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WHEN MICROSOFT RELEASED OFFICE 2007 and introduced the Ribbon, everyone wanted to know what happened to the File menu. Some users called their corporate help desks asking if they could roll back to the previous version, or at least find out how to make 2007 look more like 2003. Microsoft was listening, and in the next version, Office 2010, it brought back the File menu.

Skip forward a few years to the release of another kind of Microsoft product, the Windows 8 operating system, and another possibly disruptive alteration — the removal of the Start menu (not to mention the dual Metro/desktop interface).

Like it did with the File menu, Microsoft may just give in again. According to a recent article by ZD Net’s Mary Jo Foley, rumors are circulating that Microsoft will bring back Start as part of an update to Windows 8.

Whether it’s a good move is debatable. Bringing back Start could help reduce the learning curve for many corporate workers. It could soften the blow of an XP-to-8 migration. On the flip side, bringing back Start essentially offers users an “easy route” and lessens the chances that they will learn how to use new features, the very features that were designed to maximize productivity.

The preview version of Windows 8.1, also known as Blue, is slated to go live sometime next month.

Samsung S4's SmartPause feature

One of the Samsung S4’s advanced features is SmartPause, which uses the front camera to pause video playback when you look away from the screen.

SPEAKING OF EASY ROUTES, SAMSUNG has included an “Easy Mode” in the design of its fresh-from-the-factory Galaxy S4 smart phone. The S4 is crammed with advanced features — so many that Techradar’s review goes on for 16 pages — but Easy Mode enables novices to get by with the basics.

“Samsung is of the belief that it can ease people into learning how to use the Galaxy S4 with Easy Mode. Then, when they’re ready, they can ‘graduate’ to standard mode,” writes Dan Rowinski of Readwrite.com in a recent article.

Easy is good in some cases, and Samsung’s goal of enabling users to slowly learn how to use advanced features is laudable. But investing in an advanced device just to use the basics doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It’s like renting a semi to move a few boxes. Read the full piece here.

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