I didn’t see it until I came across a screenshot of the new All Apps button with the arrow in Windows 8.1 build 9379. That is when I realized, Microsoft is bringing back the Start menu in Windows 8.1, just not in the same old design we all have seen in Windows 7 or in previous versions of the operating system.
Lately, it is not news that a few things aren’t working out in Windows 8; Microsoft knows it, and Windows 8.1 is meant to fix many of these shortcomings. So now the company is taking a few step backwards and it is bringing back a couple of the old iconic features such as boot-to-desktop and Start button (Even though these features are likely to appear in the next upgrade of the OS, we really won’t know for sure until the final version ships later this year).
Windows 8.1 build 9379 – image credit WinClub.pl
Right after people started hearing about the features coming back, quickly many began to think, what other features could Microsoft possible bring back? And of course, one of the first thing it comes to mind is the Start menu. We all know that this is almost impossible to happen, doing this would mean to go against everything the company has been working on for years.
But I think that the folks at Redmond are really bringing back the Start menu in Windows 8.1, just not in the way you’re imagining. If you noticed, we’ve been seeing a lot of leak versions of Windows 8.1 lately and every build shows some sort of change and improvement.
And this is the example I want to bring the attention to, the All Apps button in the Start screen was hidden in the app commands bar, pretty easy to use, but not intuitive enough for beginners. Now, Microsoft has removed the All Apps button and relocated it to the bottom-left side on the Start screen, which will appear when the user hovers that section of the screen. This looks very familiar, what does this look like to you? Yes, that’s right! That is the same as clicking the Start button to open the Start menu and finding all your applications in Windows 7. It even has same up and down effect when using the mouse or a touch-enabled display.
So Microsoft may not actually bring the Start menu to the desktop, but it is bringing a lot of the Start menu familiarities to the Start screen in Windows Blue, and in my opinion that is close enough. The benefit of this, is that people will feel a bit more comfortable moving around the Windows 8 Start screen and it will make a lot easier for users to find apps, and of course everything else (settings, files, and web searches).
The image above shows how the All apps button looks like in Windows 8.1 (Blue) build 9374 and below is a screenshot of Windows 7, and you can see their similarities.
Furthermore, users will also find a search box just like in the Start menu in Windows 7, but located on the top-right corner of the screen, that allows users to narrow down the apps they’re looking for, without invoking the Search charm.
So, do you think that the changes in place are sufficient and people will actually embrace the Start screen as the replacement of the Start menu in Windows 8.1?