The iconic ‘Start’ button has been part of the Windows fabric since 1995, but Microsoft is abandoning the feature for the new Windows 8 OS to be released later this year.
So why has it been dropped? Simply because research suggests people don’t use it anymore. An increasing number rely more on pinning favourite apps to their taskbar or simply using keyboard shortcuts to access frequently used applications. As a result, Microsoft will now present a tiled Start screen similar to the one seen on windows mobiles as part of the new Metro interface.
“If you’re going to the Start screen now, we’re going to unlock a whole new set of scenarios, or you can choose not to go there, stay in the desktop, and it’s still fast”, said Chaitanya Sareen, principal program manager at Microsoft.
Sareen also claims that people are taking advantage of keyboard shortcuts to open applications, instead of resorting to the Start menu. “Press the Windows key and 1 and you’re already in IE [if IE is the first item pinned to your taskbar]. It’s so fast.”
In demos earlier this year, presenters struggled to make gesture controls function properly with laptop trackpads on Windows 8 but Sareen dismissed criticism that the Metro interface is better suited to touchscreen devices than laptops and desktops. He said that the interface works really well with mouse and keyboard and that the touchpad drivers were still “very, very early” and were “still being refined”.