Microsoft yields: boot to desktop, Start menu options in Windows 8.1?

By on April 16, 2013, 10:50 AM

Microsoft may be ready to address two of the most common complaints about Windows 8 with its upcoming “Blue” update. Specifically, The Verge cites sources familiar with the company’s plans who claim builds of Windows 8.1 are being tested with an option to skip the “Metro” start screen and boot directly to the traditional desktop. A separate report from ZDNet seconds this and also suggests that the Start menu might make a comeback.

Signs of a boot-to-desktop option were spotted a few days ago in a leaked build of Windows Blue. Apparently the option is disabled by default and there’s currently no toggle to enable it in the operating system’s settings panel. But the code is there. It’s possible Microsoft still hasn't decided on whether to implement this in the final Blue release, though ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley says her sources have confirmed “this is now looking like the plan.”

Whether Microsoft will bring back the Start button is even more uncertain. The Verge says the “hot corners” that bring up the modern-style Start menu and the Charms bar will remain intact if the boot to desktop option is enabled, but Foley says Microsoft is also considering bringing back the Start button as an option.

It’s worth noting that you can accomplish both behaviors -- boot to desktop and bringing back the start menu -- through some fairly simple workarounds or using third party software. But having the options baked into the Windows 8 UI through the system settings screen would make things much simpler for all users.

Microsoft has so far been reluctant of letting users skip the modern-style interface so easily, and defended its stance by saying users find the new interface easy to learn once they give it a chance.

While it's understandable that the company is trying to push a consistent user experience that spans across multiple Windows devices, those against ‘Metro’ claim the interface doesn’t really make sense for non-touch-screen machines. If the new options indeed make it to Windows 8.1 it will give everyone the option to make a gradual shift or just maintain the classic Windows feel... at least for a while longer.




User Comments: 41

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1 person liked this | lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

This is true. The decision was made mostly because of businesses refusing to upgrade. Not because of consumers.

It will be off by default, but the option will be there. As far as the Start Menu, I haven't heard anything about that. Of course you don't have to believe me, but I say this because I have an in-law who works for MS and I often ask him what they're cooking up. Unfortunately MS is so divided even some higher-ups have no idea what's going on.

2 people like this | Guest said:

Too bad Microsoft flip-flopped on their new OS.

They should get back to graphically orientated object and a deasktop work area, much better than mobile tiles...

1 person liked this | GunsAblazin said:

What a bunch of retards. Forcing anything on anyone is never the right answer. This should have been in the settings from the beginning, especially with such a weak UI. Why push something that doesn't have equal capabilities to the traditional desktop UI? There is nothing to debate.

1 person liked this | spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

I'm going to start calling the Start menu Christ. It's risen from the dead and I worship it!

1 person liked this | Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Well if these rumors turn out to be true, I will finally upgrade to Windows 8 on all platforms (my Laptop and Desktop). I haven't bothered since I hate the new start menu Metro thing and I hate the fact it has to be the first thing you see. Make these changes, they've got money from me...

1 person liked this | Night Hacker Night Hacker said:

And I still won't use it because my dislike for Windows 8 has very little to do with the metro look (although I dislike it on my desktop system) and more to do with how they treat open source software that is created using non-Microsoft APIs. I also have reservations on how they require hardware manufacturers who intend to include Windows 8 with their computer systems to have secure boot enabled in the BIOS, which would make it so you couldn't install another operating system like Linux if you wanted. There is the option of going into the BIOS and disabling it, but most people will not know how to do that, and some BIOSes would potentially not have the option to disable it at all.

When support stops for Windows 7, if they haven't come out with something better, I will switch to Linux, which is a very nice OS now a days, equal or better than Windows. I especially like Xubuntu personally.

2 people like this | wiyosaya said:

Personally, I think this is the right answer to the wrong question, and to me, that question is why is 8 selling so poorly.

IMHO, 8 is selling so poorly because it will take the business world to buy into 8 in order for it to be another best seller like 7; however, I do not think the business world will budget for upgrading to 8 when the business world just got through upgrading to 7. There is no value in fixing something that already works well.

It seems like M$ thinks the run the world and can drive updates as if all computer users are M$ lemmings. I think the reality is that it will take much more than the return of the start menu for 8 to sell well.

1 person liked this | learninmypc learninmypc said:

MS will eventually learn to listen to the consumers when their product(s) are no longer popular but other OS's are. That is my thoughts. I'm just grateful to have a used pc, but its better than not having one imo.

Wake up MS.

