the potential ahead is tremendous."

The new update will allow users to turn their PC or tablet into a picture frame by making their Lock screen a slide show of pictures stored locally or in the cloud via SkyDrive. Users can also take pictures with the built-in camera right from the lock screen without having to log in.

As for the Start screen, Windows 8.1 will provide more colors, backgrounds, and motion-based wallpapers. Users can also assign their current desktop wallpaper to the Start screen as well, providing the user a sense of unity between the two interfaces. As previously reported, more tile sizes are on the way – large and small ones – so users can organize the Start screen exactly the way they want it.

"It’s also even easier to name groups and rearrange tiles," he says. "You can now select multiple apps all at once, resize them, uninstall them, or rearrange them. We also found people were accidentally moving tiles on their Start screen so in Windows 8.1, you press and hold (or right click) to move things around."

Windows 8.1 also brings the ability to view all apps by swiping from the bottom, and to filter apps by name, date installed, most used, or by category. New apps won't automatically appear on the Start screen either, but will instead be shoved into the "view all apps" mode and marked as "new".

He goes on to talk about the Search charm which will provide global search results powered by Bing, and improvements to the built-in apps such as the Photos app which will sport new editing features, and a completely redesigned Music app. Users will also be able to share the screen between two apps, or have up to three apps on each screen if multiple displays are connected. Users can even have different Windows Store apps running on all the displays at the same time while the Start Screen stays open on one monitor.

The blog also talks about an improved Windows Store, improved cloud connectivity, better mouse and keyboard options, the addition of Internet Explorer 11, and an updated PC Settings that grants access to all the device settings without having to dive into the platform's Control Panel. That's fine and dandy, but what about that missing Start button? That's making a return, but not in its original pre-Windows 8 form.

"We’ve improved the way you navigate to Start with the mouse by changing the Start 'tip' to be the familiar Windows logo," he said. "The new tip appears anytime you move the mouse to the bottom left corner of the screen, and is always visible on the taskbar when on the desktop. There are also options to change what the corners do, and options to boot into alternate screens. For example, if you prefer to see the Apps view versus all the tiles, you can choose to have the Start screen go directly to Apps view."

These are just some of the changes arriving with Windows 8.1. More will be revealed in additional blogs in the coming weeks.

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Top Comments
  • 34 Hide
    thor220 , May 31, 2013 9:39 AM
    To everyone here:
    Microsoft is bringing back the start button but NOT the start menu. Instead when you click on the start button it will bring up the metro interface. It's a sneaky move by microsoft to try and gather some support, it's quite disgusting.
    To all the windows 8 supporters:
    Windows 8 might be a decent OS but the company behind it is going in the wrong direction. If they can't even bring back the start button without a huge caveat, what faith should professionals have in microsoft to use their system for work? I can't believe that microsoft continues to spit in the face of the largest purchaser of their OS, business.
  • 30 Hide
    chicofehr , May 31, 2013 8:10 AM
    I love windows 7
  • 18 Hide
    gonziago , May 31, 2013 8:48 AM
    This if what I have been waiting for! The chance to turn me $1500 computer into a picture frame. Another win Microsoft.
Other Comments
    Display all 69 comments.
  • -5 Hide
    anxiousinfusion , May 31, 2013 8:05 AM
    Quote:
    The new update will allow users to turn their PC or tablet into a picture frame

    I always new this day was coming. Digital picture frames are as doomed as landline phones.
  • 2 Hide
    Azn Cracker , May 31, 2013 8:10 AM
    ^ not really. You really gonna spend $300 + for picture frame? Also you gotta keep it plugged in or the battery will die in a couple of hours
  • 30 Hide
    chicofehr , May 31, 2013 8:10 AM
    I love windows 7
  • 10 Hide
    drwho1 , May 31, 2013 8:21 AM
    I just want an OS FREE of Windows Store, "apps" and "tiles".
  • 5 Hide
    anxiousinfusion , May 31, 2013 8:47 AM
    Quote:
    ^ not really. You really gonna spend $300 + for picture frame? Also you gotta keep it plugged in or the battery will die in a couple of hours


    If you already have a desktop, you might as well double it as a picture frame when it's not in use. And there's no concern for battery life when it's plugged into an outlet. People have done so for years by using the "slideshow" option in screen savers.
  • 18 Hide
    gonziago , May 31, 2013 8:48 AM
    This if what I have been waiting for! The chance to turn me $1500 computer into a picture frame. Another win Microsoft.
  • 0 Hide
    mobrocket , May 31, 2013 9:03 AM
    Linux Mint as an operating system is better.
    If it didn't have to use office and stream had more linux games
    I would ditch Windows 8 happily
  • -2 Hide
    stevejnb , May 31, 2013 9:08 AM
    Excellent - this is an overdue change and something they easily could have and definitely should have included from day one.

    Quote:
    I just want an OS FREE of Windows Store, "apps" and "tiles".


