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Windows New Start Button Is Not Like the Old Start Button

The Start button is back in Windows 8.1 but depending on how you used it in the past, you may be extremely disappointed. That's especially true if you used the Start button to launch your favorite apps.

The revived Start button in Windows 8.1, released last week at the Build conference in San Francisco, doesn't let you do that. "Microsoft's Start button 'fix' is worse than doing nothing," wrote Earl Fargis, in response to my post Wednesday on the new Windows 8.1 Start button.

So what should you do? You can stick with the third-party suppliers of Start buttons evaluated by David Pogue back in April. Pogue pointed to seven options, some of which are free, others that may set you back no more than $5. I used the 30-day trial of Start8 and it worked just like the classic Start menu. But when the trial period ended, I didn't bother to plunk down $4.99 to keep it.

Instead, I created Desktop icons for the apps I use most often and that really does the trick. Just like Windows 7, all you have to do is to right-click on the Desktop, click New, then Shortcut and browse your system to find the proper shortcuts.

Though it doesn't let end users launch their programs, the new Start button will be a welcome addition to IT pros and administrators. By right-clicking on the Start Menu, either in the Desktop or Modern interface, what pops up is the option to administer the desktop. Among the features available are power settings, System, Device Manager, Network Connections, Disk Management, Computer Management, Windows PowerShell, Task Manager, access to the Control Panel, File Explorer, Search, Run and the ability to shut down the system.

In the end, the Start button is an improvement for IT pros and for users who configure their PCs. But the days of using it to launch apps appear to be over, unless Microsoft once again succumbs to pressure to "refine the blend" further. Either way, you're not out in the cold. Just set your apps up on the Desktop or use one of the third-party tools and you're in business.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 07/01/2013 at 1:15 PM


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