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

By Julio Franco ยท 206 replies
Jul 18, 2012
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  1. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    Both Windows 7 and 8 offer it on the desktop with the ability to pin applications to the taskbar. The only time I actually use the start menu in W7 these days is to find or open something using the search box -- all my commonly used applications are pinned to the taskbar. Sure I could use keyboard commands for that, but I like to use the mouse.

    Point is, it can be one click for your commonly used applications, if you make use of the taskbar.
  2. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,332   +101

    It wasn't implied that you don't qualify as a power user if you dislike Metro, it was implied that many people claim to be power users yet can't find a legitimate argument against Metro, relying purely on hearsay and hatred to "convince" people Metro sucks. Scroll through any Windows 8 post and you'll see exactly what I'm talking about. There are a lot of downright lies being passed around.
  3. Per Hansson

    Per Hansson TS Server Guru Posts: 1,958   +215

    Oh yes I agree Matthew, I was just trying to point out that I really don't see Metro as "a new start-menu"
    I see it as a paradigm shift that Microsoft must make to remain relevant.

    But whether they are right or not will be left to time to decide, I sure don't know.
    My personal opinion is that they should have just made two separate editions of Win8:
    One for touch based devices likes phones and tablets. (With Metro interface)
    And another for devices with mouse and keyboard for input (Without Metro interface)

    I do sure understand why they don't go this route, however it seems to be a route that works well for Apple so I'm a bit surprised that they dare bet so much that they are right...
  4. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,332   +101

    :) And I agree with you, I think Metro is certainly a play to remain relevant and there's more to it than simply being a Start menu replacement (see the last paragraphs of the article). However, I also think the impact of the Start menu's removal is greatly exaggerated and Metro is a competent alternative for a vast majority of users/scenarios.
  5. "The truth is, functionally speaking, Metro is basically identical to the Start menu."

    Wrong. The Start menu doesn't take up my whole screen.
  6. hahahanoobs

    hahahanoobs TS Evangelist Posts: 2,040   +678

    It occupies one FULL screen, if that's your concern.

    It was his concern, and you just affirmed it.
  7. waltc

    waltc TS Rookie

    I certainly can't see that at all. What's behind this thinking is the misguided thought that desktops as a platform are going to vanish--pretty much overnight--just because some people are currently enamored with touchscreen portables (tablets, pads, cell phones, whatever.) Desktops are still the best way to get substantial work done and to do it in comfort with large, easy-on the eyes monitors. The mouse and keyboard are so much faster and more accurate than giant, smeary finger tips that the two aren't remotely comparable. Desktops also just happen to be the best value per dollar of any computing platform made (even *if* you count tablets and cell phones as 'puters.) Desktops beat 'em all in terms of bang for the buck. Desktops are where the real technology gets introduced--and the portables represent hand-me-downs in terms of technology--gpu and cpu technology, not to mention hard drives and SSD's. Todays' desktop tech will make its way to tomorrow's portable, no question about it.

    What will serve to make Microsoft irrelevant in a hurry is to forget about the desktop as a platform.

    Yes--Windows 8 for Desktops & notebooks and Windows 8 for tablets and other portables--being exactly the same except for the fact that the desktop edition of Windows 8 would allow the user to *disable* Metro--or to use it--whichever they desired. That would be simple in the extreme for Microsoft to do.

    Weird thing about it is that Microsoft is no stranger to marketing *several* differing versions of Windows every time a new version of Windows is released. Win8 is an exception to the Microsoft rule.

