Neowin: Stardock's CEO gives an update on Start8

By on July 4, 2012, 11:31 AM

Windows 8's Metro interface lacks the traditional Start button and menu we have seen in the past several Windows operating systems. A lot of people felt it was a mistake for Microsoft to abandon this setup. Among them was Stardock CEO Brad Wardell. In March, Stardock released Start8, a free app for Windows 8 that added a version of the Start button and menu to the Metro UI.

There hasn't been an update for Start8 since March but in a new interview, Wardell tells Neowin to expect a small update later in July, along with a major new version coming for the launch of Windows 8 this fall. He also gives an interesting response when asked about Microsoft's recent statement on why they decided to get rid of the Start button, along with other topics.

First, can you tell us about how many downloads of Start8 have you had since you released the first version?

The interest in the betas of Start8 has been phenomenal. I think it demonstrates that a lot of people -- and I'd argue most people -- expect their Windows desktop to have a concise and effective way to get to their stuff. The Start button and its corresponding menu is the result of decades of refinement in usability. The removal of it in Windows 8 is baffling to me. Normally, user experience shifts occur to due underlying technological changes. DOS to Windows, for example, occurred because the underlying technology allowed us to transition to an environment that was both easier to use and more productive. By contrast, the Windows 8 desktop is clearly a step back -- they removed functionality in an effort to appeal to a different demographic -- content consumers.

A Microsoft rep recently said they decided to do away with the Start button for Windows 8 due to Windows 7 users not using the button any more in favor of pinning applications to the task bar. Do you feel this is a good enough explanation for their reasoning?

My answer to that is: Shenanigans.

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This article is brought to you in partnership with Neowin.




User Comments: 23

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ikesmasher said:

Hey look, something that will make windows 8 usable.

Even though I doubt an external app is as fast as it being built into windows, no matter how lightweight it is.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Before they made games, Stardock pretty much sold Windows UI enhancements.

They're one of the reasons that (as long as Windows is not locked down) I'm not too worried about how I'll use Windows because someone will come up with something that is usable, and probably better than MS.

gamoniac said:

...I doubt an external app is as fast as it being built into windows, no matter how lightweight it is.

Incorrect. No such thing as "built into Windows". A software's efficiency depends on many factors from how it comunicates with the OS (library, API, etc.), how it is designed and coded, among others.

ragreeen2646 said:

I use classic shell. The latest (3.5.1) allows me to go directly to desktop. I hope it works in the final release of WIN8.

ikesmasher said:

...I doubt an external app is as fast as it being built into windows, no matter how lightweight it is.

Incorrect. No such thing as "built into Windows". A software's efficiency depends on many factors from how it comunicates with the OS (library, API, etc.), how it is designed and coded, among others.

Do you think MS would let other software developers access libraries it uses to help keep the GUI running fast?

Guest said:

You realize Microsoft said that users do not use the start button as much as before? They didn't they they stopped using it altogether. Sheesh.

Apart from that, I'd say there is nothing wrong with the start menu in Win8 as it is, except for desktop apps. If you just search for them, then it is fine. But for accessing desktop apps by navigating to them, it's useless.

Nevertheless, I just can't find a good reason to just shrink the metro start menu to some little blob in the corner. That's just ridiculous.

Lionvibez said:

I really hope start8 continues refining this and polishing it. Win 8 in its current form is unusable for power user and people that have been using windows machines for the last 20 years. They should release a separate OS for tablets and noobs.

Guest said:

I always use the start menu for the search box, but in windows 8 it seems to cumbersome and "out of the way" to access the search box quickly. The start menu is also nice for anything I don't want to put on the taskbar. Say for example the software for my sound card; its icon looks really ugly so I like to keep it in the start menu.

Guest said:

I keep getting surprised by the people who suggest that Win 8 is unusable by long Windows users or power users. If the person is a power user then they would have installed it and used it and learnt in less than an hour that the start screen is nothing but a full screen start menu. Other than that, there is absolutely nothing that is different. It is faster and more light weight that Windows 7. Most of the Windows tools have been improved by providing more info, better presentation, better control etc. I am a power user and use Windows 8 for my day to day development activities in an corporate environment in a multi-monitor setup (3 monitors). I don't even see the "Metro" UI. Other than the new look for the start menu/screen, there is nothing to cause someone to spread FUD. Sorry, but hearing extremist statements from supposedly power users, let alone regular users, is just dishonest.

Lurker101 said:

It's all 6 and two 3s to me. I'm still not touching Win8.

gamoniac said:

Do you think MS would let other software developers access libraries it uses to help keep the GUI running fast?

Yes. Apple, Google, Linux, OS/2, and all other operating system designers would abosolutely do the same. None would have survived this long if they had held back performance secret from the developer community upon whom their very existence depends.

Coodu Coodu said:

Good to see Stardock still putting out some decent UI upgrades, this will be a must for me with Win8.

ikesmasher said:

Yes. Apple, Google, Linux, OS/2, and all other operating system designers would abosolutely do the same. None would have survived this long if they had held back performance secret from the developer community upon whom their very existence depends.

Apple DOESNT do the same. I dont know about anyone else.

Apple doesnt allow other browsers to use certain libraries it uses for page rendering in iOS.

I know its a MOBILE os, but they dont want people to take from their part of the market.

Roy Mepham said:

I can understand that changes to something familiar can be frustrating, but usually there is something good in learning a new system.

Try using the keyboard shortcut (Windows key+Q) it's quicker than moving the mouse to the Start button anyway!

ikesmasher said:

Thats not what I care about, its the start menu itself. although theres no reason not to add a start button.

