Microsoft Reveals the Reason behind the Start Menu and Start Screen in Windows 8


Start Menu has been around since Windows 95. Over the time It has become Microsoft’s icon that we all love to have. However, if you have been using Windows 7 long enough do you still think it’s a must-have thing on Windows we can’t live without? Personally, I don’t think I have used it as much as I had used in XP or Vista. And guess what? I am not alone.

Building Windows 8 has kicked off a series of posts on the design of the Start Screen. On the very first post, it talks about the Start Menu and how it evolved. Based on the feedback and data usage Microsoft collected, the usage of Start Menu has down quite a lot between Vista and Windows 7. Some of them has down as many as over 61%.


You may wonder why is that. Well, the answer is actually quite obvious. It’s the power of the Taskbar that gives the biggest impact to the Start Menu. I personally have seen many people who liked the Quick Launch bar in XP loves the Taskbar a lot more. And they would love more if they were using a touchable device. Using Start Menu on a touch device is almost close to a nightmare.

Microsoft summarized well that:

In summary, the taskbar has evolved to replace many aspects of the Start menu. You can even say the taskbar reveals many of the weaknesses of the Start menu and that the menu is no longer as valuable as it once was long ago. Search and access to All Programs are still unique strengths of the Start menu that we know you depend upon, but when it comes to the apps you use every day, one-click access from the taskbar is hard to beat.

If we agree and realize this reality, we would understand the move Microsoft made in Windows 8 to replace the Start Menu with a much more powerful Start Screen, with many designing aspects they put in.

The Windows 8, the Start screen is not just a replacement for the Windows 7 Start menu but a bringing together of several different ways of navigating your machine.

it is designed to be a great launcher and switcher of apps, a place that is alive with notifications, customizable, powerful, and efficient.

Think about this way. In Windows 8, the Start Screen is really the great extension of Taskbar in Windows 7 with the ability of hosting Metro style Apps. It seems true that other than directly accessing your files in folders you pretty much can live without a Start Menu and a taskbar.

Kent Chen

Microsoft MVP, IT Professional, Developer, Geek, and the co-founder of Next of Windows.

Last updated: 08/04/2014

Posted in: Windows 8
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Sefy Levy
Just a few side notes 1) the new “Start Screen” is basically a disaster if you have loads of apps pinned, cause you end up doing so much scrolling from one side to the other that you’ll be getting a headache 2) Microsoft wanted to do Windows 1.0 all over again, giving you the ability to run Multiple SINGLE tasks on the screen, really utilizing the ultra super computers of today. Anything you open becomes a full screen with no resizing options! 3) While “Start Screen” can be an “Alternative”, they included the “Desktop” mode, which appears like a whole… Read more »
Wrong! Its because all apps are on Web for the social/geek-less types. Web browser is pretty much all they open and need to know. Quick start does not hold many icons. That group of people has ALWAYS tried to avoid hidden menu systems. They still hate the need to scroll WIndows 8 desktop – but its more like scrolling web page. Before Window 95 those folk preferred a desktop cluttered with icons — if they knew how or could get tech-savvy type to do it for them. Scores of icons. Old Start Menus that SNAP shut and won’t stay still… Read more »