Hi, David here. Over the past year we’ve gotten a lot of feedback from our customers about the pain of changing from older versions of Windows over to Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. While it’s a great OS with a lot of compelling features, it’s a big change – and as any desktop administrator will tell you, change is a really scary thing for users who just want to be able to log in and get their work done every day. Well, we listened, and in the update we’re releasing this week, we’ve made it easier for you to help manage the change for your users and make the transition to Windows 8.1 a little more friendly for them. Below is some awesome information courtesy of the inestimable Warren Williams.
First, a quick history lesson. Don’t worry, there’s not a quiz at the end.
Start Screen history
Starting with Windows 8.0 Start is the main application launch pad in Windows. Start replaces the Start Menu used in previous versions of Windows going back to Windows 95.
With each update of Windows 8.0, more control over Start’s configuration has been added.
The Start Menu was removed from Windows and replaced by Start. The default behavior in Windows 8.0 is that users always boot to Start. There was no Microsoft supported method of controlling the boot to Start behavior in Windows 8.0.
In Windows 8.1 Microsoft added the ability for users and administrators to control what environment would be displayed when the user logged on. The user can either boot to the Start screen or the Desktop. The behavior was still to always boot to the Start screen however the behavior could be controlled manually with a setting in the Taskbar Navigation properties. Administrators could use a new a Group Policy “Go to the desktop instead of Start when signing in” to specify what environment the user would see after signing in.
Everyone got that? Ok, let’s talk about the new stuff now.
Windows 8.1 Update
In Windows 8.1 Update Microsoft added the ability for the OS to perform device type detection. After applying Windows 8.1.update Tablet devices will boot to the Start Screen and have modern application file associations. All other device types boot to the desktop and the desktop application file associations. The two preceding behaviors occur if the default setting for Taskbar Navigation properties have not changed.