4 people like this | MilwaukeeMike said:

Personally, I think this is the right answer to the wrong question, and to me, that question is why is 8 selling so poorly.

IMHO, 8 is selling so poorly because it will take the business world to buy into 8 in order for it to be another best seller like 7; however, I do not think the business world will budget for upgrading to 8 when the business world just got through upgrading to 7. There is no value in fixing something that already works well.

It seems like M$ thinks the run the world and can drive updates as if all computer users are M$ lemmings. I think the reality is that it will take much more than the return of the start menu for 8 to sell well.

You don't think MS knows this? We've been calling Win 8 a victim of Win 7's success for months. They are a business too, they know how software upgrades work. if they wanted to drive upgrades they'd stop supporting Win 7. They aren't doing that though, which is a pretty clear signal that they are not driving upgrades.

We've spent the last 10 years making fun of MS for not innovating and now we're complaining that they did it too much. They tried to make an OS that was great for mobile and the desktop and they landed a little too far into 'mobile' territory. Now they're pulling back. Win 8 is perfect for the Surface Pro, but since a desktop is so different it should make sense to have some options built in to accommodate.

Those of you who hate on MS can point and laugh that they made a mistake, but the rest of us are happy to see them listening to their customers.

And don't forget... a good % of Windows sales come from new PC sales and those are down for reasons that don't have much to do with a missing start button.

1 person liked this | m4a4 m4a4 said:

And I still won't use it because my dislike for Windows 8 has very little to do with the metro look (although I dislike it on my desktop system) and more to do with how they treat open source software that is created using non-Microsoft APIs. I also have reservations on how they require hardware manufacturers who intend to include Windows 8 with their computer systems to have secure boot enabled in the BIOS, which would make it so you couldn't install another operating system like Linux if you wanted. There is the option of going into the BIOS and disabling it, but most people will not know how to do that, and some BIOSes would potentially not have the option to disable it at all.

When support stops for Windows 7, if they haven't come out with something better, I will switch to Linux, which is a very nice OS now a days, equal or better than Windows. I especially like Xubuntu personally.

Few things:

#1. MS is treating open source software (created using non-Microsoft APIs) badly. No, they aren't. At least not for desktop purposes. For their appstore? Still no. They have set up security like EVERY OTHER appstore.

#2. "[MS] requires hardware manufacturers who intend to include Windows 8 with their computer systems to have secure boot enabled in the BIOS" Again, no. There was an article that covered this. It explained that MS supports it, but it is not MS who is pushing it.

And if you are trying to install Linux anyways, it's common knowledge that you usually have to jump through hoops for the best compatibility. People that can google how to install linux can figure out how to get things working.

#3. Linux being equal or better. It's comparing apples to oranges here. Support for linux is almost nonexistent while it can be modded/customized however you like. Windows is pretty much 100% supported, while the customization options are less than linux.

Anyways, I never saw the big deal about metro and the start menu. My opinion is that people are just too lazy to learn something new and it's (IMHO) pretty much on par with with the start menu. Or they just don't like change.

Guest said:

Love Windows 8 its a smooth operator - but really miss the Start button, please bring it back as an option its no big deal for MS

2 people like this | TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Guess MS finally got tired of Stardock raking in the dough for it's Win7 emulator.

1 person liked this | JC713 JC713 said:

I really think MS screwed up. They should have done this in the beginning and made 2 versions. One for the desktop and one for the tablet. A lot of people would have been hyped for Windows 8 if it had a start menu and would have bought Win 8 on release. this would have gotten MS huge sales. But now people dont trust Win 8 necessarily and wont be hyped as much. Heck, people who are informed about the start menu will be excited, but people are already scarred.

2 people like this | Guest said:

If you don't know how to get into the BIOS and change a simple setting, you really shouldn't be using Linux in the first place!

Guest said:

Windows 8 is a disaster in a business environment. They see no good reason to upgrade from Windows 7. Some are also switching to Linux.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Bringing back the Start button and boot to desktop options sound great... But I'm wondering if they have fixed the absolutely horrid multi-monitor support yet? It's amazing how the desktop/start button topics generate so much noise that they drown out some of the basic fundamentals that make Win8 a "no go" for many power users.

1 person liked this | veLa veLa said:

What a bunch of retards. Forcing anything on anyone is never the right answer. This should have been in the settings from the beginning, especially with such a weak UI. Why push something that doesn't have equal capabilities to the traditional desktop UI? There is nothing to debate.

I agree.

