A new report today has clarified the timing for the return of the Start Menu in Windows 8. Reportedly, users will be able to open apps and games within the new Start Menu Microsoft revealed at its BUILD 2014 event this coming August.
The report on the new timing comes from The Verge, which also clarified when users can expect Windows Store apps to be available in the Desktop just like all Windows apps were before Microsoft released Windows 8 in 2012.
That August release window mirrors the time frame that Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley shared with users just yesterday. Her report placed more of an emphasis on Microsoft speeding up the release cycle of Windows beyond the once a year updates that it’d publicly discussed shortly after the release of Windows 8.
Microsoft is said to be moving to an even faster release schedule so that it can address the concerns of mouse and keyboard users who weren’t too happy about the Start Screen and full-screen Windows Store apps being forced on them despite not having touchscreens on their devices. It’s a sentiment almost all users who aren’t particularly happy with the way Microsoft is embracing tablets have expressed. That’s despite Microsoft having added the Start Button back to the Desktop taskbar, adding title bars to Windows Store apps and giving users the option to turn on their Windows devices and have them go directly to the desktop.
A version of Windows shown off during the BUILD conference this year did feature the Start Menu in question. Rather than regressing all the way back to the Start Menu in Windows 7, this new Start Menu will mix the features of the old Start Menu and the Start Screen. Users will have access to Search, their frequently used apps and a list of all apps installed on their machine like in Windows 7, but Microsoft has incorporated Windows Store apps into a side bar on the new Start Menu.
That means users will still be able to press the Windows Key on their keyboard or the Start Button on their taskbar and quickly check their email and more. Presumably, Windows would only show users this new Start Menu based on the device profile that companies like Dell and Lenovo submit when getting their devices certified to run Windows. Microsoft used this same approach to enable the new power button that was added to the Start Screen in the Windows 8.1 Update that it released earlier this month.
Like the report from yesterday, information provided into today’s article about the second Windows 8 update to come this year makes it incredibly clear that these features inclusion could change at any time. In fact, they both kind of describe a frantic time for Windows development that is made worse by public perception of Windows 8 and the need to continue development for the next major version of Windows or what’s now known as Windows 8. Both reports indicate that if these features fall behind in development users won’t see them until Windows 9. Until recently, Windows 9 was only known by its code name: Threshold.
The operating system has that codename because Microsoft hopes it will be able to deliver an even more merged Windows experience. Today, Windows 8, Windows 8 RT and Windows Phone 8 are separate operating systems. Windows 8 and Windows 8 RT look almost identical but the latter doesn’t allow users to install desktop apps. While Windows 8 RT and Windows Phone are both free on devices smaller than 10 inches and run on the same hardware, neither run the same apps. Really, the operating systems are dangerously close to competing for the same users – especially when it comes to phablets, phones with large tablet-like screens.
This is where Threshold comes in. Rumors indicate that Threshold, or what we now know as Windows 9, will get Microsoft closer to merging Windows 8 RT and Windows Phone. The intricacies of search a merger are unclear today, but presumably, developers would be able to create one app and have it work across all of Microsoft’s platforms with little if any code changes.
Microsoft is in the early stages of this transition now. Developers creating apps today are able to upload two apps to the Windows Store and anyone who purchases them automatically gets the other. There’s no word on what other features might be included in Windows 9, Since Microsoft is expected to use the Windows 9 branding instead of Windows 8.2 or Windows 8.3, there should be a lot more to look forward to.
If Microsoft does have plans to deliver the new Start Menu and Desktop Windows Store apps, it’d have to share that information sometime in June or July so that professionals, users and developers could get used to the idea and plan accordingly before the new features arrive.