Start all over again: Microsoft admits defeat and brings back the Start button for Windows 8.1


Microsoft has confirmed the latest edition of its Windows operating system will include a Start button.

The feature was absent from previous versions of Windows 8, the latest operating system from Microsoft, which drew complaints from users.

However, the new button - dubbed the ‘Start tip’ - won’t be identical to the start button that most of us associate with Windows.

It will still be located in the traditional position, in the lower left-hand corner of the desktop, but won’t bring up the usual Start menu.

Clicking on the ‘tip’ will instead take users to the Start screen – a customisable screen that uses Windows 8’s signature tiled layout.

Like the Start menu, the Start screen can list a user’s most commonly used applications, but is also a hub for other information like calendars, weather and social media updates.

Although user feedback for Windows 8 has been poor, the company has maintained they are being “principled, not stubborn” when it comes to modifying the user experience.

Many customers have complained about the lack of continuity between previous versions of Windows and Microsoft’s latest OS.

The start button has been present in the software since Windows 95, and despite selling more than 100 million licenses, many see Windows 8 as a failure.

The new version of Windows 8, codenamed ‘Blue’, also provides many updates to the OS’s customisation options, allowing customers to personalise their experience more extensively – the norm for previous Windows versions.

Other updated features include a more expansive search function that trawls documents, applications and the web all from the same bar, and the latest version of Microsoft’s browser – Internet Explorer 11.

The rethink of Microsoft’s flagship product has prompted many to accuse the company of rolling back on their bold redesign. The Financial Times described the change as the “most prominent admissions of failure for a new mass-market consumer product since Coca-Cola's New Coke fiasco nearly 30 years ago.”

The changes to Windows 8.1 certainly suggest that Microsoft wants to be more accommodating to traditional users, but the essence of Windows 8 – the tiles, the hub rather than the desktop – remain the same.

Will users be more likely to upgrade to Windows 8.1 than they were to Windows 8? We can’t say yet, but in terms of regaining their swagger on the market, these changes might just be a start.