Windows 8.1 Will Bring Start Button Back… Sort Of

First Windows 8.1 details are revealed ahead of free update

Microsoft has offered users a first look at the upcoming Windows 8.1 update, confirming it will restore the Start button to the taskbar, but without the full functionality of previous versions of the operating system.

The omission of the Start button, which has been present in Windows since Windows 95, has been one of the biggest criticisms of Windows 8, which has struggled to win over consumers and businesses. It has even been blamed for the continuing decline in sales of PCs.

At the very end of a substantial blog post outlining the improvements, Microsoft said that the start ‘tip’ will be permanently located on the taskbar for mouse users, but it will only link to the tile menu or to the list of applications.

Windows Start button

Windows 8.1 StartMicrosoft said it will be making improvements to the in-built apps, offer more personalisation options such as custom start menu backgrounds and different size tiles, and an overhauled search tool.

Multi-tasking will also be improved in the update as users will be able to change the size of different apps, have multiple windows of the same app snapped together and even use up to three apps when using an external display.

Management and security improvements for business users will be revealed at a later date.

Speculation that Microsoft was taking action to make Windows 8 more user-friendly has persisted since the platform’s launch, with the software giant admitting the changes made from Windows 7 were perhaps too much.

Too much too soon?

The tech titan said Windows 8.1 was created in response to customer feedback but that it stands by many of the changes it introduced in Windows 8.

“Windows 8 has been a bold, necessary move towards mobility for the PC industry – pushing ourselves and our industry ahead with a touch-first approach that is redefining the PC as we know it, while offering the best of all worlds across any device at any time,” said Antoine Leblond, corporate vice president for Windows Program Management.  “Our commitment to that vision – and to always improving – remains the same as we stay the course of the evolution of Windows with Windows 8.

“We’ve been watching, we’ve been listening; Windows 8.1 will continue to build on what you love bringing the latest advancements in hardware, apps, cloud services and the OS to enable a unique experience in everything you do.”

Windows 8.1 will be released as a free update through the Windows Store later this year, with a preview version available from 26 June.

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Windows 8.1

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Windows 8.1