Microsoft was heading towards the direction of touch computing since Windows xp, and even further back with Windows 3.11 for Pen Computing! Windows 7 was a touch optimized version, notice the huge Taskbar (that people initially didn't like and eventually was the pinpoint of changes for Windows 8) and huge window control buttons over vista. Notice something here? Touch integration. But a Desktop UI environment doesn't work terribly well with touch, i.e. the start menu specifically.
Even BEFORE Windows 7 was released to retailers, Microsoft already knew Windows 8 was to be focused heavily on touch and tablet computing. Touch wasn't adopted hugely with Windows 7, but it was there with touch AIO PCs, and even some tablet PCs were launched but never gained much traction.
It partly was a marketing move, partly a relevance move for the future, and partly to reinvigorate the ENTIRE company. When was the last time a Windows release caused literally redesigns of concurrent products for that release? Not often, other than Office.
So what, you don't see Desktop at login? Relevant Desktop apps and locations aren't easily accessible/customizable? I don't understand. The function is more like icons within tiles on a colored/patterned background or image through a third party. Sounds like what the Desktop was used for since Windows was first conceived... point and click.
Microsoft could have provided the option of the 'start menu' to be exactly the way it is now, to satisfy one group, and allow people to modify it and use the active apps for other purposes. That would have been great; for with Classic Shell we could have had a traditional desktop on one screen, as well as active apps on another (for those with multiple screens, which is becoming very common). All we now have are two groups that are completely polarised regarding the UI, as far as desktops are concerned.
And you have a logo saying 'think outside the box', when that is the last thing that you appear to be doing.
What about the Start Screen that the menu can't do? All I see is with a start menu Desktop with Windows 8 is a Desktop UI that is even more regarded as an app environment, with metro apps running alongside it. The Start Screen could had been a better executed, like having Desktop locations pinned by default, versus having a Windows 7 Desktop and apps. That's why there is a Start Screen, to bridge those two divides.
Note three things about the image:
- I have some shortcuts on the desktop itself for files that I use fairly regularly, but are associated with Excel, so I have a shortcut to the actual file on the desktop.
- I have a number of shortcuts on the taskbar for programs that I use quite regularly.
- I have a cascading menu pop up that links to a number of other programs that I use fairly regularly, including Control panel etc.
In Windows 7, I can be doing something such as trying to explain why I think the Windows 8 start menu is flawed, to a member of the Windows 8 forum. At the same time, I get an email notification, that someone on the Windows 8 forum has posted in a thread I'm subscribed to and I can click on the Outlook shortcut and see what it's about. And with the aero pop ups, or whatever they are called, I can just hover over an open link in the taskbar and get a quick look at what's going on. I can also click on the start menu and open up Photoshop to create an image to explain why I think the Windows 8 start menu is flawed and I can also quickly click on the Windows Explorer link in the task bar and bring up screen shots to combine in Photoshop for the illustration.
To do this in the Windows 8 interface, I would have to constantly keep going back to the 'start menu', which is like opening up a completely different program/page and keep repeating this for every action. Now I'm suggesting this on the basis that I don't have Classic Shell or the like and everything is being actioned using the new and fantastic 'start menu'. For a desktop that allows so much more, the Windows 8 solution isn't that great. I simply don't need large icons spread all over a page just for a menu, it's just a waste of space if that's all the icons are able to do.
The great thing about the start screen is that is the portal to MS online services.
They wouldn't want you to ignore that.