Well, part of the problem is people are being led to believe by some sites lazily repeating the rumour this that Start Button=Start Menu, hence we have so many articles on MS "backtracking". They're not. It's just the button, so the most obvious "WTF were they thinking?" decision is being backtracked, but as you mention it changes very little in actual operation.
The changes I've seen so far leaked from Blue don't indicate a shift in strategy or a real response to the major critique of Windows8 at all, at least from the desktop side - it's all doubling-down on Metro (albeit some necessary changes, but have little effect for laptops/desktops). Booting to the desktop is getting press as the most significant backtrack, but in practice that's incredibly minor - it can easily be accomplished by a simple script in Task Scheduler if you must, and if not it's just one click. Not having an icon (albeit idiotic) and not being able to boot the desktop are about 30 levels down on my list of complaints with Windows 8. Just because you can boot the desktop doesn't mean the Start Screen and other Metro elements won't be shoved in your face constantly with daily operation.
Probably the most significant change is offering consolidated search results in the Start Screen search - again under the category of "How did this get past alpha?" for me, but it's apparently coming.
And again, doesn't really address the issue. While it is an improvement, the issue again is the split between the Metro and Desktop worlds - those search results have no interactivity with the desktop, despite the fact I'm routinely launching the search from that environment. Cannot drag and drop results, limited sorting options (? - that may be improved), and of course without the ability to adjust the window size to the specific size to accommodate the type of results you need.
I couldn't care less if there was a equivalent search on the desktop, but even explorer search has been neutered for some bizarre reason. You can of course type in the search field of an explorer window, the problem is that of course each window defaults to My Computer, of which the entire contents aren't indexed. So you'll get results...very, very slowly. So you have to switch to your Libraries which are indexed (we're several mouse movements and clicks now, as opposed to Win7's Winkey+F), but what if the content you want to search isn't in your Library? There are instances where I want things indexed but I don't want them added to my Library, and Win7 allows this easily by dropping down an information bar to click when you're trying to search a non-indexed location and explaining why it's so slow. This is gone in Win8 - why?
The critique of using the Start Menu to search is that the results were so "constrained" - and of course they are, but all you had to do is to click the grouped section title which would when open up a full explorer window showing all the results from that group, or just hit Wink+F from the Start and have group by category already on. Cntrl+Mouse wheel allowed you to zip through different views/sizes as opposed to the extremely limited options in Metro to boot.
...and of course, Office 2013 - even if you say, just install Lync - removes the ability to search through emails through explorer entirely - even in Win7. Really, wtf, wtf, wtf.
Of all the bizarre compromises of this no-compromise OS, the utterly bizarre decisions regarding search are the most perplexing and impact my workflow the most. Blue, at least so far, seems to do very little to address this.