Manufacturers Putting The Start Menu Back In Windows 8
Written by David Conrad
Wednesday, 29 August 2012
Microsoft has been hardline about no return to the start menu and start button. No matter how hard users have requested the change, it has been a matter of dogma that the start screen is here to stay. Now it looks as if PC manufacturers might not be so hard line and might undo Microsoft's revolution.
Microsoft justifies the removal of the start menu from Windows 8 by pointing out that not many users actually made use of it. Instead users preferred to populate the task bar with pinned applications. This is perfectly reasonable behavior because we all have a small "working set" of apps that we need to run more often than others - hence we pin them to the taskbar.
This doesn't mean that when we want to run applications outside of the working set we want to use something other than the start menu. It certainly doesn't mean that we want to swap away from the desktop and work with a full screen non-hierarchical list of applications that the start screen presents.
Having to switch from the desktop to the start screen, then to a WinRT app and back to the desktop is the biggest complaint against Windows 8, but Microsoft is sticking to its guns. This is probably because it believes that users have to be forced to come to terms with the new interface and the new apps, otherwise they would simply stick with the desktop.
Microsoft may be sure of its policy, but machine manufacturers might not be so confident. The latest Samsung Windows 8 desktop machines, for example, are shipping with the S-launcher which Mashable got a chance to try out.
From Mashable's account, the S-launcher behaves a lot like the original Start menu, but in a floating window. It is more like a widget version of the start menu.
A number of other commentators have remarked that, while this might make Windows 8 easier to use, the S-launcher looks like the Mac's dock bar. Given that Apple seem to be of the opinion that they own patents on everything from rectangles with rounded corners, this might be another problem for Samsung. On asking for opinions round the office, most thought it looked like the original Start Menu floated off onto the screen rather than anything Mac:
There are a number of third party add-ons that restore the start menu, or something like it, but having a major manufacturer supply a start menu replacement is another level of problem for Microsoft.
Most users regard the apps that hardware manufacturers put on their machines as a nuisance; junkware that has to be fixed by a clean install of the OS. Could this be the one time when the manufacturers' take on the OS is better than a clean install?
Strange to think that this could be the junkware that saves Windows 8.