Windows 8.1 may boot to desktop, resurrect Start menu


— 9:10 AM on April 16, 2013

There are plenty of reasons to hate on Windows 8, but the biggest one is no doubt the new Start screen. A lot of us dislike how it replaces the old Start menu and appears like an uninvited guest at every bootup. Why isn't there an easy way to keep it out of sight?

Believe it or not, the next major version of Windows due out this year may address that. ZDNet's Mary-Jo Foley reports that Windows 8.1, a.k.a. Windows Blue, could let users boot straight to the desktop and bring back the Start menu.

The boot-to-desktop option is "now looking like the plan," according to one of Foley's sources, while the Start menu's resurrection is reportedly being considered. There's some additional evidence for the boot-to-desktop feature: according to WinBeta, a leaked build of Windows 8.1 has a variable called "twinui-CanSuppresssStartScreen." The Start menu's return seems less certain, although considering the sheer number of third-party Start menu add-ons for Windows 8, Microsoft would be foolish not to include the option.

I've learned to live with the Start screen since I upgraded to Windows 8 last October, but I sympathize with the haters. Modern UI doesn't really fit on a dual-monitor desktop workstation. There's something clunky and awkward about it, especially when you're navigating with a mouse and a scroll wheel instead of your fingers. Letting desktop users muzzle Modern UI would be a step in the right direction—one that could make Windows 8.1 more appropriate for businesses, too.

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