Microsoft employee explains decision to scrap the Start button

By on June 28, 2012, 10:30 AM

One of the biggest gripes that longtime Windows users have with the upcoming OS release is Microsoft's decision to pull the classic Start menu to make way for a new Metro start screen. Many have called out the company for forcing what they claim is a touch-friendly interface optimized for tablets on desktop users, worried that productivity might suffer as a result.

But Microsoft believes the Start button had actually fallen out of favor with users of Windows 7 already and that presented the opportunity to do something new.

Speaking to PC Pro, Chaitanya Sareen, principal program manager at Microsoft, explained that telemetry data was a big part of the decision. Apparently Start menu usage was dropping as more people favored pinning their most used applications on the Windows 7 taskbar.

“We saw the Start menu usage dramatically dropping, and that gave us an option. We’re saying, ‘look, Start menu usage is dropping, what can we do about it? What can we do with the Start menu to revive it, to give it some new identity, give it some new power?’”

"So I’m a desktop user, I pin the browser, Explorer, whatever my apps are. I don’t go the Start menu as often. If you’re going to the Start screen now, we’re going to unlock a whole new set of scenarios, or you can choose not to go there, stay in the desktop, and it’s still fast."

Sareen also dismissed criticism that the Metro interface is better suited for touchscreen devices, highlighting the option to search for applications simply by starting to type its name on the Metro Start screen using a keyboard, and mentioning how laptops should get updated touchpad drivers to improve gesture controls.




User Comments: 72

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Guest said:

Whoa so let me get this straight they say a drop in usage... so that means they are secretly gathering information about us and all without us knowing.... that's what it sounds like I mean how else can they find out a drop in usage lol

Guest said:

Of course he will say how great win8 is....he would get fired if he didnt...

After playing with win8 for awhile.....its not very 'desktop friendly'

I will stay with win7......and so will most companies..

abysal abysal said:

"highlighting the option to search for applications simply by starting to type its name"; This function was also provided by the start menu.

They replaced the start menu which did not hinder your multitasking with a start screen that blocks your entire screen preventing you from multitasking. Any one that argues you can't multitask because your eyes can only focus on one thing, needs to step away from the computer and go play with some wooden blocks.

treeski treeski said:

Whoa so let me get this straight they say a drop in usage... so that means they are secretly gathering information about us and all without us knowing.... that's what it sounds like I mean how else can they find out a drop in usage lol

Surveys

MilwaukeeMike said:

^Guest, they probably used surveys.

They do realize that we only can pin the stuff to the task bar after we open from the Start menu, right?

Win7 is run on TONS of business PCs being used by semi-PCliterate users who don't even use keyboard shortcuts. Good luck getting these businesses to upgrade to Win 9 (they'll skip Win8 anyway, since 7 is so good) without a start button. I'd put money on it, that there will be a version of windows in the future with a start button. Maybe Win9 business version, but it'll be there.

Guest said:

I don't want to type on the keyboard to find my application....too much of a hassle...

'point and click' is still the easiest way ....

Guest said:

They are not "secretly gathering" information. Have a look at this website: [link]

It's called the Microsoft Customer Experience Improvement Program.

spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

They gather data like that from the Customer Experience Improvement Program built into it.

And my taskbar is full of open software, not pinned websites. Microsoft is making a big mistake by removing Start. I have already mentioned this change to some of the CEOs I work for and their response was, "so we're sticking with windows 7?".

captainawesome captainawesome said:

I said it before, I say it again. Windows 8 will be about as well received [on desktops] as Win Vista was in 2007

Guest said:

An I-d-I-o-t-I-c decision. Typical Microsoft. Instead of asking users what they want Microsoft TELLS users what they want.

MrBungle said:

The stupidity of a full screen programs browing/launching screen that cannot be scaled down is going to be on parade as soon as people realize that everything that makes Windows familliar is moved and they can't have a browser open in a window AND use it to guide them through the menu at the same time.

Ranger1st Ranger1st said:

We should all thank MS for being so self involved and self important; more developers are going to move and have stated a move to Linux in the upcoming year. I'll stick with Win 7 till Linux has had more GUI development and 3rd party SW development, then I'll switch.

