As you may have read already, with Windows 8.1 Preview (and Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview) the start button has been re-added:
Basically by left clicking you will switch between the modern/metro interface and the desktop (similar to pressing the windows key). By right clicking you will get the menu shown in the image above (similar to pressing windows key + X). For more information and tweaks take a look at:
Another often requested feature was to be able to bypass the metro/modern interface start screen. This boot to desktop is now also possible: http://www.thewindowsclub.com/boot-to-desktop-windows-8-1
A lot of people have been complaining and discussing the absence of the start button and the start menu and that the shutdown/restart options where too hard to access.
Personally I simply press CTRL+ ALT + DELETE, click the power icon and choose the action to perform. Or I press the physical power button on my laptop, pc or tablet.
I also don’t really need the start button/start menu. I added my most used apps on the modern/metro start screen and/or added them to my desktop and taskbar. Other apps I simply search for by starting to type on the modern/metro start screen.
The lack of a start button does irritate a lot when you’re accessing Windows 8/2012 through RDP or any other remote method. Trying to access the hot corners to switch between the metro/modern start screen and the desktop can sometimes be hard, especially on laggy connections (ILO/RSA/DRAC). The same is true for accessing the charms bar (which you use to restart/shutdown).
The re-added start button does solve the switching between the metro/metro start screen and the desktop I described above,but the charms bar is still an issue. You can use the start button for restart/shutdown though.
What I hate most though, is that the start button is simply a button. It doesn’t include the start menu people want to access their programs and settings in a way to are accustomed to. To make it even worse the re-added official start button makes it harder to use some 3rd party start button/menu replacements that were working well (but this will probably be sorted out soon since 8.1 has only been released a couple of days). Classic shell still works well though: http://www.classicshell.net/
Even though I think Microsoft has been doing a lot of great things lately, the way they’re handling the start button/start menu isn’t one of them in my opinion. People want the start button and the start menu they’ve grown used to and that has been available for many Windows versions. This start button without the start menu will probably lead to more disappointed users because they expect the start menu to be included with the start button. I think this will also hurt adoption in the enterprise. All in all I think it’s a missed oportunity
The preview version with this start button is not the final version. While I don’t expect Microsoft to re-add the start menu before the finl release, I sure hope they prove me wrong. If you want to have the start menu back, be sure to voice your opinion. This did work for the Xbox one, where Microsoft changed course with regards to Digital Rights Management (DRM).
Even though the start button isn’t what many people have hoped for, there are a lot of other great improvements to Windows 8.1 and Server 2012 R2 though. I’ll try to post more about it in the next couple of weeks.