Another candid encounter with a Windows 7 feature.

I can't believe my good luck: last minute reservations at the hottest place in town—and I even get a Window table. My lunchtime interview with a genuine power broker in the Windows world—Start menu—gets the setting it deserved.

He shows up right on time, checking his watch and repeatedly glancing around the room, then looks at me expectantly. "Oh, Hi, are we ready to begin? Just say the word. Let's get going. What'll it be?" He looks ready for anything—though he's also wearing his iconic Shut down button.

JG: Thanks for making time for me. I've already decided on the seafood special. What sounds good to you?
SM: Everything. I like everything on the menu. But wait, I don't see...

JG: You can always ask the waiter if they'll prepare...
SM: (pulls a device from his pocket) No, it's okay. I'll just use my Search box to find it. I'm in the mood for artichokes.

Start Menu search

JG: I guess that would be more efficient than wandering around looking for it.
SM: Absolutely. Even if you think you know where to look, what if you're wrong? A person could starve, with all that time-consuming navigating through folders and whatnot.

JG: So you're searching, then.
SM: Yup. The results show everything in the place that has "artichoke" in its name, its contents, at the beginning of its tag, or in its author. I'm getting dips, starters, salads and, oh, look, an artichoke game app. I wonder if there's a Kinect-ready version.

JG: You must be a real 'choke aficionado.
SM: Not really, just in a mood. If I wanted an artichoke item to always be at my fingertips, I'd just pin the item to myself. I saw a movie once that shows you how. (stares in to space thoughtfully)

JG: Um, excuse me sir, are you still with me here?
SM: Sorry, I was busy keeping track of favorites and music and documents, etc. Any time you need me, though, just hit Windows keyon your keyboard—it toggles me.

JG: OK. So, now as I see you up close, I have one more question. On your right side—great profile, by the way—I want to see submenus in some places but not in others. Can you accommodate me?
SM: Of course. Call me up and right-click on one of my blank spots—say, up at the top—then choose Properties (you can get here via the Control Panel as well). All sorts of cool options there.

Start Menu properties

JG: Great. And—just one more question?
SM: Sure thing.

JG: What's with the Shut down button? Could you wear something else?
SM: You know, that's really just my Power button. Shutting down is what people like to do, so they can go home and enjoy family time, so that's what I typically wear. But you can change the Power button to another default choice such as Sleep, Restart, or Log off. Here's how you do it.

With that, Start menu digs into his artichoke frittata, and I let him enjoy it in peace. I can always toggle him if I need him.

Jeff