So thanks MS for your epic arrogance in trying to feed us crap and call it apple pie.. A great many of us are not quite so stupid as to believe it.

spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

All you hear from Bill Gates these days is how he wants population reduction through vaccines and gene modified food. He gets all excited about how plant and human dna is interchangable. Why? Because Bill Gates knows what is best for you. From your use of the taskbar to consumption of food, to medical and even if you should live at all. The guy is psychotic, so dont rationalize stupidity like removing start menu.. next they'll be coming for your nads.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I honestly can't understand why they can't just keep it. Who cares if nobody uses it?

Even if you have to go into 'advanced mode' to enable it, it would make those people who like it happy, and the computer illiterate people would never know and would not want to worry about it.

Sigh.

Guest said:

I have been using Win 8 sexclusively since the Consumer Preview. Everybody complains that the start button is gone; however they have an option to bring it back, so you never have to leave the desktop if you don't want. There is also a way to default the startup to the Desktop application so system admins of businesses just need to set that up and most people will be completely unphased by the switch to Win 8 from their point of view but will have some performance boosts.

stewi0001 stewi0001 said:

I still use START

Guest said:

Anyone remember the joke about having to push the start button to shut down?

Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

"highlighting the option to search for applications simply by starting to type its name"; This function was also provided by the start menu.

They replaced the start menu which did not hinder your multitasking with a start screen that blocks your entire screen preventing you from multitasking. Any one that argues you can't multitask because your eyes can only focus on one thing, needs to step away from the computer and go play with some wooden blocks.

I'm not necessarily for or against Metro (I guess I lean more toward the former because I don't use the Start menu and I think Metro is a valid implementation for touch devices), but saying it hinders multitasking hasn't been my experience.

The Start menu provides a pretty one-dimensional, partially redundant functionality. You can open it and search for programs by typing or access one of the immediate shortcuts that are likely on your taskbar anyway -- at least that's the case for me.

Metro requires the same amount of actions to access and search for programs, so that functionality is unchanged. However, you can configure the Metro screen to host live tiles that are relevant to you. Not only does this provide one-click access to a screen of information you care about (at least in theory), it can quickly supply this information in passing. What I mean is, you open Metro to access your email or search for a program and you're instantly updated on a dozen other things without doing anything extra.

That doesn't sound like it's hindering multitasking. What's more, if you're truly concerned about productivity, you likely have multiple displays that will remain visible while Metro is open. All of my communication-oriented applications are on a secondary display (Steam, Pidgin, Post Box etc.) so it's not like Metro prevents me from seeing a new message. I don't think this would be the case even with a single display, because you're only accessing Metro very briefly on a desktop, not using it as your primary interface.

Guest said:

I can't stand desktop icons or filling my taskbar with pinned apps. Almost all my main programs are in my start menu and only 5 programs pinned to the taskbar, including my recycle bin which I moved to the far right just before my system tray icons.

MS is full of it. they got rid of it because they want us to like Metro. But since MS has come public with why they removed it, I hope the comments they read influence them to return it to its rightful place.

Guest said:

The fact that Windows 8 has two "desktops" (Metro and standard desktop) is fail enough.

yRaz yRaz said:

My thoughts on metro and the lack of a start button are starting to change as we get closer to launch. You can get keyboards for tablets to make the almost a laptop. With metro I see Microsoft making laptops the double as tablets. That is a game changer. I don't like using a trackpad on my laptop too much so the idea of just being able to touch the screen(if I so choose) is appealing to me. Especially if Windows 8 laptops are much like Microsofts's surface. At this point I'm content to wait until this goes mainstream to make up my mind about Windows 8 and metro.

h4expo said:

I honestly can't understand why they can't just keep it. Who cares if nobody uses it?

Even if you have to go into 'advanced mode' to enable it, it would make those people who like it happy, and the computer illiterate people would never know and would not want to worry about it.

Sigh.

Its common methodology for corporations theses days, to replace creativity with a "reinvent-the-wheel" mindset. Who ever can give the appearance of progressive dominance, weather it is empty or not, clearly thinks they deserve your attention. If not your money. This way they never have to provide real innovations all the while continuing a steady stream of income.

Guest said:

I use the Start button allot !! I will start a riot if there is no way I can use it in Win 8. It make supporting MS products easier if you don't have internet and have to guide someone to fix something

I will hire myself a programmer to make me one !!

maybe even create a FB page to support the cause!( I dont have a fb account)

etempest etempest said:

You do realize Bill Gates is retired, and the Windows 8 changes are part of Ballmar and co, not Gates.

