Microsoft to hide Metro start screen with Windows 8.1 Update 1?

Microsoft to hide Metro start screen with Windows 8.1 Update 1?

Summary: Windows 8.1 Update 1 is shaping up to be a fairly substantial update. But it's not clear that Microsoft is going to go so far as to hide the Metro Start screen by default.

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There are reports circulating, including this January 30 one from The Verge, that Microsoft may be poised to hide its Metro Start Screen with Windows 8.1 Update 1, by turning on by default the boot-to-desktop setting.

startscreenwin81

However, I'm hearing this may not end up being the case by the time Windows 8.1 Update 1 begins to be made available to users preloaded on new PCs and pushed via Windows Update. (That rollout is supposedly starting in mid-March.)

Windows watcher may recall that after refusing outright to include a boot-to-desktop setting with Windows 8.0, Microsoft conceded with Windows 8.1 and added boot-to-desktop option to its operating system.

The coming Windows 8.1 Update 1 is focused first and foremost on making Windows 8.1 more palatable to traditional mouse/desktop users. This is a good thing, as this is the core of Microsoft's sizeable installed base. And, in my opinion, it was a dubious idea from the outset to try to force users running Windows 8.x on non-touch hardware to interact with the operating system in a touch-first way. 

If Microsoft did make skipping the Metro Start screen a default option, the company would give developers even less of a reason to write Windows Store/Metro Style apps. Yes, the ability to pin Metro Style apps to the desktop task bar is supposedly part of Windows 8.1 Update 1, as has been reported previously. But if users don't have incentive to seek out Metro Style apps from the get-go, why bother?

The feature set for Windows 8.1 Update 1 is believed to be locked-in at this point, according to one of my contacts. While there's no reason Microsoft couldn't opt to make boot-to-desktop a universal default -- or even just the default on non-touch devices/machines -- my contacts don't believe this is currently the plan.

Microsoft officials aren't commenting on anything to do with Windows 8.1 Update 1. They still haven't even verified it exists, even though there have been leaked builds and private demonstrations of the coming update.

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Topics: Windows 8, Microsoft, Software Development, Tablets, PCs

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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288 comments
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  • One more thing

    Bring back Aero transparency. enough with the cartoon colors.
    SunFire23
    • NO!

      Aero is a resource and battery hog for no reason.
      Joe_Raby
      • oh god... not this again

        tests after tests proved this to be a fallacy. Only on small specd netbooks with poor gpus did it even matter. Let this zombie die.
        drx69
        • Not a fallacy at all - it's a fact

          The transparencies in Aero use shaders which consume additional GPU power and thus battery. Windows 8's GUI is NOT Vista Basic. Windows 8 still uses your GPU for desktop and window (and Metro GUI) composition. Shaders require more processing. Period. It is a fact.
          Joe_Raby
          • Fallacy

            On modern hardware the effect on battery is negligible.

            I think transparency may be coming back to some parts of the GUI. There were some recent screen caps that showed the new task bar to be transparent.
            winGeek
          • Taskbar is transparent on current version

            Even on Win 8.0 you had transparent task bar. It has been removed from the window bars along with the drop shadows. Personally it does not bother me. What does bother me it that I no longer have the choice to enable it. I really wish that they allowed users to be able to control the experience.
            sharkboyjohn
          • Transparency is Back

            Windows 8.1 has transparency. That is what I have. I say have the stuff available, and those that want to add an extra 5 minutes to their battery life can turn off those extra features. Not all computers run on batteries! Personally, I used to keep everything turned off on my vista laptop with a Pentium, but now I have an ivy i7 and I keep everything turned on.
            techcaleb
          • And if you are on desktop,

            who cares? Unless you are going to Linux, where a gig RAM is all you need, you're going to want 2 gigs anyway and that will take care of RAM shortages. Pump that new Bad Boy up with a 1 gig video card and there isn't much you can't run.
            nesdave
          • I use Metro with a mouse and keyboard every day

            I am sick of people claiming that Windows 8 Metro is bad with mouse and keyboard and always failing to explaining any ways in which it is actually bad. A mouse and keyboard is my preferred way of using Windows 8. I find it to actually be faster and superior to touch. I only use touch on occasion and when I do I don't see any significant advantages over a mouse. In fact I would say touch even in Metro is still inferior to the speed and precision you have working with a mouse and keyboard.

