Good News: Microsoft will bring Start menu back to Windows

At Build 2014 on Wednesday, Microsoft announced that it will bring the Start menu back to Windows. The feature was removed in Windows 8, leaving millions of computer users disappointed. 
The company also announced an update to Windows 8.1 that will add several features such as onscreen shutdown button and ability to pin Modern UI apps to taskbar to the OS. This will make using Windows 8.1 easier on computers that have keyboard and mouse.
The Start menu that Microsoft briefly showed on Wednesday looked like the one found in Windows 7. The company showed that when the Start button was clicked, users got access to the apps installed on the computer. It also allowed quick access to Modern UI (user interface) apps. The company said that it was working on this Start menu. But it is likely that this Start menu will not be a part of the Windows 8.1 Update, which will be available on April 8.

To make Windows 8 more familiar and easier use, Microsoft was also working on a "windowed" mode for Modern UI apps. Currently, these applications run in either full-screen mode or a "snapped" mode where they look like a strip and take the full vertical screen space. In comparison, the traditional Windows applications run in a resizable window.

When Microsoft came out with Windows 8, the company said that the OS was specifically designed keeping tablets in mind. While it was good for people who were looking to buy a Windows tablet, for personal computer users the experience with Windows 8 was less than perfect. Majority of Windows users are still on personal computers and Windows 8 has failed to gain traction among them.

Microsoft fixed some of the issues with Windows 8.1. With the update on Wednesday, called Update, it is fixing more user interface issues to make the OS suitable for consumers who still use a mouse and keyboard.

Among the new features, the most important is the option to pin apps with Modern UI into the desktop taskbar.

To give users feeling that they are dealing with one operating system and not two - one with Modern UI apps and interface and other with traditional UI - Microsoft will now allow users to pin Modern UI along with the traditional apps on the start screen in desktop mode. This will help consumers who find Modern UI cumbersome to use.

There are some other notable features in Windows 8.1 Update. Here is a list:

— If you are using a desktop computer or a laptop, you will be able to boot directly into the desktop mode. Now users no longer have to deal with Modern UI start screen, which is full of tiles, if they don't want.

— Search and shutdown buttons are now always visible in the top right corner of the screen.

— In an app that uses Modern UI, if a user navigates to the top of the screen, it will show close and minimize buttons. This means to close a Modern UI app, a user will have to no longer hold the mouse and drag the window downwards.

— Right click on a tile of an application in Modern UI mode will open a context menu.

— Windows Store will be pinned to the taskbar by default.

These are the major changes. The Windows 8.1 Update will also have some other changes, including a few focused on enterprise customers. The idea behind the changes is to make Windows 8, with its unique and rather cumbersome Modern UI, more comfortable and familiar to majority of Windows users who use mouse and keyboard.

According to Microsoft, "Windows 8.1 Update (is) available today for MSDN subscribers, and will begin to roll out for free to Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1 customers via Windows Update next Tuesday (that is) April 8."