    With the inclusion of the start menu, Metro existing really doesn't take away from regular desktop computing at all. That being said, when you want a full Windows machine in the form of a tablet, you more likely than not will quite appreciate being able to switch to Metro rather than using the non-touch friendly desktop UI. If Metro no longer impedes or encroaches on your desktop in any way, why would you want to get rid of another potentially very useful option?
  • -9 Hide
    velosteraptor , May 31, 2013 9:16 AM
    They finally bring back the start button, and everyone finds something else to complain about.
  • 15 Hide
    macpeteo , May 31, 2013 9:19 AM
    You have got to be kidding me, right?!! A multiBillion ollar company brags that its brand new OS:
    * turn their PC or tablet into a picture frame
    * Start screen, Windows 8.1 will provide more colors, backgrounds, and motion-based wallpapers
    * easier to name groups and rearrange tiles - for you METRO Lovers out there
    * Search charm
    * redesigned Music app - yes , we really need another one of those
    * Users can even have different Windows Store apps running on all the displays at the same time - more shopping joy!
    * There are also options to change what the corners do - I think Apple had that since OSX
    Now if that does not entice you to spend another $100 bucks with Microshit, I just don't know what will!
  • -4 Hide
    Azn Cracker , May 31, 2013 9:22 AM
    ^ not really. You really gonna spend $300 + for picture frame? Also you gotta keep it plugged in or the battery will die in a couple of hours
  • 34 Hide
    thor220 , May 31, 2013 9:39 AM
    To everyone here:
    Microsoft is bringing back the start button but NOT the start menu. Instead when you click on the start button it will bring up the metro interface. It's a sneaky move by microsoft to try and gather some support, it's quite disgusting.
    To all the windows 8 supporters:
    Windows 8 might be a decent OS but the company behind it is going in the wrong direction. If they can't even bring back the start button without a huge caveat, what faith should professionals have in microsoft to use their system for work? I can't believe that microsoft continues to spit in the face of the largest purchaser of their OS, business.
  • -3 Hide
    realibrad , May 31, 2013 9:42 AM
    Its funny how the main thing people say is....
    "Windows 8 sucks, I'm never going to get it or use it"
    If you have used it, and don't like it fine, but settle down if you have never used it.
    Also, if you thing a feature is pointless, then don't use it. Windows offers the most versatility of any OS. This has a lot to do with the market share they have, but Apple has no plans to make their OS as open as Windows. Linux is too disjointed for most casual users. I would rather MS do more with the power they have with the the market share they have, but so far, nobody seems to be able or willing to challenge them. There might be a reason why, and I really doubt its because MS is a monopoly, cause companies like google if they found a way to take that market, they would. Chrome might some day, but google seems content with letting MS have the fun for now.
  • 0 Hide
    eklipz330 , May 31, 2013 9:59 AM
    give me a discounted windows 8.1 with leap motion, and we have a deal.
  • 4 Hide
    SirGCal , May 31, 2013 10:03 AM
    Because we had Windows 7 almost perfect; we wanted to mess it all up and start from scratch all over again and prove we can talk ourselves out of any hole.

    That's what I see when I see Windows 8 advertisements anymore... From the administration side of things, it's too much of a headache. I'm not even talking about the start button, metro, etc. Honestly I'm surprised they're back-stepping on Metro at this point. Now if they add back in the other features they ripped out...

    But I do agree with the others out there... Like I'm going to make my $3500 rig a picture frame or added more music stuff I don't use or new IE crap I'll NEVER use (why use a W3C non-compliant browser, I'll never understand... Ironically, I posted a new video to youtube and a friend running IE on W8 couldn't see it... Go figure. )

    But why in the heck they have to turn windows into the app-store factory doesn't make any sense to... Oh wait... M$ greed... Android and Apple and even steam has an app-store, we want one too!!! We want to do data-mining now also on your PCs and sell that too! Never mind, figured it out for myself...
  • 12 Hide
    falcompsx , May 31, 2013 10:42 AM
    no classic start menu option and boot to desktop option, no care.
  • 13 Hide
    pocketdrummer , May 31, 2013 10:48 AM
    They just don't get it, do they?
    We want an OS that works well with a mouse and keyboard so we can get actual work done. The BUTTON itself doesn't matter. It's not a problem to use a hot-corner. The problem is that clicking the start "button" rips you from your workflow and wastes screen space in the sake of looking "modern". It offers no tangible benefits to anyone who uses their computer for work.
    The metro UI needs to be redesigned for PCs. Take a look at Start8 from stardock (hell, hire them to do it for you). They've already come out with solutions to problems that should have never made it to release.
    Also, figure out how to make things work WITHOUT swipe gestures. It has no place on a computer with a mouse. It's slow and its uncomfortably foreign in a desktop environment. This is something a user will learn to cope with, but never something that will feel right for the platform.
    It looks like Microsoft missed the mark... again.
    I guess we'll have to wait for 8.2 or 9 for a decent desktop environment.
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