Microsoft is dead serious about killing the classic Start button and Start menu in Windows 8, and is reportedly disabling hacks that bring them back.
Paul Thurrott, a well-connected Microsoft blogger, reports that the company is “furiously ripping out legacy code” that can make Windows 8 look like its predecessor. Hacks that bring back the Start button and Start menu, such as the third-party software ViStart, will reportedly be broken in the Windows 8 Release Preview, which is expected to launch today.
UPDATE (6/1): As The Verge points out, hacks to bring back the Start button and Start menu in Windows 8 still work in the Release Preview. It's still possible that Microsoft will remove them before the final version of Windows 8 ships.
Thurrott also claims that Microsoft won't offer a boot to desktop option for Windows 8, neither for businesses nor consumers. Windows Server 2012, a version of Windows for enterprise and data center servers, won't have this functionality either. That means all Windows 8 users will have to confront the new Metro-style Start screen whether they like it or not.
While I'd expect Microsoft to bury legacy user interface options in Windows 8, I'm surprised that the company may be actively eliminating those options altogether. Some power users have already been quite vocal about the Metro interface in Windows 8--we see angry comments from users all the time at PCWorld--and Microsoft will only upset them further by removing workarounds. If Microsoft wants these users to embrace Metro, it needs to attract them with compelling use cases, not with brute force.
The Windows 8 Release Preview may launch later today, based on a blog post that Microsoft briefly posted, then removed. It will include better targeting for the Start menu and charms hot corners, improved multi-monitor support, family safety features and other tweaks. The final version of Windows 8 is expected to launch in October, but Microsoft hasn't announced a release date yet.