Why Microsoft Scrapped The Start Button

When it came to light that Microsoft was planning to remove the Start button from Windows for good, many ardent fans of its functionality were unhappy. Now, Microsoft has explained why it made the choice to ditch the button, which has graced PC desktops for over 17 years.

Speaking to PC Pro, Chaitanya Sareen, principal program manager at Microsoft, explains the decision:

"We'd seen the trend in Windows 7. When we evolved the taskbar we saw awesome adoption of pinning [applications] on the taskbar. We are seeing people pin like crazy. And so we saw the Start menu usage dramatically dropping, and that gave us an option...

"So I'm a desktop user, I pin the browser, Explorer, whatever my apps are. I don't go the Start menu as often. 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. You can't beat the taskbar."

Of course, although the Start button is gone, it's not forgotten. In fact it's replaced by a hot corner in the lower left side of the screen, and it's complemented by more menus in the bottom right corner. Whether that will appease every Start button fan is still uncertain -- but come October, the loss is something they'll have to to face. [PC Pro]

Image: freestockimages/Flickr



    I hate pinning, I've always since it was possible, used a 3rd party toolbar app. Very seldom used the start menu. Just have dedicated folders with a recognizable icon and the various programs in each folder. Simple.

      Why use a third party toolbar which is going to do the same as the existing toolbar?

      Personally, I use the quick launch menu and I hate my open programs being grouped together.

        I use different category folders. Office, Utility, Net etc and place those programs that match in each. I can get to any program on my PC with two fast clicks and my taskbar only has the various open programs on it. No pinning, no cluster and plenty of room for other open programs. Not to mention that if you pin say Explorer, it will only allow one instance at a time. My way you can have as many as I want.

          What? You can open as many instances of an application as you like from the Taskbar, via right-click.

            Try opening a second instance with a pinned start using a single click. I can, my way.
            Either way, it's horses for courses, I am using the release candidate as my main OS and AFIC the progy I'm using works well for me. I very rarely need to use Metro.

              Why does the single click thing matter? I'll take the right-left click over the overheard of a 3rd party application running all the time, plus the inconvenience of installing it, etc. Mind you, the only thing I would ever want two instances of is Explorer and WIN+E is much easier than even one click.
              I find myself using the Metro side of Win8 more and more. I really like it and I have no issues at all using it with mouse and keyboard. Because I can invoke the Start Screen with a single keystroke and organise it however I like, I find it very convenient. I also use split screen a lot more than I thought I would, they are really handy.

                Wow dude you really do like to argue huh! I agree with Noddy, horses for courses, I too use a third party start menu and find it easier to use than Metro. That doesn't make it better or worse just a choice...

              You said "I can get to any program on my PC with two fast clicks" and now you're expecting a new instance with one click?
              I have Explorer pinned to my taskbar. With two fast clicks I can open a new instance at "libraries" or at any address I have pinned to the jumplist. Either right-click -> left-click, or left-click-drag -> left-click, or Windows+E.

                I can open a second instance of any program I have on my tool bar, not the pinning section, in one click. That is my preference, you can do it whatever way you like, that's your choice. The pin section will only allow one instance, unless you right click or whatever the hell else you need to do. Horses for courses!

              Try middle clicking.

                Thank god *someone* said it.

                I mean, I'm a win98 user and I still managed to figure it out the first time I was using win7.

              Hit 'Shift' and left-click.

              New instance, right there.

    A dramatic drop in the use of The Start Menu?
    1) how do they know that? have they been tracking user's move all along? :S
    2) I'm sure most users, including myself, use the start menu to turn off my comp.... Duhh...

      Try making a button on the taskbar with this "%windir%\System32\Shutdown.exe -s -t 00" and this "%windir%\System32\Shutdown.exe -r -t 00" and put a shutdown and restart icon on them. Shutdown or restart in one click.

        This is awesome. Indeed will be a common-place fix for those dying for a power button to press!

          Yeah, your sarcasm aside, the regular power button is two clicks away, this one can sit in your task bar and be accessed with a single click!

      You have the option to allow or disallow usage statistics. What did you think they were doing with them?

      If you disallow them you can't really whinge when your usage doesn't show up heavily enough to matter in the statistics.

