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It’s back! Samsung revives the Start button in Windows 8

Microsoft has dumped the Start button from its upcoming Windows 8 operating system. We’ve previously asked whether you’ll miss it – Samsung’s answer to that is ‘yes’ as the company is bringing it back.

According to Mashable, Samsung’s latest all-in-one PCs are the first to sport the company’s so-called ‘S Launcher’ widget that acts just like Windows iconic Start button used to do. Click on Start and type ‘calculator’ for example and S Launcher will show you all the settings and apps that relate to that term.

Does the Start button fit with Windows 8?

Microsoft has good reason for removing the Start menu from Windows 8. The new ‘Metro-style’ interface, optimised for tablets and smartphones, replaces the Start menu. Instead Windows 8 lays out the programs on tiles that you can personalise.

It’s a perfect fit for tablets and phones, but on a computer, especially one that doesn’t come with a touchscreen, it’s more than a little clunky. We challenged various people in Which? HQ to find tools within Windows 8, such as the Control Panel, and without the Start button many of us were more than a little perplexed.

As Which? Convo commenter Steve Kendrick said on our previous post:

‘The Start button is not merely an icon (in either sense of the word). It is the cornerstone of the Windows environment. Try telling someone over the phone how to start a program without it. Will you know how to get them to find it? If you use someone else’s PC, will you be able to find things? If you want to actually perform a search operation on the computer, will you know how?’

Relaunching the Start button

But, is it right for Samsung to reincarnate what is essentially the Start button? Yes and no.

The biggest mistake Microsoft is making with Windows 8 is its ‘one operating system fits all’ approach. Windows 8 will work beautifully on a tablet, smartphone and – as I’ve said – even a touchscreen computer.

However, it’s less well equipped for a conventional laptop or desktop computer. With Windows 8, Microsoft has basically moved settings into various places, making them difficult to find – Samsung’s S Launcher saves you that trouble.

Microsoft’s biggest rival, Apple, has a different OS for tablets and desktop computers and I think Windows should too. For desktops, the Start menu is an essential I couldn’t live without.

But, is Samsung the right company to revive it? That’s where I’d have to argue ‘no’. The company’s version of Android was previously met with a lacklustre reception from customers, and it’s also been the precursor to a potentially vicious patent battle between Apple and Samsung. Shouldn’t Microsoft have the courage to give PC users the interface they want?

There will be many who – like me – will be more than happy to see the Start button live on for just a little longer, in whatever guise that may be. Will you?

Comments
Profile photo of John Ward
Member

I find the Start menu useful but don’t actually make much use of it – I go to Start mainly to Shut Down! So long as the new tiles are comprehensible and the customisation facility isn’t just a gimmick but actually enables some short-cutting it would be good. How do you access the tiles? Are they always on the screen or is there a key to strike on the keyboard?

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Member

Will Windows 8 machines come without the ‘Windows button’ on keyboards? That’s basically a shortcut to the Start menu… what would it do in Windows 8?

Member

I believe it switches between the metro layout and classic desktop, although I’m not positive having not yet tried it, you can download windows 8 for free right now from the Microsoft website.

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Member

Not sure I’m ready to take that plunge Liam…

Member

Will miss the start button for my desktop yes, though I plan on getting the Stardock Start8 app which brings it back, is free and, although in beta, will be driven to improve with the users input being taking for these improvements.

Member

Start menus are overrated. I personally love the new start screen, and find it hard to believe that anyone would prefer the mess of endless scrolling through arbitrary folders to find an app when you can just have the ones you view most clearly visible after pressing the windows key. The only thing that’s remotely difficult to find is the option to Shut Down. =/

Profile photo of chris
Member

I rather hate the babysih toy (FP) style of win metro (8)
In fact we have decided to buy the new laptop with Win 7 64-bit and Mega RAM
as the prices of these machines are dropping.

I would prefer an O/S that at least will run the mega bucks of software I’ve already spent too and oh yes – it’s a Samsung I have my eye on.

One major factor is the inclusion of a non-reflective screen, as we have glass windows in our house (unlike the designers in box offices) and my friends HP & Dell have shiny screens, which act as mirrors when the sun shines, ie daylight.