    Ok, I like WIn8. I have no problem with a start page as opposed to a start menu. WIn8 has lots of goodies under the hood that Win7 doesn't have--just one in particular that I like is the fact that Win8 supports taking a CD/DVD ISO and mounting it in software--and then allows you to install it--just as if you had burned a CD/DVD and launched the install from disk, a la' WIn7. With Win7 you have to use hack software to do that currently as Win7 does not support the direct mounting of ISOs. That's just one advantage--there are bunches more of them! These differences need to be highlighted and explored by web sites--dwelling on the pro/con of Metro is self defeating if you want to talk about how good Windows 8 is, because at the end of the day all people are remembering is "Metro, Metro, Metro!" Win8 is far more than Metro. People aren't getting past the Metro UI with Win8 yet, partly because the final version of the OS has yet to ship, and partly because web sites like this one keep concentrating on Metro--pro or con, makes no difference--so that the pretense is that apart from Metro there's no difference between Win7 and Win8. Microsoft could do more to illuminate those differences for desktop buyers--and that, along with the very low price tag--will guarantee Win8 a gigantic audience from day 1.

    Microsoft perceives that because of Metro Win8 will be a tough sell. That's why Microsoft is charging a mere $39 for a Win8 Pro license (equivalent to Ultimate in Win7), per license! Incredible. I'd like to say, "It's about time" that Microsoft did something like this!

    Microsoft is really the key. They must do a much better job informing their prospective desktop-using, desktop-os-buying public of the plenty of good reasons to buy Win8 *apart* from Metro. Metro has been done to death, it's time to move on.

    I basically agree with Matthew, too. I see little difference between a Start page and Start menu, except that the page is far more flexible than the menu--and that's what Microsoft needs to talk about, among many other Win8 specifics. It's absolutely certain that Win8 will be a better buy than Win7 ever was--but that, imo, is just part of the story, too.
  8. dividebyzero

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

    Might make things interesting if MS carry on the "family pack" option with Win8. Most people I know who took up the three licence packs for Win7 have them spread across desktop and notebook/laptop. You could have the option of a conventional or Metro OS at the install level - but I'm guessing that for a number of users that switch between desktop and mobile they might prefer to have a unified structure.
    A lot of things seem to work for Apple that maybe wouldn't necessarily work for another vendor. Apple's market seems predicated upon a number of principles that are an anathema to a vast majority of non-Apple users.
  9. CryVer

    CryVer TS Enthusiast Posts: 38

    I tried Windows 8, and the metro start screen clearly lacks much of the functionality that made Windows 7 fast and easy to use. Yes, the start screen brings some nice features like live tiles, but it takes away more functionality than it gives. I really hope more people will see this.
  10. Teko03

    Teko03 TS Evangelist Posts: 415   +186

    75% of the people commenting here are the people this editorial was written for and sadly, they don't even realize it. The claims of it slowing you down, requiring extra clicks and so on are all bologna. Any one who says that most likely logged in once, felt lost and closed it out. This is a new OS, the there are new navigation methods & features. For one, right click where the start button normally it brings up a list of commonly used "Power User" features, Control Panel being one. Secondly. metro is not a "mode", why are we calling that...it's just a new & revamped start menu which displays in full screen. The start screen is customizable and allows you to create and name your categories for organization (ie. Media, Office, Photo Editing, Games) --- sounds likes something you would do in a start menu, right?

    You can't load Windows 8 once and instantly know it all. After 2-3 weeks of learning the new features, navigation & re-located items...Windows 8 had me sold. Of course you're going to hate anything that when you don't have an open mind and cry about wanting the "old" look. From a GUI perspective, Windows 7 is essentially the same as the Windows Vista OS everyone cried about because icons were different, utilities were re-named and re-located...but you all love 7 right? Give Windows 8 an honest chance and you might be surprised. Only thing I recommend is trying it on a physical machine and not a VM.

    Side note, technically the start button still exist, just hover in the bottom right corner and you'll be treated with a Windows logo titled "Start."
  11. Iamnoonestool

    Iamnoonestool TS Rookie

    They aren't forcing it. You can still use win7. What they shouldn't do is let users like you impede progress. If you guys had your way we would still be using command lines.
  12. amstech

    amstech IT Overlord Posts: 1,936   +1,101

    For the most part, I think Windows 8 is attempting to 'simplify' things.
    For us builders/enthusiasts the more options the better so when I see articles like this and hear things like 'Windows 8 doesn't support DVD's natively' it is a little depressing.
    Apple is having success with their devices because they have made them so easy to use, and it looks like Microsoft wants to move in this direction.