To me it's like Microsoft turned their backs on the die hard PC users. I mean think about it, rather than cater to the audience that has made them so successful in the past, they were like: "we need touch everything, touch screen this, touch screen that". I understand that a new UI was okay especially with the rise in mobile computing, but at what cost? They started turning away the people who actually liked MS and that's why sales for 8 have been so weak.

1 person liked this | highlander84 said:

Since I have been running windows 8, I almost never use metro 99% of the time is spent in desktop mode...that other 1% is boot up, and when an app brings me back to metro. Then I promptly switch back to desktop...

GunsAblazin said:

Wait a minute, there is already a way to boot to the desktop. All you have to do is switch to a "local account".

Settings > Change PC Settings > Users > Switch to a Local Account.

Cycloid Torus Cycloid Torus said:

You don't think MS knows this? We've been calling Win 8 a victim of Win 7's success for months. They are a business too, they know how software upgrades work. if they wanted to drive upgrades they'd stop supporting Win 7.

Well, they did give notice on XP. Lots of my business clients still use XP, especially the one's who are tight for cash, like the non-profits.

1 person liked this | j05hh j05hh said:

I was using window 8 for 3-4 months before going back to w7. I used 3rd party software to get the start menu back for functionality. The metro interface is a joke... for a non touch screen laptop or monitor it shouldn't even be implemented. Windows 8 boot time was fast, the only reason I switched back is because I found certain websites load slowly and this impacted my productivity. Out of all the browsers I used with windows 8 Google Chrome was the slowest.

1 person liked this | EEatGDL said:

...but they didn't listen when they had still time -since the RC.

1 person liked this | St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

Ugh, it's not just about the Start Menu ffs. It's about the whole Metro think. Metro brings with it stupid default touch apps and terrible multitasking and multi-monitor support. All we need is this:

Control Panel > Add/Remove Windows Features > Metro.

That's it.

On another note, Win8 non-metro has zero enhancements for touch screens compared to Win7. Heck, even the latest Office 2013 fails hard. It has a 'touch menu mode' which makes the UI bigger for fingers..but... where's the gestures?? Can't even flick through the ribbon. Considering 'gestures' are MS's new hot word, I'm greatly surprised at this missing feature.

TheBigFatClown said:

Looks like my incessant nagging and whining on forums across the internet are beginning to produce tangible fruits. Ah, the fruits of my labor. So juicy sweet.

I may yet upgrade to Windows 8 after all. Or, I could go for broke and ignore this turd until they release Windows 9 with even more accomodations for the business and desktop users. That would really drive my point home. "Don't ever bite the hand that feeds you again!!!!".

Decisions, decisions. Hmmm, Well, seeing as how I am 100% content on Windows 7 Ultimate for the past several months since the release of Windows 8, I just think I will wait for some. And see how this all plays out.

1 person liked this | TheBigFatClown said:

That ***** "METRO" UI should have been an "option" from the very beginning!!!

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

Seriously though, someone tell me how the proposed 'bringing start menu back' helps in these situations.

1. You click on Settings icon on the Charms menu. A dumbed-down Metro settings menu appears.

2. Windows update popup appears saying updates are ready to be installed. Cool. You click it and get a list of "KB5485148514, KB78854651452, KB5614654654" on Metro UI. Gee, so informative!

3. You open a photo. You Alt-Tab out, and it's freaking gone. It's not on the start bar on desktop mode. WHERE IS IT?!?!

4. You play a music file. Omfg how do you exit it?? There is no back button, oh gawd why.

5. You want to create a wifi connection to something manually. Okay, cool, I'll just click on the wifi icon as usual. Oh, hi there Metro UI side pop-up. But where is the add button??? Remove?? I CAN'T SEE ALL MY CONNECTIONS WAT IS DIS.

6. You get the picture. Metro invades every day life, even if you're a beginner to PC's and don't know any different.

Guest said:

I work in IT for a large telecom company, we are just now switching to Win 7. 8 doesn't have a chance with large corps. We are not going to buy 70,000+ touch screen PC's., and many of our own apps we don't even have ready for Win 7 yet. We will get a few tablets for executives and try some out with field techs, but the techs are so hard on equipment we will probably stay with Tough Books and the execs are stuck on iPads and Apple in general. If MS sticks to their guns we may have to upgrade in the future, but like I said it took a long time for us to get off XP and go to 7. I see Win 8 as a standard consumer OS with light corp involvement.

1 person liked this | coppersloane coppersloane said:

They get bashed for not innovating, they get bashed for innovating. They get bashed for not listening, they get bashed for listening.

