Even when I don't fully understand why Microsoft has done something, I assume that they've done it for reasons that appeared reasonable and logical at the time. As I said in a previous post, "The Server Manager Revolution":
"Microsoft is many things, but they are rarely whimsical."
Any decision about changing the UI would have gone through endless discussion at Microsoft. The argument for change only would have been successful if it was robust. It’s a lot easier to say “lets keep this as it is” than it is to say “I reckon we should change this”.
So I've spent a lot of time thinking about the choice to remove the Start button from Windows Server 2012. It makes sense that there are some damn robust reasons for removing the button itself.
I just haven't groked them yet.
Now, off the bat, I'm completely fine with the Start menu itself. A Start menu screen that uses all available real estate? I grok that.
And I've made my admiration of the new Server Manager console quite public
The "I know that this makes sense to someone but I haven't had that gestalt switch to *getting it*" aspect of the Server 2012 UI is the "missing" Start menu *button*. A big fat target that I can click to get the Start menu to open.
Now If I'm logged in directly to, either through a virtual machine connection or at a console, I press the Start key on my keyboard. Start menu comes up and I'm good to go.
Where things get complicated is when I'm logged on remotely using Remote Desktop Connection. By default, when you press the Start key when using Remote Desktop Connection, the local Start menu opens rather than the Remote one. You *can* change this if you know where to look in the Remote Desktop Connection settings, but that's not the way it works by default in Windows 7. In fact I suspect that most people don’t even know this is possible. (Buy my Windows Server 2008 R2 Secrets book! It’s got secrets in it.)
When you use Remote Desktop Connection to manage Windows Server 2012 without this option configured, you have to position the mouse in a very specific place to be able to bring up the Start menu. The problem with this is that even though I've been using Windows Server 2012 for some time now, I reckon that 1 time out of 3 I'm still not able to get the mouse to sit in the right position. I know where I need to move the mouse, it’s just that while Microsoft may not be whimsical, the appearance of the Start menu when you are using mouse only to manage Windows Server 2012 kinda is.
Now there is an argument to be made that Remote Desktop Connection is not the optimal method of managing Windows Server 2012. That's probably going to be using the RSAT tools with Windows 8 ( though I do wonder how one would get to the Control Panel through the RSAT tools …(I’d love for Control Panel to be available from the Tools menu in Server Manager)). What we don't know at this stage is whether there will be a set of Windows Server 2012 RSAT tools for the Windows 7 operating system.
Lets face it - most admins are going to manage Windows Server 2012 from Windows 7 and if there aren't RSAT tools, then they are going to be using Remote Desktop Connection.
If I'm not able to able to reliably open the Start menu using mouse only through Remote Desktop connection, I think it's reasonable to assume that others that haven't been mucking about nearly as much with Windows Server 2012 aren't going to be able to do it either. Unless they know to change that Remote Desktop Connection setting, I suspect that many of them are going to be a mite frustrated when remotely managing Windows Server 2012.
So I will continue to speculate as to why the Start button was removed on Windows Server 2012. There has to be great reasons, I just haven’t figured them out yet. If the Start menu would open reliably when I placed the mouse in a specific position I'd be as right as rain. Until it does I do sort of wish I had a big fat target to click on.