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Why MS killed the Start Button (most don't use/need it)

J515OP

Super Moderator
Well this topic has had a resurgence even though it has been beat to death and we had finally started moving on. The fact is MS keeps track of how elements of Windows are used and the Start button is basically an unused item. It is a design that they can see is outdated by these stats and it was time for a change. It is not arbitrary and they do take it seriously.

It also in not about forcing people to use the new Start screen and MUI. That is certainly a new element but the simple truth is most people use desktop shortcuts or pinned task bar items to do what Start was intended for. It is because Start was dying in Windows 7 that it went away not because of hidden MUI agenda. You can expect to see more from MUI but that is because it is its own new design whose time has come not because MS is trying to force you to it and intentionally trying to aggravate you by removing the Start button. It is the evolution of the idea of what the Start button represents and where Windows needs to go with touch.

So long old friend I can't say you will be missed by me, I am honestly one of those who has found myself not going to the Start button since Vista. Not intentionally it just sort of worked out that way. Probably because of the use of taskbar from Vista on.

Evolving the Start menu - Building Windows 8 - Site Home - MSDN Blogs

Here is a snippet to get the wheels turning and get at what it really boils down to.

It is striking to see how dramatically different the use of the Start menu is in Windows Vista vs. Windows 7. Some of the Special Folders (what we call those items on the right side of the menu) dropped in use by over 50%. Likewise, people accessed pinned items on the Start menu half as often in Windows 7 than they did in Vista. People also access All Programs and the MFU far less often. Finally, we see an 11% drop in how often people are opening the Start menu at all. While 11% may seem like a small number at first, across our hundreds of millions of customers it is eye opening to see such a drop for a universally recognizable element of the Windows interface. We’re not talking about some hidden setting that is tweaked by a minority of people—we’re talking about a fundamental piece of Windows that people are using less and less.

So why the change in how people are using the Start menu? Here’s a hint—it has something to do with that bar at the bottom of your screen that was introduced in Windows 7.

The “Start bar”

The evolution of the Windows taskbar directly impacted the Start menu. What once was locked behind a menu suddenly came closer to you. The most obvious advancements were the introduction of Quick Launch by Internet Explorer 4.0’s Windows Desktop Update in 1997, as well as the more recent taskbar pinning in Windows 7.
 

leeshor

Well-Known Member
I guess this is the reason so many of my customers are fighting to get a start button on their Windows 8 laptops? It works for some not to have it, not for others. Ask Stardock how many copies of Start8 they have "sold". An option would have been nice.
 

Omni

Active Member
I never really used the start button in Windows 7. I guess that made my change to Windows 8 a bit easier. An option in Windows 8 would have been a good idea for Microsoft to have added though I think.
 
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J515OP

J515OP

Super Moderator
I guess this is the reason so many of my customers are fighting to get a start button on their Windows 8 laptops? It works for some not to have it, not for others. Ask Stardock how many copies of Start8 they have "sold". An option would have been nice.
They have sold some copies but even then you aren't talking about that many in the grand scheme. Some people are buying it just because they are told to or freaked out about something they didn't realize they aren't even using. If they want to buy Stardock that is their choice there are free versions and you can also do this http://www.surfaceforums.net/forum/microsoft-surface-general-discussion/4427-why-all-start-button-fuss.html. So I don't see a problem for those that really want the option back :)
 

kristalsoldier

Well-Known Member
I used to use the Start button in Win 7, but since I upgraded to Win 8, I don't anymore. Why? Because it is not there! Was it troublesome? Maybe for a couple of hours - but then again, I had the same uncomfortable couple of hours when I experimented with Ubuntu and when I played around with Android for the first time. Personally, I think the biggest problem with Win 8 is not so much the Start Button, but with the Desktop mode and the obvious limitation of the MUI (which Blue promises - at least to a large extent - to address).
 
