There is no question that the weirdest thing about Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 debut on Wednesday was the Start button. It’s not weird that Microsoft would try to highlight the addition of a new Start button. The disappearance of that precious button has been a major point of contention ever since Microsoft debuted Windows 8 last year, so pretending that the Start button’s return is a big deal was important, even though Microsoft knows the new implementation isn’t at all what users were looking for. No, the weird part is that fact that just about every tech blog covering the new Windows update — and even some mainstream media sites — pretended that the new Start button adds tremendous value to Windows 8.1, or that it will do anything to appease people who miss the old Start button and its functionality.
You see, people don’t miss the old Start button. You know this, I know this, Microsoft knows this and tech bloggers know this. People miss the Start menu from Windows 7 and earlier versions that appeared when the Start button was clicked.
The old Start menu has not returned to Windows in version 8.1.
Instead, there is merely a Start button that users can click to bring up the tile-based Windows interface. You know, the one that people who miss the old Start menu generally hate.
Right-clicking the new Start button brings up a simplified menu of options that some users may find helpful, but that others might never even discover. This menu contains no shortcuts to launch programs and it is text-only. It also cannot be edited. It’s not the Start menu.
In terms of appeasing users who yearn for the old Start menu experience, the new Start button is basically useless.
So for those of you who saw all the headlines on Wednesday and got excited that the Start button is making its triumphant return to Windows, you will be disappointed. There is no Start button, at least not in the traditional sense. In its place is a shortcut to the new tile-based interface that you now have to try once again to get used to.
Or, you could install a simple free utility that actually does bring the old Start button back to Windows 8… along with the old Start menu, which is what you actually miss.