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Here’s how Microsoft hopes to reignite interest in Windows

Windows 8.1 Preview Start Button

As we learned on Wednesday, Microsoft will indeed be bringing back the Start button for Windows 8.1. But Engadget, which has posted a lengthy preview of Windows 8.1, says that the Start button may not quite be what many users were expecting. According to the site, the new Start button isn’t “a return to fly-out menu trees” of older versions of Windows but instead makes it look “more like the Live Tiles are popping up on top of the desktop” when you click it. While this is sure to disappoint some users who were hoping for a Windows 7-type experience, Microsoft is hoping that it will make for an easier transition between the classic desktop view and the touch-centric Live Tile view on the Metro display. 

Microsoft itself outlines more features of Windows 8.1 at its own blog, including the ability to resize tiles into larger and smaller sizes to make your Start menu less cluttered and the ability to access the All Apps menu simply by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. Microsoft also detailed an improved search capability that lets users search for terms on a universal basis instead of forcing them to search in separate categories such as apps, settings and files. The new search feature should be a particularly welcome relief for people who simply want to find something on their computers without having to sift through multiple search options first.

Microsoft has also updated its PC Settings feature so that all settings are now in one place and users don’t have to go to their Control Panel in desktop mode to access additional features.

While it’s too early to say whether Windows 8.1 will appease its many critics, Microsoft does seem to have taken some criticisms to heart and is implementing changes based on user feedback.

Prior to joining BGR as News Editor, Brad Reed spent five years covering the wireless industry for Network World. His first smartphone was a BlackBerry but he has since become a loyal Android user.