IDC: Lack of Start Button Deflates Windows 8 Interest

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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    I think I'd be PO'd again if I bought the 3rd party "fixes" only to have MS add them.
  • antilycus
    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.
  • tadej petric
    Not getting 8. If I can live normaly without ever having vista than its same thing with 8. Worst windows to date
  • benji720
    Or they can use Classic Shell which does the same thing and saves you $5.
  • tokencode
    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.
  • visa
    tadej petricNot getting 8. If I can live normaly without ever having vista than its same thing with 8. Worst windows to dateI 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.
  • anxiousinfusion
    "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.
  • ubercake
    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.
  • sot010174
    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.


  • sot010174
    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.