Windows 8.2 Threshold: return of the real start menu and Windows apps on desktop?

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 9, 2013
Updated • Dec 10, 2013

When first previews of Windows 8 appeared on the Internet, it was clear that it would not just be the next iteration of the successful Windows 7 operating system.

While it was still the next version of Windows, Microsoft made the strategic decision to add a touch-optimized interface to it so that it could also be installed on tablet computer systems.

The problem here was that it did not sit well with part of the desktop user base, as it did not really add any value to the operating system on systems without touch screens.

In addition to that, the two interfaces and other decisions such as the removal of the start menu caused further irritation.

After realizing that, Microsoft added some changes to the operating system in form of a Windows 8.1 update. This was a step in the right direction, but did not make it the real successor of Windows 7 that many desktop users hoped for.

It appears however that Microsoft may return to its old ways when Windows 8.2 codenamed Threshold comes along.

It needs to be noted that the following bits are rumors at this point in time. They do come from Paul Thurott though, but that does not mean that it will exactly turn out like this. As things stand, Windows 8.2 will not come along before 2015, which means that a lot of things can change in the meantime, especially with a new company CEO.

In addition to that, Paul's contacts only mentioned that this will land in the next version of Windows, and not Threshold specifically. It is however very likely that this is the same thing.

The news..

The Start Menu will return in its full glory as an option. This is something that Microsoft should have done from the very beginning, as its removal in Windows 8 alienated many users. Paul notes that it may only be an option for versions that support the desktop.

Windows apps run in windows on the desktop. I never really understood why Microsoft implemented a layered interface, instead of a single one in Windows 8. All versions of the operating system featured the desktop, and it was not really clear why a second interface was needed to run Windows apps.

Okay, it was clear that the Start Screen had been optimized for touch devices, but it was not clear why it was added to the desktop version as well.

Running apps on the desktop just like any other program on the other hand is something that not many would be opposed to.

Closing Words

The changes are certainly welcome if they are implemented. While it is too early to say if there will be others, like a unified interface instead of two for desktop PCs, it would be a logical next step.

I'm looking forward to the next year and 2015 to see how things unfold. For now, I'll stick to Windows 7 on my main PC, and to Windows 8 on my gaming PC.


Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. derek said on February 12, 2014 at 2:18 am

    I would buy this.

  2. Shai said on December 13, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    Instead of superficially “innovating” by changing the UX, in what seemed to be quite an arbitrary manner, I wish that MS would truly invest in innovation. Their claim that the classical desktop is a bit archaic is not completely unfounded, it is just that they instead of updating it with innovative and functional UX they set to “replace” it without knowing what to replace it with.

    I always like to give Unity (from Linux) and other UX enhancing tools that people use such as application launchers, fast file searching, better app switching and indication as hints that the desktop developers should follow. Updating the desktop doesn’t mean replacing the big rectangle area with something else, certainly not a single-app focused mechanism, it just mean adapting it to the new ways and functionality people use it in. The focus should be on functionality and UX and not on the UI or innovative vision of one single UX to rule them all (which is unpractical as long as people use different devices, with different physical properties, and different uses).

  3. Mystique said on December 11, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    Too little much too late, by the time this occurs a great many of us will have moved on I mean CHRIST 2015 to basically return to achieve what was has been in windows since anyone can remember or replicate what third party apps such as Startisback has achieved and add a glorified widget-esque apps layer on the desktop. TERRIBLE!

    In there pursuit to stay “relevant” Microsoft have lost the plot and alienated their loyal user base.

    It remains to be seen if Microsoft have the vision and talent to pull themselves out from the bottom of the heap.

    if windows thought as hard for its users than it did for its hip pocket then they might not find themselves in this situation.

  4. InterestedBystander said on December 10, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    Actually, this is a bit of a golden age of GUI innovation. I was running Android x86 on a mini-laptop last night — that desktop is, of course, tiles-and-single-window, rather like the original Metro interface. (No angst over that!) I have Ubuntu set up with the Unity interface, plus an add-on app dock, and an add-on Gnome-style app menu. Abandoned desktop icons, as there are now at least 3 easy methods to find and launch apps. Apple’s desktops have held to their own well-proven style, and forked iOS for mobile (very sensible). And Microsoft, the topic of all this angst, is mostly at fault for forcing the one-size-fits-all Metro on users instead of providing a good multi-tasking desktop accompanied by a new fork of the OS for mobile.

    But I guess, looking back on Windows 98 and the alternatives of that era, the current environment is a heck of a lot richer! Gotta love that, despite frustration with MS.

  5. Swapnil said on December 10, 2013 at 8:36 am

    This is a really good move from Microsoft, if it’s true.

