Microsoft experiments ahead of Windows 8's public beta, is the Start button going the way of the dodo?

By on February 5, 2012, 11:52 PM

As we draw closer to the Windows 8 public beta this month, we've come to learn many different details of what Microsoft is cooking behind the scenes in the new OS, which is expected to debut in final form by the end of this year.

The latest tidbit, it's being reported that in the most recent Windows 8 build leaked to the web, Microsoft has tweaked the traditional desktop mode by removing the signature Windows orb button from the taskbar.

Traditionally known as the Start button, this quick access menu debuted in Windows 95 and has remained a central piece of the operating system's user interface since. The button was stylized as an orb in Windows Vista and Windows 7, and on earlier builds of Windows 8 it'd been replaced by a plain looking square that went in line with some of the new UI elements and Metro interface language.

Functionality will remain however - or at least that's how it's working on the leaked build - but instead of clicking on a button you need to move your mouse over the bottom left corner of the screen and the Start menu will pop up. Who knows, maybe the change makes sense and it simply works best like this once you get used to it.

Nonetheless, it's evident the primary focus will be on the Start screen (Metro-based dashboard), leaving the traditional desktop view as a necessary leftover interface as most applications will be depending on it when the OS launches.

Other new and upgraded elements of Windows 8 that have been uncovered in the past few months include changes to Explorer, mobile broadband and WiFi connection interface enhancements, new refresh and reset options, a smoother setup experiencebuilt-in device synchronization, and more.




User Comments: 40

Got something to say? Post a comment
Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I don't know about others, but I rarely use the start button, mostly because I am used to organize shortcuts in folders placed on desktops, e.g. for applications 'Apps', for internet related software it is 'Net Utils' etc. etc. So I think if it is to go away, it won't bother me in any significant way. However, for a 'less savvy' user it could pose a problem.

Guest said:

Not a fan of Windows 8. But being a Windows 7 user, I use Start Killer to remove the start button. To open the start menu I tap the Windows Key.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

I don't know about others, but I rarely use the start button.

Likewise.

I tend to see the Start button as an MS logo. I've a tendency to use the Win+__ shortcuts as a general rule.

Guest said:

LOL, all these year to push the start button to be more central and now remove it!

Windows Vista and 7 both had a blank desktop with the recycling bin and a start button.

Now just the recycling bin! HAHAHA

Windows 8 sound nice and all, but most will probably skip this version like ME, Vista

Guest said:

Windows 95

Skip Windows 98

Windows 98 SE

Skip Windows ME

Windows XP

Skip Windows Vista

Windows 7

Skip Windows 8

Windows 9

Staff
Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

@Archean, I assume 'less savvy' users will be more comfortable on the Metro UI anyway.

@Guest, you reminded me how new PCs tend to ship with an empty desktop except for the recycle bin. What a horrible user experience that presents IMHO. Couldn't they figure out something more creative?

Guest said:

I use the Start Button all the time, but only to launch one of the dozen or so applications I have pinned to it, or the search field; never the "All Programs" menus. The Metro UI's default grid view should accommodate that kind of usage fine, or better in fact, so I'm not too concerned.

That said, I'll most likely give Windows 8 a miss, as I did with Vista, since it's such a major overhaul in some ways, then pickup a hopefully more refined Windows 9.

gcarter gcarter said:

Nowadays, tech companies... be it software or hardware companies, seem to be pandering towards the I quote Julio's comment "less savvy" users... giving us big chunky icons, and patronising the end user by making the interface as basic as possible, again to appeal to the n00bs!

I even had a rant on my own blog about laptop resolutions going a similar way, ie catering for the "I can't see properly" crowd!

[link]

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

@Julio

Can be true as well . I have always tried things first and only then made up my mind about liking or disliking it, so even in this case I am open to changes but MS must ensure that: a) they (changes) make sense, b) ease of use, c) people are allowed switch to older desktop in case they don't like Metro.

Sarcasm Sarcasm said:

I think we're hitting a wall when it comes to how much more refined they can make an OS. I think I might skip this one too.

Uvindu said:

Archean said:

@Julio

Can be true as well . I have always tried things first and only then made up my mind about liking or disliking it, so even in this case I am open to changes but MS must ensure that: a) they (changes) make sense, b) ease of use, c) people are allowed switch to older desktop in case they don't like Metro.

+1

I agree, Try it before you hate it...

madboyv1, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Personally, I use the start menu A LOT, but often in the form of the windows key. Even still, I find myself clicking it on a regular basis out of habit.

It might end up be an in house taskbar option, to enable or disable the start menu icon in the standard Desktop environment in the public beta or even RTM/final release. I wouldn't necessarily call it the end of the start menu (button) quite yet, just will have to see when the software finally ships. And even if they completely remove it, SOMEONE will create a UI tweak that will let users add it back to the taskbar. So... I wouldn't count on it being truly gone from Windows 8, or 9 for that matter.

Guest said:

I use the Start button in Win 7, mainly to start typing a search for a program or document. In Win 8 Dev Preview, clicking on the Start button brings up the Metro interface, which you can then just start typing to search. When the public beta/preview is released we'll see which direction Microsoft will go in.

mattfrompa mattfrompa said:

Personally I like change, especially simple ones. Even if there are programs/tasks that another OS would handle better, it seems to me like Windows 8 is conforming fairly well to its purpose.Is it perfect? No, and it never will be, but I'd be interested to know what percentage of critics have even installed Windows 8 let alone given it a full test, which isn't even possible since it's not finished.

Cota Cota said:

@Julio, Best quote ever.

Its kind of sad looking at how technology is numbing, maybe its time to go paranoid.

Guest said:

When does the offical Beta come out?

tehbanz tehbanz said:

From a PC technician i can see this being a bad thing, often times when helping people over the phone it's so easy to say "Press the start button". Now people will be like ... what?

