Will Microsoft Restore the Start Menu to Windows 8?
The departure of Microsoft Windows executive Steven Sinofsky, just 15 days after the launch of Windows 8, raises questions about whether there will be a return of the traditional Windows Start Menu.
Sinofsky persuaded CEO Steve Ballmer to replace the Start Menu in Windows with a hybrid touch-screen, plus keyboard and mouse interface. He argued that it was crucial for the company to orient Windows PC users toward the look and feel of the all-new Windows 8 Surface touch tablet and the latest Windows Phone 8 smartphone models.
But convincing millions of users of Windows -- which runs most PCs -- that the switch was for their own good hasn't gone well.
Software company Stardock has sold tens of thousands of copies of Start8, a $5 application that restores a fully functioning Windows 7 Start Menu interface to new Windows 8 PCs. Stardock has distributed tens of thousands more free trial versions, says Kris Kwilas, Stardock's technology vice president.
"Early adopters of Windows 8 feel there's something missing -- a comfort factor for how they want to use their PCs," Kwilas says.
The reception of Windows 8 among some corporate customers has been lukewarm, too. Gartner analyst Stephen Kleynhans says many large organizations won't begin small pilot studies of Windows 8 until 2013.
User training and acceptance in corporate settings is a "major hurdle," adds Karl Volkman, chief technology officer at hosting services provider SRV Network.
Complicating matters further, Sinofsky championed issuing multiple versions of Windows 8, including one for the Surface tablet that runs on an ARM processing chip, instead of Intel chips. Application developers have had to design software for two distinctive processors. None of the existing Intel Windows apps can run on the ARM-based Surface tablets.
Microsoft also had to create a special version of its popular Office workplace productivity software to run on Surface,...
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