Microsoft is preparing to revive the traditional Start button it killed with Windows 8. Sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans have revealed to The Verge that Windows 8.1 will include the return of the Start button. We understand that the button will act as a method to simply access the Start Screen, and will not include the traditional Start Menu. The button is said to look near-identical to the existing Windows flag used in the Charm bar.
Microsoft’s change of heart follows another recent planned change for Windows 8.1: a boot to desktop option. We understand Microsoft will add an option to allow users to boot directly to the traditional desktop environment in future builds of the upcoming Windows 8 upgrade. Most internal builds of Windows 8.1 do not include the Start button or boot to desktop options, but Microsoft is said to be planning how to add these into the operating system. ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley previously reported on Microsoft’s plans to bring back the Start button and a boot to desktop option.
The death of the traditional Start button in Windows 8 was one of a number of controversial changes introduced with Microsoft’s latest operating system. In our review of Windows 8 we called the new navigation changes “a steep learning curve,” and feedback on the Start button removal has been mixed. 1.5 million downloads of Pokki, a Start Menu replacement, and other similar tools suggest that Windows 8 users still want the Start button and Start Menu. Microsoft explained away its removal using data it gathered from the company’s Customer Experience Improvement Program, but we understand the return in Windows 8.1 is due to customer feedback. We may see the Start button return in the upcoming Windows 8.1 Public Preview, if not expect to see it in the final version due later this year.