Report: Microsoft might not make Windows 8.1 Update 1 boot to desktop by default

On Thursday, a report from WZor.net made a rather bold claim about the latest build of Windows 8.1 Update 1. It stated, "immediately after the installation of the system and its load, we find ourselves on the desktop (Desktop) PC and not on a tiled interface Modern UI (Metro)" (translated). That seemed to suggest that Update 1 would have booting to the desktop UI set up as the default, rather than an option to change it to this setting like the current public Windows 8.1 version.

Now a new report from well known Microsoft journalist Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet casts some doubt on this scenario. Foley states, "While there's no reason Microsoft couldn't opt to make boot-to-desktop a universal default -- or even just the default on non-touch devices/machines -- my contacts don't believe this is currently the plan."

Foley adds that, according to one of her contacts at Microsoft, Windows 8.1 Update 1 is feature locked at this point. She says that it has indeed been designed to make the OS easier to use for people who interact via an old fashioned mouse and keyboard. That would seem to be confirmed by previous screenshot leaks, which show that Modern UI apps will be able to be pinned to the desktop taskbar.

Microsoft has not issued any official statements that Windows 8.1 Update 1 is in the works but all signs point to it being released later this spring, perhaps as early as March 11th.

Source: ZDNet | Image via WZor.net

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Enforcing a touch based interface on non touch based machines is madness.
Likewise, providing the legacy desktop on touch based devices is also madness.
For the average user Windows is a horrible mess.

Microsofts decisions around the use of metro and the desktop on various machines and devices defy basic UI/UX logic.

derekaw said,
Enforcing a touch based interface on non touch based machines is madness.
Likewise, providing the legacy desktop on touch based devices is also madness.
Speak for yourself. I'm able to use Metro just fine with a KB/M and as long as there's no app parity I don't want the desktop going anywhere from my Surface either.

Providing users with options is madness? Yes, there's a touch capable (not based) interface in Win 8, but you're not forced to use it. Yes RT has a basic desktop, but you're not forced to use it (although it is better for file management than the Metro side). And if you have a touchpad/keyboard attachment for your "touch-based" device then there's no reason not to have both interfaces, as both choices work perfectly well with that setup.

It's not two separate modes, but two sides of the same whole.

What would be madness is splitting the OS down the middle to satisfy some people's need for hard, rigidly-enforced divisions in function. Why not give people the full selection, and let them use what they're comfortable with?

Just leave Windows 8/8.1 alone, it's fine. I use the desktop 99% percent of the time and opening with the Start screen is fine by me. Hated the weather app at first but now I love it and use it all the time ('bout the only one, though). Oh, I do use the mail app for one email address. Use Windows Mail 11 for everything else (and Outlook). Starting apps from the Start screen is just as good as the old way. I use shortcuts on the desktop and taskbar anyway, so nothing is really different at all. It's what you get used to. I fail to see what all the bitching is about.

The option to boot to desktop is already here, that's enough.
MS should make the new stuff (Metro) always the default, then give the option to change it.
Why would you hide your new features by default?

I hope this rumor is true. The startscreen might not be optimized for non-touch but it work with non-touch (and continues to become better and better for non-touch). Whereas the desktop is near impossible for touch. Defaulting to desktop on a tablet would be insane. Especially since tablets are aimed at mainstream consumers who want a streamlined experience. The outcry would be even worse. It would make Wndow 8 (from new end-user pesective) a bad experience on both desktop AND tablet...

I hope this rumor is true. The startscreen might not be optimized for non-touch but it work with non-touch (and continues to become better and better for non-touch).

Still don't see how the Start screen tiles are somehow worse than the desktop environment for mouse and keyboard users. We've changed from clicking on a 32x32 or 48x48 px square to clicking on much larger targets, but people throw around this notion of "optimized for touch" somehow having been at the expense of something else when it has actually made things easier for all input methods.

zhangm said,

Still don't see how the Start screen tiles are somehow worse than the desktop environment for mouse and keyboard users. We've changed from clicking on a 32x32 or 48x48 px square to clicking on much larger targets, but people throw around this notion of "optimized for touch" somehow having been at the expense of something else when it has actually made things easier for all input methods.

It's not just the start screen itself but the gestures to access UI elements around it suchas the appswitcher, appbar and charmbar. These gestures are not as intuitive as with touch but also compleetly pointless since desktop users likely have a screen large enough to put these elements on screen, all the time. But scrolling through the startscreen with a mouse also isnt a very nice experience. It's doable but clearly not what its designed for.