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

If this is true, it's really the stupidest reasoning ever. Instead of looking at what users switched to (the task bar) and building it further, they decided to revamp the old feature. What next? "Clippy isn't used as much as it used to; we must create a new, better Clippy."

danhodge danhodge said:

Microsoft have just said they think tablets will overtake desktop PC's next year - and they are attempting to be at the front of that (alongside Apple of course). This quote is merely their attempt to keep their PC market intact too.

Teko03 said:

Windows 8 will be fine, it's just another learning curve (just like Office 2007-2010 & Vista - Windows 7), shocker at first but you'll grow to love it. Windows 9 will most likely be the same basic OS as Windows 8, but MS will continue to collect user experience data and improve. I'll be buying Windows 8 for at least one of my systems (Productivity Desktop, Laptop or HTPC --- leaning towards the HTPC)

Guest said:

More people are pinning programs to the task bar and their solution is to make the start menu cover the entire screen... uhm WHAT!? The telemetry data clearly shows that users want less intrusive screens popping up since they are avoiding a small menu in favour of a thin taskbar.

To me it looks like they wanted to merge mobile and desktop operating systems and went out to look for justification.

ikesmasher said:

It would just make me happy if they gave a scale button for metro...stay at my desktop and have metro take up a quarter of the screen.

lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

"highlighting the option to search for applications simply by starting to type its name"; This function was also provided by the start menu.

They replaced the start menu which did not hinder your multitasking with a start screen that blocks your entire screen preventing you from multitasking. Any one that argues you can't multitask because your eyes can only focus on one thing, needs to step away from the computer and go play with some wooden blocks.

I'm not necessarily for or against Metro (I guess I lean more toward the former because I don't use the Start menu and I think Metro is a valid implementation for touch devices), but saying it hinders multitasking hasn't been my experience.

The Start menu provides a pretty one-dimensional, partially redundant functionality. You can open it and search for programs by typing or access one of the immediate shortcuts that are likely on your taskbar anyway -- at least that's the case for me.

Metro requires the same amount of actions to access and search for programs, so that functionality is unchanged. However, you can configure the Metro screen to host live tiles that are relevant to you. Not only does this provide one-click access to a screen of information you care about (at least in theory), it can quickly supply this information in passing. What I mean is, you open Metro to access your email or search for a program and you're instantly updated on a dozen other things without doing anything extra.

That doesn't sound like it's hindering multitasking. What's more, if you're truly concerned about productivity, you likely have multiple displays that will remain visible while Metro is open. All of my communication-oriented applications are on a secondary display (Steam, Pidgin, Post Box etc.) so it's not like Metro prevents me from seeing a new message. I don't think this would be the case even with a single display, because you're only accessing Metro very briefly on a desktop, not using it as your primary interface.

I wholeheartedly agree with this. There is definitely a learning curve though, and I understand the skepticism from people, but after getting used to it, it really is equal and/or superior to the Start button.

Which is funny, too, because the Start Screen fiasco has done nothing but detract focus from the real issue with Windows 8: mouse and keyboard navigation for multitasking.

Guest said:

So according to MS's logic, the power button is not used as much anymore as more ppl are using sleep mode or hibernate. That leaves MS with the decision to scrap the option to turn the power off and replace that option with a full screen mode window that lets you buy an application to hibernate or place the PC into sleep mode.

Oh and because the applications are purchasable via the funky full screen window they are naturally better, because as a "Mobile device user" you need to empower yourself by buying everyday functionality that other Operating systems support out of the box.

This way fan boys can endow them self with slobbering salivating satisfaction that only they have this unique functionality because keeping up with the Jone's mentality is rampant with this crowd.

The iSheep and other lemmings from mobile devices are coming to a Windows near you, beware!

treetops treetops said:

why not keep the start button? its a handy time tested interface for your applications, the start button is a small part of your screen I would rather have it then any icon that would fill its tiny space

sapo joe said:

I use the Start menu all the time, when I have maximized windows and so... The big problem is, they could just leave the option to use the old style start, no having to scrap it completely. I have a good computer, but there are things I don't use, like Aero. (I downloaded a darker basic theme and am using it, because Aero steals performance from my games).

