How do I choose where I want the new start screen in Windows 8?

Posted by Filip Ekberg on November 23 2012 7 Comments

If I would have gotten a penny for every time that someone told me or tweeted: “I want the old start button back in Windows 8!” I would have been richer than Bill Gates. First of all, the problem is that people seem scared of change, not willing to step out of their comfort zone and try something different. I’ve been running Windows 8 since February 2012 and I’ve come to love it a lot. Despite the lack of the old start button, I still find the operating system much more productive than before and it’s very intuitive!

Windows 8 doesn’t lack a “Start button” but they’ve replaced the old one. Install a tool like Start8 is like painting a new red Ferrari F50 as a rainbow; simply not by design.

Windows 8 has different use-cases

When I attended //BUILD/ Microsoft gave me a very nice Surface that I really like and what I like the most is that the transition between a tablet and a desktop computer is an awesome experience. I use the two devices completely different but still feel like home when using both of them. I rarely go into the standard desktop mode on my Surface, I only do so when I need to do some Word-processing or just manage files and on my Workstation I rarely go into the new Start screen (Modern UI), I only do so when I want to use the very powerful search.

There’s a Start button on Surface and it’s required by all vendors as far as I know that it’s there. This hardware button is one of the replacements for the old start button!

I don’t really use that so much because I find it much easier to just swipe from the right and get another start button. You can also press Win + C to get to this menu and you can also bring the pointer to the right corners to get this menu showing up!

So far there has been four ways to get a start button showing up which brings you to the new powerful start menu. The hardware button can easily translate into the keyboard start button and the swipe from the right is the point in corners version.

However, that is not it! There’s actually another way to show a start button, which also dictates where the start menu will show up.

How do I know where the start screen shows up?

I’ve heard people saying that they think the behavior of where the start screen is showing up is random, but frankly it is not. If you have a Modern UI application running on Screen 2, this is where the start screen will show up. If you move the application to Screen 1, that is where the start screen will show up.

But if you don’t have a Modern UI application running, what then?

Use the start button in the corners!

This start button shows up when you hover the different left bottom corners on any of your monitors and it will bring up the start screen on that monitor.

So you were saying there’s no start button? The old start button is gone, the old start menu is gone. It has been replaced by something much more productive and intuitive, step out of your comfort zone and just adapt to it!

It’s all about HCI (Human-Computer-Interaction) and making the experience better for everyone, but it takes time change an old behavior. Why do you so eagerly want the old start button/menu back?

In case you’ve missed it C# Smorgasbord is currently on sale and I’m giving away discount codes for 35% off!

Vote on HN

7 Responses to How do I choose where I want the new start screen in Windows 8?

  1. Daniel WertheimNo Gravatar says:

    I would say Win8 is a Ferrari suffering from schizophrenia with Metro and “Normal thingie mode”. Like there’s a Windows update screen both in Metro as well as in the desktop mode. Where the desktop mode allows you to install optional updates and tweak settings etc. But it’s not reachable from the Metro interface. Nor does the Metro screen hook into the settings options.

    The old search function in the old start menu for us old rainbow people showed all matches by default. If I in Win8 search for e.g “Program and features” I have to manually go down by to “Settings” to find it. Even if there’s just one match and it’s in settings.

    The Start menu (or whatever it’s called) is probably wonderful on a surface, but when only a simple mouse is present and you can’t swipe etc….? Not having much in my Startmenu right now (since the first thing I do is remove all ugly apps pre-installed) so I can’t say how the experience is when it’s filled up with live tiles etc, but the all apps view is just like my old bosses desktop. Awful. Just a bunch of icons scattered all over the place.

    To furthermore add to the schizophrenia, some apps (perhaps because they aren’t yet fully compatible with Win8) like Chrome as an example. Open first time from Start shit and sign in with my Google account. Bookmarks are synced. Now if I fire it up from taskbar, the same procedure is needed. Again, perhaps Googles fault. Haven’t tried IE.

