Photo of a Windows 8 tablet with a keyboard

Microsoft is apparently going to great lengths to prevent people from using the familiar Start button and Start menu in the company’s forthcoming Windows 8 operating system.

The company is removing all code from Windows 8 referencing the Start button/menu to prevent third-party developers from creating a workaround allowing people to continue using it, according to Winsupersite’s Paul Thurrott. He also points out that several of the user interface hacks implemented to bring back the Start button functionality on the Windows 8 Consumer Preview will no longer work on the Windows 8 Release Preview (Note: Consumer Preview and Release Preview are different). We’re still waiting for Microsoft to launch the Release Preview, which is expected to roll out sometime this week.

We first learned that Microsoft was removing the Start button functionality back in February. The Start button, which made its debut in the Windows 95 version of the OS, usually sits on the lower left corner of the screen within the “Live Bar” (the bar that contains minimized windows and quick button shortcuts to apps). The Start button was also one of the primary methods used for people to navigate to computer settings, applications, stored files, and more. By contrast, Windows 8 is supposed to break with this tradition.


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The latest version of the OS is part of Microsoft’s strategy to integrate personal computers with tablets and other mobile devices, much in the same way Apple has done with its OS X operating system and its iOS mobile OS. Windows 8 plans to do this with a brand new Metro-style UI that will easily transition between devices. And a start button/menu does not translate very well to tablets and smartphones, so it has to go.

Essentially, getting rid of the start button could be either a genius (and uncharacteristic) move by Microsoft or something that endlessly annoys long-time Windows users into sticking with Windows 7. Worse, it could even push those people into a situation where they’d like to try Apple’s OS X or the new Google Chrome OS.

There’s also the matter of Windows 8 business and enterprise customers. As many people will attest, the business world is usually the most resistant toward big changes for a number of reasons that I could spend several paragraphs discussing. Probably the most practical reason most large companies will resist switching over will come down to IT departments not wanting to deal with the backlash from less technologically savvy employees — all of whom they’ll have to train and retrain several times for the next five years or so.

Via The Verge; Photo via Dylan Tweney

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