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Samsung to offer Apple Dock style Start Button in Windows? Really?

Making Apple-ish stuff has gone well for them - oh wait

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We bring good news and bad news for Windows users.

Microsoft's latest version of its operating system would have been its best yet - but it has one fatal flaw. The introduction of the Metro Notro widget layer is brutal, obtuse and plays havoc with your routine workflow. In Windows 8, the user is constantly thrown between two shells: the old desktop, which has lost the familiar Start menu, and the new Metro Notro layer, which lacks the depth of functionality of the classic Windows desktop.

The good news? Samsung has become the first manufacturer to re-introduce the classic Start menu on its Windows 8 machines. According to AP, new computers introduced with the 26 October launch of the operating system will include a widget that restores Start menu functionality to the classic desktop. More reliable information that that, we don't have.

The bad news? Well, here things become sketchy.

If screenshots at the blog Mashable can be believed - a not inconsiderable act of faith - then the Samsung Start menu widget is closely styled after Apple's Dock user interface. This information should be consumed with the contents of a Cheshire salt mine, for not only is Mashable a dubious source, but this one has "prank" written all over it. Samsung has just been slapped with $1bn damages after losing to Apple in a patent dispute. It is most unlikely to wish to incur Apple's wrath again.

Over the past few months we've highlighted several add-ons that restore the classic Start menu to Windows 8 and avoid the head-spinning disorientation caused by being thrown between two user interfaces. The most popular appears to be Classic Shell - but Stardock's Start8 does the job too. The latter's Object Dock can be styled to resemble the purported Samsung Start menu, as you can see.

Things should become clearer at IFA, the giant consumer electronics show being held in Berlin this week. In the past, Microsoft has maintained an iron grip on computer makers' ability to tailor the Windows desktop. PC builders have had to be content with a tiny slot on the Start menu. Now Microsoft needs the manufacturers to save it from itself - which is interesting. ®

Bonus downtime

Nothing illustrates the problems caused by Microsoft's dogmatic design than this video, put together by tech blogger Chris Pirillo, of his father getting to know and love Metro Notro.

You can read our pithy preview of Windows 8 RTM here. ®

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