OP
J515OP

J515OP

Super Moderator
Good points about others OSes. Nobody complains about not having a Start button in another OS they simply get on about using the OS without one. Why should Windows 8 be any different? And no, I don't think the Start button is so integrated into Windows that its presence is necessary to use Windows ;) If you do like the functionality it provides and it improves your particular Windows experience there are options above :)
 

Nuspieds

Active Member
Early in my IT career, I was a Project Manager implementing a commercial software package that was going to be used to replace our in-house custom application. One day, while meeting with the vendor to review requirements, eventually the sales rep got upset and said to me, "If we're going to spend all the time renaming, re-labeling, and reworking practically everything to what your old system used, then what's the point of buying an off-the-shelf product and trying to go industry standard?!"

The point he was trying to make was that we were spending a lot of time making the new look and work like the old. And he was right.

For me, of course the temptation was there to put back the Start button, but I refused. Personally, I am putting my energy into embracing and adopting Windows 8/Modern UI apps rather than the legacy Desktop. I won't be putting effort into making Windows 8 look and work like Windows 7, as I had been subconsciously doing when I was implementing that new package at a former employer. I look forward to the day when all my apps will be Modern UI touch-friendly apps and no more Desktop apps.

Do I miss the Start button? Yes, I do. However, embracing Windows 8 and its Modern UI apps is much more important to me, so I refrain from holding on to Windows 7 functionality that has been made obsolete. For me, this means using the Windows 8 features and functionalities instead; thus, I am adding more icons to the Desktop Taskbar and I also use the Start screen search functionality.

I do think, however, that it was poor timing on Microsoft's part. That is, even right now, we do not have enough Windows 8/Modern UI apps that would warrant the immediate removal of the Desktop Start button. I think they could have waited, let's say even one year, before removing it. But I also think it would have been perfectly fine to release Windows 8 with it off by default, but as long as they provided a built-in setting to enable/disable it. Having it off by default would definitely send the signal and a year or so later, yeah, remove it and leave it to third-party apps or hacks.

One big problem I still see is in the enterprise: As I written elsewhere, I know a lot of corporate IT Help Desks that have instructions/procedures with "Click Start > Programs..." in them. So what now? That's a lot of stuff that needs to be changed--and I can't foresee that being a simple change because the Start screen, as it is now, has no folder structure for organization; thus, it is definitely not a replacement for the Start button/menu. So, for example, instructions that have "Click Start > Programs > Corporate Apps > HR > xyz" would need to be updated to something like "Press the Windows button; Scroll to the right until you see the 'HR' Group; Click on 'xyz'" or "Press the Windows button; Start typing 'xyz'. If it doesn't appear, ensure that 'Apps' is selected underneath the Search box..."? I'm not saying that it is impossible to do, but it certainly is significant effort that will need to be addressed in the enterprise--and not just for documentation, but also for training.

Again, for me, it is just bad timing. They didn't have to do it right away; they could have waited to first let people get accustomed to Windows 8/Modern UI, then after some time, remove it. As an individual, it is easy for me to make the transition but in the enterprise, it is much more involved.
 
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J515OP

J515OP

Super Moderator
Early in my IT career, I was a Project Manager implementing a commercial software package that was going to be used to replace our in-house custom application. One day, while meeting with the vendor to review requirements, eventually the sales rep got upset and said to me, "If we're going to spend all the time renaming, re-labeling, and reworking practically everything to what your old system used, then what's the point of buying an off-the-shelf product and trying to go industry standard?!"

The point he was trying to make was that we were spending a lot of time making the new look and work like the old. And he was right.
Good parable.

So, for example, instructions that have "Click Start > Programs > Corporate Apps > HR > xyz" would need to be updated to something like... "Press the Windows button; Start typing 'xyz'. If it doesn't appear, ensure that 'Apps' is selected underneath the Search box..."? I'm not saying that it is impossible to do, but it certainly is significant effort that will need to be addressed in the enterprise--and not just for documentation, but also for training.
Exactly. Yes it takes some updating but this isn't unheard of. For example the change from menus to ribbons in Office. Presumably though if there was a corporate apps folder that was added to the start menu before then there could still be the same folder. Instead of hiding it under the Start button simply add it to the desktop or taskbar. This actually puts it even more in front of the user than hiding it under the Start menu. "Click on the desktop icon labeled corporate apps."

