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.