If you think about it, Microsoft made a bold move by realising that there is no need for a start button specifically. At least not visually present when a user is in the desktop. It represented something they were trying to move away from, the idea of the desktop start button from Windows 7 and before. Microsoft wanted to converge desktop and tablet platforms, they realised that to do this successfully they needed to get rid of the old start menu button and behaviour along with it. It represented a distinct form of operating system from their ‘old’ desktop days, which at the time of releasing Windows 8 is what they wanted to move on from.
For everyone that complained that this is a usability issue, get it out of your head. It’s just a visual/user training issue. If a user were to point their mouse to the bottom left corner and click, the same result is achieved. It’s likely the typical behaviour that Microsoft picked up through their user metrics, most users move their mouse all they way to the bottom left corner when there was a start button to access it.
With Windows 8 there are typically 3 ways to get to the new start menu
- Moving the mouse to the bottom left corner
- Swiping in from the right and pressing the start button
- Pressing the start menu key on your keyboard or tablet
Microsoft were trying to position the desktop as a minimal space, much like the rest of the OS. As little distraction as possible. They did this by simply hiding the button itself.
Microsoft’s decision to bring back the start menu will haunt them because it’s going to be a lot harder to represent their new OS as a converged OS because of this legacy that they’ve backtracked on.
If I were them I’d flip the switch and turn it off before general release. Spend more effort on educating users on the new start menu behavior.
Let me know what your thoughts are in the comments below.