People love to hate Microsoft, and I find it very disturbing. Steve Jobs in his black turtleneck and 'underdog' status gave birth to droves of brainwashed loyals.

The whole reason any of you even know how to use a computer, let alone have one in the comfort of your home, is thanks to Microsoft.

kebab2000 kebab2000 said:

I'm going to start calling the Start menu Christ. It's risen from the dead and I worship it!

Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain.

Guest said:

MS.......stop trying to tell what's good for your customers and listen to what they want. Don't act like the "GREAT AND POWERFUL OZ"!!

hood6558 hood6558 said:

Too little too late, at least as far as the corporate sector is concerned, which is the only market large enough to save 8 from Vista's fate. What they could do instead is concentrate on breaking Windows 9 down into 10 or 12 different versions (Desktop Power User, Tablet, Media Center Lite, Desktop Lite, Phone, Server, Professional, Professional Office, Ultimate, Studio, Enterprise, Game Console, Portable, Home Premium, etc.). This would give everyone what they want, nothing they don't want, and stop the practice of forcing unnecessary garbage down peoples throats (which they've done from at least Windows 95 forward). If they could pull this off, with program compatibility and file sharing between versions, and legacy support, they would finish off Apple in the PC market, and possibly the mobile market as well. They would also stop losing market share to Linux distros, which already have a more modular approach, adding (or not adding) packages of software/drivers according to the end users needs. The landscape is changing rapidly, and a unified modular architecture would allow Windows to "go with the flow" of market changes in a timely manner instead of lagging behind like the lumbering giant it's become. Undoubtedly this would be a major undertaking, but who is in a better position to do it? Certainly M$ has the money and talent at it's disposal, but do they have the vision and leadership to make it happen? Only time will tell.

Raoul Duke Raoul Duke said:

I am a home user. I like Win 8 (bored of 7), but I only like it if I do the following. Install "Start 8" and boot directly to desktop. Delete every Tile app I can. Ensure customer improvement setting is ON so Microsoft is getting all the info that this is what I am doing and how I run win 8. There are a few more changes, but that is basically it. Then it's similar to a refreshed Win 7, start button and all, no Metro to be seen anywhere. It does bug me though that after developing the eye pleasing Aero interface, they go to flat and ugly and then try and sell it by saying it is Modern

1 person liked this | Raoul Duke Raoul Duke said:

I should mention I only paid about $40 for it and $10 for Media Centre I believe. No way at today's prices.

Lurker101 said:

I'm going to start calling the Start menu Christ. It's risen from the dead and I worship it!

Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain.

It's a good comparison though. Since Christ got this holes in his feet, he can't walk on water either, so neither he (let's pretend he's real), nor the start button can keep Windows 8 afloat. The way I see it, this is simply too little, too late.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

It's a good comparison though. Since Christ got this holes in his feet, he can't walk on water either
Your suggesting you can walk on water, because you do not have holes in your feet.

Let me ask this question. Would a penny sink, only if you drilled a hole in it?

And no I'm not going to pretend he is real, I will let you make that mistake.

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

...Then it's similar to a refreshed Win 7, start button and all, no Metro to be seen anywhere. ...

Please refer to my earlier posts (#27 perhaps) and explain to me how you have no Metro. Are you a wizard?

Guest said:

I bet Microsoft's board of directors are the biggest bunch of morons. Regardless if that's true or not, I think the stockholders should purge the board and fire everyone. Headhunt from upper management in Google ffs. It's not rocket science. They're going to run the company into the ground.

Google (Bing?...) their board of directors. There are no names there that scream technology or innovation. They have no business being on that board. As for Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, they need to get their heads out of their asses. It seems to me that between them they control where the company is heading.

The stockholders need to stop this madness.

Guest said:

No business was going to upgrade to Windows 8 anyway. Most are just upgrading to 7 from XP. MS is doing the right thing by giving desktop users the ability to have a traditional desktop option while moving forward with the modern UI for mobile devises.

kissx kissx said:

I got start8 from stardock works great.

Guest said:

I totally concur with the statement about corporations and Windows 8. Enterprise software and the business division (including Office, and definitely Outlook w/ Exchange) is the bulk of their revenue and profit.

Microsoft so vastly altered the UI in W8 so much that corporate users used to either W7 or XP will flat out reject it simply because it's too different. I think ultimately corporations will drive continued need for desktop/laptop computers while consumers will push further into tablets. Instead of catering to both needs with separate optional UI pieces, they made a single sub-par one try to satisfy both.

Vilandra Vilandra said:

And it's not really practical for a business environment, in all honesty.

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