When Microsoft's technical "Build" conference for its developers and partners took place in early April this year, it showed off a lot of the work being done not only on Windows, Windows Phone, Azure and a natively touch-focused version of Office, it also showed off a screenshot of a new Windows Start Menu.
News of the Start Menu's impending return where then followed by questions over when it would appear, with pre-Build rumours suggesting it wouldn't return under the next version of Windows, codenamed "Threshold" and expected to be named Windows 9.
Following Microsoft's surprise Start Menu screenshot showing, expectation grew high that the Start Menu-less Windows 8 nightmare would soon be over, and that an August update for Windows 8.1 would finally and dramatically return the much-loved and much-missed feature.
Sadly, however, more recent rumours have one again pushed the Start Menu's return back to 2015, with the August update now expected to be more minor, although what precisely it is that Microsoft is fixing beyond the usual range of "performance, reliability and stability improvements" and security updates is yet to be seen.
It might include the ability to resize "full screen" apps into smaller windows on the desktop, although this too is likely to be pushed back to release with Windows 9.
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|Come back, Windows Start Menu!|
The only major piece of information that seems to have leaked is that this new Windows 8.1 update will arrive on Tuesday August 12, which falls on one of Microsoft's "Patch Tuesdays".
This information comes from noted Windows site Neowin, which itself quotes Russian source PCPortal.
More background is also available from noted Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley, whose article late last month "confirmed" that Microsoft had decided to delay the Start Menu until Windows 9, and that the coming Windows 8.1 August update would no longer be that exciting.
In the meantime, Windows 8 and 8.1 users who do want to the Start Menu back have plenty of choices including the free Classic Shell, as well as paid alternatives such as Start8 from StarDock Corporation, who have also created ModernMix, an app that allows full-screen apps to be shrunk to smaller windows on the desktop today, without needing to wait for a whole new version of Windows first.
The return of the Start Menu would be a great surprise if it did arrive early, but it seems that if you want to be taken to the threshold of the great menu's return as a native part of Windows itself, you'll just have to pine for Windows 9.