Microsoft is bringing back the Start button in Windows 8.1. Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet first reported the coming return of the button, and Tom Warren of the Verge today confirmed it. According to Tom, the returning Start button will in fact send users directly to the Start Screen.

Thus, its reemergence is meaningless.

The Start button once led to the Start Menu, which was an entity in and of itself, with search, shortcuts, and an app list. Microsoft has built new tools to deliver those services, and is sharpening them in Windows Blue, the funner name of Windows 8.1. Thus Microsoft is bringing the Start button back in name only, as its functionality has been stripped and handed to Charms and the Start Screen.

Which the new Start button will send users to. You of course know what else users can press to load the Start Screen, right? The damn Windows key on their keyboard.

The return of the Start button appears to be nothing else than a simple mollification of grousing users: here, have your damn button back. The joke is on the unhappy user, however, as the new Start button will simply send them to the interface that replaced what they had wanted to begin with.

Let’s do this pictorially. Windows 7 Start button, show us what you do:

2013 04 22 14h49 40 If the soon to return Start button simply loads the Start Screen, why bring it back at all?

Windows 8.1 Start button, show us what you can do:

2013 04 22 14h51 43 If the soon to return Start button simply loads the Start Screen, why bring it back at all?

We’ve been tricked!

Frankly, Microsoft is smartly heading off controversy by bringing back something that looks like the Start button, but is in fact simply a portal to the parts of Windows 8 that it wants to emphasize usage of, like the Windows Store. Thus, die-hard Windows 7 fans will have their besotted button, but only sorta.

And people say that Microsoft isn’t crafty.

Windows 7 and 8 image credit: Microsoft – Top Image Credit: Dell Inc.