Microsoft demoed the forthcoming Start Menu at its Build conference earlier this year, but the product was shown briefly, and likely wasn’t much more than a mockup. Therefore, that the Start Menu won’t come in the fall update to Windows 8.1 isn’t too surprising.
It’s disappointing for Microsoft in that there appears to be strong market appetite for such a tool among PC users, and its inclusion could spur demand for new devices among those sitting on the sidelines, waiting to buy a computer that better matches what they currently own.
The PC market, which was in something close to a free fall in 2013, has somewhat stabilized. The market should come to balance somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 million units per year, though incumbent players like Intel and Microsoft would like to reverse that trend. Precisely what counts as a PC is blurring over time as convertibles and other tablet-like devices become more prevalent, which is something that could skew a negative trend up — mostly by accident.
For this year’s sales cycle, expect Windows 8.1 to keep looking much the way that it does.
I’ve reached out to Microsoft for comment, but expect about as much back from the company regarding its future product plans as I do from the NSA regarding whatever Glenn Greenwald published most recently. Microsoft declined to comment.