    Why can’t it be intelligent enough (or at least let me tweak it) to boot directly to desktop mode when it’s not on a touch friendly device? And if it’s about truly being a Ferrari and nothing else, why does desktop mode exist anyway?

    I wouldn’t drive a Ferrari on the roads I travel. But now I’m forced to?!?! And even though I apparently is one of the old guys. I’m really not looking forward to support my family and relatives doing the switch from Win7 to Win8.

    Guess I need to accept it and put on my “I love Microsoft underwear” and sing kumbaya. Don’t think they will stay fresh to long though.

    //Daniel the old rainbow guy

  2. Anders HolmströmNo Gravatar says:

    I find Win+PgUp / Win+PgDn to be a nifty way of moving the startmenu between screens (which also dictates where it should show up next time).

  3. Anders HolmströmNo Gravatar says:

    Daniel: To be honest using Windows and Mac computers to me has always been “ignore all the crap functions the vendor thinks I need and get used to the workarounds“. Win XP, Win 7, Win 8… it’s all the same. I never used the start menu in Win 7 and I will probably never use the start screen in Win 8. But I will say that the press-win-button-then-type-to-launch-a-program feature is worse in Win 8.

  4. Tim LomasNo Gravatar says:

    I think it is largely a case of how you use your PC as to whether the new start screen is better or worse.

    As a developer with an awful lot of software installed, I have been really noticing how much slower it is for me to open software from the desktop mode. (Most of the software I use opens in desktop mode, so this is now my natural habitat.)

    To find my software, I have to:

    1 swipe the right hand side of the screen (or go to bottom left) to get to the start screen
    2 right click to select “All Apps”
    3 scroll across a long list (admittedly nicely laid out) to find my application
    4 click

    Written down like that it doesn’t look that much, but moving between 2 environments seems to disrupt the workflow.

    Compare to the steps to get to my applications on Windows 7:

    1 Click start button
    2 hover over programs, then folders (which open automatically) to locate my application
    3 click

    Quicker and I’m not switching between environments.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I like Windows 8 but on a laptop without a touch screen it was slowing me down just to open a program.

    My solution was to install Win8 StartButton (see … not because I am resistant to change, but because it speeds things up for the way I need to work.

    Having said all of that, I love the speed at which Windows 8 starts up … and when I am not developing and just need to surf the web, etc. I find working from the Start Screen works well for me.

    My conclusion? I have found some interesting new ways to work, but the workflow for me isn’t a total success out of the box. I don’t see this as a dreadful shortcoming of the operating system, but I do feel that the launching of actual programs (not apps) needs looking at in the next release … maybe some kind of dock/Launchpad instead of the start button?

  5. Filip EkbergNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Tim,

    Interesting input, thanks a lot. One thing that I wonder though, why don’t you just write the name of the application you want to start? I’ve always just pressed the start key (on my keyboard) and then written the name of the application I want to start, this gives me what I look for in 99% of the cases. This procedure hasn’t changed, but the experience has in my opinion improved because now you can also extend the search to inside applications.

  6. Tim LomasNo Gravatar says:

    I find it quicker to find the program I want by just hovering the mouse, rather than having to type the name of the program.

    I’ve just closed down Win8 StartButton and tried your suggestion. It certainly works, but it is slower and involves more effort from me.

    With the Start menu in place, I can open any program with just 2 clicks of the mouse … No typing, no having remember the name of the program (I use a lot of similarly named specialist file editors, for example … sometimes easier to just see the icon), and I can arrange the programs into folders which are all visible on my screen at the same time whereas they would be very spread out on the Start Page.

    Like I say, it will depend upon how you use windows, personal preference and habit, I guess – after 20 years of having the start button there.

  7. Tim LomasNo Gravatar says:

    … further to my previous comment, I’ll just add that I agree with your comment that the experience has improved with searching inside apps, etc. … just that for my workflow I found that I was spending more time switching between programs than I used to (hence my adding the start menu program).

    In summary, I think the overall experience is better and offers more options.

    I don’t think that the new way of launching programs is as quick and intuitive when working in desktop mode, and I think that there is room for Microsoft to improve this experience in the next Windows release.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>