Redmond View

Your Take: Bringing Back the Start Button?

Readers' thoughts on whether the Start button should return.

I apparently struck a nerve a few weeks ago when, on a whim, I posted a feeler on the topic asking if you think Microsoft should bring back the Start button (which was conspicuously removed with the introduction of Windows 8).

For those who were around and remember, Microsoft famously introduced the Start button with the release of Windows 95 -- even paying millions of dollars for the rights to The Rolling Stones song "Start Me Up," used in commercials advertising the OS at the time.

Circa 2012, Microsoft's key goal with Windows 8 was to "re-invent" Windows. Part of that makeover meant weaning users away from the old way of doing things and guiding them toward the new Windows UI, affectionately -- but no longer officially -- referred to as "Metro."

In last month's cover story, "20 Windows 8 Tips," the first suggestion by author David Pogue was for those who miss the Start button to consider third-party apps that effectively bring it back, such as StartIsBack, Classic Shell, Start8, Power8, Pokki and StartW8.

Inspired, I downloaded a free trial of Start8 -- but, frankly, I'm prepared to live without the Start button. While I'd like to see Microsoft bring it back in a service pack update, I have no reason to believe that such a move is in the company's plans. I've asked Microsoft if it would like to discuss this feedback and any input it has received, and if such a conversation takes place, I'll certainly share what officials have learned since the launch of Windows 8.

A healthy majority of you bemoaned Microsoft's decision to remove the Start menu in Windows 8, with many of you demanding the company bring it back in the first service pack. Some readers argued that the lack of a Windows 8 Start button is a deal-breaker and said it would stymie adoption.

"Microsoft should bring back the Start button. I think that it would definitely aid the transition of all Windows users to Windows 8, increasing sales as a result," wrote Kirk Lewis, a tech support expert in Northridge, Calif. "The Start button has been the intuitive glue that all desktop versions of Windows have shared since Windows 95."

Conversely, some readers believe users need to adapt to change with the times. "Seriously? It was 1995 when Microsoft last made a real change to the desktop GUI," said Allen McEuin, an MCSE from Louisville, Ky. "Leave it be and get used to it, is what I say. It ain't 1995 anymore."

A reader from Brazil added this: "Bringing back the Start menu would be a major step backward for this technology."

It's true that we're in a new age, and unless Microsoft finds enough data to support the theory that the lack of a Start button is hurting Windows 8 sales, we shouldn't expect the company to bring it back. If you really can't live without the Start button, try one of the third-party options. The lack of the Start button, while unfortunate, shouldn't be a deal-breaker for Windows 8.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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