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I'm one of today's best-selling computer book writers, with more than 15 million books in print.

This website keeps you up-to-date on my books, and your computers. Each week, I answer a reader's question on-line.

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Is it a Start button or an Orb?

Q: Your book, Windows 7 For Dummies, uses the term “Start” button for the button that launches the Start menu. As I understand it, the term “Start button” was changed in Vista (and continues in Windows 7), and the button is now called the “Orb.”  That’s one reason why the word “Start” no longer appears on the icon.  The Orb is a launch icon that provides access to Windows’ programs and features.  The continued reference to the now non-existent “Start” button fails to recognize an important and long overdue change.

A: An “Orb,” eh? Well, the button is spherical. And many folks on the Internet call the button a Start Orb. Even Paul Thurrott began calling it an Orb in his review of Windows Vista from November 16, 2006. (He still refers to the mystery switch as the “Start Button” in both his books, Windows Vista Secrets and Windows 7 Secrets.)

Microsoft, however, still refers to the button at the base of the Start menu as the “Start button” in both its online documentation and within Windows 7 itself.  For example, follow these steps to see Windows 7’s own Help menu mention the “Start button:”

  1. Click the Start button and choose “Help and Support.”
  2. Choose “Learn about Computer Basics,” then choose “The Start Menu (overview)” to see the figure below.

A search of Microsoft’s Web site doesn’t show the word “Start Orb” used in any official documentation, although some people call it that on websites.

One more bit o’ proof: Hovering your mouse pointer over the Start button (or Orb) fetches the word “Start.”

Although many people adopted the term “Orb” or “Start Orb” as a slang term for the Start button, it’s not an official Microsoft term, so I didn’t use it in the book.

What do you think, readers? Is it a Start button or an Orb?


Comment from me
Time May 13, 2010 at 10:02 pm

it is da orb u noob

Comment from Edo
Time June 1, 2010 at 7:11 am

I think the it’s “Also Stolen From Ubuntu But With A Fancy-Pancy Animation Button”

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