Microsoft's plan to bring the desktop Start menu back to Windows may not materialize this year.
That's according to the well-connected Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet, whose sources say the Start Menu has been delayed until 2015. Microsoft had reportedly planned to include the pop-up menu in an update around August of this year. Instead, Foley's sources say this feature will be rolled into the next “major” version of Windows, codenamed Threshold.
Officially, Microsoft hasn't announced timing for the Start menu's return, but did show a mock-up of the menu during its Build conference in April. At the time, Microsoft operating systems head Terry Myerson said the menu would return in the “next iteration” of Windows, along with a windowing system for Windows Store apps. (Foley's report doesn't say whether this windowing system has also been delayed.)
Similar to the Start menu of Windows 7, the mock-up showed a list of apps and folders along with a search bar that pops up on the desktop, but it also showed a handful of Live Tiles for Windows Store apps. This menu would presumably allow laptop and desktop PC users to avoid the full-screen Start interface that Microsoft introduced in Windows 8.
If Microsoft does withhold the Start menu for the next major version of Windows, it'll be interesting to see how much the company charges to upgrade from Windows 8. Although Microsoft has given away smaller updates for Windows 8, there's no word on whether this will continue with Threshold. Long-time Windows users won't be pleased if the only official way to bring back the Start menu is to pay for a newer version of the operating system.
In any case, Windows 8 users don't have to wait for a future update to bring back the Start menu. Plenty of unofficial Start menu replacements are already available, including Start8, Classic Shell 4.0 and Pokki.