Stop Pushing Microsoft's Buttons! Take the Start Button!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems | April 20, 2013 - 04:36 PM |
Tagged: windows, start button, Metro

The latest rumors, based on registry digging and off-the-record testimony, claims that Windows 8.1 will including the option of booting directly into the desktop. A bold claim such as this requires some due diligence. Comically, the attempts to confirm this rumor has unearthed another: the start button, but not necessarily the start menu, could return. On the record, Microsoft also wants to be more open to customer feedback. Despite these recent insights into the future of Windows, all's quiet with the worst aspect of modernization.

Mary Jo Foley, contributor to ZDNet and very reliable bullcrap filter for Microsoft rumors, learned from a reliable source that the Start Button might have a place in the modern Windows. Quite the catch while fishing to validate a different rumor; she was originally investigating whether Microsoft would consider allowing users to boot direct to desktop via recently unearthed registry keys. Allegedly both are being planned for at least some SKUs of Windows 8.1, namely the Professional and Enterprise editions.

But, as usual for Microsoft, the source emphasized, "Until it ships, anything can change." No-one was clear about the Start Button from a functional standpoint: would it be bound to display the Start Screen? Would it be something more?

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Personally, I liked the modern Windows interface. Sure, it is messed up on the modern-side when it comes to multiple monitor support, but that can easily be fixed. As you will note, I am still actively boycotting everything beyond Windows 7 and this news will not change my mind. We are bickering over interface elements when the real concern is the deprecation of user control. Outside of the desktop: the only applications you can use are from the Windows Store or Windows Update; the only websites you can browse are ones which Internet Explorer can render; and the only administrator is Microsoft.

Imagine if Microsoft is told by a government that its citizens are not allowed encryption applications.

The Windows Store is clearly modeled by, and about as messed up as, the Xbox Marketplace. Even if your application gets certified, would Microsoft eventually determine that certification fees should be the burden of the developer? That is how it is on the Xbox with each patch demanding a price tag of about $40,000 after the first-one-free promotion. That would be pretty hard to swallow for an open-source application or a cute game that a teenage woman makes for her significant other as a Valentine's gift.

Microsoft's current Chief Financial Officer, Peter Klein, stated in his third quarter earnings release that Windows Blue, "Further advances the vision of Windows 8 as well as responds to customer feedback." Despite how abrupt this change would seem, the recent twitchy nature should not come as a surprise; Microsoft has had a tendency to completely change course on products for quite some time now. Mary Jo mentioned how Microsoft changed course on UAC but even that is a bad example; a better one is how Microsoft changed from its initial assertions that Windows 8 Developer Preview would not be shaped by customer feedback.

A lot has changed between Developer Preview and RTM.

Then again, we can hope that Microsoft associates this pain with love for the desktop. I would be comfortable with the modern Windows if we were given a guarantee that desktop x86 applications would forever be supported. I might even reconsider using and developing applications if they allow loading uncertified metro-style applications and commit to never removing that functionality.

I can get used to a new method of accessing my applications. I can never get used to a middle-man who only says "no". If Microsoft is all ears, I hope we make this point loud and clear.

Source: ZDNet
April 20, 2013 | 05:45 PM - Posted by William Thieme (not verified)

“Outside of the desktop: the only applications you can use are from the Windows Store or Windows Update"
What about apps installed to the Modern UI from desktop like the new Chrome and Firefox Modern apps? They're installed independently from the store, right?

April 20, 2013 | 06:42 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

That's a loophole Microsoft allows for your default web browser, only your default web browser, and only while Microsoft allows Windows API applications to exist. The only other "modern" mode applications need to be programmed in WinRT and the need to come from Windows Update or Windows Store (Enterprise customers have a few extra exceptions... but you know).

If they force WinRT, such as they do in Windows RT, by cutting x86 support then not even web browsers will be allowed to do that. In fact, web browsers are not allowed to exist unless they are reskinned Trident (Internet Explorer) browsers.

April 20, 2013 | 06:05 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

No Microsoft can do one thing to stop the windows 8 bleeding, it can allow OEMs to ship new hardware with windows 7, M$ just wants to prolong the agony, and alienate more people to PCs in general! Granted, Microsoft's OS products have never compared in functionality to the true OSs of the mainframe era, and windows 7 may be Microsoft's last and best OS (by M$ standards). The Metro UI is, and will be nuthing more than a feeble attempt at replicating Apple's closed ecosystem of "We get our cut of all the OS app action" in this casino! Well M$ rolled a big snake eyes
on that one! Next time M$, work on your OS's memory management, and file system, I am tired of having 8 gigs of memory, and no decent way to force windows apps to take advantage of the extra memory resources! I had to pay M$ $90.00 just to be able to backup to a networked drive, something that any bare bones OS should be able to do, but that with M$ requires a pro-upgrade! Oh no M$ wants to staple an APP store onto the front of the OS and call it progress! No 8's for me give me 7, and get the Metro out of my face! No 7, no Sale! I told ASUS this, when their tech. support could not tell me if a laptop, I was intrested in buying, had the drivers for me to be able to get windows 8 off, and install windows 7!

