The return of the much-missed button is one of many subtle changes that will be coming to Windows version 8.1 when it officially launches as a free update at the end of 2013.
Windows 8.1 screen shot
The annoucement will come as good news to the millions of Windows 8 early adopters who have been struggling to get used to a different way of navigating around their PCs' applications, files and apps and switching between two operating interfaces -- Windows 8 and 'Metro'.
But that's not all: as well as resurrecting the Start Button, Microsoft has added a host of customizations to the Start Screen so that users can adjust the sizes and positions of tiles more easily and access other connected devices. Search is also dramatically improved -- search results are now presented in a single list across apps, applications and files, while the Metro-style interface has also had an overhaul to make it simpler to navigate. Microsoft promises that these changes are just the start of an on-going development program.
Also coming to the new version is automatic syncronization to SkyDrive for accessing ad backing up to the cloud and better support for multiple screens. Microsot won't be publicly releasing a BUILD test version of the update until June, which will be the first time that developers and consumers will get a chance to play with it and test it prior to the official update; as Antoine Leblond, Corporate Vice President, Windows Program Management, points out: "Beginning June 26th, and timed with the start of Build, our developer conference, you will be able to check out these improvements for yourself with a preview of Windows 8.1 that will be released."
However, a number of leading US tech journalists have been given some ‘eyes on' time ahead of the official announcement on Thursday.
Microsoft is being very cautious about what information it does share about the changes. Even ZDNet's Ed Bott wasn't allowed hands-on time but he did get a two-hour guided tour of the updates and has addressed each update in detail. His report can be read at zdnet.com/windows-8-1-unveiled-will-it-change-your-mind-about-windows-8-7000016112.