It seems like it should be a no-brainer that when the installer/upgrader detects the hardware to not have touch, and that it's not a tablet form-factor, that it should default the "boot to desktop" setting to ON. Or at the very least, the installer/upgrader should ask the question "Do you want to boot to the Start Screen or to the Desktop?"

Honestly, if you default to boot to desktop, it should also default the Default Programs to desktop applications instead of Modern apps (for photos, videos, music, etc.) so you're not unexpectedly thrown into the touch interface when you're on a non-touch desktop.

How hard can that be? It would address a TON of complains with VERY little effort on Microsoft's part.

I agree that for all functions of WIndows there should be. metro and desktop version. WHich is accessed should depend on user input, not hardware detection. Although Windows could suggest one option over the other depending on hardware.

The thing with defaulting to desktop for non-touch is that it needlessly makes Windows complex. Whether you like the startscreen, it is at least consistent. If someone owns a tablet and a PC with Windows 8 he shouldnt be left wondering why the two devices work differently.

In the long run the startscreen will become useful for both non-touch and touch. So it would be a bad turn of events if MS directed a lot of users to the desktop while they're working do hard to create 'one OS' across phones, tablets, laptops and desktops.

If boot to desktop is going to be default with all those good new changes for PC users, then I will go for Windows 8.1 SP1(update 1).

Hey MS! Don't blow it!!!! We're watching...

No, It's not!! go and use METRO like an idiot. I'm using PC for more important things than playing with some lame mobile apps!!

I don't see a problem. users can change it to suite their needs and more importantly, with the new taskbar changes and later the ability to run store apps in floating windows, desktop users will embrace the metro world for more store apps have been created in the past month than win32 apps in the past decade.

I'd still rather have desktop programs in a Metro "wrapper". I don't really need the desktop itself, just the more powerful applications that haven't been brought to Metro yet.

Since,the beginning,this entire story seemed to me like a classic example of a tempest in a teacup. What really matter is having the ability to set the,OS to boot what the interface the user prefer, period.
BTW It is lovely how the author characterize the use of mouse and keyboard as " old fashioned"...

he says that it has indeed been designed to make the OS easier to use for people who interact via an old fashioned mouse and keyboard.

Really? MS still thinking the M/KB and desktop is dead huh. Ok then....

This should be an option during the install if you want to boot to desktop or not.

techbeck said,

Really? MS still thinking the M/KB and desktop is dead huh. Ok then....

This should be an option during the install if you want to boot to desktop or not.

Mouse/keyboard and classic desktop are not conjoined elements - even on the Modern side I generally prefer m/k over touch if it's comfortable/feasible. If I have a place to set my Surface down, I'm using the keyboard cover, no matter which side of 8 I'm on.

But yeah, making it an install option would be nice, for both the pro- and against-Metro sides.

techbeck said,

Really? MS still thinking the M/KB and desktop is dead huh. Ok then....

This should be an option during the install if you want to boot to desktop or not.

Errrm that bit you quoted was the author of the article not the source . Doubt MS thinks the mouse and keyboard are dead, why are they still selling them?

Silver47 said,

Errrm that bit you quoted was the author of the article not the source . Doubt MS thinks the mouse and keyboard are dead, why are they still selling them?

DOH! Thanks

techbeck said,

Really? MS still thinking the M/KB and desktop is dead huh. Ok then....

This should be an option during the install if you want to boot to desktop or not.

The Start Screen is EASIER for Keyboard and Mouse users. Why this keeps getting repeated that it is somehow harder shows that people like to repeat crap they haven't stopped to think about.

The entire Start Screen and 99% of Modern Apps can be navigated with the arrow keys, tab, enter, and the Windows key. This is far more keyboard friendly than any version of Windows that ever existed.

Additionally, it isn't HARDER to click on the tiles on the start screen. They don't move or jump away from a mouse pointer.

KB/Mouse people need to pay attention and see what is in this for them and stop with the idiotic generalizations that are so tired.

Mobius Enigma said,

The Start Screen is EASIER for Keyboard and Mouse users. Why this keeps getting repeated that it is somehow harder shows that people like to repeat crap they haven't stopped to think about.

Subjective. What is easier for you or others, isnt so for many others.


This is far more keyboard friendly than any version of Windows that ever existed.

