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Several media outlets are reporting that Microsoft is considering some significant changes with the interface for Windows 8.1, codenamed Blue. Specifically, the company may bring back the start button and give users the option of booting directly to the familiar desktop UI instead of the modern, touch-based screen it introduced in Windows 8.
ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley reported, "Reports from a couple of different forums from this past weekend raised the possibility that Microsoft might be moving toward allowing users to skip booting into the Metro-Style Start menu and instead start their PCs in desktop mode. (Winbeta.org noted the thread about this on April 14.) One of my sources confirmed this is now looking like the plan and added that Microsoft is also considering bringing back the Start button as an option with Windows Blue."
And The Verge's Tom Warren confirmed, "Sources familiar with Microsoft's plans have revealed to The Verge that the company is currently testing builds of Windows 8.1, known as codename Windows Blue, that include an option to boot directly to the traditional desktop. We're told that the option is disabled by default, allowing users to simply turn on the functionality should they want to avoid the 'Metro' Start Screen at initial boot or login. We understand that the hot corner functionality, for access to the Charms and Start Screen, will remain intact if the boot to desktop option is enabled."
PCWorld's Jared Newman added, "Signs of a boot-to-desktop option were also spotted earlier this week in one of the operating system files in a leaked version of Windows Blue. Presumably this option would be simpler than the existing workaround, which involves using Task Schedule to open Explorer on startup."
Ars Technica's Andrew Cunningham commented, "Even if both the Start button and the boot-to-desktop option are disabled by default in the next major Windows update, restoring the option to use both without resorting to third-party utilities or hacks seems like a prudent move. In particular, businesses afraid of retraining costs or user backlash will likely appreciate the ability to take advantage of Windows 8's under-the-hood enhancements and features without giving up a Windows 7-esque interface, to say nothing of people who are simply allergic to the new Start screen."