April 20, 2013 | 07:51 PM - Posted by praack

boned we are if we keep with microsoft.

but then that's why i watched 12 people move to apple recently- they needed new computers and windows 8 confused them.

to think - win 8 became so much of a confusing issue that moving to apple turned into a joy.

oh wait - two stuck with tablets only= ipads- but tablets - rest went to macbook pros and airs

never thought i would see it

April 21, 2013 | 02:07 PM - Posted by pdjblum

I guess they are trying to make windows more like a gadget or a toy like OSx. Unfortunately for them, those that want a gadget or a toy prefer the crApple one. But I do not get why folks who preferred previous versions of windows to crApple would choose crApple rather than just install win 7 or linux on their new machine. If I was forced to give up win 7, I would not move to crApple, but rather make all my machines linux. In any case, I hate to hear about people migrating to crApple from windows.

April 20, 2013 | 10:02 PM - Posted by 3dfx (not verified)

Start button is best windows button.

April 21, 2013 | 03:28 AM - Posted by Anonymous Coward (not verified)

Dear Scott

At one point you said:

"We are bickering over interface elements when the real concern is the deprecation of user control."

It's a little short sighted of you to divorce the two concepts, and poop on those of us that are taking some serious issues with the lack of boot to desktop and the start menu.

The only way Microsoft can realistically achieve their dystopian "vision" of the future is by getting most/all developers to make their programs metro only. This of course would be a process over time, because as we learned from intel in the early 1990s, you cannot dump all the "legacy" stuff all at once and expect people to be cool with it. This is why x86 endures after decades, when much more promising architectures have appeared and then disappeared.

The only way to convince developers it's in their best interests to make their programs metro only is by showing them that most people spend most of the time inside that awful tablet interface. And that's ALL to do with what you're implying is petty interface design. It has EVERYTHING to do with forcing you to look at metro. Sure, it seems petty on the outside: what's the big deal if you have to click a tile to go to desktop? What's the big deal if you pick a commonly used program from a tile or from a start menu entry? The big deal is their long term plan to make everything metro-only.

User control begins with being able to choose what you're looking at. And users that don't want to look at anything metro for any reason are being actively prevented from doing that. Even control panel options are being moved to metro only, and this "blue" update will move even MORE critical settings to metro.

April 21, 2013 | 08:26 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Yeah, I was trying to allude to that with, "Then again, we can hope that Microsoft associates this pain with love for the desktop."

The hope is that Microsoft realizes that people who want to boot into the desktop would want it to stick around. My fear is that people will cheer, get used to Metro, and Microsoft would be like, "Well, guess ALL they cared about is the disjointed nature of the UI... we'll give them the real fix when unify everything around Metro" and carry on with the alleged original plan of eventually scrapping the desktop.

I just want to make clear that there's little to celebrate for yet.

April 21, 2013 | 09:42 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

There is one, and only one Button that needs to be pressed in regards to windows 8, and all of is subsequent "UPDATES", and that is pressing the Button that formats the drive on which windows 8 is installed! After that, the user is free to do the math 8 - 1 = 7, and 7 will solve all of the windows 8 problems, until M$ is forced to fix the issue again with 8 + 1!

April 21, 2013 | 11:13 AM - Posted by Brad (not verified)

Adding the start button back will not help without including the start menu, which, it seems, is not the plan. A button that can be clicked to take the user back into the new interface does not help people who are used to nearly 20 years of the start menu functionality.

MS has spent spent all of these years with a pretty standardized way of doing things and throwing it out is confusing to a majority of people. On this site we may all be proficient in multiple OS environments and pine for the days of the command line, but most people just want what they are familiar with, which is usually Windows with the traditional start menu. Changing it up like they did alienates a lot of people.

Windows 8 is fine on a tablet but I think it is a big mistake to force it on the average desktop user.

April 21, 2013 | 12:03 PM - Posted by Anonymous Coward (not verified)

You said Windows 8 is fine on a tablet. I see a lot of other people saying that in various online forums. Time to tell the truth, the WHOLE truth. Windows 8 metro is shit on a pc, and it's shit on a tablet. Windows 8 tablets aren't selling, they have practically no market share, nobody wants to buy that shit when ipads are available. This whole disaster is because Microsoft realized "Windows" as a brand has earned a positive reputation, and now they will use people's goodwill, and the marketshare of desktop windows, in a desperate attempt to sell shitty tablets. If anybody will spend 400 dollars or more on a tablet, that's way out of impulse buy territory for most people and if you're going to spend that much it might as well be something AMAZING. Fuck off Microsoft with your garbage hardware and your garbage OS interface. Nobody cares how many volume licenses you sold to Dell for computers that haven't been manufactured yet. There are many many copies of ET for the Atari buried in the desert. It ain't a sale till the final user buys it.

