Straight to the point, Microsoft is bringing back the Start menu to Windows via an upcoming update to Windows 8.1. Along with everything else that will be introduced, we feel like Brennan from Step Brothers after he and Dale received pirate hats, dirty magazines, and crossbows - "You guys finally came to your sense and got us something cool!" And yes, despite all the criticism up to this point, Windows 8.1 finally has a shot at being a cool OS.
To anyone who's been paying attention, Windows 8/8.1 has been steadily getting better over time, though it hasn't been able to get over the hump where it's widely accepted as a worthy replacement for Windows 7, or even XP if you're a legacy holdout. Part of the reason why is Microsoft's stubbornness to alter its vision. For example, Microsoft already brought back the Start button, but stubbornly refused to include the Start menu. It's thereto toggle between Desktop and Metro, the latter of which is of little interest to power users, and offer up a few right-click shortcuts.
In a video promoting the upcoming update, Joe Belfior, VP of Windows, finally acknowledges what we suspected all along. He says, "Lots of Windows 8.1 users are spending most of their time on the desktop." He also acknowledges the importance of the taskbar to users who don't have a touchscreen.
Microsoft needed to make these epiphanies, and now that it has -- or at least admitted to knowing them -- Windows 8.1 is only going to get better. The forthcoming update goes beyond the return of the Start menu and focuses on mouse and keyboard input. You'll be able to pin Windows Store apps to the taskbar, and likewise it will be easy to switch between or close them with your mouse.
"We’ve made it so your mouse works more consistently anywhere in Windows. If you move your mouse to the top of the screen when using a Windows Store app, you will see the familiar Close and Minimize buttons. And as I mentioned above, when you move your mouse to the bottom of the screen in a Windows Store app, the taskbar comes up," Microsoft explains in a blog post.
There's a lot more you can do with the mouse, both on the Desktop and the Start screen. You can right-click on app tiles for a context menu, select multiple tiles at once, and much more.
In short, Windows 8.1 is transforming into what Windows 8 should have been at launch. For users who want the touch experience, it's there and it works magnificently. And for users who care about the traditional Desktop interface, you can boot directly to the Desktop and manipulate the OS like you're used to doing.
The "Windows 8.1 Update" is available now for MSDN subscribers. For everyone else, Microsoft will start rolling it out for free to Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1 customers via Windows Update on Tuesday, April 8th.
Well, this stinks. Apparently Microsoft is indeed bringing back the Start menu that power users have demanded, just not with the Windows 8.1 Update 1 scheduled for April 8th -- according to TechCrunch, it will be introduced in a future update of Windows 8.1, which means you won't have to wait until Windows 9, but you don't have wait longer than next week.
On the plus side, the forthcoming update will introduce several other enhancements, including the expanded mouse and keyboard functionality.