Microsoft hasn't been shy about the radical direction it's taking with the user interface design on Windows 8, but it looks like their latest change may be a big one. PCBeta reports that the latest build of Microsoft's next operating system does away with the ubiquitous "Start" button, which has graced Windows for almost twenty years. The functionality of the Start button remains, but as a limited "hotspot" in the lower-left corner by default, not unlike the Aero Peek feature in Windows 7. Even that functionality is only present in the classic or desktop mode, which drops the shiny new Metro tile interface for a more traditional windowed UI.
The 8220 build of Windows 8 is labelled as Consumer Preview, meaning thaqt the software is nearing completion. That implies that Microsoft is seriously considering making the change to the Start button permanent. That said, the company often integrates feedback from its public betas into the final product - if testers have an immediate and universal disdain for the change, it's likely to be reversed. The Start button has been a crucial part of the Windows user interface ever since Windows 95, and its exclusion is sure to cause some distress among those who opt for the more conservative desktop.
Microsoft has seen its fair share of controversy surrounding Windows 8, mostly due to the touch-friendly Metro interface changes. The Desktop tile is meant to be a window into Windows past for power users, and as such, the removal of something so integral as the Start button seems odd indeed. Other small but crucial changes, like the Ribbon menu interface finding its way into more applications, have also drawn ire from more experienced Windows users. If you'd like to try out Windows 8 for yourself, you can download the Developer Preview at the Windows Dev Center. THe build shown above isn't public yet, but an open beta program is expected in the next few months.