Ever since Terry Myerson's session at Build 2014, the web rumor mill has been churning up a storm with all sorts of speculation about the next version(s) of the Windows operating system. Now, I've been covering Microsoft products long enough to know that speculating about Windows features before the actual RTM is out there is likely to get you into trouble. But this time, Microsoft started it.
Myerson, Executive Vice President, Operating Systems, talked about a lot of things in his session, but towards the end of it, he turned his attention to the Windows desktop. Here's what he said:
"OK, so now we've talked about the PC, the phone, the tablet, the Xbox, and the Internet of Things. But one thing which I have not talked about is the Windows desktop.
"One-point-five billion PC users out there, hundreds of millions of new PCs a year, and this is the primary interface they're interacting with.
"Now, Joe shared some amazing work the team's doing to make that a great experience for every user on the PC, and I'm not here to announce the next version of Windows. But I am going to share that we are going all in with this desktop experience to make sure your applications can be accessed and loved by people that love the Windows desktop.
"So for starters we are going to enable your universal Windows applications to run in a window.
"And we're going to enable your users to find, discover and run your Windows applications with the new Start menu.
"You can see here we have Live Tiles coming together with the familiar experience customers are looking for, some customers are looking for to start and run their applications, and we will be making this available to all Windows 8.1 users as an update. So I think there will be a lot of happy people out there."
Now, the key things to take away from this section of his session is that he emphasized that the Windows desktop is the primary interface, that Windows Metro/Store apps will run in a resizable window, and that a modified Start Menu (an amalgamation of the Windows 7 Start Menu and the Windows 8 Start Screen) will all be coming to Windows 8.1 users as an update.
Since this session occurred just days before the release of Windows 8.1 Update 1, there was some hope that the modified Start Menu was going to make a surprise appearance in the Update. But, no dice!
Then, we started hearing that the modified Start Menu would come in the Windows 9 version of the operating system. At the time, that seemed to make sense to me. Update 1 would be a stopgap, and then we'd see the real changes in Windows 9.
However, the rumor mill soon started up again and we began hearing that there would be a Windows 8.1 Update 2 and that this would be the version that would reintroduce the Start Menu. Again, that seemed to make sense to me. Get the Start Menu back in the operating system sooner rather than later, and then we'd see other desktop-oriented changes in Windows 9.
But that rumor lasted only a fleeting moment. We soon read that Windows 8.1 Update 2 would bring other changes, but the return of the Start Menu will be in a later release, possibly Windows 9. I thought, "OK... two stopgaps and then the Start Menu will return - I suppose can live with that."
Then, the other day, I began reading posts on the web about a Windows 8.1 Update 3 that would further push out the return of the Start Menu in Windows 9 until either April or June of 2015. Three stopgap updates until the return of the Start Menu?
It only took one release to remove the Start Menu. Why would it take three releases to put it back in, especially when Microsoft knows that everyone wants it back?
Too bad Microsoft didn't take my advice back in a June 2013 review of Start Menu Reviver when I said that "...if I were a Microsoft executive, I would seriously be looking to acquire ReviverSoft and incorporate this product into the operating system." ReviverSoft recently came out with Start Menu Reviver 2.
When do you think that Microsoft will bring about the return of the Start Menu? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.
Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.