    But at the same time, Microsoft really, really needs to work on Windows RT and Windows Phone. Windows Phone lacks so many things – a File Manager, separate volume controls, ability to upload files in Internet Explorer, proper call/SMS blocking (you can’t even a number till it has called/texted you, forget about blocking similar numbers by specifying part of the number). Even more irritating? A lack of communication in this regard from Microsoft. The File Manager petition has 85,000 votes, yet their so-called “Mobile Guru” just posts the generic reply “Thanks for your XYZ suggestion. While we can’t guarantee that every feature…” which is also there on many more unimplemented suggestions, since a long time. And then just to add to the anger, people below 18 need a parent account to configure Store and Xbox settings for them. Why the hell do someone’s parents need to create a Microsoft account even if they don’t use any services from Microsoft? And I am not even counting lack of some apps and many apps being free on iOS and Android, but paid on WP.
    With Android phones getting better and better at reasonable prices (specifically Nexus 5 and Moto G) and Android 4.4 being optimized for entry-level devices, there are hardly any problems, apart from being cautious when installing an app because of high number of malicious, fake and overloaded with ads apps on Google Play.

    Windows still remains great because you have the desktop which gives you all the freedom a power user needs; while Windows RT and especially, WP don’t even offer the basic.

  6. Vishal said on December 10, 2013 at 8:00 am

    What a disaster this new Windows is. Microsoft had no vision what it was doing by destroying the desktop, no common sense, no concern or respect for its power users or enterprise users. People kept telling MS to not take apart previous features of the product and like blind fanatics envious of their competitors success and profits, MS ignored everyone and still persist today with their epic fail plan to force a completely reworked product on everyone. They have no credible competition in the desktop OS space which is why they can get away with such unbelievable screw up ONCE AGAIN after Vista.

  7. ilev said on December 10, 2013 at 6:46 am

    What’s missing in “Threshold” is a option to remove the bloated Metro completely.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on December 10, 2013 at 6:46 am

      I’m still hoping for a unified interface.

      1. ilev said on December 10, 2013 at 11:26 am

        The unified surely be Metro UI :-)

      2. Martin Brinkmann said on December 10, 2013 at 12:19 pm

        I’m not sure about that. A unified desktop experience would make a lot more sense, at least for desktop users ;)

  8. fokka said on December 10, 2013 at 4:40 am

    this would mark microsofts return to sanity, i can’t wait.

  9. iron2000 said on December 10, 2013 at 2:18 am

    Taking it back from Stardock :P

    If the Start menu is back then maybe there will be some feature war among the Start menu replacements? Themes, app stores, customization options.

    Looking forward to the built-in ModernMix :P
    Took MS long enough to get it done.

    Ok, its still rumors at this time.
    Don’t get too excited, myself :P

  10. Karl J. Gephart said on December 10, 2013 at 12:50 am

    And if they don’t add the Start Menu back, that’ll just be one more 3rd-party software I’ll be using for things they don’t do right (like QTTabbar for a tabbed Win Explorer, Teracopy for faster copying, etc.). Hey, I should see if you have these on your Best Windows software list, Martin! LOL!

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on December 10, 2013 at 6:44 am

      Not yet, but they will be added ;)

  11. InterestedBystander said on December 10, 2013 at 12:45 am

    I don’t know much, but… I think Microsoft’s most locked-in user base is the enterprise PC market. (Private PCs are also MS for the most part but users are moving toward Android and iOS for many purposes.) Enterprise installations don’t like change — a new GUI costs both money and time, not least in new training for staff. And in the case of Win 8, the GUI change was radical, and so re-training would be extensive. And therefore expensive. So: Microsoft’s most locked-in user base was very resistant to Win 8. A change was probably inevitable, at least if MS wanted enterprise installations to come on board. I would guess that even with changes in 8.2, many if not most enterprises will stick with Win 7 for quite awhile. Much like they stuck to XP.

  12. Andrew said on December 10, 2013 at 12:14 am

    I remember a (long) while back hearing a rumor about microsoft killing the start button/explorer bar and thought it was a good idea, because I felt it was too restricted on the layout (one thick bar on one side of the screen to access all your apps and running program). I was hoping they were going to allow more customization to the whole start menu process, but windows 8 definitely wasn’t what I expected.

    Now given I have adapted and actually am much more efficient with the start screen (windows key+search), I still felt microsoft went at this all wrong in the first place, mostly due to eliminating choice. The start screen/Win8 just wasn’t easy to pick up and find things and I never understood why these metro apps couldn’t be ran in a window. People should have been given a choice like they did with the classic start menu vs ‘xp’ start menu to allow them ease into the process. It would be a good move if they allow it in as an option (and maybe have live tiles on the desktop itself?), and definitely a great move for those that dial in or use virtual systems. I hated having to install a start menu on my server just to be able to use it easily when I dial in.

    8.2 should be interesting, though I really can’t wait until they merge the windows 8 and windows phone 8 codebase

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.