Even after the launch of Windows 8 for MSDN and TechNet members the complaints about the Start Screen still persist along with calls for the Start Menu of old to return for better or for worse. We’re still seeing various pieces of software coming out to mimic the functionality or presence of the old Start Menu. Having used the final version of Windows 8 for a little while now I have developed an initial opinion about the matter.
It’s not the end of the world.
Regular Windows users will do the vast majority of their activities out on the desktop and the taskbar still maintains its ability to pin apps to it just like the incarnation in Windows 7. Jumplists work exactly the same way as well which will allow you to get straight to your recent and popular documents and bookmarks. The way windows work remains the same as it has for a while while some aspects such as Task Manager get some improvements to their usability.
The Start Screen in Windows 8 is essentially a full screen Start Menu. When on the Start Screen you can type just as you did in Windows Vista and Windows 7 to search for an application and press “Enter” to launch it. Yes, the tile are larger but I see that as a benefit particularly for those who lack dexterity with the mouse and found trying to hover over and click on tiny entries in the Start Menu. I’ll acknowledge that the Metro apps in Windows 8 won’t be everybody’s cup of tea but there is certainly nothing from using the trusty desktop software to which many have become accustomed in prior versions of Windows.
By no means am I calling Windows 8 perfect – it’s not perfect at all and there are plenty of areas for improvement. Things such as having a visible clock while inside full screen Metro apps and simplifying the access reboot and shutdown options are simple but major improvements that could be implemented. I can only hope that Microsoft iterates quickly and regularly to fill in the gaps and enrich the user experience introduced in Windows 8.
If people believe that their Windows experience will be fundamentally broken by the Start Screen I really do challenge them to give it a fair go. Typically, you will spend greater than 99% of your time on the desktop (as to how many decimal points is up for debate) and the Start Screen will feature every so often for maybe five or ten seconds at the most to launch applications or apps.
The Start Screen is a change from the Start Menu introduced in Windows 95 which replaced Program Manager in Windows 3.11. Alas, there were users out there still yearning for Program Manager which was still included in Windows 95 until Windows XP SP2. As to how long people will cling on to their need for the Start Menu is anyone’s guess as will whether or not Metro will survive in the long run.