Microsoft is taking things back to the Start.
At its BUILD Developers Conference in California on Wednesday morning, Microsoft announced that it is bringing back the Start menu in a forthcoming update to Windows. Though Microsoft would not say when, exactly, the Start menu will return, a portfolio of changes is coming to Windows on April 8, designed to make Windows easier to use for those operating with a mouse and keyboard.
The re-addition of the Start menu is not expected to be part of that update. We know it’s coming, but not when.
You can see a screenshot of the new Start menu below. It has the familiar column of applications and folders, as well as a column of Microsoft’s “live tiles,” a new feature in Windows 8 that presents applications as big, touchable squares and rectangles, optimized for tablets, smartphones, and other touchscreen devices.
Windows 8 was originally intended to help Microsoft compete against the iPad and Android tablets by optimizing the operating system for touchscreens. And when Microsoft released the first version of Windows 8, many longtime Windows fans grumbled when it arrived without the familiar Start menu. Windows 8 originally split the experience of using Windows between two screens: a Start screen, which was stuffed with those live tiles, and the more familiar desktop view, which lacked the Start button. The Start menu was effectively replaced by a screen of live tiles, which you could access by pressing the Start button.
Though hypothetically helpful for those with touchscreen devices, this proved confusing and unintuitive to many who had upgraded from Windows 7.
In general, Windows 8.1 features updates that will make it work better with a mouse and keyboard, perhaps foreshadowing an even starker overhaul with next year’s Windows 9. When you start up Windows 8.1, it will load the desktop view (with the Start menu), instead of the live tile view. You will also have the option to add that bottom taskbar to the live tile view, so that you can always find the Start menu, no matter where you are.
The Windows 8.1 update will be available on April 8 as a free download for Windows 8 device owners. We’ll update you when the Start menu makes its triumphant return.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated that the Start Menu is returning as part of the April 8th update. It is not part of that update, but will be included at a later date.