I’ve been running the beta for about a week now. I guess there are differences, but it seems to look, feel, and operate pretty much as the original flavor did. Maybe a tetch faster, but then I’ve got it on a clunky Clover Trail Atom chip.
The supposed “big difference” really isn’t. Yes, there is a “start button.” But when you click it, all you get is the familiar Metro tile interface start page – you know, the one you get anyway when you turn on your machine? The one lots and lots of people seem to hate? The one designed for mobile?
MS is trumpeting this as addressing the concerns of those who miss the previous, long-time start button, but it doesn’t, not really. Because people don’t actually miss the start button. What they miss is the start menu you used to get when you clicked the start button.
But that menu is nowhere to be found in the Win8.1 reboot. If you want it, you’ll have to use a third party addon to recreate it. I use an app called “Classic Start Menu 3.6.8.” It’s free, and it works good, with both Win8, and Win8.1. Lots of options for which version of the start menu (including XP) you want to use.