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startFor users who have been missing the familiar comfort of the Start menu, a future version of Windows could provide a welcome reprieve.

The next major version of Windows will “make the Start menu available as an option,” possibly in versions designed to support desktop computing, reports Paul Thurrott of the Supersite for Windows, citing anonymous sources.

The return of the Start menu would be an olive branch to users who are confused by the current functionality of the Start button — which was added to the Windows 8.1 desktop (after being taken away in Windows 8) but opens the new Start screen, not a traditional pop-up menu.

It’s the latest in a series of leaks about an upcoming Windows version, reportedly codenamed “Threshold.” Following a company reorg earlier this year, Windows is under the purview of a new operating systems group at Microsoft, led by former Windows Phone chief Terry Myerson.

[Previously: Microsoft Windows shakeup continues: App store and UX leaders move to Bing team]

According to a report by Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft plans to create three different variants of this new “Threshold” Windows version. While each variant would pull from a common core, they would each feature different capabilities tailored for different device classes.

Under its current thinking, Microsoft would create one version of Windows optimized for use on Windows Phone devices, tablets, phablets, and possibly some low-end PCs in order to compete with Google’s Chrome OS, Foley reported. Those versions of the OS will be updated “frequently” through the Windows Store.

For owners of more traditional PCs, Microsoft will have two options: a consumer-oriented version of the OS, which will be optimized for keyboard and mouse users, as well as an enterprise version with all of the expected features, like group policy support and device management. For IT managers who want to have manual control over OS updates, the enterprise version of Threshold won’t update automatically.

In addition, Thurrott reported, the new OS will bring the ability for users to run Metro apps in a window on the desktop, assuming they have a version of Windows that would support that.

The reported changes seem much like the cycle that took place with Windows Vista and Windows 7. The former brought significant wailing and gnashing of teeth, while the latter fixed many users’ complaints.

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