Microsoft finally let the cat out of the bag and formally announced that it would be returning the Start button back to its perch on the Windows taskbar this week. For sure, cheers could be heard around the world. News hungry Windows 8 watchers knocked their chairs over in excitement, moms stared aimlessly into their children’s eyes and realized that they would be growing up in a world that’s far better for having a Windows logo with “Start” beside it on their kid’s taskbar.
At least, that’s the idea that you’d have gotten by judging the attitudes from users on social networks like Twitter. There’s just one problem with that. This idea that the return of the Start button suddenly addresses the issues voiced by users is about as unrealistic as there being $100 Windows RT tablets sometime in our near future.
Simply put, Windows 8.1’s Start Button changes nothing, while Windows 8.1 itself changes everything.
You see, the sheer tonnage of new features included in the Windows 8.1 update, seems to have been obscured by the news that Microsoft is reportedly capitulating to user’s demand to leave Windows alone. However, if one focuses on the feature list, it’s clear that Microsoft is playing the best game of public relations chicken ever. Sure, the company will grant users the return of the Start button, but that seems to be the only new feature they have added to the Desktop interface.
Instead of relenting on the Metro inspired interface, the company’s introducing every feature imaginable to coax over users, including enabling some of the same multitasking scenarios that users enjoy with Snap on the Desktop for Metro applications. The company also seems to be planning a wave of updates for most, if not all of its Metro applications. Even though we don’t have the exact details on what those features might be, they’ve already detailed a complete redesign of Xbox Music, and plan to detail the changes coming to the others later on.
The point is, even with the addition of the Start Button if you don’t like the direction Windows is going in Windows 8, Windows 8.1 won’t do anything to abate that. Sure, you’ll be able to boot into the desktop, yes you’ll have your Start button, but the new experiences and innovation will be all in the Metro environment and applications that work with it.
It seems Microsoft finally realized the best way to catch users is with a carrot and a stick, instead of their previous philosophy: using said stick to beat users over the head with Metro.