Windows 8 has seen the removal of many features that have been key to Windows over the years, including the Start button, Start menu, and Windows Aero. We tend to focus on the new features added in new versions of software like Windows 8, but the removal of features can be equally important – if not more so.
This list isn’t exhaustive, as many less-important features are also missing from Windows 8 (goodbye, Windows Briefcase). What’s more, Microsoft is still removing features as big as Windows Aero, so there’s no knowing what other features will be pulled before Windows 8 ends up on store shelves.
Traditional Start Button & Start Menu
The Start button and Start menu have been key Windows features since Windows 95, but are now gone. Windows 8 has no Start button, nor does it have the traditional Start menu. Instead, you mouse over the bottom-left corner of the screen to reveal the hidden Start button.
The Metro start screen is your new, full-screen Start menu. You can still start typing an application’s name to search for and launch it, although the transition can be jarring and confusing for Windows users accustomed to the traditional Start menu and desktop. Unfortunately, the search results on the Metro start screen aren’t unified – Windows only searches applications by default. To launch a file or control panel applet, you’ll have to type its name and select a different category on the search screen.
You’ll also be at this screen when you log in – there’s no boot-to-desktop option. There are some tricks – you can put a Show Desktop shortcut in your startup programs, but you’ll still see this screen before the desktop loads.
Windows Aero, Transparent Glass, & Flip 3D
Windows Aero, the graphical centerpiece of Windows Vista and Windows 7, is being completely removed. All preview versions of Windows 8 contain Windows Aero – but it’s been removed internally and won’t appear in the final version. If you’re not sure what Windows Aero is, here’s how Microsoft explains it:
“Windows Aero is the premium visual experience of Windows Vista. It features a translucent glass design with subtle window animations and new window colors.” (Source)
Evidently, Microsoft no longer considers Aero a premium visual experience. All those animations and transparent glass effects are going away and we’ll be seeing flat colors on the desktop. This also means that the gaudy Flip 3D will be going away – if you’re using a Windows 7 or Vista computer to read this, you can press WinKey+Tab to view Flip 3D right now.
Flip 3D was always a glorified tech demo that looked cool the first time you saw it, but was used by almost no one because it was less useful than the traditional Alt-Tab program switcher.
DVD Playback & Windows Media Center
Many Windows 8 computers will come without DVD drives – which are being used less with the rise of Netflix and other media-streaming services – and including DVD playback costs money, so Microsoft will be removing the integrated DVD playback support from Windows 8. If you buy a computer with a DVD drive, it’s up to the computer’s manufacturer to include licensed DVD software (and many already do). You can always use VLC to play DVDs, anyway. Unsurprisingly, Windows DVD Maker is also being removed.
Windows Media Center is also being removed from every Windows version (even the Pro one), since it’s used by so few people. You can give Microsoft a few dollars using the Add Features to Windows 8 panel to activate Windows Media Center, if you like – this covers the cost of the codecs Windows Media Center includes.
Previous Versions & Windows Backup and Restore
The Previous Versions feature, activated in Windows 7 by default, has been removed. It allows you to restore previous versions of files from their Properties window. Windows Backup and Restore is also being deprecated.
The new File History feature replaces both Previous Versions and Windows Backup and Restore. Unlike Previous Versions, File History isn’t enabled by default. File History is also designed to work with files in your libraries and on your desktop – as well as your contacts and favorites. It’s much more limited than the Previous Versions feature, which worked for any file in and folder.
Windows Update Desktop Notifications
Do you have Windows set to ask you before downloading or installing updates? On current versions of Windows, Windows Update appears as a system tray icon and a notification balloon informs you that updates are available. On Windows 8, you can still tell Windows to notify you before downloading updates – but these update notifications no longer appear on the desktop. All Windows-Update-related notifications appear on the login and lock screens – so you might not even see them if you automatically log into your computer.
Will you miss these features or have you noticed another significant feature that’s missing from Windows 8? Leave a comment and let us know.