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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