Get ready for a whole new Start. Start menu, that is. Microsoft said at its Build conference in April this year that it is bringing back the much-missed Start button and menu, and we now have a first glimpse of what the feature will probably look like.
Posted by user DUF in the MyDigitalLife forum, the screenshot is reportedly of an early build (number 9788) of the next update to Windows 8.1. It shows two main columns - the left one with a list of programs a la Windows 7, and the right one featuring tiles like those on the Start screen.
Related discussion in the forum thread indicates that the new Start menu will sync its color scheme with the Start screen, although that was not reflected in the leaked screenshot. This probably means that if you have a green theme for your Start screen, the colors used in your Start menu will also be green. Other than that, the familiar-looking left column of the menu appears to open desktop programs, while the Live Tiles on the right give quick access to Metro apps.
We've already caught a glimpse of this Start menu at Build when Microsoft announced its return, but this screenshot features a different configuration of programs. It was apparently also taken just yesterday (July 13), judging by the date in clock.
Of course, the authenticity of the screenshot is questionable, but if it is real, it could mean the new Start menu is on its way to general users soon. Microsoft is expected to bring back the menu in a second update to Windows 8.1, but the company is also rumored to launch Windows 9 this fall.