A big deal has been made of the missing Start button in Windows 8 — Microsoft elected to move on from its 1995 technology, but a vocal few seem reluctant to let that transition happen. Microsoft relented and brought the option back in the 8.1 update which will hit the market this October.
However, there is a catch — the Start button may be there, but the associated Menu is not. Do not expect to click this and access all your programs, because its not made for that. Instead, the software maker is simply easing the transition to wean customers off of this antique before totally doing away with it yet again.
The button not only looks different, but it has a completely different function. As opposed to launching that familiar menu, a click on the new 8.1 version results in a swift trip to the Metro Start screen — sorry, modern UI, as Microsoft must now call it.
However, the button is not just a link to the new interface, it does hold a bit more capability than just that. In fact, there is a rather nice context menu that can be accessed by a simple right-click on the button, which launches an array of options to make your life simpler and speed up access to key components of this next-generation version of the OS.
From this new context menu, you have a number of options available –Programs and Features, Shutdown, Run, Search, Explorer and a whole lot more.
One item that is conspicuously missing is the Programs. In other words, you can’t find Word, Photoshop or anything else from this simple mouse click, which has been added into the 8.1 version of Windows.
To access Programs, customers still have two options — the Start screen, which displays all installed software as you scroll to the right to view a list of all apps installed on your PC. This option has not changes, but it no longer occupies your entire screen as it once did, now only appearing in a column on the right side. A search from the Charms menu will also do the trick.
I personally do not miss the Start button and menu, but the compromise that Microsoft has arrived at is certainly a handy one, though adding Programs to the context menu would certainly be a nice extra. Of course, there are ways of doing that yourself, both through third-party add-ons and tweaking. Think of this as an initial step to phase out your habit.