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Windows Start button could make a comeback, Microsoft exec says

Julie Larson-Green, corporate vice president of Windows, says the company is having "meaningful discussions" about bringing older features of Microsoft's operating system to Windows 8.

Julie Larson-Green, Microsoft's corporate vice president of Windows, speaks Tuesday at the Wired Business Conference in New York. Dan Farber/CNET
NEW YORK--The Windows Start button could make a comeback in future versions of the software, Microsoft's head of Windows confirmed Tuesday.

Julie Larson-Green, corporate vice president of Windows at Microsoft, said the company is having "meaningful discussions" about bringing certain older features of the Microsoft's operating system to Windows 8. That could include a Start button that remains on the screen.

However, she said Microsoft believes "fully in the start screen and model of having live tiles and access to everything you want in a glance."

"The Start menu was never built for a lot of applications," Larson-Green said Tuesday at the Wired business conference in New York. "The Start screen [in Windows 8] offers dramatic improvement. .... The Start menu is not the be all end all. But a button might be useful for some people to have on the screen."

She declined to provide many details about Windows Blue,the code name for Windows' upcoming update, but said it will be available to developers in June. She added that despite some reports, Windows Blue won't have any major changes from Windows 8.

"We're working hard on enabling new kinds of hardware and new kinds of software and doing some innovations in the product," Larson-Green said.

Microsoft in October launched Windows 8 with a radically redesigned user interface. Since that time, many users have grumbled about certain features, including the lack of a Start button. The operating system was expected to boost PC sales, but International Data Corp. last month said Windows 8 actually is hurting the market.

PC sales have been weak for quite some time, but the first quarter marked one of the worst periods of all time. Shipments fell in the double digits on a percentage basis, which marked the fourth consecutive quarter of year-over-year declines, according to tech research firms Gartner and IDC. The sector is not only being hurt by the weak economy but also by consumers opting for mobile devices instead of traditional PCs.

Late Monday, Microsoft said it hassold more than 100 million Windows 8 licenses in six months. The figure is comparable to the number of licenses sold for Windows 7.