You probably know that Microsoft killed the Start button in Windows 8. With the Windows 8.1 update, they restored it, turning it into a shortcut button for the Start screen or desktop. Thing is, some users aren’t happy – they don’t like the Start button, and want to remove it.
You Can’t Please Everyone
Windows users. You’ve got to hand it to us, we know how to complain.
Following the introduction of Windows 8, we complained at the lack of a Start button. At first, Microsoft held its nerve, but eventually relented in the face of users installing third party Start menu tools.
With Windows 8.1, the Redmond tech giant offered a compromise – the desktop Start button that opens the Start screen.
The problem is, it’s pretty ugly. Sitting on the desktop, it looks like an element of the Modern interface. By now, many users have already installed a Start menu replacement or even setup their own toolbar.
So, what do you do about the ugly Start button in Windows 8.1?
You hide it, of course!
Now You See It, Now You Don’t
There are a couple of ways to rid your Windows 8.1 desktop view of the pointless Start button. You might opt to either leave the toolbar empty or install a Start button replacement, complete with a functional Windows 7-style menu.
For those of you with a distinct dislike of the taskbar being cluttered with anything pointless, StartIsGone is your saviour. Available from WinAero.com, the download is small and doesn’t require any additional software. It’s also portable, so can be run without installation.
When active, StartIsGone will remove the Start button from the taskbar (although if you push your mouse pointer far enough into the corner of the screen, it will return; it’s also not great on multiple monitor setups). You can access a brief menu from the system tray, where the option to Run at startup can be found. If you don’t like the results, simply choose Exit from the same menu.
Different App, More Options
If you’re looking for an alternative, or just want more options than are available in StartIsGone available, then 7+ Taskbar Tweaker has plenty on offer.
Available as both a standard and a portable install (you can choose between these options in the installation wizard, which unpacks the app either to the default address or to a folder of your choice which you can then move), you will need to Run as administrator to launch the setup.
This is a great tool that – as the name suggests – enables you to introduce a selection of useful tweaks to your Windows desktop.
To use 7+ Taskbar Tweaker to remove the pesky new Windows 8.1 Start button, simply open the utility and look for the group of options labelled Other, found in the lower-right corner of the window. All you need do here is check the Hide the Start button option and the button will be immediately removed.
Once again, the results aren’t perfect on multi-monitor setups, and if you hit the “sweet spot” on your desktop, you will still be able to find the hidden Start button, but it is at least removed from the taskbar.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a way to replace the button with something more traditional, the Pokki tool is ideal. Designed to restore the classic Start menu, Pokki will also allow you to kill the new Start button in favour of adding a compact, Modern-themed replacement.
The Start Button Controversy: One Way Or Another, Microsoft Will End It
In the space of two years, Windows users have gone from enjoying the best ever iteration of Microsoft’s desktop operating system to what is surely the least popular.
The Start screen is both loved and loathed; the Start button is removed, restored and now manually hidden.
Impassioned pleas from users resulted in the Start button being restored in Windows 8.1, but it really is little more than a token gesture. However, Microsoft has the power to end this nonsense.
The question is, will they? At present, the smart money is on future Windows releases continuing to move the focus away from the desktop, rendering the old favourite irrelevant.
How do you think consumers will react to this?