      I have a widget that can restart, sleep, shutdown, open cmd.... etc. etc.

    They didn't remove the start button... they just removed the word "START"!

    The button is still there but now it available for the literate in our society!

    I think everyone clicks on START menu, that's where the shutdown/restart button is.

      Everyone, apart from the people that just press the power button to shut down.

        Which soft shuts down modern computers anyway, so isn't really a problem.

      But do they use it for anything else? Except typing to find a program/file?

    Its true. I use Windows 7 for work, and have all the apps I use pinned to the task bar, and all the files I use regularly, pinned to those. I hardly ever use the start menu, though it does a good job of keeping my desktop clear.

      On modern computers, the power button usually sends it into sleep mode. Especially on modern laptops. For people using tablets and laptops, it is very much a problem.

    I'm not annoyed that they're removed the start menu, I'm annoyed they've not replaced it with anything comparable. I look in my start menu here at work, I've got 3 columns of folders filled with programs (Win XP). I'd say I use at least 50% of them on a regular basis. These folders all have a couple of programs in them, you get a main application usually, then a couple of smaller programs for changing configurations of various servers or shared appreciation settings. From what I've seen with Windows 8, there's no way I could have access to all these programs as quickly and as easily as with the Start Menu.

      This is a progression from Windows 7, not Windows XP.

      I used the start menu frequently in XP, there was no other way of doing it. Windows 7 introduced pinned items, which pretty well works how having an icon on your desktop was meant to work, except it's there to see all the time without minimising it.

      I now have nothing on my desktop, everything I use pinned, and only ever open the start menu to go to the control panel or open a program I've just installed.

        I don't have enough monitor space to pin all the programs I use to the start menu. Going to the desktop is even worse, you need to minimise all your running applications to access it.

          Minimising all of your running applications is a single click or keystroke (Windows + D)

            I don't want to minimise my applications, I just want to start a new one.

              windows key to metro, then either pin it there, or type for instant search.

              Just. Like. You. Did. In. Windows. 7.

      WinXP is an entirely different situation, because its Start Menu was really good. But they ruined it in Vista/Win7, which is why everyone stopped using it. But the Start Screen in Win8 is even better than the WinXP Start Menu, so it is still a big step forward.

        How is the start screen better? I keep hearing people say this, but they never give any examples where it's actually functionally better. I also don't see how having to wait for hover events to fire are more efficient than clicking.

          It is better because it is completely customisable. I can group my icons however I want which makes it kind of like a cross between the old Start Menu and the desktop. I still use desktop shortcuts a lot in Win7 because it allows me to group icons the way I like to but I haven't even bothered with them in Win8.

    I used to have a folder menu on my bar that had all my game shortcuts on it, then I started getting most of my games on steam and it didnt seem to be all that useful anymore, especially so after getting a second screen, which pretty much has steam up on it all the time

    Gee how OS/x ish

      What? It is absolutely, completely and utterly nothing like OS X. The Dock is more like the Start Menu, there is nothing in OS X like the Taskbar.

    I sometimes mis-click and open the wrong program, which is fine because all the programs on my taskbar load quick, BUT this is why photoshop and all the rest of the slow loading stuff are pinned to the START menu, so I have to click twice to open it. Windows 7 was my idea (apparently).

    I say the rise of Icon based apps and dock like feature of OSX is why people don't use start menu any more.

      Again, what? What the hell is an "Icon based app"? If you are talking about the way you launch apps on a smartphone, that is EXACTLY the same as having an icon on the desktop of a computer, a concept that is at least 25 years old. And there is nothing "dock like" about any of it at all that I can see.

        MM, youre arguing with people who think the iPhone came first, then Macs, then PC's.

    They replaced START with ALL APPS which is the same thing as START but it opens ALL PROGRAMS from START also.
    Not rocket science I don't know why everyone is crying over it. Windows does have the option of letting you choose what the big Off button on your PC case does.

    Press windows key on keyboard -> type first 3 letters of app name -> hit enter....


      What's all this pinning rubbish.

      yep, you can do that on Windows 8. Just type away from start screen. You can now search within apps as well through contracts

    Losing the start button is silly but an inconvenience at best. Losing the start menu for that bloody rubbish metro replacement is the problem .

