I seem to recall the decision to remove the start button being based on data from the Customer Experience Improvement Program... such as most users NOT clicking the start button and most users relying instead on pinned frequent apps.
Non-RT versions of Windows 8 still run desktop apps just fine. I vividly remember the new start menu landing in the internal builds of Windows I was running a couple of years back. Sure there was a brief learning curve (same tends to happen anytime you do a major rev of... anything).
Windows 7 has long been banned from my home, and now everything is running Windows 8 and all are happy... even in cases where the device is not touch enabled.
I don't have a problem with this, I'm just saying what turns people off. I'm much smarter than the average person, so this doesn't apply to me. But when people click on a link and the RT version of IE pops up, they get confused and don't understand switching back and forth. They don't know how to set it up so the desktop IE opens the link instead of the RT version. They just throw their hands up in the air, give up and buy an apple. Now part of the problem can be blamed on the american education system or attitude of the general public, but that's a different discussion. I'm just telling you why people are blogging, that windows 8 is a disaster. I personally love it.