Subjective. Many find it harder even after using the Start Screen for a while.


Additionally, it isn't HARDER to click on the tiles on the start screen. They don't move or jump away from a mouse pointer.

For many it is and why MS is making changes ot make it easier for those people. They made changes in 8.1 to make it easier as well. Whether or not MS makes Windows boot to the desktop by default is no big deal to me. Just giving my opinion.


KB/Mouse people need to pay attention and see what is in this for them and stop with the idiotic generalizations that are so tired.

People need to pay attention and realize what works for them, may not work for many othes. Why there has always been choice and options. MS killed a lot of these options with Win8 and got a huge back lash. Why changes were made in 8.1 and more rumored changes coming.


Many people think that what works for them, should work for everyone else or at least the vast majority. They dont look at the whole picture...just what works for them. This is rarely the case and if there are enough issues and problems with users, companies need to make changes. Like what MS did in 8.1 and rumored changes elsewhere.

techbeck said,

Many people think that what works for them, should work for everyone else or at least the vast majority. They dont look at the whole picture...just what works for them.

Very true, and people on both sides of the argument are guilty of this. Returning the classic options is a good thing, but those of us who like the new stuff need the option of keeping that new stuff, too.

That's why I object so loudly whenever someone suggests splitting Metro off into a tablet-only version. It might work for them, but it ruins things for others.

techbeck said,

DOH! Thanks

You're only human.

Or an A.I. programmed to make mistakes to make us think you're human... *shifty eyes*

techbeck said,

Really? MS still thinking the M/KB and desktop is dead huh. Ok then....


I guess they expect people to tap out Office documents on a touch screen? Yeah right...

techbeck said,

Subjective. What is easier for you or others, isnt so for many others.

Subjective. Many find it harder even after using the Start Screen for a while.

For many it is and why MS is making changes ot make it easier for those people. They made changes in 8.1 to make it easier as well. Whether or not MS makes Windows boot to the desktop by default is no big deal to me. Just giving my opinion.

People need to pay attention and realize what works for them, may not work for many othes. Why there has always been choice and options. MS killed a lot of these options with Win8 and got a huge back lash. Why changes were made in 8.1 and more rumored changes coming.


Many people think that what works for them, should work for everyone else or at least the vast majority. They dont look at the whole picture...just what works for them. This is rarely the case and if there are enough issues and problems with users, companies need to make changes. Like what MS did in 8.1 and rumored changes elsewhere.

Yes this is so "Subjective"..

The tiles do jump away from your mouse pointer, and using arrow keys is too hard for keyboard users...


This has devolved to where the comments are too reductive to warrant another response.

Buh Bye..

Mobius Enigma said,

Yes this is so "Subjective"..

The tiles do jump away from your mouse pointer, and using arrow keys is too hard for keyboard users...


This has devolved to where the comments are too reductive to warrant another response.

Buh Bye..

Just because you dont have a problem with the Screen, doesnt mean others dont . You call the Screen easier to use which is subjective and lots disagree. I never had the mouse jump from me in the Menu at all and rarely see anyone else have a problem with it. Actually, I take that back...only time I have seen the mouse jump on me in the Menu is when there was something blocking the optics.

And the tiles look like crap IMO and many agree. And it appears to be an issue or else MS wouldnt be making changes. Old classic Menu will never come back but MS is making changes to accommodate the desktop users. MAke changes and phase certain things out overtime like MS has always done in the past. MS has been trying to speak for its customers a lot lately with Windows and the XBOX and their customers do not like it. It is ultimately Microsoft decision, but when you have a huge back lash, you have got to start listening.

techbeck said,

Just because you dont have a problem with the Screen, doesnt mean others dont . You call the Screen easier to use which is subjective and lots disagree. I never had the mouse jump from me in the Menu at all and rarely see anyone else have a problem with it. Actually, I take that back...only time I have seen the mouse jump on me in the Menu is when there was something blocking the optics.

And the tiles look like crap IMO and many agree. And it appears to be an issue or else MS wouldnt be making changes. Old classic Menu will never come back but MS is making changes to accommodate the desktop users. MAke changes and phase certain things out overtime like MS has always done in the past. MS has been trying to speak for its customers a lot lately with Windows and the XBOX and their customers do not like it. It is ultimately Microsoft decision, but when you have a huge back lash, you have got to start listening.

Breaking my word...

