Editorial: Why Windows 8 Start Menu's Absence is Irrelevant

By Julio Franco · 206 replies
Jul 18, 2012
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  1. I tried it. It slowed me down. No thanks. I'll wait for 9.
    psycros likes this.
  2. fimbles

    fimbles TS Evangelist Posts: 1,185   +208

    Metro complicates the uncomplicated.

    That extra step of switching between metro and desktop is just enough to become annoying, Plus I find it much easier to navigate a alphabetical list of programs than a muticolored grid of tiles.
    psycros and hammer2085 like this.
  3. "Plus I find it much easier to navigate a alphabetical list of programs than a multicolored grid of tiles."

    You do realize that the alphabetical list of programs still exists in Windows 8, right? It's in the All Apps menu... just like it was located in the All Programs menu before.

    The multicolored grid of tiles is better because you get to organize it however you like it. Organize tiles into groups, and name each group. The new start screen is way more customizable than the old start menu.
  4. The Metro search might be useful for finding apps, but the Windows 7 search does a little more than that.

    Try searching for a Control Panel item. You have to take the extra step in Windows 8 to either click/tap down to Settings, because the default is Apps.

    Try searching for that PDF you downloaded last week. You have to take the extra step in Windows 8 to click down to Files in order to find it in your search.

    I don't know about you, but my commonly used apps I tend to just have pinned on the Desktop or the Start Screen. Anything else I can search for. However, this is not nearly the same case for system settings or files, where my search needs are broader and more varied. Meaning I actually NEED the search for what it is, given what a mess the Control Panel has become since Vista, or the number of files I have to work with.

    One of my biggest disappointments with the new search is that, unlike in Windows 7, I can't do much with my search results aside from just running or opening them. In Windows 7, I could right-click and choose to delete, open with a different program, send to an external drive, send to Imgur, or find the folder location (useful if you organize projects by folder and want to see all the different related files in that folder).

    In Windows 8, I simply can't do that anymore unless I specifically go out of my way to search from an Explorer window, which also means I have to keep changing my context for my searches.

    So no, the Start Menu's absence is NOT irrelevant.
    parmour and psycros like this.
  5. Tamantafamiglia

    Tamantafamiglia TS Rookie

    I agree completely with the autor. I'm using Windows 8 now for 3 weeks as main OS, I can say now that if you custom your own thumbapp on it the start screen is at least as efficient as the old start menu (as the article show it) and do more on many side with the metro tiles stuff (No need to get metro or calendar gadget on desktop...).

    So for tablet, Metro is really awesome (I'm using Windows Phone for 2 year - and before IPhone for 3 year, I know what I'm saying about touch UI - Wich is also my job).

    Sure there is a lot of thing to improve on Windows 8 but the "changes" debate is irrelevant. It s not about it, it's more about other things. For exemple, I think there is some real mistake : If the Start screen is the main interface for tablet, one essential (I think) features missing on it is simply time. I have to get Charms to get it while it could be simpler to get a tiny time clock somewhere on screen (Instead of the big "start" word ? Above or belowe ?).

    So, What about the Taskbar ? Today, I'm looking at it with the fresh new Office 2013 icons, and I'm telling me : The taskbar should be designed as "a part of metro start screen". It should say goodbye to the old Desktop style and embrace completely new interface era paradigms. it's almost that : simply a bar, but it's again too much Windows 95/xp/vista/7 style task bar, it could be more Windows 8 Metro taskbar.

    So there is a lot of thing to improve on Windos 8. For many, it's minor things. But the work done on it is a really good work from the UX and GUI design point of view, it a real step forward about Information design interface and not only an old revamping à la Apple with kawaï icons and effects embended in cool marketed names.

    It's not perfect but Microsoft is really remaking itself, and it's good thing for us.
  6. fimbles

    fimbles TS Evangelist Posts: 1,185   +208

    Quote "You do realize that the alphabetical list of programs still exists in Windows 8, right? It's in the All Apps menu... just like it was located in the All Programs menu before."

    And how exactly do I get to this all apps menu? It takes me 2 clicks and about 1 second at the moment.
    psycros likes this.
  7. There is no winning: if MS releases an OS without huge changes and mostly under-the-hood improvements, people will cry that it is just a service pack for Version N-1. If MS releases an OS with huge changes that are obvious in daily use, people will cry that MS shouldn't go fix things that aren't broken.