      "That bloody rubbish metro replacement" is head and shoulders better than the Start Menu it is replacing. Have you even bothered to use it? I love being able to organise my applications however I like. You could never be this organised with the Start Menu - http://www.novakill.com/stuff/StartScreen.jpg

    MS completely misjudged the motivations here. If they have seen a sharp decline in use of the Start Menu, it is because they ruined it in Vista and carried it over to Win7. That's why everyone started pinning apps to the Taskbar, because starting them from the Start Menu became a PITA.

    The other thing they have failed to grasp is the confusion they have created by removing it. I'm sure everyone has seen that video of the guy's father unable to work out how to get the Start Screen up and that is going to happen the the vast majority of users on Day 1. It is just going to piss users off and create a real negative first impression, all for zero benefit. All the functionality is still there, and in the exact same place it always was, but until you work that out there is no way of knowing how to proceed. It is stupid, pointless and completely bloody-minded that they are not putting it back in. Give users the option of removing it later on but it absolutely needs to be there for new users on their first day. If they did that, I guarantee that 99% of users would opt to keep it there forever.

    haha, so people were pinning their frequently used programs to a handy location on the bottom of their screen..........like Mac OS X.

    Equip Windows 8 with a Mac style dock then, not that ridiculous metro menu.

      There is nothing at all convenient about the Dock. It hogs far too much screen space and gets in the way of status bars far too often. I've shrunk it right down and tried moving it to the top and sides but wherever it goes, it is always in the way.

      As for who copied who, Windows Active Desktop allowed you to launch applications from the Taskbar and it was around for Win95, 4 years before OS X was released. Pinning apps to the Taskbar is nothing new, it just became popular when MS ruined the Start Menu.

      ? not sure if stupid or trolling...

      Oh my God!
      "like Mac OS X"
      No, like fucking Windows 95, 98, 2000, NT, Vista, 7, 8. . .

    I'm running Win 8 and it was disorientating at first, but the trick is not to take your hands off the keyboard :)

    Seriously, now it works like a browser, it's pretty sweet - you just tap the windows button on the keyboard and start typing the name of what you want, it auto completes and you hit enter. I really like it.

    as for the hot zones, that also took a while to acclimatize, but it's really easy to just "crash" your mouse into a corner to get something.

    I don't pin. I hate pinning. I use the start menu. My desktop and taskbar at home are clean of any and all pins. The only thing on my desktop is the trashcan.

    Instead of taking it away, it should be an option.

      All the functionality is still there, it is the button itself that has gone. I never used to pin anything either, until Vista when the Start Menu became so bad.

    Pinning sucks. Besides, it sounds a lot like the dock in Apple, and that is one of the things I have hated since it was introduced. Well, sure it was ok at the start but then it got more and more ugly and annoying.

      It's not like Apple's solution. Apple's solution is a glorified app launcher. Pinning in windows launches and manages open windows.

    When Apple introduced the Dock I was all liek "about time Apple caught up with the Quick Launch toolbar". Then they introduced Stacks as though it was a new thing and I rolled my eyes as I'd been using folders full of shortcuts in Quick Launch for ages.

    One could argue that this time Apple was ahead as Mission Control predates Metro (IIRC), so there's that. But IMHO Metro is executed far better than Mission Control.

    In any case, I use Start for two things: [Windows] - [Left] - [Right] - [Enter] (shutdown); [Windows] - appname - [Enter] (launch app). That's it.

    Any one remember this from the mid 90s...


    The Rolling Stones launching the then new Windows 95 'start' button.

    Best comment was from a professor in uni:
    "You press Start to stop your computer."

    First the desktop button, now the start button.
    Is MS going to take away my right button next? I'll write them a letter of complaint if I can still find Word.

    Seriously people are arguing the benefits of one mouse click or two clicks. What has the world come to.

      Agreed, if someone needed their computer that much, I'd assume they'd know what their doing for this to be irrelevant to them... I've never needed to go from word to the internet at such a pace. Chill down, work it out, you'll be OK! I guarantee you.

    My start button on my xp reads my name instead of "Start"

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