This week during Computex 2013 in Taipei, Microsoft gave a demonstration of Windows 8.1 that briefly revealed the returning Start button. Unfortunately, it's not the one we've come to know, love and depend on since Windows 95, but rather serves as a quick hop to the Start screen for mouse-based customers. The IDG News service caught the whole thing on video which coincidentally shows how the updated platform can be manipulated with the traditional mouse and keyboard setup. Finally.
As we've already seen this week, Windows 8.1 adds two new tiles sizes, one of which allows the user to view a string of information within one box like weather details or the last several emails received. Users can also swipe up from the Start (AKA Home) screen to reveal an app drawer where all apps installed are listed instead of dumping them on the Start screen by default. This way, users can add whatever they want.
Although this app drawer was loaded up using a finger, the demo also showed how it can be pulled up using a mouse. Once the peripheral is moved on the Start screen, a "down" arrow appears near the bottom-left of the screen. Click on that, and the All Apps screen jumps up from the bottom featuring a similar "up" arrow in the same location. Click on that, and the screen tucks back into the bottom.
Later on in the video, which is just 1:44 long, the Start button shows up in its familiar seat located on the left side of the taskbar in desktop mode. The Microsoft rep said that with Windows 8, there seemed to be a separation between the desktop and the Start screen: two worlds on one device. The company has fixed this by allowing the desktop wallpaper to appear behind the tiles on the Start screen as well.
To demonstrate the new unity between desktop and Start screen, he set the wallpaper to be the same on both. He then clicked the Start button, and magically Windows 8 became one OS once again. Just in appearance, it looks as if the tiles are turned off and the taskbar turned on in one click, and the tiles turned on and the taskbar turned off in the next click. Rinse and repeat. The only items that stay the same is the wallpaper, and the Start button.
Take a look at the example below. While the Start button doesn't return the Start menu to its rightful place, Windows 8.1 looks to be a step in the right direction. The preview version of the update arrives later this month on June 26 during Microsoft's BUILD 2013 conference.