    Graphically describing these people is one of the few applications that I've found for Venn diagrams.
  8. TekGun

    TekGun TS Booster Posts: 162   +25

    @Guest #3 read the article it's talking about you.
  9. I have used Windows 8.. I simply love it on my Tablet, and hate it on my laptop.. the Start Menu being a big part of that.. I find the start screen far more inefficient on a system with a mouse.. So much wasted space, and time, even moreso if you knew how to organize your Start Menu, and didn't just toss everything in there without thinking.

    What MS should have done, was leave the option.. I mean they kept a Classic [ 9x/NT4 ] theme in Windows for how long ? Yet they take the start screen and kill the start menu without even a single transition OS.

    I'm a fan of Metro, it's a great feature that should be an Option.. But not forced. Which is better depends on what you do, and how you do it.. for some people and situations, Metro and the Start Screen really do suite them and their needs far better than the classic start menu.. but there are just as many people and cases where this is simply not the case.
  10. Agree with Guest above, MS shouldn't force this on people.

    I'm not a fan of Metro but if I could switch between the two UI I might eventually stick with it.
    psycros likes this.
  11. TekGun

    I read the article. I'm running Windows 8 right now, and have been running it for a while. Office 2013 was downloaded yesterday. I hate the lack of contrast in the UI (blinding white). I still have a handy backup to get back to Windows 7, though.

    Apps are always easy to find. I could put them on the Desktop, pin them to the Taskbar, or pin them to the Start Screen. I can also search for them. (Though the Search oddly can't find Team Fortress 2.)

    Files and Settings are a different matter. It takes an extra step to search for them, and not all the time do you now exactly what you're looking for, which is why enterprise search products exist so that employees can find what they need in their vast information stores.

    I've used gadgets for that, and if you consider checking the weather as an example of "multitasking," you seriously don't know how to multitask. Juggle a report in Word in one window, a PDF with reference information in another, an Excel spreadsheet comparing related item specs in another, and an IE window for searching for additional pullsheets in another. The funny thing about the Start Screen or Metro apps, though, is that it's hard to find THE TIME without diving back to the Desktop, hoping the app has a built-in clock, or heading to the Lock Screen.

    Live tiles are little blurby reports. They can be useful and can help you decide whether to take further action or not, but they don't help in multitasking.

    The other bad thing about the Start Screen and multitasking is that Metro Apps and Desktop Apps do not mix. On the Desktop, I know exactly what's open and can quickly mouse over for an Aero Preview or Aero Peek. However, if I'm using a Metro App as well (like Mail, IE10, or Remote Desktop), I can't easily switch unless I just blindly keep clicking the upper-left corner, Win-Tab, or Alt-Tab to the right program. We've effectively got two different Taskbars going around. I have enough of that between my own computer and an RD session, thank you very much.

    While the Metro interface is nice and big for people to clearly see what they want faster, if I need to launch an App but my search term is so nebulous that more than 10 possible programs show up, I clearly need to spend the extra 200 milliseconds to add another character to my search term. Or I just plainly don't know what program I even want.

    For the record, two things that impressed me about Windows 8 is its battery usage and its startup and shutdown speeds, particularly for sleep and hibernation modes. But they're putting a lot of uncompromising UI and behavioral changes in place, creating a bifurcated OS that seems to regard Windows 7 with shame rather than the success that it was.
  12. I absolutely love it. For those used to use the mouse for everything, perhaps it's not handy at first, but for those who are not afraid to use the keyboard, Windows 8 is the answer. In the end, it's just a matter of learning how to operate it properly and one would never go back to any other windows (and it may as well attract even some Mac fans).
  13. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,264

    One extra click needed...one more second taken. FAIL!

    Anyone would think the people here are living their life as Ethan Hunt

    /First world problems
    //Happy to put up with an extra click for a less resource intensive OS.
  14. I liked this article and I have to say that after trying out the RP for a second time, I've really gotten used to the new Start Screen. I can quickly get to the programs I don't have pinned by typing, and the new Window + F key works great for searching for files. I've always run programs like Disk Cleanup, Calculator, Notepad, Regedit straight from typing into the Start menu search and hitting enter. I can do the exact same thing with Windows 8's Start screen, so I'm happy. The only thing I miss still is the cascading Control panel, but you can do the most common things in control panel also from Window + W for settings. Window + Q for apps (Window Q also shows all the apps on the left hand side of the screen).

