From The Forums: Modern options can still be used in Start screen of Windows 8.1 Update 1

A few days ago, we posted an article that indicated what a few of our Neowin community members thought about Windows 8.1 Update 1, based on their hands-on impressions of Microsoft's upcoming OS from a leaked build. Now one of our members has found an interesting new, or rather old, option in the update.

In a post on Neowin's message board, forum member "Jose_49" says that while Update 1 has some right click options that were designed mostly for mouse users, the people who still want to use the "original" way for right clicking and selecting the Start menu tiles can activate that feature.

He writes:

Go to the start screen. As soon as you're there, press the space key. There you have it! If not, then press the tab key, and verify that the items are highlighted with white. Press space! Enjoy.

There's still an outside chance that this "old" right click option won't be made available for the final public version of Update 1. Indeed, we have already reported that the leaked build that made its way to many hard drives last week may not be the RTM version after all. Hopefully we will get some clarity on all of Update 1's features in a few weeks when Neowin attends the 2014 BUILD developer conference.

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39 Comments

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I hope those dropdown menus will be optional, I hate them, you can't select multiple tiles anymore without your keyboard, just anoying.

Studio384 said,
I hope those dropdown menus will be optional, I hate them, you can't select multiple tiles anymore without your keyboard, just anoying.
Ctrl+click not working for you exactly as it has worked in Windows for ages?

Romero said,
Ctrl+click not working for you exactly as it has worked in Windows for ages?

Windows 8.1 Metro allows you to select multiple items without holding down CTRL.

Romero said,
True, but we Ctrl+click all the time in Windows so I don't see what the big deal is doing the same on the Start Screen.

Making things easier on the end user?

How? I find Ctrl+click to be the easiest way of doing things (besides drag-selecting using the mouse but that'll not work on the Start Screen) since I always have one hand on the keyboard and other on the mouse unless I'm typing.

Romero said,
How? I find Ctrl+click to be the easiest way of doing things (besides drag-selecting using the mouse but that'll not work on the Start Screen) since I always have one hand on the keyboard and other on the mouse unless I'm typing.

By eliminating the need for multiple controls. Just right click the tiles you want to select, and be done.

Well I don't think it's such a great inconvenience (not at all actually) but looks like you guys do. Petition Microsoft then to allow you to turn off the context menus.

I throw the yellow flag at the characterization as the original Metro way of handling mouse controls in Windows 8 as the "old way". The puking of desktop methods (e.g., right-clicking for context menus) onto the Start screen is absolutely a capitulation BACK to the OLD desktop. While I'm thankful to Jose_49 for discovering the spacebar ability to reveal the original Metro mouse controls, it still requires an extra step I didn't have before 8.1U1. I'd much rather find a way in the registry to kill those changes and also get rid of the annoying title bar (ANOTHER throwback to the old desktop). It gets in the way.

More kludges and workarounds to an OS in an vain attempt to make it truly mouse/keyboard friendly. We can only hope that Windows-9 will clean up and fix the Windows-8 mess.

These "new" U1 context menus need to DIAF. Aside from not even matching the design language, they don't even match what the rest of the Metro UI does... Right click in any app, and you'll still get a context bar, so what gives? Quit being afraid to move your cursors, that's what they were put there for.

Dot Matrix said,
These "new" U1 context menus need to DIAF. Aside from not even matching the design language, they don't even match what the rest of the Metro UI does... Right click in any app, and you'll still get a context bar, so what gives? Quit being afraid to move your cursors, that's what they were put there for.

I would argue that the whole ugly Modern UI needs to DIAF

It has nothing to do with being afraid. Some people prefer to have a menu pop up right where they click and then go from there. Others, like yourself, prefer to move your mouse all over the screen.

Dot Matrix said,
These "new" U1 context menus need to DIAF. Aside from not even matching the design language, they don't even match what the rest of the Metro UI does... Right click in any app, and you'll still get a context bar, so what gives? Quit being afraid to move your cursors, that's what they were put there for.

You've got it backwards. The context bar in Metro apps should be replaced with a right-click context menu. The right-click Start Screen context menus are a huge improvement of the modern-style context bar. It doesn't make sense to right-click and have a menu appear at a completely unrelated location. That doesn't happen for touch users, as they trigger the context bars from where they intend to use them (i.e. swipe up, swipe right, etc).

Microsoft focused the design of Windows 8 around touch users to the detriment of desktop users.

theyarecomingforyou said,

You've got it backwards. The context bar in Metro apps should be replaced with a right-click context menu. The right-click Start Screen context menus are a huge improvement of the modern-style context bar. It doesn't make sense to right-click and have a menu appear at a completely unrelated location. That doesn't happen for touch users, as they trigger the context bars from where they intend to use them (i.e. swipe up, swipe right, etc).

Microsoft focused the design of Windows 8 around touch users to the detriment of desktop users.

