After a number of reports and a seemingly never-ending slew of complaints, Microsoft is officially bringing back the Start button with the upcoming release of Windows 8.1. As told by The Verge, the Start button will appear in both traditional desktop and Windows 8 views, but will not work in the way that long-time Windows users have become accustomed to — instead, selecting the button will bring you to the Windows 8 Start Screen or a new All Apps section. Similar functionality is technically already present in the latest version of Windows, which is currently activated by bringing your cursor to the bottom left corner of your screen.
Despite this, Microsoft was well aware of the flaws in its original design. Jensen Harris, director of the Windows User Experience Team at Microsoft, explained that “We knew we needed to change that [start tip] to the Windows logo.” He continued by saying “Once we had that there and we figured out that was the change we needed to make it was pretty straight forward to keep that same button in the same place in the task bar…it lends back a little bit of familiarity. It makes the whole PC work the same way.”
Along with the return of the Start button — which will be present by default and cannot be deactivated — Windows 8.1 will also add the option to boot straight to the traditional desktop veiw, as well as the ability to view the Windows 8 Start Screen with your desktop wallpaper in the background.
In a separate report, The Verge highlighted additional features that will be introduced in the upcoming version of Windows, including an improved lock screen and enhanced built-in search functionality, which will allow you to search across the web as well as your computer or tablet.
Another welcome change coming with Windows 8.1 will be additional Snap View configurations for “Metro”-style apps. For example, clicking a link from within an app will bring up a 50 /50 view, and opening a picture will result in a 40 / 60 view. Even better, individual apps can have more than one window, allowing users to view multiple webpages at once.
Skyrdrive will also be baked into the operating system, and the cloud storage option will be visible from both File Explorer and apps as a location to save or load files. The new Internet Explorer 11 will be included as well, which enables the option to sync browser tabs between Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8 devices. For tablet and convertible-PC users, the virtual keyboard will be the recipient of some added functionality.
Availability for Windows 8.1 has yet to be announced, but Microsoft intends on releasing a preview version of the operating system at its Build developer conference on June 26th.