    Is Windows 7 the last true enthusiast operating system by Microsoft not made to accommodate dummies?
  13. Lionvibez

    Lionvibez TS Evangelist Posts: 1,265   +436

    For me this is the biggest concern been building computers for almost 20 years now. I don't need a dumbed down interface. I'm not a mac user nor am I a noob I don't call anyone for support. I build it and I fix it myself.

    If there is a third party app works when 8 RTM is released I will consider it. Until then no thanks.

    I've dual booted evey release of win 8 and use it daily and still will reboot in a heart beat to go back into windows 7.

    Metro is an insult to my high powered desktop computer, I like the OS and the performance improvement but a full screen fisher price interface and constant switching between metro and the desktop.

    No thanks!
  14. QinReno

    QinReno TS Rookie

    So, after using Windows 8 for 3 months now I have to say that all of the comments I am seeing are for the most part without merit or in some cases blatantly false.

    First unless you are booting up every day then you honestly won't see the metro start screen hardly at all if you are using for work. Honestly, usually I forget that the Metro functionality is even there until I need to open a program that isn't pinned to my task bar. Finding programs is way easier. Windows key and start typing what you are looking for.

    Control Panel two clicks and open.

    Major Advantages:
    Start up and shut down times. 8 to 10 seconds.
    Battery Life 30% more efficient
    Instant Connection to WIFI
    Cool Apps for the things that interest you most
    All of your Windows 7 functionality still exists
    Live tile updates and ability to control notifications
  15. from the european commission:
    1. ballot screen for internet browser installation.

    2. ballot screen for selection/deselection of metro ui.

    from the consuming public:
    1. stick with windows xp.
    2. stick with windows vista.
    3. stick with windows 7.
    4. stick with windows 7 with windows xp start menu.
    5. switch to linux because this is finally the year of the linux.

    I'm upgrading to windows 8.
    h8ters gonna h8te.
    if windows 8 fails, ballmer will get the boot.
  16. PGHammer21

    PGHammer21 TS Rookie

    I too agree with the author - even though, unlike the author, I use it on a desktop that does NOT support touch. However, I have noticed one major constant among those that criticize StartScreen as Start menu replacement - all are looking at it from a mouse-biased POV. It's as though the keyboard - or any other way of interacting with Windows - is irrelevant. That could very well be the difference. One thing Windows 8 does do is bring back the keyboard as a means of interacting with Windows - not only did it bring back into focus all those underutilized keyboard shortcuts that have gone unnoticed since Windows 2000 Professional, but it even adds a few new ones - in Vista or XP, or even in 7, if your mouse or other pointing device failed (for whatever reason) you were basically screwed. Basically, you became a slave to your pointing device. With Windows 8, the keyboard has returned - and has it ever. That's why I love the StartScreen - it unshackled me from mouse slavery.
  17. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,332   +101

    PGHammer21 To clarify, I don't use Windows 8 on a desktop with touch support.
  18. PGHammer21

    PGHammer21 TS Rookie

    I have NO problems with Crysis 2 that are due to Windows 8; however, there ARE problems with DX11 driver performance in Windows 8 (AMD, so far, is the only GPU vendor that has fixed their issues) with specific games, including Crysis 2. Not even every DX11 game has issues. (Amusingly enough, Civilization V and ANNO 2070 (both DX11-based and notorious GPU pigs) had no issues whatever.) There is an update for the GfWL client itself that fixes this issue (commonplace with upgrades) with Game for Windows Live games. There was an early hiccup with Skype and the Release Preview, which a Skype update fixed.
  19. Rasta211

    Rasta211 TS Booster Posts: 215   +32

    When I press the "Windows key" on my keyboard it opens the Start Menu, what does that key do in Windows 8?
  20. killeriii

    killeriii TS Enthusiast Posts: 213   +14

    I still use the command line interface. :p

    Oh, and just to add my 2 cents.
    Metro does NOTHING for the desktop environment!
  21. PGHammer21

    PGHammer21 TS Rookie

    However, you are looking at it coming from someone that uses their pointing device (no idea what you use) as the primary (if not sole) means of getting around the OS. As I pointed out several posts up, the keyboard has been horribly underutilized (if not just plain ignored) in XP, Vista, and Windows 7 - if your pointing device fails - for whatever reason - you're screwed.

