April 16, 2013, 3:56 PM — With Windows Blue, Microsoft may concede that not everyone wants or needs the new modern-style Start screen.
Citing unnamed sources, both ZDNet and The Verge say that Microsoft is considering a boot-to-desktop option in Windows Blue, an update to Windows 8 that's expected to arrive this summer. This option, disabled by default, would allow users to bypass Windows 8's modern-style Start screen when turning the computer on.
Signs of a boot-to-desktop option were also spotted earlier this week in one of the operating system files in a leaked version of Windows Blue. Presumably this option would be simpler than the existing workaround, which involves using Task Schedule to open Explorer on startup.
However, reports conflict on whether Microsoft will bring back the Start button. ZDNet says that Microsoft has considered it, while The Verge says Microsoft will retain the "hot corners" that bring up the modern-style Start menu and the Charms bar.
It's also unclear whether Microsoft would bring back a pop-up Start menu for desktop users, allowing them to avoid the modern-style interface entirely. That would make sense, as the main point of a boot-to-desktop option is to let business users adopt Windows 8 without making major changes in workflow. However, Microsoft may be skittish about letting those users abandon the modern-style interface and Windows Store so easily. The company insists that most users are quick to adopt the new features of Windows 8.
Without a classic Start menu, users would still have to go through the Start screen to launch any apps that aren't pinned to the taskbar or placed as shortcuts on the desktop. Alternatively, users could continue to rely on third-party options, such as Start8 and Classic Shell.
In any case, Microsoft reportedly hasn't made up its mind. "Until it ships, anything can change," ZDNet's anonymous source said.