Well, this is a little disappointing. Remember that rumor about Windows 8.1 bringing back the Start button? According to The Verge, which quotes "sources familiar with Microsoft's plans," the next version of Windows will indeed bring back the button—but not the accompanying menu.
"We understand that the button will act as a method to simply access the Start Screen, and will not include the traditional Start Menu," explains The Verge. "The button is said to look near-identical to the existing Windows flag used in the Charm bar."
Yeah, I don't think that's quite what we were all hoping for. Clicking in the lower-left corner of the display already brings up the Start screen in Windows 8. The problem comes when one has to jump back and forth between Modern UI and the desktop to search for apps and launch them—and if The Verge is correct, Windows 8.1 won't change that.
According to Paul Thurrott of the SuperSite for Windows, the decision to resurrect the Start button came from "upper management, which overruled objections from the Windows team." (The same reportedly applies to the boot-to-desktop option, which is also expected to appear in Windows 8.1.) Thurrott says the Windows division "was given too much free reign [sic] after its Windows 7 successes." Now that Win8 isn't doing so well—and Steven Sinofsky is gone—the division is apparently being reined in by executives more attentive to customer feedback.
In other words, the decision to bring back the Start button sans menu sounds like an ugly compromise between opposing factions. Ugh.