It turns out that Microsoft may not be working as quickly to return the Start Menu to Windows as had previously been assumed. New reports indicate that the Windows 8.1 users could be waiting for the interface to return for a very, very long time.
How long? According to sources who spoke with AllAboutMicrosoft, users shouldn’t expect the Start Menu that Microsoft showed off during this year’s BUILD keynote to available until 2015. That’s big for two reasons.
The first is that Microsoft wants it to be known that it’s listening to users and learning from what they do and don’t like about Windows 8. Secondly, it appeared that Microsoft wanted to move as quickly as it could to address this concern. Rumors from earlier this year indicated Windows 8 users could see the return of the Start Menu in a second update to Windows later this year. These sources do allege that an update for Windows 8.1 – called Windows 8.1 Update 2 – will debut this August, but the Start Menu won’t be included in it.
Understandably, there will be a lot of users on Windows 8 machines disappointed by the new rumored target window for the Start Menu. Microsoft removed the Start Menu and Start Button in Windows 8, hoping that a new screen that both housed apps and kept users informed about what’s going on their device with an immersive Start Screen would be a better solution for most users. It turned out that the Start Screen may have been too drastic a change for some longtime Windows users on desktops and notebooks. The Start Menu that Microsoft showed off at BUILD 2014 wasn’t the Start Menu users will remember from Windows 7, instead what Microsoft showcased was a Start Screen that took the form of the old Start Menu. In short, it was a Start Screen that didn’t cover the entire screen and still included Live Tiles.
Reportedly, when it’s released in 2015 it’ll be a part of Windows Threshold, the codename for what is generally considered to be the next major version of Windows. In fact, some are already referring to it as Windows 9, though Microsoft has yet to do so themselves. Users may be disappointed by the delay, but it’s not as if waiting to include the functionality until Windows Threshold wouldn’t make more sense.
We already know of one major feature coming in Windows Threshold that would complement this new Start Menu very well. At BUILD Microsoft also announced that it had plans to decouple Windows Store apps for the Start Screen. In fact, it showed Windows Store apps running in the Desktop around the same time as it showed this new Start Menu. At the time, many remarked that allowing Windows Store apps to operate in the desktop would make Windows a lot less confusing for novice users than they are today. Again, that’s key as Microsoft hopes users will notice that its paying attention to feedback and implementing new features into Windows as fast as it can.
Microsoft has already released one update that added new functionality for users this year. The Windows 8.1 Update added the ability for users to pin Windows Store apps to the Desktop taskbar. There are also new buttons for searching and shutting down devices located directly on the Start Screen instead of buried within the Settings Charm.
Microsoft may not be releasing Windows Threshold today, but that doesn’t mean users have to wait to get the Start Menu back. Stardock already allows users to recreate the Start Menu by downloading its Start8 utility. Users can also run ModernMix and run their Windows Store apps in the desktop as well. Anyone who downloads these utilities could find that they do more to harm their experience than improve it, though.
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