Build 6.4.9788 was recently spotted in Windows Store logs
We’ve known about the Start Menu’s impending comeback for over two months now. Ever since the return of what is perhaps the most iconic Windows UI item to have been left out of Windows 8 was announced by the Redmond-based company in April, there has a been a lot of speculation about the time of its comeback. If some recent reports are to be believed, it’s more likely to come back with the Windows 9 “Threshold” update than the less significant Windows 8.1 Update 2.
Microsoft is reportedly aiming to win back its core desktop audience with the release of Windows Threshold next year. These are the same users clinging to Windows XP and Windows 7, or perhaps even made the jump to Linux in order to avoid Windows 8/8.1. Microsoft has a chance to atone for the usability mistakes it made in Windows 8/8.1 with Windows 9, and you can expect a whole bunch of new features aimed at desktop users.
Don't hold your breath waiting for the return of the Start menu
Microsoft did Windows users a solid by bringing back the Start button in Windows 8.1, but has stubbornly refused to give back the Start menu for those who want it. Last we heard, the Start Menu would indeed make a comeback, the question is when, and the answer might not be with Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8.1 Update 2 -- instead, the Start menu may not make a comeback until Windows 9.
Different reports point to different release schedules
Speaking at last year’s Build conference, then Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer stated that moving to a rapid release cadence was “fundamental to what we’re doing, and what we must to do to mobilize our ecosystem and our partners.” Since that proclamation, we’ve already seen the company release two updates (albeit of varying significance), and a third, presumably called Windows 8.1 Update 2, is rumored for release later this year. But what about next year?
Microsoft hopes new branding will help distance itself from Windows 8 criticisms
There will be an update to Windows 8.1 sometime later this year, which isn't surprising because Microsoft never stops working on Windows. Beyond that, however, Microsoft is reportedly gearing up to announce Windows 9 during its Build 2014 developer conference in April. Should things go plan, Windows 9, or "Threshold" if you prefer to use the codename, will launch to consumers a year later.
The Start menu is coming, the Start menu is coming! Feel free to run up and down the aisles of your office building shouting the news at the top of your lungs. Act crazy enough and you may not have a job tomorrow, but at least you can look forward to the return of a feature in Windows 8/8.1 that should never have been left out in the first place. Oh, and to be clear, don't confuse the Start menu with the Start button, the latter of which made its triumphant return in Windows 8.1, but without the all-important menu (thanks for the half-assed concession, Microsoft).