Should Microsoft Add the Start Menu Back to Windows 8?

The answer to the question depends on the user’s prospective; Tablet users would probably say, “no” while desktop and laptop users would answer with a resounding, “Yes.”

The missing start menu is without doubt one of the most controversial topics when it comes to the Windows 8 operating system. Only a few issues have caused this much controversy. If you ask me, only the two interfaces and the touch centric Start Screen are as controversial. Third-party companies started to create solutions to bring back the start menu to Windows 8, and from what little information have been released, rather successfully.

windows 8.1

Start Menu applications such as Classic Shell, Start8 or Pokki have been downloaded by millions of users.

Microsoft took note and added a basic start menu back to the Windows 8.1 update. This was nothing more than a visual representation of the Windows-X menu though, and not sufficient for most users as it did not link to programs at all.

A rumor spread a couple of days ago that Microsoft was thinking about restoring the start menu functionality to the next version of Windows 8.

My colleagues over at Betanews are in disagreement, with Brian believing that Microsoft should not restore the start menu functionality and Mark thinking that Microsoft should add it to the next version of Windows.

It is clear that a start menu alone won’t save Windows 8. The operating system has a bad reputation much like Vista had one back when it was released. It took Microsoft two service packs to turn Vista around, and while it is too early to tell, it could take two updates to turn around Windows 8 as well.

Again, it is my opinion that a start menu alone does not change user perception of the operating system a lot. I have several explanations for that, but the main one is this:

It is easy enough to add a start menu back to the operating system. If you miss it, install a free or paid start menu software and you have it back up and running in a matter of minutes.

It should not keep anyone from using the operating system, especially since it introduces several new technologies and features that Windows 7 does not offer.

Changes to the two interface system on the other hand might.

I never really understood why Microsoft pushed the focus on desktop systems that much towards touch and the start screen interface. The first lacks a wider distribution of touch-supporting hardware, the second features that would improve how desktop users work with the system.

The one thing that could save Windows 8 in my opinion is either the merging of those two interfaces into one, or to make the Start Screen an optional component on desktop systems. I would not really care if it would be enabled by default and needed to be disabled during setup, or if it would be the other way around.

It is highly unlikely that Microsoft will remove the store from the operating system. What I’d like to see would be a unified interface at the very least that you could run apps and legacy software on.

So, one interface only that is optimized based on the type of hardware that you use.

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