MS is actually collecting data right now that shows removing the start menu was a big mistake.
No, they are getting some data that shows that replacing the start menu with the start screen in the way that they did might have been a mistake - but since most people triailing Windows8 so far have been techies or have had literally a week since they opened their new laptop present, it's probably too early to tell.
People didn't like the start menu. Nobody was swanning around in 2011 saying to their neighbour - you know what really makes my day great? The start menu. You know my favourite part of Windows - the one part I couldn't do without? The start menu. God help me if I didn't have a start menu because then I would forget how to breathe.
This whole show isn't about the start menu. It's about change.
Windows 95 was going to fail and was signalling the end of Microsoft's support for DOS and that Microsoft was making the interface more "childlike" and taking their OS less seriously. Who needs a graphical menu when you have memorized the manpage for that app? Stupid Microsoft. I don't even have direct write access to the screen buffer, so how can I write my app's graphics in a way that isn't going to be slow now? What a bunch of jokers Microsoft are.
Windows 2000 takes too much power away from the user - and stuff like Active Desktop show Microsoft's "race to the bottom". They're taking away our Win9x interface that we all always loved and changing it (those b*stards). Is this the end for Microsoft?
Windows XP - once again, Microsoft shows us that they are willing to sacrifice the power user with "blue balloons" and bubble-wrap interfaces. Most of the Windows 2000 "features" are no longer included by default - you need to install them off the disk now. Even the telnet interface isn't installed by default! Goodness me - Microsoft are on their way out, 2003 - the year of the linux desktop! Thankfully at least you can set Windows XP to look like Windows 2000 via "classic mode". Thank god. We always loved that Windows 2000 interface. It was perfection.
Oh my golly-gosh! Windows Vista has taken away our beautiful XP interface and replaced it with some kind of glass aero crappy b**! They took away our pinball game and we have to install third-party stuff like WindowBlinds to get our beautiful XP interface back that we always loved. Even our start menu has changed! Curses to you Microsoft! This, surely, is the end of the road for MS. 2006 - the year of the linux desktop for sure! The gadget-sidebar is a total joke and we've lost features like Active Desktop! Is nothing sacred? Silverlight and .NET in-the-box? Just flash and Java wannabees. Microsoft sure looks like it's about to go bankrupt!
Windows7? It's Windows Vista SP2! Yet another nail in the coffin for Microsoft. Jump-lists? Pinning stuff to the oversized taskbar? When will Microsoft learn they need to put features in for customer to buy it! What a bunch of jokers.
Windows8! Oh my god! My beautiful aero is gone! And that start menu that I definitely always loved. And my taskbar - that beautiful slightly-bigger-than-it-was-in-XP taskbar that I always loved has been molested by the removal of it's start menu! And gadgets! Oh how I pine for thee! My beautiful gadgets! SURELY this is the end of the desktop and Microsoft forever and ever!
Thankfully there are great alternatives to Windows now. We can all turn to Linux: They would never force an interface on their users that nobody really liked. Or we could all go to Google who never remove products or features that we might be using and certainly don't read our documents and emails in order to make money, or Apple, where all of our corporate applications run perfectly and who give us full control of our devices to do as we please.
So anyway, I look forward to Windows9 when we can look forward to whatever other changes we see being the cause of mass hysteria on the Internet and calls for Microsoft's CEO to resign and yet another year of the linux desktop.
A bit of historical perspective on these things is often useful. It makes you realize that every so often someone predicts the world is going to end. But each and every time, the date comes and goes and the world is still spinning.
The start menu was crappy. Nobody used it. It got axed. Microsoft shares are still going strong. Get over it.