    Since I don't use touch (and because I am quite aware of a lot of those new or revitalized keyboard shortcuts in Windows 8), I actually find myself in the StartScreen far less than I was in the Start menu. I don't use the Charm bar to get to Control Panel - I runbox it (WIN+R - identical to previous versions of Windows) - same applies to Office applications (2013 or 2010). Another example - I need to find an *application* (not a file) that I know the name of - but not the executable - and it's not on my desktop. Quite common with applications - uncommon with games. The Windows logo key on the keyboard - by itself - opens the door to StartScreen Search - I simply start typing the name of the application I'm looking for, and click it when I find it. It can be Win32 OR WinRT - if it's on my computer, the Index Server-driven StartScreen Search will track it down - despite the unorganized mess that is my StartScreen. (That is, in fact, *why* I haven't bothered to organize it - StartScreen Search is *that good*.)

    Exactly, Matthew.

    For example, I use Windows as a multipurpose platform - gaming, general office-type tasks, Internet access (everything from writing posts to casual games to e-mail) and even application development. For both office-type tasks (especially using Office) and application development (Visual Studio) the StartScreen is a LOT easier to leverage than the Start menu simply due to StartScreen Search. (The only way to *search* the Start menu involves the Mark I Mod 0 human eyeball -very Inefficient if you have a lot of program groups.)

    It opens the StartScreen - and is the entry to StartScreen Search.
  22. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,719   +3,697

    I think this editorial is a win. For the first time, I am finally compelled to try Windows 8. For the first time I find my thoughts about Windows 8, contrary to what I have read. After rehashing the concept once again, I think I can find a middle ground and give Windows 8 a try.

    The only reason I would even consider myself a power user, is the fact that I have never been lost and always capable of doing what I set out to do. I must admit misconception about the Metro interface on my part. After reading the editorial and all the comments, I can see where I could use the Metro Interface. I'm a user that hardly ever needs the Start Menu to begin with and now understand that I would hardly find a need to use the Metro Interface once configured to my daily usage.

    Coming from someone that rarely uses the Start Menu and very few icons on the desktop, Metro seemed to be a "In Your Face Start Menu (your gonna use it whether you like it or not) And Completely Cluttered Desktop With Needless Icons OS", which now looks to be my misconception of Windows 8.
  23. Here's a quick example of the problem. Under Windows Vista/7, I can hit the start key, type the name of a program into the search bar, and launch said program. But I also might want to include command-line parameters for the program, and if that means a bunch of complicated flags and such, chances are I'm reading these off a manual page in a web browser.

    Window's 8's Metro makes a simple one-off task like that impossible. That means extra clicks to launch a cmd window, tons of keystrokes to change directory to the path of the program, which I may have to take additional time to find, and then I can type in the command while reading arguments from the browser.

    I get there's a certain percentage of Windows users that can't conceive of wanting to be able to look at what they've been doing while launching another application. Get over yourselves already, we're not all a bunch of clones who use our computers in exactly the same way.

    There is a large percentage of paying customers who do use the start menu from the keyboard with their eyes on a task. Metro is a big middle finger to all of us, and we just don't understand why.
  24. "You know what's irrelevant? This 'article' (if you can call this an article, more like propaganda)"

    No reason to not provide an option to change back to the old desktop/start button menu, but removing it and any way of switching it back on smacks too much of "THOU SHALT DO AS YOU ARE TOLD - THUS SPEAKS THE MICROSOFT!"

    Go to hell, frankly...
  25. When an OS needs/has two desktops you know there's a problem...
  26. avoidz

    avoidz TS Guru Posts: 460   +56

    The Start Screen makes about as much sense as the Libraries in 7.

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