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Windows 8: Get 'Started' Now!

He's baaaaackkkkkk!!! As I'm sure you recall, The New York Times columnist David Pogue made a guest appearance in the pages of Redmond magazine last month to offer his Top 20 Windows 8 Tips. His first tip -- that those who bemoan the loss of the iconic Start button could use a third-party alternative to bring it back -- caused an uproar.

Scores of respondents flamed us saying Microsoft should bring back the Start button. Some argued failure to do so would be the downfall of Windows 8. While it's unlikely Windows 8 will live or die by whether or not Microsoft brings it back, which, according to a number of reports, is suddenly looking possible -- at least in some form -- I asked Pogue if he would give us his take on the third-party options that are out there. You can find his update here.

There are seven third-party Start buttons for Windows 8 that caught Pogue's eye. Most of them are free, though some cost $5 or less. When he sent me the piece as I requested the other day, I faced a bit of a quandary. At the time I asked him to run down these third-party options a few weeks back, there was no sign whatsoever that Microsoft was even considering bringing the Start button back. The first evidence suggesting that has changed came last week when ZDNet blogger and Redmond magazine columnist Mary Jo Foley reported that it looks likely that Microsoft is bringing back the Start button as an option in Windows Blue, aka Windows 8.1.

If that's the case -- and we all know Mary Jo has good sources -- it made me wonder: should anyone bother with a third-party option when it's possible Microsoft may bring back the Start button? Would it be a disservice to post Pogue's piece with this possibility looming? I thought long and hard about it and came to the following conclusion: Right now there is no Start button and there are at least 60 million Windows 8 machines out there at last count -- and that was in January. Most people I hear from are quite frustrated with the missing Start button, readers, friends and family included. If there's a free or inexpensive tool that could service some of those people today, then what's the downside to getting "started" (pun unintended) right away?

Also, though it's looking likely Microsoft will bring the Start button back, it's still not a certainty. Microsoft could still backtrack since it hasn't made a public decision. And even if it does bring back the Start button, it will be at least several months before Windows 8.1 is available. Perhaps you'll even prefer the third-party Start buttons over Microsoft's once it ships. With that in mind, I didn't feel it could do any harm to post this piece. In fact I believe it will help many of you get "started" right away.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 04/27/2013 at 1:15 PM


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