Microsoft has removed the Start button orb from Windows 8 but its replacement is a lot more fitting for the company's new operating system. A number of new gestures, for touch and keyboard / mouse, will activate various controls in Windows 8, but one of the new features is a preview-like task switcher. Activated from the lower left or top right of the screen, it allows Windows 8 users to switch through recently opened applications.

The Start button still exists and is available in the charms bar on the right hand side, providing access to the Start Screen. The button animates as it comes into view with what appears to be a flash of light over the Metro style logo. Although there is no Start button orb in the lower left on desktop mode, the functionality is fairly redundant thanks to the new Start Screen interface. It is a big break from Windows 95 though — an operating system that first introduced the Start menu and button — and one that signifies just how much change Windows 8 brings.

Be sure to read our complete hands-on of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview here.