April 21, 2013 | 12:48 PM - Posted by VeryInterestedO...

Windows 8 works fine with a touch screen tablet but on a full fledged PC it's terrible and ineffective. I don't see why MS wants so badly to reinvent the wheel buy forcing it down our throats. Stick to Condoms Billy.

April 21, 2013 | 01:32 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

If M$ thinks it can do the same thing that Apple does with its closed ecosystem, then M$ is going to have to build/brand its own devices, like Apple does, and let the user KNOW beforehand what to expect with a purcase of any microsoft branded/built hardware! If M$ thinks it has the right to force third party OEMs, who just need an OS for their computers to run, into such an anticompetitive arrangement, not to disimular from the privious browser fiasco that got M$ in trouble with the US and other governments, M$ is out of its collective mind! The US government has helped to create a de facto unregulated public utility, by not breaking M$ up when it had the chance to, decades ago! Third party OEMs and the PC buying public need to be offered OS choice, be it OS version or different OS, M$ should not be allowed to take over any third party OEMs product through its "METRO/Modern" APP STORE landgrab!

April 21, 2013 | 01:48 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

OEMs should be required to provide driver support for Linux, and other OSs before they are allowed to sell any PC/Laptop general purpose computer in the US!

P.S. I am sure the Third party OEMs can, as a group, work togather to produce a standard set of device drivers that can work with any motherboard, as they have for OpenGL, OpenCL, ETC. PCI is an industry standard, as well as USB, and I do not see why there can not be with Linux, an industry standard OS that can be provided to consumers as a choice against Microsoft, amd its continuing monopolistic ways!

April 21, 2013 | 01:50 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

[amd] sohoud be changed to: and

April 21, 2013 | 02:16 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

[Linux, an industry standard OS] change to: Linux, an industry standard OS distro

That should keep the FOSS people somewhat happy!

Linux so many distros, so many happy people, but as ugly as it may sound, an indistry standard Linux OS distro, is better than any more METROs!

April 21, 2013 | 07:15 PM - Posted by deowll (not verified)

Way to many people are buying software to change the user interface on Win8. I'm currently running win7 and in general I like it but if this is a problem I can happily run Linux. I have before and didn't seem to have many issues.

April 21, 2013 | 08:35 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Yeah that's the tragedy: Linux is not a "thing"; Linux is many things, and very few of them require users to traverse through BASH every day.

At some point, my girlfriend got a virus and needed to reinstall her OS. I asked her to give Linux a try, and she surprisingly gave it an open mind. She had no problems installing it and running it... except that a short while later we realized she needed dialup support and her laptop's modem was, of course, made around the Windows stack. Instead of buying a linux-compatible dialup modem or spending too much time configuring, we decided to just have her reinstall Windows XP.

The Windows XP installer scared her, when Linux did not. Sure, the Linux distro was about 6-7 years newer than Windows XP and was all text-based on blue backgrounds, but it still says something when your not-tech-savvy girlfriend actually chooses Linux as the more user-friendly OS.

She actually preferred it to Windows.

April 22, 2013 | 12:21 AM - Posted by Irishgamer01

I bought Windows 8
Used it for a few weeks then removed it and am now on 7 again.
First time

Start menu
metro (Don't think your suppose to call it that ) interface at start up killed it for me. Its more awkward in every way.
Explorer 10 (Just horse Poo)

You know everything is there, just getting at it easily.

April 22, 2013 | 06:14 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

All of this hate on the new "modern" interface is incredible, not to mention we have heard it EVERY windows upgrade..

I use windows 8 on my non touch screen desktop every day, no problem. The modern interface is the evolution/mutation of the star menu. You want to use win 8 like win 7 you can, with the caveat of the more efficient modern interface.

Just because you have to click a tile to go to the desktop doesn't make the modern interface windows 8. It is how you access your installed software/apps. If you press [alt-f4] when you are on the desktop with nothing else selected what happens? The exact same thing that happens in win 7, vista, xp, me, etc it shuts down windows....

April 22, 2013 | 10:18 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

If you have to choose between w7 and w8, which one that you prefer, Honestly?

April 22, 2013 | 03:47 PM - Posted by icebug

In all honesty between Win 7 and Win 8 I would pick Win 8 over it's added set of features that aren't related to Metro. It's just a more modern OS with modern features. I also don't have a problem actually using my keyboard to navigate around Windows. I do it every day anyways and using shortcut keys makes windows 8 PERFECTLY usable on the desktop.

April 23, 2013 | 06:44 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I would choose Windows 7, in a New York Nanosecond! I will never have that stripped down Runtime/adware/appstore prison
getting between me and my computer! 7 till the updates run out, then Linux! Metro is not a UI, it is not change, It is a M$ attempt at getting any spare change it can from the fools who love to part with it!

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