Microsoft removed the Start button from Windows 8's Consumer Preview version earlier this year, generating a lot of discussion and mixed reaction over a user interface element that was first introduced in Windows over 15 years ago. In an interview with PC Pro, the company has revealed that telemetry data was a big part of the decision to scrap the Start button and traditional Start menu in Windows 8.
Discussing application pinning in Windows 7, Microsoft's Chaitanya Sareen explains that the company has witnessed a "trend" towards using the new taskbar as a way to simply launch applications rather than navigating to links within the Start menu. Data gathered from the company's Customer Experience Improvement Program led Microsoft to conclude that Start menu usage was dropping. "We’re going to unlock a whole new set of scenarios," says Sareen, describing the new Metro Start Screen in Windows 8. Despite the new interface, Sareen admits that "you can’t beat the taskbar," and that users can always choose to stay in the desktop mode.
Although the traditional Start menu and Start button has been removed from Windows 8, the majority of functionality remains in the new operating system. A hot corner has replaced the Start button orb in the lower left of the screen, while hot corners on the right-hand side reveal a new charms menu that includes a Windows button to navigate to the Start Screen. Microsoft is putting the finishing touches to its Windows 8 operating system over the course of July, with a release to consumers expected in October.