Start Me Up (Again)

Good news, suffering Windows 8 users — the Start button makes its triumphant return to Windows 8.1. Well, sort of:

Desktop diehards will find a present waiting for them in Windows 8.1, the impending upgrade colloquially dubbed “Windows Blue.” A wonderful, horrible, oh-so-teasing present.

The Start button is back—but the Start menu isn’t.

Instead, clicking the old familar button will dump you into the modern UI Start screen. While the new feature is notable for adding a helpful visual cue to an operating system rife with hidden menus, it isn’t exactly what people begging for the return of the Start button were looking for.


Here’s the problem. The Start Menu gets too crowded, too quickly. A modern PC just does so many things, runs so many apps, handles so many different types of files, that it just becomes a great big mess after a very short while. Apple has tried its own solution, with the Dock and Launch Pad, but they have problems of their own. I find its usually easier just to keep my hands on the keyboard and use Spotlight to quickly type the name of the app or document I need. But many users, and certainly most non-power users, prefer to mouse around.

OK, fine — so what’s the solution?

I don’t have one. And Microsoft (and Apple, too) with all the people and resources it can throw at a problem, doesn’t have a good solution, either. Touch was supposed to simplify everything with Windows 8, but touch sucks on a desktop machine and isn’t all that much better on a laptop.

It’s no wonder tablets are expected to eclipse desktop sales in the next couple of years, and overtake all traditional computer sales a couple years after that. Because until someone figures out a smart and workable way to reduce the complexity of navigating PCs, people won’t be returning to them.