Microsoft Teases Return of Start Button in Windows 8.1

Paul Lilly

This isn't the Start button you're looking for.

Sound the trumpets and cue the chorus line to begin singing songs of praise, Microsoft is bringing back the Start button! That's right, in a sneak peek at Windows 8.1, the Redmond software giant displayed the Start button's triumphant return, which at a glance is cause for celebration. Are you excited!? Well, don't be. Sorry to play with your emotions like that, but even though the Start button is making a return, clicking it only drops you right back into the modern UI. You can toss those trumpets aside and tell the chorus line to put a sock in it.

Surely Microsoft must know that the disdain for its decision to remove the Start button in the first place has nothing to do with users wanting a quicker way to jump back into the tiled UI. Nevertheless, the company isn't willing to concede that a real Start button -- one that will bring up a list of programs and settings -- is truly needed, so this is what you get, along with the ability to now boot directly to the Desktop (as well as other screens), so at least there's that. Grumble, grumble...let's move on.

Microsoft says you'll be able to do more to personalize their experience in Windows 8.1, starting with the ability to load up a slide show of pictures on the Lock screen. These can be photos that are stored locally or in the cloud in SkyDrive. You can also take pictures from a device's built-in camera from the Lock screen, negating the need to first log-in.

Global search results, improvements to built-in apps, updated PC settings, and better mouse and keyboard options are all part of the many upgrades Microsoft will introduce in Windows 8.1, which will be available later this year as a free update to Windows 8.

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