Originally published at: http://www.howtogeek.com/177730/the-next-version-of-windows-may-see-the-return-of-the-start-menu/
One of the most obvious and derided changes in Windows 8 was the removal of the Start Menu, but new rumors are beginning to surface that may indicate Microsoft’s willingness to change their mind about this ‘classic’ feature in the next version of Windows.
I see no problem with the new. People do hate change, but hey, they get over it. If they didn't, we'd all still be wearing furs and leathers that we hunted ourselves with stone axes. They will get over it.
The biggest problem I have with the new is the lack of documentation on the changes. I don't want to have to go to a tech site and look through thousands of pages just to find out that the control panel has been moved to a right-click menu on the Windows logo. I don't want to sift through incomplete pages of works in progress to find out if my computer is suddenly capable of reproducing. I want a manual. A cold, hard, black and white, indexed and Table of Contented, readable on the morning commute manual. PDF's are overrated and under proofread. Websites can't be accessed in the tunnels. I want to be able to pull up a chair, turn on a light, relax, and absorb the new stuff that I didn't happen across when I started the software before the reading hour.
Change is good when there is a legitimate reason for it; if it brings improvement. The changes made in Windows 8 effectively broke the desktop for many, if not most, desktop users. The start menu is a logical, efficient means of accessing regularly used programs and folders while the new start screen is only practical if you are using a touchscreen. As for me, since I'm already fed up with Windows, I didn't bother with a start menu replacement app. When I got my new Windows 8 laptop, the first thing I did was disable restricted boot, reboot from a flash drive, reformat the hard drive, and install a Linux distro. The brief time I spent using Windows 8 was a frustrating experience which I seriously hope I never have to repeat.
Change is only good when its an improvement.
Now to each his own, but my opinion has always been that the best tool is the one that lets you do the job in the least amount of time. For me, that's the Windows 7 Start menu. Most of what I need is never more than 2 clicks away, and even if I have to open a program I haven't used in a long time, it's fairly easy to find the program. Everything is contained in a nice, one-dimensional list that's easy to parse.
The issues people have with the Windows 8 Start Screen is that is is not an improvement for people that have a large number of programs. The first problem is that the Win8 Start Screen is two-dimensional and very cluttered. It also does not allow for nesting of folders, making it harder to find an entry.
I've done a lot of work with UI's, and the one thing I have most consistently discovered to be true is that our eyes do NOT track well in two dimensions: we find things better when we can move along a list in a straight line, not when we have to go up and down and left and right. (This is my chief problem with the Office Ribbon, too, btw.)
The other problem is that when you're using a large monitor, assets designed for an 11" screen just look ugly and take up a lot of space. I bought a large display to have more room to display text and images - not to have those things blown up to 2 or 3x their proper size.
And to make matters worse, WIndows 8 is not even a good tablet OS. I've already sold my Win8 tablet because it was just slower and more awkward to use than my iPad or Nexus 7.
And there's the legitimate complaint of people having to re-learn how to do things. Your time is an investment, and it's not fair to ask people to throw away that investment and start over when learning how to navigate an OS. That is a perfectly legitimate concern, and everyone who discounts that issue is being both short sighted and not looking at the bigger picture.
While I appreciate the under the hood improvements in Win8, I don't think Microsoft has really succeeded in creating the iPad killer they hoped for. Instead, they just managed to take Windows 7, the best OS they ever delivered, and cripple it with a UI that makes things harder to do.
Windows APE - so named because only chimps, apes, pets, toddlers and people who don't do real work on computers are able to make any use of it. Microsloth could fix the issue any month with a patch on patch day that adds an easy to get to setting that allows anyone to revert to the Win 7 style GUI. They could also add a question during Windows installation for the same purpose. Period. Problem goes away.
To my understanding, people don't like, for whatever reason, the Start Menu in Windows 8. So, if Microsoft takes the Windows 7 Start Menu and place it in Windows 8, and releases a new version, will all the complainers be happy?
People complain about Windows 8 because they don't know how to use it. As static says, the information needs to be documented and easily available. This is a small change and won't take hours to learn. I was also confused when I first installed it. Where's the desktop? My programs? etc.
Microsoft (among many others) has an unfortunate habit of radically changing user interfaces for no apparent reason. This happened with the "ribbon" interface for Office, and it has happened again with Win8.
The difficulty is that many, many users have been using the familiar interface for years, and know where to go to find or do something. Changing the look and feel of the product means either re-learning the product completely, or downloading one of the many on-line "fixes" that make it look and behave like the old, familiar interface (which, like any download, runs the risk of system contamination from trojans or viruses).
It seems that Microsoft, when they do one of these radical re-designs, could build in the option to "downgrade" to the old, familiar look, which would allow people like me ("curmudgeons") to continue doing things in the way we already know, while new users ("whippersnappers") can explore the new interface to their heart's content. Come on, Microsoft; your competition (Apple) is notorious for their "my way or the highway" attitude when dealing with users - it's time for you to take the high road and give users the option to choose their own way.
