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Windows 8.1 and the Start menu – reunited at last!

Welcome back

After months of confusion and anguish, Microsoft has announced the return of the Start menu in the latest version of Windows 8. Are you feeling emotional about its long-awaited return?

They say you don’t know how much you love something until it’s gone. If that’s true, I must have been head over heels in love with the old Windows Start menu.

All that time I’d spent using it to zap up the calculator, search for my files and dip into the Control panel amounted to a decade-long romance. And then, when Microsoft callously unveiled Windows 8, it was discarded. Just abandoned in the great Recycle bin in the sky.

Dutifully, I tried to get along with the new, Start menu-less version of Windows. Like a regenerated Doctor Who, you know you’re going to have to put up with it for at least three years, so you may as well get on with things as best as you can. Still, this didn’t stop me getting regularly lost in the Windows 8 ‘live tile’ morass.

Once, I spent a full 10 minutes stuck on its webcam page taking an endless array of selfies as I tried to get back to the home screen. It was a deeply harrowing experience.

The first, my last, my Start menu

Granted, I may be a special case when it comes to being vexed by Windows 8. That hasn’t stopped me from being genuinely overjoyed that the Start menu is back for Microsoft’s 8.1 update. We’ve got the full details on our sister site Tech Daily, but the essence is this: ‘it’s not quite the same, but it’s good enough.’

In all seriousness, Windows 8 has been crying out for a better way to navigate between its start screen and desktop pages. Plus, you can once again pin apps to the Start menu and use it as a means to shut down your computer. All of those little things that were that much harder to do without it.

Having performed another high-profile U-turn with the Xbox One recently, credit is due to Microsoft for listening to consumers and giving them what they want. Now that the Start menu has been retrieved from its metaphorical waste paper bin, I think Windows 8.1 will offer a much-improved user experience.

Certainly I’ll feel more inclined to experiment with its more innovative features knowing I have the Start menu comfort blanket to return to if it all goes wrong… again.

Could you get by without the Windows Start menu?

No - I'm glad the Start menu has returned in Windows 8.1 (66%, 233 Votes)

Yes - I'm not bothered that Windows 8 didn't have a Start menu (14%, 51 Votes)

I really, really don't mind either way (11%, 38 Votes)

I don't use Windows, stop asking me about something that doesn't affect me (9%, 31 Votes)

Total Voters: 353

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I have Windows 8 on disk, bought for £14.95 in February. I was not going to install it until enough people told me they were happy using it, without the Start menu. I’m still waiting for another home user to tell me this. I may now consider installing it as I presume updates will include the Start menu. I am really happy with Windows 7, so perhaps I should wait a while more. Decisions, decisions.


I know I can get the latest version of the Mac operating system from Apple for £14, but where do you buy a copy of Windows 8 for that price? It’s a lot more than that in ** *****.


If you bought a new PC with Windows 7 between the end of last summer and the beginning of this year, you had the option of buying a Windows 8 upgrade for around £14.
Haven’t used mine yet but might consider it when the start button returns.


Thanks Alfa. That’s a bargain. I feel sorry for those who paid for Windows Vista and then had to pay again for despite all the problems with Vista.


Now, if Microsoft would give us the choice of tiles or drop-down menus in MS Office…….

It takes me so long to find what I want and they don’t all fit on the screen.



It is quite amazing how Microsoft can have been so clueless not to have researched consumer reaction more thoroughly. I am also suspicious that the difference in requirements for people using it with large screens and those on a tablet have been overshadowed by the foolish desire for a universal screen.

On improving Microsofts functionality I have paid and use XYplorer which is hugely useful in manipulating media files let alone a in-built preview screen – and available for free trial.

ampox says:
28 June 2013

I am fed up with having to adapt to new versions of Windows that provide facilities that I do not need. Am I alone in still using MS-DOS versions of a word processor (Wordstar), spreadsheet (Quattro Pro) and database (Paradox) for purposes that do not require internet access. They NEVER crash! No blue screens.

Dave Melling says:
29 June 2013

Having just purchased a new laptop having windows 8 . Within a week I had my old laptop repaired and the new laptop sits unused. I have now arranged for a local repair centre to remove wndows version 8 and install xp anything but put up with the frustrations of windiws 8.

Mike says:
30 June 2013

So Dave, tell me this honestly. I was considering buying a new laptop operating Windows 8 (.1?) while I use XP on my PC. Should I do this or do you recommend I keep XP?

Hwalker1 says:
3 December 2013

I’m still using Edlin which came with dos 3.1

Rico says:
28 June 2013

I wouldn’t get too excited, its not actually a start button at all. Its a shortcut to the start screen, with a right click menu for the administrative tools.

So if you are looking for the old style start button, you are going to be disappointed.

Mind you it only take two minutes to download and install a start button like old with the numerous ones on the net, I use Classic Shell which is free.


I want a choice, I want Windows 7. Almost all corporate PCs still buy it with Windows 7 but for us consumers it is impossible to buy Windows 7 on the High Street or from Currys. If you want Win7 you have to buy from a seller that sells to companies (and pay extra). This is a scandal. Microsoft’s arrogance is unbelievable. I am also dissapointed in Which? Why don’t you argue for consumers right to choose?

BX says:
28 June 2013

Windows 8 is so awful that I downloaded the Windows Classic program and simply overwrote the awful starting page offered. This program allows you to choose between a W7, XP and classic desktops. I chose XP, surely the only really decent product MS has ever produced?

I only use MS on my laptop, having migrated to Linux years ago for my PC. How come Linux upgrades improve functionality and MS seems to endlessly go back into the morass?

I’m being uncharitable: Windows 8 boots faster than Windows 7 or earlier, and is even slightly faster than Suse 12.3, but only just!