Updated: 05/05/2017 by Computer Hope

Start may refer to any of the following:

Windows start buttons1. The Start button was first introduced with the release of Microsoft Windows 95 and featured in all releases of Microsoft Windows. The Start button allows users to access their computer programs or configure Microsoft Windows easily.

The picture to the right shows different examples of the Start buttons found in Windows. The gray Start button at the top was the first Start button, found in early versions of Microsoft Windows. In the second picture, this Start button made a brief appearance in Windows XP. Next, Start was removed, and the button was made into the Start Orb, which just had the Windows logo in a circle and used with Windows Vista and Windows 7.

Note: In the initial release of Windows 8, the Start button has been replaced by the Start Screen. Later versions of Windows 8, more commonly referred to as Windows 8.1, have a Start button (shown in the image) that opens the Start Screen instead of the Start Menu.

Note: To determine which version of Windows is on your computer, you can review our guide on How to determine Windows version.

Where is the Start button and what does it do?

By default, the Windows Start button is found at the bottom left part of the desktop screen. However, the Start button can be placed at the top left or top right part of the screen by moving the Windows Taskbar. Clicking the Start button opens the Start Menu (except in Windows 8) that gives you access all the programs installed on the computer and other Windows features. Below is a visual example of the Start button and its location on Windows 7.

Windows 7 desktop with start button

How to click the Start button with the keyboard

The Start button can also be activated using the Windows key or by pressing Ctrl+Esc on the keyboard.

What happens when you right-click the Start button

In new versions of Windows (Windows 8, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10) when you right-click on the Start button it gives you access to the Power User Task Menu. Earlier versions of Windows would give you access to the Properties and Windows Explorer when you right-click the Start button.

2. Start is also a Windows command line command that enables a user to start a separate window in Windows. See the start command overview for further information on this command.

3. The term start (startup) can also be used to describe when a computer loads a software program or when a computer is first booting.

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