Top Windows blogger Mary Jo Foley wrote a post last week seeking to clarify exactly when Microsoft was planning on releasing its revived, reimagined version of the Windows Desktop Start Menu.
While slightly overhauled to feature a flatter, more graphical rich Modern UI style, the new Start Menu will be available in Desktop Mode and is expected to function much like the old Start Menu you knew and loved from Windows XP/Vista/7.
The bad news, according to Ms. Foley, is that the new Start Menu likely won't be finished until the launch of Windows 9 in April 2015. We already know that Windows 9 is expected to be a pivotal release, unifying the APIs and app marketplaces of Windows, Windows RT, Windows Phone, and Xbox.
According to Ms. Foley's sources -- sources that have a "good track records on Windows information" -- Microsoft had initially hoped to offer the Start Menu revival with its Windows 8.1 Update 2, which is expected to launch later this year. However, it wasn't satisfied with the results, so it decided to push that item on towards Windows "Threshold" -- a codename that is believed to stand for the next major version of Windows, Windows 9.
The ability to run Modern UI (Metro) apps in a windows form in Desktop Mode has also reportedly been punted until Windows 9.
So what's Windows 8.1 Update 2 going to include, since the two big-ticket items (Start Menu, windowed Metro apps) are gone? Ms. Foley says she's not sure, writing:
So now what's going to be in Windows 8.1 Update 2? Will there be any user-interface changes or will it be more a vehicle for under-the-covers programming interface and reliability improvements? I don't know at this point.
If true, this is rather disappointing news for many Windows fans, but it is not altogether unexpected. At BUILD 2014 in April, Ms. Foley asked Microsoft's Windows executive vice president Terry Myerson why the Start Menu wasn't included in Windows 8.1 Update 1. He explained at the time:
The reason we (showed) that work is we thought it was important to share with developers. When do I deliver it? I really don't have anything to share there. We're just not ready yet.
If Ms. Foley's sources are to be believed, it sounds like Microsoft is still feeling the same way, hence it has opted to make an already major release (Windows 9) even more of a leap. For now Windows 8 users will have to make due with less tightly integrated third party alternatives, such as Start8 from Stardock and the Pokki Windows 8 Start Menu, if they want a Start Menu on their Windows 8 desktop.