Feeds

Windows 8.1 Start button SPOTTED in the wild

It's not the same Start button as Windows 7's, though

High performance access to file storage

Leaked screenshots of a prerelease build of Microsoft's forthcoming Windows 8.1 update reveal that the rumors are true and the Start button really is coming back – though perhaps not in the way users of previous versions of Windows might like.

Screenshot of Windows 8.1 showing new Start button

Thar she blows! That little icon on the lower left is Windows 8.1's new onscreen Start Button (Source: Paul Thurrott)

On Wednesday, Paul Thurrott's Supersite for Windows published a shot of a Windows 8.1 desktop with a new-look Start button planted on the left-hand corner of the taskbar, right where Windows 7 users expect to find it.

The button features the redesigned, monochrome Windows logo, rather than the now-old-school multicolored orb, and when you mouse over it, it reportedly changes color to let you know that it's good for something.

What it's good for, specifically, is launching the Windows 8 Start Screen. That's it. Don't expect a return of the old-style Start Menu, because that isn't part of the deal. The Start button just gets you a new way to get to the new launcher UI, in addition to the button on the Charms bar, the Windows key on your keyboard, and the dedicated Windows buttons found on many Win8 fondleslabs.

That might be a bit better than it sounds, however, owing to another change that's reportedly coming in Windows 8.1. According to Mary Jo Foley, in addition to the primary Start Screen with its Live Tiles, we'll also optionally be able to set the default Start Screen to the "All Apps" view.

What's more, the All Apps view will now be configurable so that users can group their icons by usage, which Foley says makes it the closest thing Windows 8 users will get to a Windows 7–style Start Menu, even if it is still a full-screen view.

Screenshot of Windows 8

Defaulting to the "All Apps" view could make the Start Screen a bit more useful ... but not a lot

In addition to the desktop, the new Start button will reportedly also be usable from within Windows Store apps and from the Start Screen itself, but it won't appear in those contexts unless the user moves the mouse cursor to the lower left-hand corner of the screen, much like how hovering over the upper left-hand corner brings up the list of running apps.

The Start button will reportedly be enabled by default in Windows 8.1, but apparently that's only grudgingly so. Because Microsoft really, really, doesn't seem to like to admit to its mistakes, you'll also be able to get rid of it altogether, should you choose.

According to Thurrott, if you click on the onscreen Start button, it will stick to your taskbar. On the other hand, if you ignore it and use the hardware Windows keys instead, it will disappear, restoring Microsoft's pristine vision of the Windows 8 desktop. (If it does disappear on you, though, there will be a setting available to bring it back.)

In addition to the Start button, Thurrott was able to confirm a couple of other new features for Windows 8.1. Booting directly to the desktop will definitely be available, he said, though it will not be enabled by default.

Furthermore, Thurrott said, Windows 8.1 users will be able to apply the same wallpaper to their Start Screens as appears on their desktops, to make transitions between desktop and Modern modes less jarring.

Mind you, Windows 8.1 is still a long way from being released. Microsoft has said that it will debut an official preview version toward the end of June, probably to coincide with its Build developer conference in San Francisco, but it will be several months after that before the final version ships. Anything could change between now and then, so in the meantime let's just keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Windows 8.1, which you probably haven't upgraded to yet, ALREADY OBSOLETE
Pre-Update versions of new Windows version will no longer support patches
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts
Bloke behind the cockup says not enough people are helping crucial crypto project
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Windows XP still has 27 per cent market share on its deathbed
Windows 7 making some gains on XP Death Day
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
US taxman blows Win XP deadline, must now spend millions on custom support
Gov't IT likened to 'a Model T with a lot of things on top of it'
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.