When Microsoft Corp. launched Windows 8, its redesigned operating system for a mobile-first, touch-enabled world, one change immediately caught desktop and laptop users by surprise, and raised the ire of some: the absence of the once ubiquitous Windows Start button.

Microsoft has insisted users will navigate in a new way in a touch-enabled world (think tiles), but touch screens are far from ubiquitous, and PC users are notoriously resistant to change. While Microsoft has publicly expressed reluctance to rethink its user interface approach, rumours persist that the Start Button could make a triumphant return in Windows Blue, or users could be allowed to boot right to the desktop.

Whatever Microsoft may be thinking, JP Gownder of Forrester has four reasons why the software giant should bring back the start button:

  • Users aren’t living in the modern UI environment alone yet
  • Hybrids and convertibles are more like laptop replacements than tablets
  • Windows 8 isn’t optimal on non-touchscreen devices
  • Users are already using Start Button emulators and work-arounds

“We live in what Forrester calls The Age of the Customer, a time in which companies that obsess about their customers earn a competitive advantage in their markets. During the period when the Windows Store’s modern UI apps continue to grow in number and sophistication, Windows 8 users need to have the strongest possible Desktop Mode experience,” wrote Gownderm a vice-president and principal analyst with Forrester, in a blog. “Empowering users with familiar tools wouldn’t be a sign of surrender, but rather a sign that Microsoft listens to its customers.

What’s your take; should Microsoft bring back the Start Button or stick to its modern UI guns?

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  • Robert Birks

    I don’t know of anyone NOT using a Start Button app or a registry workaround. The dogs do NOT like the dogfood!

  • Tony

    Microsoft definitely needs to bring back the Start button and allow booting directly to the desktop. One other good reason to offer this option is that most corporate and government users of Windows don’t always upgrade all of their machines at the same time, thus will be left with, essentially, two different operating systems making it difficult for users to switch between machines.

  • Peter.P

    If they want widespread adoption of Windows 8 they will HAVE to bring the Start button back. Everybody I know is scrambling to get a new Windows 7 laptop so that they’re not forced into Windows 8.

  • 44fourty

    Yup, due to resistance to change, they need to, I have not found it much of an issue not having it, pin to task bar, and Windows X does what needed, but the negative press needs slowing down, so bring it back, by the way Steve Balmer start paying for advertising bigtime. A resent case in my family, a belief it was easier to change from windows Xp/7 to Apple Mac than go to Windows 8, Ouch!, but there is the perception.

  • http://www.facebook.com/laurie.clark3 Laurie Clark

    I am looking at buying a new PC since XP will no longer be getting updates after April 2014. I will NOT be buying any machine that has Windows 8 on it. I absolutely refuse to buy a Mac so my next choice would be Win7; if that is not available then I guess it is to Linux I go! Might go to Linux anyways!

  • Bill

    2 typos in a single sentence? Don’t you do any human proofreading?
    ” … While Microsoft has publicly expresse**d** reluctance to rethink its user
    interface approach, rumours persist that the Start Button could make a
    triumphant return in Windows Blue, or users could be allowed to **b**oot
    right to the desktop. ..”

  • http://www.facebook.com/laurie.clark3 Laurie Clark

    But, but Bill??? Spell check let it pass so it must be right!!! lmaoooooooooooooo I am wondering what a “voot” is though!

  • Stuntman06

    This reminds me of a story I heard from a well renouned game designer, Mark Rosewater. The story goes like this.
    There was a grounds keeper for a school campus. He was tasked to build walking paths through a grassy area for students and faculty to walk through. What he did was he just waited some time to see where the grass was worn. That is how he determined where people would be walking and then built the paths along where the grass was worn. That way, he would be sure that people would be using the paths that he built instead of walking on the grass where there were no paths.
    I think that Win8 needs to have the Start button back if so many people want to use a Start button. The same applies to booting to the desktop. People perceive value in a Start button and booting to the desktop instead of the Metro (or whatever it is called now) UI. People are resistant to change, but you really have to build a product the way people want to use it.

  • vyengr

    I recently read that in marketing/product development circles it is generally held that any “new” product must be 80% familiar to be successful. When you first boot up WIn8 on a regular PC it is pretty much 0% familiar. The start button would certainly help. Also, the look is, IMHO, too rectangular and the menus are ugly. Eventually I expect I will use Win8 but to me the learning curve is bit too steep to comfortable. I think MS laid another Vista.

  • fbibusiness

    I have already installed a start button app that gives me the same desktop and start button as in Windows 7. I do not like the “metro” interface as I do not have a touch screen laptop. I don’t much like it anyway.

  • Orac

    I believe that without the traditional Start Button and menu interface, Windows 8 will never succeed in the enterprise desktop market. The Metro UI is incredibly cumbersome for a knowledge/office worker who actually wants to do ‘work’ with their PC.
    This also applies to many home users as well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/johnkweir John Weir

    I’ve already brought it back with Classic Shell. I’m generally satisfied with Windows 8, but the tiles make for a crowded desktop for those of us who use a great variety of apps and save working documents on the desktop on a regular basis.

  • David

    Besides a few stability issues I don’t recall experiencing with Win 7 I have really enjoyed Win 8. Mind you I do cannot use “Metro” often because it can’t tile “snap screen” like the desktop.

    I complained for a few hours after upgrading but then settled to enjoying the experience without the start button while my 70+ year old parents immediately loved the interface and speed when I upgraded their old laptop.

    Two things that make this system a keeper is the start up and overall performance increase I received-especially in older laptops. Additionally, the app (applications installed on computer) search has a lot more real estate than the old windows button app search. For a short while installed but quickly removed.

    The Pre Feb 1, 2013 $40 pricing gave consumers a chance to convert old machines (I upgraded 3 machines) but with the new pricing I stopped upgrading existing hardware.

    So in my case the upgrade pricing policy and not the lack of start button have put a Win 8 upgrade on hold. Only new purchases will be Win 8-they will not be Win 7.