In Windows 8, Microsoft is killing the Start menu and replacing it with the Metro Start screen. That move essentially forces users to dance back and forth between Metro and the legacy desktop if they want to get any work done. But that's okay, because you can just bring back the Start menu with some third-party hacks. Right?
Well, yes, but maybe not for much longer.
According to Paul Thurrott of the eponymous Supersite for Windows, those third-party hacks won't work in the upcoming Windows 8 Release Preview... or, apparently, in the final version of Windows 8:
Related to this second point is information I’ve received that Microsoft has been furiously ripping out legacy code in Windows 8 that would have enabled third parties to bring back the Start button, Start Menu, and other software bits that could have made this new OS look and work like its predecessor. In fact, I’ve seen that several well-known UI hacks that worked fine with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview are no longer functional in the coming Release Preview.
Worse yet, Thurrott claims neither Windows 8 nor its server counterpart, Windows Server 2012, will allow business users to boot straight into the Desktop interface. He says this move is part of a "calculated risk" to focus on consumers—consumers that might be "on the cusp of slipping through its fingers thanks to Apple and, to a much lesser extent, Android." Business users, meanwhile, will likely have to stick with Windows 7 for the foreseeable future.
I've already discussed my trepidations about Windows 8, and this story only adds to them. I think it's not just business folks Microsoft who will be leaving behind. Power users, too, may see the awkward Metro-desktop cohabitation as an impediment to productivity, and they may end up sticking with Windows 7, too, which would rob them of many of the advances and improvements Windows 8 makes to the desktop. It's sort of tragic, really, and I hope Microsoft reconsiders its stance. (Thanks to Neowin for the tip.)