The departure of Microsoft Windows executive Steven Sinofsky, just 15 days after the launch of Windows 8, raises questions about whether there will be a return of the traditional Windows Start Menu. Sinofsky persuaded CEO Steve Ballmer to replace the Start Menu in Windows with a hybrid touch-screen, plus keyboard and mouse interface. He argued that it was crucial for the company to orient Windows PC users toward the look and feel of the all-new Windows 8 Surface touch tablet and the latest Windows Phone 8 smartphone models.
But convincing millions of users of Windows — which runs most PCs — that the switch was for their own good hasn’t gone well. Software company Stardock has sold tens of thousands of copies of Start8, a $5 application that restores a fully functioning Windows 7 Start Menu interface to new Windows 8 PCs. Stardock has distributed tens of thousands more free trial versions, says Kris Kwilas, Stardock’s technology vice president.
Microsoft declined to comment on whether it plans any changes to Windows 8. But IDC analyst Al Hilwa says Ballmer has to at least be weighing a reversal of Sinofsky’s call to dump the Start Menu whole hog. “Clearly, if the product isn’t doing well, they could come up with a (software fix) that restores the Start Menu.”