Chazz said:

I like the change. Mostly because I keep my desktop as clean as possible. There are plenty of times where there is absolutely no icon on my desktop. I make use of the taskbar and the search feature that the start button/windows key brings. As well as the frequently used programs in the start menu.

I really hate seeing desktops clutter with like 40-50 icons.

tengeta tengeta said:

as long as i can hit the windows key and type a program name to launch, i'm fine with it. i don't need to see it, i just want the functionality. i personally haven't clicked the start button in years.

as for the metro interface, they are making the exact same ui mistake apple is. over-stylized garbage that yet again appeals only to mouse (and i guess nowadays touch) first users.

Guest said:

Due to this and other design choices, my view on 8 is simple. Don't like. Won't buy.

ikesmasher said:

if it werent for improved FX performace and xbox live integration, so far i would not consider windows 8.

Guest said:

i am already tired of gnome 3's hot corner and now windows is also making similar UI . what is next ?

Guest said:

I'll stick with Xubuntu.

PinothyJ said:

I use a floating command line that appears where my mouse is when I hit Win+V and then I use auto-correcting "magicwords" to launch my programs. It is so freeing to get to exactly where you want to go by typing Win+V+"fire" or Win+V+"ste" or Win+V+"off" followed by enter; save so much time.

I recommend it to all...

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

I have a pretty high-end PC, and even without my SSD the file indexing and search is very swift. So, I use Win + "key_word" to launch most of my programs.

For example: Win + not = notepad.

At least this functionality needs to stay. I'm not too worried about an icon appearing all the time.. But, the start menu separates us from the novice-ness of Mac OS.

Guest said:

I have yet to see any compelling reason to "upgrade" from Win 7.

Guest said:

...a system designed to be used by more stupids day by day, will finally become to be used by the stupids, only!

as microsofts cancelled XP for all next releases, they will even faster reach this!

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

It is astonishing to see how many of such creed has been creeping in TSF threads in recent times ............

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

@Archean

The power of the Guest account in action...Don't need registration or come up with a username if all you want to do is post inanities.

From a personal PoV, Windows 8 beta will be a free download...not exactly the hardest job in the world to run a dual (or more) boot with the OS('s) you're already running...strange that the trolls can find fault with a free trial...and unbelieveable the number of "Guests" who already know everything about Win8.

Guest said:

all companies should join forces and make windows 1000 then we may not need to upgrade ever!

AfricanTech said:

pinothyj said:

I use a floating command line that appears where my mouse is when I hit Win+V and then I use auto-correcting "magicwords" to launch my programs. It is so freeing to get to exactly where you want to go by typing Win+V+"fire" or Win+V+"ste" or Win+V+"off" followed by enter; save so much time.

I recommend it to all...

Launchy!

Guest said:

I use the start button a fair bit and as long as they keep the functionality thats OK but I realy dont see the point of removing the icon, as someone mentioned earlier it just confuses things, whats next hide the ie and wmp icons so you have to hover your mouse over certain blank points on the screen to activate them? seems silly IMO the start button deserves an icon just as any other app or folder does not to mention it helps define windows itself.

ikesmasher said:

all companies should join forces and make windows 1000 then we may not need to upgrade ever!

yea, but they dont make as much money.

Don't you think intel could come up with like a 4 NM processor if they tried? but then you skip sales.

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

I don't know about others, but I rarely use the start button, mostly because I am used to organize shortcuts in folders placed on desktops, e.g. for applications 'Apps', for internet related software it is 'Net Utils' etc. etc. So I think if it is to go away, it won't bother me in any significant way. However, for a 'less savvy' user it could pose a problem.

So instead of two clicks to get your program loaded (one for Start and one for your program) from being pinned to your start menu, you made it "easier" by having to click 4 times to get it loaded.

2 clicks to open folder, and 2 clicks to execute. *facepalm*

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

I use a floating command line that appears where my mouse is when I hit Win+V and then I use auto-correcting "magicwords" to launch my programs. It is so freeing to get to exactly where you want to go by typing Win+V+"fire" or Win+V+"ste" or Win+V+"off" followed by enter; save so much time.

I recommend it to all?

How is that better than using one hand on the mouse with less clicks/button presses? Let me answer that for you. It's not.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

There is an option called "Single Click to Open an Item" ..... now you do the click counting again.

PinothyJ said:

How is that better than using one hand on the mouse with less clicks/button presses? Let me answer that for you. It's not.

Because you type Win+V+"ste" a lot faster than anything you can do with the mouse. When you can type as fast as I can it makes a lot of sense.

Also, there is no need to be so snarky as you are only embarrassing yourself...

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

Because you type Win+V+"ste" a lot faster than anything you can do with the mouse. When you can type as fast as I can it makes a lot of sense.

Also, there is no need to be so snarky as you are only embarrassing yourself...

Not embarrassed at all. Your method isn't faster or more productive than single clicking on an icon (manually) pinned to start menu, or the desktop for that matter to load a program, especially if your method needs the use of two hands versus a method that only requires one finger on one hand, so try again.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Opening a pinned program to start menu takes two clicks, and yes using shortcuts take both hands but it is much faster for power users especially who have been using PCs since the days of DOS, e.g. I can type Win+R CMD faster than scrolling through start menu. People make choices which they feel suites them, so I don't see any substantive advantage in any one method for everyone TBH.

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

Opening a pinned program to start menu takes two clicks, and yes using shortcuts take both hands but it is much faster for power users especially who have been using PCs since the days of DOS, e.g. I can type Win+R CMD faster than scrolling through start menu. People make choices which they feel suites them, so I don't see any substantive advantage in any one method for everyone TBH.

Power users are the minority, hence the complaints.

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.