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The Windows 8.1 Start Button (Close Enough)

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The biggest complaint about Windows 8 is the missing Start Button. Yes, the Metro / Modern / Win8 menu is almost the same, but there isn't a good reason from the end user's perspective to not allow for the old menu. Just give us an option so our desktop computer can look like it used to. With Windows 8.1 it's kind of back.

When Microsoft announced the return of the Start Button most people were probably imagining the return of the Start Menu (which is what we really wanted). Left clicking on this new Start Button or hitting the Windows key takes you back to the Modern UI, not exactly what we were looking for. Right-clicking on it brings up a list of useful functions (including shutdown/restart/hibernate). While this is a far cry from the original Start Menu we wanted there are two functions of Windows 8.1 that actually make this much closer than it first appears.

The first is that now when you are on the Modern UI and type a search, everything is searched by default. You no longer have to click between Apps, Files, and Settings depending on what you're doing. This makes the old workflow of hitting the Windows key and typing the name of the app actually function well. While it's still jarring as the whole interface changes on you temporarily, you can make it less painful now by having the start screen share the background with your desktop.

The second one is the Windows Key + S combination. This gives you a Search box that defaults to searching everywhere. So if you want to launch Word press Windows Key + S, type Word, and press Enter. This is actually what I use the Start Menu for in Windows 7. If you're a OneNote user you may notice this is the same shortcut used for taking screen clippings. It seems the OneNote shortcut was moved to Windows Key + Shift + S. As I said, it's close enough for me, although I do find it disappointing that Microsoft either won't give back the one thing people are asking for, or just doesn't understand.



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