Teko03 said:

Here's an idea....LEARN THE NEW NAVIGATION FEATURES. Sure you'll be lost as crap at first, but take the time to learn it. I personally have run Windows 8 RP as my primary OS on my laptop (2nd partition from my Windows 7 install) and I honestly navigate through the OS with ease now. No need for a start button.

Lionvibez said:

I keep getting surprised by the people who suggest that Win 8 is unusable by long Windows users or power users. If the person is a power user then they would have installed it and used it and learnt in less than an hour that the start screen is nothing but a full screen start menu. Other than that, there is absolutely nothing that is different. It is faster and more light weight that Windows 7. Most of the Windows tools have been improved by providing more info, better presentation, better control etc. I am a power user and use Windows 8 for my day to day development activities in an corporate environment in a multi-monitor setup (3 monitors). I don't even see the "Metro" UI. Other than the new look for the start menu/screen, there is nothing to cause someone to spread FUD. Sorry, but hearing extremist statements from supposedly power users, let alone regular users, is just dishonest.

That's great for you!

I run it on a spare drive at home and I still won't touch it. It has nothing to do with being dishonest. There are tons of people complaining about it I'm not alone, according to you thousands of us are speading fud ok!.

I'm sticking to windows 7 and will see what windows 9 has to offer.

Teko03 said:

I keep getting surprised by the people who suggest that Win 8 is unusable by long Windows users or power users. If the person is a power user then they would have installed it and used it and learnt in less than an hour that the start screen is nothing but a full screen start menu. Other than that, there is absolutely nothing that is different. It is faster and more light weight that Windows 7. Most of the Windows tools have been improved by providing more info, better presentation, better control etc. I am a power user and use Windows 8 for my day to day development activities in an corporate environment in a multi-monitor setup (3 monitors). I don't even see the "Metro" UI. Other than the new look for the start menu/screen, there is nothing to cause someone to spread FUD. Sorry, but hearing extremist statements from supposedly power users, let alone regular users, is just dishonest.

That's great for you!

I run it on a spare drive at home and I still won't touch it. It has nothing to do with being dishonest. There are tons of people complaining about it I'm not alone, according to you thousands of us are speading fud ok!.

I'm sticking to windows 7 and will see what windows 9 has to offer.

Are you guys expecting Windows 9 to lose the Metro Start Screen? LOL. We know it's not just you...people are afraid of change, and the change isn't even that big of a deal. It's just a full screen start menu with new navigational features....use it for 2-3 weeks and you'll have the hang of it...it doesn't slow down productivity at all. I'm sure MS has discovered the same with internal testing & user feedback.

Guest said:

The more I use the Release Preview of Win8 the more I like it. Initially I thought I would hate it but when I took the time to actually learn it, I found that its actually faster and easier to do many things I do all the time. Now that's not to say that I will not miss the start button in some cases but I can tell you that I will not miss it enough to install a Stardock app to fix it. This is not a dump on Stardock (I have purchased and enjoyed many of their games) but their "Windows Enhancement" apps have always been crap and caused more problems then they solved. For anyone installing Win8 previews, do yourselves a favor and take the time to learn it and I think you will see the potential it has, I know I have...

Lionvibez said:

Are you guys expecting Windows 9 to lose the Metro Start Screen? LOL. We know it's not just you...people are afraid of change, and the change isn't even that big of a deal. It's just a full screen start menu with new navigational features....use it for 2-3 weeks and you'll have the hang of it...it doesn't slow down productivity at all. I'm sure MS has discovered the same with internal testing & user feedback.

I've been using it for more than 2 to 3 weeks and I still don't like it. 20 more clicks to do the same task in windows 7. I don't need a full screen start menu I'm not blind or have weak eye site. I'm not going to create shortcut just to shut down the machine. I'm not going to change the way I work just because microsoft decides they want to complete with apple. And it slows down MY PRODUCTIVITY! If it doesn't for what you do on a computer that is great for you. The only favor I will be doing myself is sticking to windows 7 for now. I play with linux and OSX from time to time and won't have a problem jumping ship.

Teko03 said:

I've been using it for more than 2 to 3 weeks and I still don't like it. 20 more clicks to do the same task in windows 7. I don't need a full screen start menu I'm not blind or have weak eye site. I'm not going to create shortcut just to shut down the machine. I'm not going to change the way I work just because microsoft decides they want to complete with apple. And it slows down MY PRODUCTIVITY! If it doesn't for what you do on a computer that is great for you. The only favor I will be doing myself is sticking to windows 7 for now. I play with linux and OSX from time to time and won't have a problem jumping ship.

It doesn't take any extra clicks, a lot of things take fewer! And you don't need a shortcut to shut the machine down....certain tasks are simply done differently now. Amazing how you've failed to discover this since you've been using it for "more than 2-3 weeks".

Zoltan Head said:

I agree, Lionvibez - I too have tried it, utterly unimpressed, jumping ship an option for me too - quite happy & (more) productive on Win7/XP/Fedora/OpenSuse & others. Intelligent people aren't AFRAID of change, they just don't adopt it for reasons of fad or fashion!

Lionvibez said:

It doesn't take any extra clicks, a lot of things take fewer! And you don't need a shortcut to shut the machine down....certain tasks are simply done differently now. Amazing how you've failed to discover this since you've been using it for "more than 2-3 weeks".

I do all of the same in windows 7 and its less work why the **** do I want to upgrade for?

I agree, Lionvibez - I too have tried it, utterly unimpressed, jumping ship an option for me too - quite happy & (more) productive on Win7/XP/Fedora/OpenSuse & others. Intelligent people aren't AFRAID of change, they just don't adopt it for reasons of fad or fashion!

Agreed brother!

Metro is a fashion OS for young dumb hippers and this old man likes to get work done not stare at tiles!

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