    I do think it should be an option, and something else designed for non-touch devices. But, it's not as absolutely horrible as I originally felt. At least not to me.
  15. Most of the criticism about Windows 8 is emotional crap by people who hate change, or are too impatient to give it a good try. When I first tried using Windows 8, it was set up as dual boot with Win 7. Win 8 was a bit disorienting because there was no help built in and I would quickly switch back to Win 7 when I got frustrated. Now that I have installed Win 8 as my only OS, I was forced to endure the frustration for a few days; now, I find that I really like it.

    I agree with the author that Metro serves the same purpose as the Start button, only better. Win 8 is rock solid. I spend 99% of the time on the desktop just as if it was Win 7. Now that I have got over that initial disorientation, I feel like there is no really difference except it is a better Win 7. I like Win 8.
  16. fimbles

    fimbles TS Evangelist Posts: 1,185   +208

    Average users make about 427.2 clicks per day according to Prof. Fenian at Cornell University.

    426/ 60 = 7.11 minutes lost per day.
    7.11 x 365 days = 2595 minutes per year or 43 hours.

    Thats 2 days a year clicking a button I never had to click before.
    psycros likes this.
  17. Macgyver56

    Macgyver56 TS Enthusiast Posts: 25   +6

    What I find interesting about Microsoft's approach with the Metro UI is that they readily admit that it was designed with touch screens in mind, not a keyboard/mouse entry system. They're after the tablet and touchscreen consumers.

    My computer is a work tool. It is not a media toy or play thing. I WORK on it. Microsoft did not design the Metro UI for me or anyone like me. They have as much as admitted that.

    It would have been nice if they made Metro a choice. Yes, users can work around it. People are coming up with fixes and patches that allow them to get around it. I think it would have been nice if Microsoft had done that on their own, instead of committing Windows 8 to a one-size-fits-all, "if those oddly shaped pegs don't like it, then just smash them into the square holes" approach.
    psycros likes this.
  18. rpsgc

    rpsgc TS Member

    You know what's irrelevant? This 'article' (if you can call this an article, more like propaganda)
    psycros and hammer2085 like this.
  19. I think the author misses the point about how this will truly affect the AVERAGE END USER. You know, the person who barely knows how to power the machine on and has finally become comfortable with the start menu interface, especially the older generations.
    I know, for instance, I will never put this on my father's computer. He's far from tech savvy and his desk at his house is LITTERED with notes on how to do things with that start menu system, because he just can't remember.
    I will also say, he's had a PC for more than 5 years!
    I could just imagine the complications it would cause introducing him to Windows 8.
    Same goes for my father's neighbor, my grandparents, my mother, uncles, and several other people that I know.

    So no, it is not easier for everyone, or even "just as easy as before". I personally would have no problem adjusting. I choose not to because I think the interface is ugly and I know Microsoft's reputation with "every other OS release" so I'm going to sit this one out and see how it goes first (I have tried it though).
    psycros likes this.
  20. Here's the thing:
    1) Windows 7 is a desktop workhorse that succeeded. Millions and millions of users are on that platform. The desktop platform is not where the current high growth rate is taking place but it's huge install base is a force to be reckoned with (and tapped).
    2) Windows 8 is a tablet / mobile OS that can be used on a desktop with a marked change in appearance and user interface from previous OS's. Tablets / mobile device are the high growth segment in the PC environment today.
    3) Both have their place.
    4) One size does not fit all - never has, never will. The more you appeal to one, the less you appeal to the other.
    psycros likes this.
  21. ET3D

    ET3D TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,383   +172

    Eh, what? I don't follow. People probably click the start button a couple of times a day at most.
  22. Everyone talk about the missing start button, but for me the most anoying "new feature" is that all new metro apps are fullscreen. You can't find a better way to utilise a 30 inch monitor with a 2560x1400 resolution than to display a calculator. What is anoying ? well I can't display all the windows I want on the screen at the same time.
  23. ET3D

    ET3D TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,383   +172

    I could imagine it too. It would probably simplify things for him. Suddenly all his apps are on one screen, not on the desktop hidden by windows or lost somewhere in the start menu. And metro apps will probably also help.

    Really, if he still has to look at notes then I'm sure the change won't hurt him much. Only problem is that he'll have to write new notes, and you'll have to tell him how to do things, which will force you to learn Windows 8. I can see what that would be a hassle for you. My father is still stuck on XP, and I see no reason to move him from there.
  24. Can't wait for the next article of the series:

    "Why Windows 8 is irrelevant"

    psycros likes this.

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