It's not just that you have to relearn the UI, @SwxDave. It's that the ribbon is less efficient than the drop-down menus. The story is that new users can pick up the ribbon quicker, and while this may be true to some degree, experienced users are slowed down by being forced to use a slower, less effective interface.
More or less efficient isn't my concern. Microsoft can argue that one interface is more efficient for new users but, as we have both said, experienced (cough Geezer /cough) users want the appearance that they already know and can use effectively without any changes. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" - or at least, allow the users to "unfix" it.
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it" - or at least, allow the users to "unfix" it.
What drives me nuts is that microsoft already has the code for a dynamic menu system. Why remove that unnecessarily? The combined menu/toolbar approach works very well, and the ribbon could easily fit in that model.
My thinking is that this has always been an internal political decision, not a practical one. Someone had an idea and forced the company to run with it, regardless of whether it was a good idea.
The vast bulk of the Microsft customers are not geeks and they are the ones who pay the bills. If these folks get tired of Microsoft making it harder and harder for average people to comprehend their products, the door opens to go elsewhere, and go they will. Selling product is the name of the game. If no one buys anymore you're toast! The "Sheldons" at Microsoft are quite possibly killing the golden-goose. Time will tell.
Why would anyone want the start menu back?
Most technically minded people never actually use the start menu anyway, just type the commands in run box after pressing the Windows key on the keyboard.
Most average to almost computer illiterate users never use the start menu either. They rather crowd the desktop and taskbar with more shortcuts than it can handle.
Why bring something back from the dead for the benefit of a handful of people that are still living in the past?
Start screen is much more user friendly than the start menu and much more customizable. It works equally well for touch users as well as traditional desktop users with a scroll button on the mouse.
Start screen also provide much more eye candy!
Micro$oft, leave 8 as it is!
If you want 8 to look like 7, then stay with 7!
I would have loved to stay with 7, and it's great on my desktop. Unfortunately, I didn't buy a laptop until after 8 came out and 7 was no longer sold, so there wasn't a choice.
I'd be interested where you got your data to validate these two statements?
At the end of the day the Windows 8 has created a billion dollar mistake for MS. Products with Win 8 are not selling and MS is spending tons of money in advertising and marketing programs to turn it around... an it's still not working.
IMHO MS see's the popularity of tablets and the possibility of making laptops dinosaurs. Win 8 was their response, throwing the existing customers under the bus. Asking them to learn a new OS from the beginning after 25 years of experience with the existing one. If Win8 was a success and it' users happy we would not be having these discussion.
MS arrogant response to it's customers only made the situation worse. Up yours MS!!!
It's not only technically minded people who use computers, however -- certainly not Windows. Microsoft has a really bad habit of taking Apple's worst ideas and making them even worse. Anyone who used one of the "family/educational market" vintage grey Macs from 1991 or so probably has not so fond memories of the alternate "user friendly" shell At Ease. Start Screen is basically that repackaged with a Windows logo rather than a rainbow colored apple. At least it doesn't require you to remember your password to get back into Finder -- er, "Explorer" -- but at least Finder in all its iterations has kept the Apple menu. There's no At Ease for Mavericks, thank Jobs.
Win8 is optimized for tablets and mobile. It is NOT a desktop OS in any way. But apparently Microsoft thinks that people who use normal computers are practically punching IBM cards in a Univac, that tablet/mobile is the future and a pox on everyone else -- including their core business market, which held onto XP because Vista was such an Edsel. Yet they think they're being cutting edge by repackaging Apple software from 20 years ago? They're trying too hard to be "cool" and release an OS that is more Fisher Price than even XP will ever be. Actually, even XP was more Legos and K'Nex than this dried-up Play-Doh of an OS. Why didn't they just hold off on 8 and release SP2 for (ahem) "System 7"?
Most definitely did not get the data from Wikipedia to validate! I made the statement purely from experience with thousands of users ranging from geek to average to illiterates in my day-to-day life in the IT industry.
I've been in the IT industry since 1984 (yes, EIGHTY FOUR - there were computers back then too, just look it up in Google or Wikipedia!) and have been growing from ZX Spectrum, Atari XL, and Apple II to the latest technology, growing from obscurities like Atari Basic, SCO Unix, Linux distros, Mac, DOS, OS/2 (which many of my clients in the petroleum industry are still using) to all Windows versions.
Always took a while to upgrade to the next version and getting used to it, but had to do it every time for the benefit of servicing clients that were using a certain OS.
Currently running Windows 8 on all of my personal machines except for the studio desktop which I dual boot with XP & 8 for the benefit of some dinosaur type editing software and will never look back!
Anyway, if you're happy to live in the past, then by all means please yourself...
Talk about frustrating... I had to throw away some perfectly good audio hardware when Microsoft released Vista. I still miss my Darla card.
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