The idea of customizable OS is dying with this Windows 8. The good part is Windows 7 is still great, and I can stick with it for years to come, just like some people are still using XP (another great OS) or even Vista.

amwdrizz amwdrizz said:

I am meh over the start menu. I've long stopped using it as my main stay go to for program management. Honestly, I don't even use the taskbar at all. In fact I had to get two programs just to get rid of taskbar and start orb (both are persistent!).

For the past 6months I've switched over to a very minimalistic interface using RainMeter and RocketDock. I've become more productive due to it, I may upgrade to Windows 8 but I know that these customizations will be the second thing to go in. And the removal of metro anything will be the first thing done.

If Microsoft looked at my usage for the past 6 months they would see "Accessed Start menu 1-2 times per month, Accessed Taskbar not even once a month." I don't even point and click for when I do access the start menu, far simpler to hit WinKey since my hands are already on the keyboard.

And for clarification, yes it took me all of 2 hours to get used to this new setup. Much more spacious, also I've come to the point of despising desktop icons so those are gone as well. In addition, for those of you curious on what it looks like you can see for your self at dl.dropbox.com/u/17772947/screencaps/Desktop_ScreenShots/des
top_5-23.jpg

ig-88 said:

I don't want to type on the keyboard to find my application....too much of a hassle...

'point and click' is still the easiest way ....

I understand your frustration my child. It probably hurts your brain too much to try and figure out the complicated start menu. That's why Apple made this thing called an iPad for you. Go buy one and free yourself from the mental anguish that is 'Windows 7'. God Bless you my child!

ig-88 said:

I am meh over the start menu. I've long stopped using it as my main stay go to for program management. Honestly, I don't even use the taskbar at all. In fact I had to get two programs just to get rid of taskbar and start orb (both are persistent!).

For the past 6months I've switched over to a very minimalistic interface using RainMeter and RocketDock. I've become more productive due to it, I may upgrade to Windows 8 but I know that these customizations will be the second thing to go in. And the removal of metro anything will be the first thing done.

If Microsoft looked at my usage for the past 6 months they would see "Accessed Start menu 1-2 times per month, Accessed Taskbar not even once a month." I don't even point and click for when I do access the start menu, far simpler to hit WinKey since my hands are already on the keyboard.

And for clarification, yes it took me all of 2 hours to get used to this new setup. Much more spacious, also I've come to the point of despising desktop icons so those are gone as well. In addition, for those of you curious on what it looks like you can see for your self at dl.dropbox.com/u/17772947/screencaps/Desktop_ScreenShots/des
top_5-23.jpg

Your a perfect candidate for a tablet. Sell your desktop and go buy an iPad and you can live happily ever after.

Upio said:

Can't believe they nerfed the start button! ******* Blizzard ...

Technochicken Technochicken, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I use the start button all the time. I've never liked pinning things to the task bar, because I like it to have as much available space as possible, so it's less cluttered when I have a lot running.

learninmypc learninmypc said:

IF all people want to do is complain about Microsoft, don't forget you can go to another OS.

I'm grateful to just have a pc. I personally started with ME & then XP home & Pro & now XP MCE. ALL 2nd hand

from a trusted friend who started with a home built 95 which I did use.

ebriatic ebriatic said:

No, people not using Start menu, it's just me, right?

http://I.imgur.com/Q2eEm.png

Guest said:

... M$ doesn't ask users what they want, they tell users what they need ...

Who do they think they are? Apple?

BuddyThirteen BuddyThirteen said:

Whoa so let me get this straight they say a drop in usage... so that means they are secretly gathering information about us and all without us knowing.... that's what it sounds like I mean how else can they find out a drop in usage lol

It'd not "secret" at all, doofus. It tells you on the very first day you use Windows, and you can say yes or no. If you said yes, then it's not a secret. If you said no, then usage data wasn't sent. And "lol" isn't a period.

1 person liked this |
Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

...You guys do realize you can still pin programs to the Metro screen, right? Besides the live tiles, you can place shortcuts to whatever applications you want. Functionality speaking, that hasn't really changed at all: you press one button to get to Metro (just as you would for Start), you click a shortcut and the application launches (Windows switches to the desktop interface automatically). I feel like some kind of Metro apologist here, but many people aren't seeing this rationally.