See this is where it is different.

Technically the Start Screen is easier to use and navigate, for both keyboard and mouse users.

However, I agree that some people find it harder to use, and these are two different things.

There is not a technical problem or a problem with the model of the Start Screen.

It is a problem with getting users to accept the new model and the workflow changes that many are still fighting to avoid.

So we can argue about how easy users are adapting and why, but when it comes to the base technology and model it is solid and is technically easier.

Just because aunt Betty or LinuxUser1 doesn't want to even try to see why it might work better for them, is not a problem with the technology or the model, it is a sociological problem and is quite common with progress in the technology industry.

On a personal level, I can take the most anti-Windows and anti-Start Screen user and within a matter of minutes give them my insights that often makes them fall in love with the new technologies and the new models.

Although I am not always successful in my writings, like on Neowin, it is my intent to not tell people they are wrong or call them stupid, I truly want to encourage them to step outside of their box/paradigm for a moment and see if the there is something they are missing or avoiding and try to make the new model work for them, as it often does when they do.

Take care.

Good... I'm glad that they are sticking to their own vision. It's called a START screen for a reason. And anyway there's an option to make it boot to the desktop already, and they will probably just prompt this during initial setup.

techbeck said,
So maybe MS will release an update for Win7 to always popup the Start menu when you logon to Windows.

As soon as they add live information to the items in the start menu, they just might. It would be handy to have the weather, news, etc in the Win7 Start Menu.

greenwizard88 said,
This is how Windows 95 worked on the initial bootup.
Ha, your rejoinder really made me laugh! Glad someone remembered this. People also had to be taught to "Click here to begin" with a bouncy arrow and text on the taskbar.

Romero said,
Ha, your rejoinder really made me laugh! Glad someone remembered this. People also had to be taught to "Click here to begin" with a bouncy arrow and text on the taskbar.

Nice addition...

In technology, history often loses relevance; however, it remains important to help users understand current progressions.

Windows 8.1 isn't perfect and neither was any of the previous generations of software that people have such strong nostalgia.

There is a fine line between getting caught in the past instead of remembering it fondly and moving forward.


Good. The decision should be left to the user, not based on the form factor. Not every stationary computer user wants the classic view as the default.

Same on both sides of the coin. MS just has to cater to the biggest audience and if this is true, and depending on the finished product, we shall see who the biggest audience is.

No, they just have to give people the option. Except they already do. They could make it part of the install process since it seems to bother people so much. How, one click from the Start Screen into Desktop is too much for some people though shows how petty and overblown this whole #w8sucks thing has gotten.

Jose_49 said,
Does it really matter? It takes less than 10 seconds to tick that option on the taskbar....

Exactly but people need something to complain about.

jakem1 said,

Exactly but people need something to complain about.

I've always wondered what that big Windows key on my keyboard is for.
Maybe I'll press it one of these days and see what happens.

This just in, we're getting word that Microsoft may or may not do something.

in other news, boys have a penis and girls have a vagina.

timster said,
This just in, we're getting word that Microsoft may or may not do something.

in other news, boys have a penis and girls have a vagina.

Well, though I don't really understand the feeling of the transgendered.. as I am not one.... some boys feels like they have vag's and vice-versa.

Well that sucks. I really don't see why they can't detect a touch device and a non touch device. I mean they do it with the tutorial.

People that don't have touch they get the tutorial about jamming your mouse in the top right corner. Touch devices get the thumb swipe.

Then the question will be asked well what to do with all in one PC's with touch. I still say boot to desktop. I have one of those and I MUCH prefer a mouse over touching the screen.

I have it sitting on my kitchen table. My dad would use it over his lunch hour. For a while I didn't hook a mouse up to it and made him only touch screen. After about a month, he asks me "Can we please get a mouse for this computer" LOL.

Or at a least on first boot have a pretty screen which lets the user choose. Boot to desktop or Boot to the start screen.

Edited by warwagon, Jan 31 2014, 3:36pm :

warwagon said,
Well that sucks. I really don't see why they can't detect a touch device and a non touch device. I mean they do it with the tutorial.

People that don't have touch they get the tutorial about jamming your mouse in the top right corner. Touch devices get the thumb swipe.

Then the question will be asked well what to do with all in one PC's with touch. I still say boot to desktop. I have one of those and I MUCH prefer a mouse over touching the screen.