            Here's one small thing I would concede: Right-clicking for menu options and having to move the cursor down to the menu bar is not as convenient as having the menu pop up where you right-clicked. However this is not a "metro" thing. If you long press an item in metro on Windows Phone or Zune it would pop up a floating menu on those devices. Windows 8 implemented the metro UI incorrectly in many ways and it looks like they're in the process of fixing Sinofsky's bad implementation of Metro. That being said there are some places in Windows 8 where it already does pop-up a floating menu like if you right click on the open apps in the side bar or if you right click on the start button.


            As far as the bring back Aero kids. LOL. The 1990's called and they want your design sensibilities back. I'm not against superficial options though. MS should put an option for Aero back into the OS but pop up a warning that using Aero may slow down performance and decrease battery life. If a customer likes Aero style so much that they don't care about negative effects then let them be happy.
            cool8man
          • Read up.

            On modern hardware the effect is very minimal. Your clearly on a computer.

            Look it up.
            Cayble
          • Fine, but....

            ...give me an option to turn it on for machines that can handle it, and turn it off for machines that don't have the capability. Don't just kill it entirely.
            darthmongo
          • Native Mode Windows 8 Has No Business Being Called "Windows"

            Tiles 8 maybe, but not "Windows" 8.
            Lazarus439Z
        • lol

          Do you know what the word "Fallacy" means? I assure you: it doesn't mean anything resembling the way you just misused it.
          jasongw
      • You're just as stupid as the Windows 8 team

        If you are worried about the Aero interface sucking down battery power, turn it off. Easy.

        I don't have a portable PC... I use Android tablets for things that don't fit on my workstation. Otherwise, I have a 6 core/12 thread processor, a 2.3TFLOPS GPU, 64GB of RAM, etc. I think I'm ok if the Aero interface sucks up 0.0001% of my GPU/CPU power.

        And I do find it useful. I like it.. I though the look of Windows 7 was a big improvement over the candy-coloring of XP. Personal perference, sure... that's why there are personal preference settings. Why make my experience worse just to save you some 0.01% of your battery power... particularly when the ability to shut that off has already existed (in fact, Windows won't even allow Areo on lesser hardware).
        Hazydave
        • then by all means get aero back

          There is guy on MSFT that has released a program that brings it back. I am really getting sick and tired about the whining. Use vista or Windows 7 of you want aero, there is no need to complain, it's not like complaining is bringing it back.

          And yes, the battery argument is indeed a very valid argument, there are actually people that prefer Win 8 on tablets over that privacy invading android. Aero has had it day, if you still insist of using it, don't upgrade to 8, it's not like Win7 will be out of support, that happens in 2020.
          sjaak327
          • and to add

            Aero is still in Win8, it is Aero Glass that is missing in action.

            The fun thing to notice here is the discussion back in 2006, when people praised XP and complained about vista, claiming Aero was just eye candy, forward 6 years and all of a sudden people suddenly complain the eye candy is gone.

            People seem to complain just to complain, forgetting their own inconsistencies. Surely is amusing though.
            sjaak327
          • Never liked XP that much

            because of the eye candy. I set it to "classic" like Windows 2000, then I discovered how to make transparent windows, etc with XP. Vista? not an option. Seven? why bother? 8? don't need it.
            Low powered machine? Linux.
            janitorman
      • So what ?

        Aero was always a choice that user had to switch on. Many of us run desktops or even laptops from house power so battery drain is non issue. If you don;t like it, keep it default with Aero off. There are lots of us, who think lack of Aero made Windows 8 ugly and we would like to have this choice back.
        marchel@...
      • Aero is a resource and battery hog for no reason.

        One could equally argue that colour is a resource and battery hog for no reason... I still remember the days of CGA and EGA graphics... Before that, most computers were monochrome, or green or red screens... LOL
        Personally, I like the Aero look, especially on big monitors...
        Besides which, I now have 12 gigs of Ram, 2 high end video cards and 4 screens... I think I can spare the freaking resources to run Aero...
        Chimera Obscura
      • NO!

        At least Aero could be turned of if you so desired. All you had to do was pick a non aero theme.
        comprev