Microsoft to bring back Start menu, make Windows free for sub-9" devices

|About: Microsoft Corporation (MSFT)|By:, SA News Editor

Windows 7 fans rejoice: Microsoft (MSFT -0.3%) has confirmed at its Build conference the Start menu is returning. The software giant hasn't provided an ETA, but all signs suggest the Start menu will be a part of Windows 9 (reportedly due in April 2015).

Microsoft's revamped Start menu will feature Metro-style live tiles next to the traditional Start bar. The software giant is also previewing a Windows feature that allows Metro apps to appear as distinct windows in desktop mode.

Going forward, Windows will be free for phones/tablets with sub-9" displays. The price change comes after Microsoft reportedly cut Windows license fees by 70% for sub-$250 devices, and represents an escalation of its efforts to put a dent into iOS/Android's 90%+ smartphone and tablet shares.

Also: Nokia is unveiling the Lumia 630, 635, and 930, each of which is optimized for Windows Phone 8.1. The 930, a new flagship model, features a 5" 1080p display and 20MP camera, and goes for a steep $599 unsubsidized. The 630 (4.5", 3G radio) goes for $159-$169 unsubsidized, and the 635 (4.5", 4G radio) for $189.

Earlier: Microsoft unveils Windows/WP updates, universal apps