Microsoft is beginning to listen to its customers. According to a report at ZDNet, the upcoming Windows 8.1 “Blue” will indeed be bringing back the Start button, boot to desktop and a few other welcome features. Mary Jo Foley, ZD’s Microsoft correspondent, has spoken with a reliable source who has confirmed many of the wishes Windows users have been hoping for. The source is basing their information on the internal “Milestone” preview of Windows 8.1, which was released about 2 weeks ago.
First in the list of features is the ability to boot directly to the desktop view of Windows 8, instead of starting in the Metro-style start screen and then switching over. For those who don’t like desktops or start screens, Microsoft is also allowing you to boot your computer or tablet into the “All apps view”. All apps view is a full screen window showing a grid of icons for all of your applications. While it doesn’t have any live-updating functionality, ti will allow you to reorganize the icons in several ways, including after most frequent uses.
The start button is back too, but it’s a mixed blessing. The All apps view, according to the source, is the closest you’ll come to the Windows 7 start menu; what the start button does for windows 8 is a little different: First, it will only be enabled in desktop view by default and will be in the same location as the start button in Windows 7. Hovering your mouse in the lower left corner of the screen while in Metro will produce it as well, taking the place of the Windows 8 Start tip that was there before. Clicking on the start button will bring you to the Windows 8 start screen. The big change for Windows 8.1 is that when the start screen is accessed in desktop mode, it will be displayed on the desktop, as opposed to pulling you into Metro.
As a final bonus in Blue’s feature set, you can now use the same wallpaper in the start screen as you do on the desktop, making the transition between the two less jarring. While this addition could safely be considered an improvement, it may not be as clear cut with the start button; it’s still not the same as it used to be. If you’re nostalgic, will 8.1 be enough to win you over?