If it needs to be hidden just put the said folder under libraries or Computer. The file explorer is a default taskbar app. Instructions would simply say click the folder icon in the taskbar>under libraries or computer>click the Corporate apps folder... This would cause very minimal updates to the procedures.
 

Nuspieds

Active Member
Exactly. Yes it takes some updating but this isn't unheard of. For example the change from menus to ribbons in Office. Presumably though if there was a corporate apps folder that was added to the start menu before then there could still be the same folder. Instead of hiding it under the Start button simply add it to the desktop or taskbar. This actually puts it even more in front of the user than hiding it under the Start menu. "Click on the desktop icon labeled corporate apps."

If it needs to be hidden just put the said folder under libraries or Computer. The file explorer is a default taskbar app. Instructions would simply say click the folder icon in the taskbar>under libraries or computer>click the Corporate apps folder... This would cause very minimal updates to the procedures.
No, not at all unheard of, because they have done this in the past (going from DOS to Windows, from Windows 3.1 to Windows x, etc.), but it definitely is costly and time-consuming.

After I upgraded my Windows 7 system to Windows 8, my priority was getting my Desktop mode to work like I had in Windows 7. This meant, as I have previously stated, pinning additional icons to the Taskbar and for those Desktop apps that have multiple icons, I also pinned them to the Start screen--for organization later, much later. :) You should have seen my Start screen; it was a complete unorganized mess for weeks! Finally, once I got fully settled and organized in Desktop mode, that's when I turned my attention to Windows 8 and started to learn and play with it.

So that would have been my strategy regarding the enterprise: Just get Window 8 out there, Desktop Start button and all, with no need for major re-training or Help Desk documentation update. Eventually, people will start playing with those Modern UI apps and the Start screen and then a year or so later, adoption of/transition to Windows 8 and the Start screen groups, etc., would be much easier and less impactful because of the pre-existing comfort level and experience.
 
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J515OP

J515OP

Super Moderator
One other thing to note is most (yes there are some fast movers) corporate upgrades aren't going to come until 2 or 3 years into the life of Windows 8. By then users will probably be familiar with Windows 8 from personal devices anyway. My work machine is XP. Vista was skipped and they are just now letting Window 7 on new machines as the hardware is updated. I would love to have had Windows 7 for the past couple of years just like I do at home. Now we are on all to Windows 8 at home (though this is still only a few months old) and my work machine is still XP. My Office is 2007 with and there is an option of 2003 for those not ready to move on to ribbons even though extensive training was provided for the "new" Office.

JP
 

Nuspieds

Active Member
One other thing to note is most (yes there are some fast movers) corporate upgrades aren't going to come until 2 or 3 years into the life of Windows 8. By then users will probably be familiar with Windows 8 from personal devices anyway.
I'm not sure if that still stands...the general public seems to be Start button diehards, so they won't upgrade! :LOL:

But back to your point, although I agree with you that corporations in general are slower to adapt, the mass-market appeal and adoption of the tablet is a game-changer.

Two years ago I was onsite at a client and during an elevator ride, some executives were talking about iPads. When I got to my desk and asked my client counterpart about all the iPad talk from the execs, he mentioned that all execs were given iPads and that now all corporate apps had to be accessible via an iPad. Thus began the drive to build native iOS front-end apps as well.

So even in the enterprise, people want the cool and sexy tablet. Windows rules in the enterprise; hence, the need for the Surface Pro. Traditional desktop machines for sure will continue to be later in the rollout, but I think with the move to make employees more mobile-connected to work (with the exception of Yahoo!, that is ;)), then being able to seamlessly transition to Windows 8 as much as possible will be key to Windows 8's adoption and success. Hence, that's where I don't see the rush to remove something as fundamental as the Start button; just first get Windows 8 adopted out there, then you can slowly begin to institute the paradigm shift.
 
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J515OP

J515OP

Super Moderator
There is a shift that is for sure. We just received our first BYOD guidelines to accommodate the user driven device push. iPads have been supported for a while and the shift from Blackberries to iPhone was really rapid. Windows phones are now starting to be allowed (about a year ago when I asked for one instead of an iPhone it was a no go) and Surface RT/Pro are allowed but no Android devices phone or tablet or new Blackberries.
 
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