In a surprise announcement, Microsoft said it would bring back the Start Menu to the Windows desktop. It’s not a part of the coming Windows 8.1 Update, but will come in a future upgrade.
Microsoft’s Terry Myerson showed off the new version of the Start Menu to an audience of developers at Build 2014 as he explained that users would be able to find apps via the menu. Users would also be able to run Modern (aka “Metro”) apps within windows on the desktop.
In a demo, Myerson showed that the new Start Menu looks similar to as it did in Windows 7, but it includes a minimized version of the Start screen right beside it.
The Start Menu’s return follows Microsoft’s announcement that apps across all its consumer platforms can now be “universal,” meaning they will run across phones, tablets and PCs with little to no re-coding.
For developers, universal Windows apps have clear benefits. It means a developer needs only create a Windows app once, then make minimal adjustments to them to optimize the experience for devices with different screens and capabilities, since the platforms share APIs, security and other resources.
For users, the benefit is a consistent experience across every device they have running Windows software. Another plus: You won’t have to buy the app again and again if you want it on both your phone and tablet.
Microsoft said the Xbox One would also be able to run universal Windows apps, although it didn’t give a timeframe.