I disagree. The context bar is akin to the Ribbon UI. It alleviates the complexity of a nondescript context menu, for something more user friendly that has descriptive icons, detailing the actions possible. It also looks better.

Edited by Dot Matrix, Mar 13 2014, 5:44pm :

theyarecomingforyou said,
The Ribbon UI increases productivity; the modern context bar hinders it.

They're no different. Both work in the same manner, and require equal distance to travel with the mouse.

I think a better approach (for mouse) would be something similar to the floating toolbar from Office 2007/2010. It could be visually richer (like the app bar) and because instead of disruptively popping up every time you right click it only fades in as your mouse pointer approaches it, could still allow for multiselect with the same action as single select (like the app bar), but still appear near the current mouse position (like the original Win95+ context menus). Potentially the best of both worlds.

Edited by contextfree, Mar 14 2014, 2:14am :

It's not old vs. new, it's just touch/keyboard vs. mouse. The complaint people had with the app bar before was that it required too much mouse movement, hence the context menu for mouse. Since that complaint doesn't apply to keyboard use, the keyboard still gets the app bar (space has always been the keyboard way of selecting items/showing commands), just as touch still does.

contextfree said,
It's not old vs. new, it's just touch/keyboard vs. mouse. The complaint people had with the app bar before was that it required too much mouse movement, hence the context menu for mouse. Since that complaint doesn't apply to keyboard use, the keyboard still gets the app bar (space has always been the keyboard way of selecting items/showing commands), just as touch still does.

It's takes no effort to move the mouse back and forth. That's the whole point of the mouse to begin with... You either want a cursor to move around or you don't.

Dot Matrix said,
It's takes no effort to move the mouse back and forth.

That's simply not true. The design of Windows 8 flew directly in the face of Fitts's law, an important principle of UI design. The 8.1 Spring update addresses that by including right-click context menus to minimise mouse movement and improve usability for desktop users.

However, there is no doubt that this update is a quick-fix and many elements of the modern design still exist, like this and the network panel. It won't be until at least Windows 9 that we'll see a coherent strategy to address the usability issues of Windows 8.1. Until then we'll continue to receive quick and dirty fixes.

Dot Matrix said,

It's takes no effort to move the mouse back and forth. That's the whole point of the mouse to begin with... You either want a cursor to move around or you don't.


I find easier and quicker to click a red X than drag down a window...

The issue I have with the context menu is that it doesn't fit with the Metro style at all. It looks like "Aw, f--k! We forgot there was an old context menu in there!" Definitely looks sloppy. I didn't need this feature at all, and all it does is add to the pseudoduality mess.

Cosmocronos said,

I find easier and quicker to click a red X than drag down a window...

I personally prefer as fewof those things in my view when using a program or playing a game as possible. I'm no fan of using anything fullscreen, multi-tasking is great and the more features/menu items hidden from plain view, the better.

Wasting a bucket load of pixels everywhere for features that could easily be tugged away is not my thing.

So some "Modern" features are already being superseded. The UI is dividing into "classic Modern" and "new Modern" ....
"Modern" was never a sensible name for Metro style, it has a very limited shelf life.

gb8080 said,
So some "Modern" features are already being superseded. The UI is dividing into "classic Modern" and "new Modern" ....
"Modern" was never a sensible name for Metro style, it has a very limited shelf life.

I agree 1,000%

This "Metro" tile system is killing this OS. The same one that is killing Windows Phone and the two Surface Tablets.

It makes one's personal desktop (desktop, tablets, and phones) look so cluttered and messy. Unfortunately, it's an eyesore and if Microsoft had the b***s it would listen to the overwhelming majority who rejected the company's universal UI for all their computing devices....including Xbox One.

VictorWho said,

I agree 1,000%

This "Metro" tile system is killing this OS. The same one that is killing Windows Phone and the two Surface Tablets.


How's life in fantasy land?

Clueless about Windows Phone and obviously never ever really used the start screen. If you want cluttered look at your average user WIN7 or earlier start menu..

VictorWho said,

It makes one's personal desktop (desktop, tablets, and phones) look so cluttered and messy. Unfortunately, it's an eyesore

Two things:
1) The tiles are on the start screen - not the desktop
2) The tiles do not make it look messy. It is very possible to have it look clean, just like it is possible to have your desktop look clean or messy

Ideas Man said,
Killing Windows Phone? You've clearly never used it.

well I've used it, on two phones.....plus my works pc is running 8.1 and I also have an xbox one. I actually agree with him.

VictorWho said,

I agree 1,000%

This "Metro" tile system is killing this OS. The same one that is killing Windows Phone and the two Surface Tablets.

It makes one's personal desktop (desktop, tablets, and phones) look so cluttered and messy. Unfortunately, it's an eyesore and if Microsoft had the b***s it would listen to the overwhelming majority who rejected the company's universal UI for all their computing devices....including Xbox One.

I couldn't disagree more. Out with the old; in with the new. You're probably way too young to be an old fart.