Windows 8 will do away with that long-standing cornerstone of its PC desktop experience - the Start Button, as news about the impending public beta sneaks out.

Getting Ready to Rumble

Hot on last week's early news of Windows Phone 8 and the launch of Kinect for Windows comes more details of the public beta for the full on Windows 8 experience that the majority of PC users will be enjoying for the next few years.

The latest pre-release version of the public beta or "Consumer Preview" has leaked into the wild and shocked some users with its lack of a start button. This might be because Microsoft will want to keep the design a secret. Instead the super-bar runs all the way across the screen. It makes sense as generations of users are used to keeping favorite applications on their desktop while modern phone users are hardly aware of the concept.

It has been replaced by a hot zone or hot spot that makes it easier for touchscreen users to access. When activated this will pull up menu offering access to some of the locations you formerly found on the Start Bar.

Consume and Preview

Expect the consumer preview to be out by the end of the month, show-stopping bugs aside. It will offer us our first look at the Metro interface, the new Windows App Store and other additions as Microsoft transitions from desktop to mobile-led interfaces. Sure, the good old desktop is there for those who need it, but Microsoft will presumably be pushing the unified look across phones, tablets and desktops.

Learning Opportunities

In the past few days, the Windows 8 blog has talked about using sensors in computers, with Windows having to adapt to a whole range of motion and optical sensors common in phones and tablets.It is also having to work with mobile networks better as more users work on 3G or 4G connections, and Windows 8 will come with an airplane mode on the desktop, just like the mobile devices.

The Desktop Still Rules

In fact, its a shame so little attention is being paid to the desktop version of Windows 8, as it is being fine-tuned and styled to be a great OS. However, whatever Microsoft does to it, all attention will go toward Metro and the app store. As for those who don't want to upgrade, you have to wonder about the possibility of Microsoft releasing a Windows Metro interface for Windows 7 users.

Not only would that goose sales of programs in the app store as hundreds of millions of Windows 7 users go shopping, but it would also nudge and encourage Windows 7 users to head towards Windows 8 phones and tablets.There's an already an app to do this unofficially, so perhaps Microsoft will formalize the arrangement, but its hardware partners will be screaming for Windows 8 to generate new laptop sales which might see that nipped in the bud.