Frankly, I think there are far more valid complaints about the Charms bar, which doesn't open precisely with a mouse (though I hear this is being improved) and doesn't show me anything worthwhile. I can already see the damn time, I can access Metro faster going directly there, while the Devices and Settings sections seem equally pointless (changing power states is easier with ALT+F4 or an AHK script and I'd never go through Charms to reach things like the Control Panel).

dennis777 dennis777 said:

no start button.. its like apple not making a right click button on mouse...

how about the wallpaper? I dont want to see big square icons all the time. T_T

readypembroke readypembroke said:

Everyone would go crazy and angry at Microsoft if they disabled the Windows Start button and the good GUI that we have right now. I am just happy how Windows 7 is. They don't need to make a new OS, they can just do a patch or two. I totally like XP over 7 but 7 gets more upgrades.

GunsAblazin said:

This new start screen is just a touch screen OS on top of the real OS. The geniuses (******) at Microsoft did it again. They should have just made it separately for tablets.

amwdrizz amwdrizz said:

Your a perfect candidate for a tablet. Sell your desktop and go buy an iPad and you can live happily ever after. :)

Too bad you can't code on a tablet with ease, or switch between multiple VMs. Or have more than one monitor that doesn't require hacks.

My desktop is obscured most of the time as it is, I felt it was time to just do away with the items on the desktop and in areas I don't use. RocketDock handles running programs and programs I use constantly, and Rainmeter for the most part is just ascetics.

As soon as they build a tablet that can match my desktop in terms of raw power and capability I'll consider it. But for now, I'd rather keep my desktop.

DanUK DanUK said:

"highlighting the option to search for applications simply by starting to type its name"; This function was also provided by the start menu.

They replaced the start menu which did not hinder your multitasking with a start screen that blocks your entire screen preventing you from multitasking. Any one that argues you can't multitask because your eyes can only focus on one thing, needs to step away from the computer and go play with some wooden blocks.

I'm not necessarily for or against Metro (I guess I lean more toward the former because I don't use the Start menu and I think Metro is a valid implementation for touch devices), but saying it hinders multitasking hasn't been my experience.

The Start menu provides a pretty one-dimensional, partially redundant functionality. You can open it and search for programs by typing or access one of the immediate shortcuts that are likely on your taskbar anyway -- at least that's the case for me.

Metro requires the same amount of actions to access and search for programs, so that functionality is unchanged. However, you can configure the Metro screen to host live tiles that are relevant to you. Not only does this provide one-click access to a screen of information you care about (at least in theory), it can quickly supply this information in passing. What I mean is, you open Metro to access your email or search for a program and you're instantly updated on a dozen other things without doing anything extra.

That doesn't sound like it's hindering multitasking. What's more, if you're truly concerned about productivity, you likely have multiple displays that will remain visible while Metro is open. All of my communication-oriented applications are on a secondary display (Steam, Pidgin, Post Box etc.) so it's not like Metro prevents me from seeing a new message. I don't think this would be the case even with a single display, because you're only accessing Metro very briefly on a desktop, not using it as your primary interface.

I haven't tried any of windows 8 at all yet, but well put to counter the criticism, I was getting a bit worried about another vista fiasco for a second there. I guess we don't know until release, but for me it will be nice to try something new and if I dont like it then I'll always still have my Win7 instal..

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I use the start button all the time. I've never liked pinning things to the task bar, because I like it to have as much available space as possible, so it's less cluttered when I have a lot running.

This is the same reason I also like the start button.

Not everybody likes minor programs that are frequently used to be on the taskbar, like the calculator for example. With proper configuring the start button can work magic for quick access to all those little things that get used often, and all the while keeping the taskbar from looking a complete mess with stuff.

Microsoft's reasoning is quite shallow from where I'm looking also; removing something because they 'think' it's not as used anymore just sounds like an bad excuse. I firmly believe Win 8's going to flop desktop wise for more reasons than just this start button fiasco.

Guest said:

JUST "UNFOLD" THE "START" BUTTON.

It's not so hard, and you end up learning a few things. Peek into your Program Data, App Data, Progams, Programs x64, MS Start Menu, System 32 folders. Copy files of interest into a folder on the desktop. Include files like "shutdown.exe"

Rename the folder so you can recognize it in case like most people you rarely use it. Something like "Start." Done.

Let me paraphrase a satirical expression my brother in law coined about parenting: "Why do I have to look through my own folders? It's not fair."

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