In many ways, Microsoft new Start Screen -- originally codenamed Metro -- represents the old-fashioned start menu on steroids. There's both good and bad to this; on the one hand it allows for rich animations, powerful sorting, and better support for touch. On the other hand, many app developers make poor use of its extra space and many users feel it's uncomfortable and bloated on a traditional PC.
As it marches towards Windows 8.1, Microsoft is looking to show it's listening to criticism from its fans -- halfway listening at least. The Verge is reporting that its sources are saying that the beloved Start Button will make a comeback in the upcoming release.
But this isn't your daddy's start button - it will dump you right back into the Start Screen (Metro UI) similar to the Charm.
The second report corroborates ZDNet's chief Windows expert Mary Jo Foley, who last week said her sources were buzzing over a Start Button comeback.
For those looking to stay on the desktop and navigate a more traditional start menu, you can always grab a third-party app like Pokki. As of January Pokki had already recorded 1.5 million downloads and was used on average 10 times a day by customers, despite Microsoft's insistence that its own internal research showed customers were no longer using the Start Button. (Pokki monetizes itself via a bundled third-party app store).
Microsoft sold 60 million Windows licenses as of January, but a significant portion of those are though not yet to have made their way to end users. Regardless of the actual number of live Windows 8 users, it's clear a relatively large minority have opted to restore the Start Button via third party workarounds.
Windows 8.1 will also reportedly have the option to boot directly to desktop via a setting. The new operating system is expected to launch sometime in the next few months.