I have it sitting on my kitchen table. My dad would use it over his lunch hour. For a while I didn't hook a mouse up to it and made him only touch screen. After about a month, he asks me "Can we please get a mouse for this computer" LOL.

Or at a least on first boot have a pretty screen which lets the user choose. Boot to desktop or Boot to the start screen.

Which just shows that Windows 8 works very well with a mouse. Whether the hardware supports touch or not has absolutely nothing to do with interface preference, so it should not be a factor in which view is presented. It needs to be the user's choice.

I mean I do think when you install Windows 8 it should give you the option "boot to desktop or start menu", but really it amazes me how people are getting worked up about this. It is one click once the machine boots from the Start Screen to Desktop. Even though I am in the desktop all the time I am fine with it booting to Start (and haven't changed the setting) to see at a glance what is going on, before I click into the desktop. I even (amazingly!!!) sometimes just go to the Start Screen when I am using the PC.

DConnell said,

Which just shows that Windows 8 works very well with a mouse. Whether the hardware supports touch or not has absolutely nothing to do with interface preference, so it should not be a factor in which view is presented. It needs to be the user's choice.


I second what you said. This needs to be user's choice. Microsoft should not force its will on users. That's just stupid.

warwagon said,
Well that sucks. I really don't see why they can't detect a touch device and a non touch device. I mean they do it with the tutorial.

People that don't have touch they get the tutorial about jamming your mouse in the top right corner. Touch devices get the thumb swipe.

Then the question will be asked well what to do with all in one PC's with touch. I still say boot to desktop. I have one of those and I MUCH prefer a mouse over touching the screen.

I have it sitting on my kitchen table. My dad would use it over his lunch hour. For a while I didn't hook a mouse up to it and made him only touch screen. After about a month, he asks me "Can we please get a mouse for this computer" LOL.

Or at a least on first boot have a pretty screen which lets the user choose. Boot to desktop or Boot to the start screen.

Why does it need to? Is there a reason Mouse users cannot (or should not) see the start screen? Why is such an atrocity for mouse users?

I have had no ill effects from using my mouse with Windows 8.1 in its vanilla state.

They assume that only touchscreen users like Metro, so hardware-based selection will suffice. After all, they don't like Metro, and they're mouse-users, so therefore all mouse-users don't like Metro.

The no-Metro crowd seem to harbor far more of the "it has to be this way" people than the pro crowd. I know I personally have no problem with classic options being built-in, just so long as I can still have my hybrid and never have to use the "classic" Start Menu again.

You don't really see pro-Metro people clamoring for the immediate death of the desktop. But a few of the anti-Metro side are demanding no Metro whatsoever on traditional machines. You have to wonder why they would be so against the design that it isn't enough to not have to use it themselves; they have to "save" everyone from it.

DConnell said,

You don't really see pro-Metro people clamoring for the immediate death of the desktop. B

No, but a lot of pro/anti people only see their views and what works for them. Most users who dont like metro that I see, just want choice. They dont like being forced in to something.

But I guess location plays a part in what people see concerning the views for or against Metro.

And some of those who don't like Metro want _their_ choice, and aren't concerned with what others want. For some the problem isn't a lack of choice - we have more choice than ever about how to use our computers - but that their preference is no longer the default/only choice. No matter how much the desktop side is improved, or how much integration it gets into Windows as a whole, they won't be happy until the desktop is once again the main/sole focus of the OS.

Personally, I really don't see what the big deal is about the desktop itself. It's the programs that matter to me. If we had the ability to run desktop apps in Metro or developers would get off their posteriors and code robust Metro apps, I would never see the desktop.

But others prefer it, so I don't see any reason to remove it, even if either scenario I mentioned does happen. It'd just be nice to get the same consideration from the anti-Metro side. I'm tired of seeing "Just have Metro on tablets" touted as a fix. It isn't!

I like Metro, the Start Screen and the apps, on my tower and laptop systems just as much as on my Surface RT. I wish they'd stop clamoring for the removal of these elements. You don't like them - fine. Why isn't making them optional enough? Why force me and others like me to work the way you prefer? Isn't that worse than what you're dealing with now? All you're missing is the Start Menu. I'd lose an entire UI and program set.

Metro with mouse is a hell of lot more attractive with an X to close the app, and a Minimize button, and the ability to see what the hell is running in the background on the taskbar without having to swipe in. Swiping in on anything but a laptop or a tablet is a waste of time.