Get Ready to Start Again
For anyone who has Windows 8 and is SO annoyed that Microsoft got rid of the Start button on the Desktop portion of it -- or anyone who's held off upgrading for that reason -- good news.Microsoft actually listened to consumer complaints (I suspect it was more like a tsunami...) and has announced that in the upcoming Windows 8.1 due this fall, they will be putting the Start button back in! This is particularly significant because previously the company was adamant that the Start button was gone, history, sayonara. (The general assumption in the press was that Microsoft was slowly trying to wean the public off the Desktop and onto the "Modern Interface," which is more touch screen/app oriented, so getting rid of the Start button was a major step towards that.)
It's understandable thinking in theory, but was a really, really stupid idea. Especially when beta testers were screaming for it. But Microsoft said, No. No, and no, no, no. So, the fact that they're now saying a big mea culpa and "yes," is really a big deal.
It was SO insane not to have it, and they only have themselves to blame. But I give them a lot credit for saying “whoops” and putting it back, so quickly. Major corporations don't do that too often.
By the way, the company did say, however, that they won't be calling it the Start button anymore. I can understand that -- after all, their theory still holds, they still want people to begin getting used to using the "Modern interface" and putting "Start" back on the Desktop would work against that. But whatever they call it, good for them.
It's worth noting that, contrary to many assumptions, Windows 8 has sold quite well -- over 100 million licenses since last October. But home computer sales are down as consumers are migrating a bit towards tablet, so Microsoft keeps focusing on that end of the market, as it tries to make the transition towards the "Modern interface more comfortable.
In another major improvement, Microsoft said it is adding Outlook to the Surface RT, to join the already-included Office suite. Together, this is a major work-productivity enhancement compared to content-devices largely for playing media and browsing the Internet.
In fact, there are a lot of other upgrades to Windows 8, which sound very smart and helpful for ease of use.
For instance, Windows 8.1 will now let you decide whether you want to boot up to the Desktop or "Modern interface," rather than default to the latter, which Desktop lovers were frustrated by. It also significantly improves the Search feature, letting users look for all manner of items (not just documents, but but apps and webpages) from one, integrated Search bar.
Additionally, one of the things that was confusing some users was how to find their applications in one convenient location. Now, you'll be able to access all your programs and apps by just swiping down from the top of the screen, or pressing a single button.
The main screen will also be much more customizable, allowing you to re-size app tiles or determine which apps you want hidden. And the "Modern interface" will now allow two windows to be open open at the same time. (Previously, this was only possible on the Desktop.)
And the Internet Explorer browser in the "Modern interface" will return to having tabs and the address bar. The company had eliminated those in the "Modern interface" (though not if you used IE on the Desktop) because the "Modern interface" is intended mainly for tablet use, where screen space is limited.
There were other changes announced, all dealing with improved usage (like enhancements to the already-strong printer feature), so it looks like they're moving in the right direction. In fact, it looks like Microsoft is now playing aggressively.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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