Windows 8.1 preview video says nothing about Start button

A new video demo of the update doesn't mention Start at all, but it does a good job of showing off what else is new in Windows 8.1.

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Nick manages CNET's advice copy desk from Springfield, Virginia. He's worked at CNET since 2005.
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Microsoft is in denial. It's bringing back the Start button in Windows 8.1, the first major update to Windows 8, but it's steadfastly refusing to admit it's making a massive U-turn. A new video demo of the update doesn't mention Start at all.

It does, however, do a good job of showing off what else is new in 8.1. Cheery Uncle Fester-lookalike Jensen Harris from the Windows user experience team makes a very genial host, quickly demoing many of the update's useful new features.

You very briefly see the new white start button when he shows the desktop, which Microsoft would rather we all forgot about. Otherwise you'll only see it when you mouse over the bottom left of the screen, where you'd expect it to be. But as Harris is demoing Windows 8.1 on a Surface Pro, he never uses a mouse, just the touchscreen.

He demonstrates how to move your apps around, with a very Android-like apps menu in which you hold down on an app to select it (you'll right-click with a mouse). Unlike Android, you don't keep holding and move it where you want, you click the pin button and then choose where it should go.

This seems like an unnecessary extra step, but it does mean you can select more than one app at once and easily move them into a new group. Whether this is to avoid infringing patents or because Microsoft reckons people are more likely to move several apps than just one at a time, I don't know.

Harris also shows how backgrounds have been given a lick of paint with "motion accents" being a simple animation -- he shows an undulating Chinese dragon -- on top of your selected colour. You can also use any photo you like, by making your Start background transparent and showing your desktop wallpaper behind it. Your lockscreen is a photo frame now, pulling images from SkyDrive.

As Microsoft's Antoine Leblond explained in his 8.1 announcement, search has had a serious makeover with a "beautiful curated app-like experience" called "heros" that can show stuff you've got on your PC like apps and images, as well as everything from the Internet. Web search shows great big previews of full Web pages, and you can filter image search results by background colour, for example.

Windows 8.1 will be a free update later this year. What do you think of Windows 8.1 so far? Is it enough to make you upgrade from Windows 7? Or is it not nearly enough? Get started in the comments, or over on our star-turn Facebook page.

Update: A previous version of this story said you never see the Start button, but you do very briefly at 2:12, as @dsilinski pointed out on Twitter. I've changed the story to reflect this.