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>If we ignore the metro side of things

Yes, absolutely. My start screen is an empty, blue wall with a large tile taking me to the desktop. Despite the start screen I like everything else about the system.

That's a shame, the start screen is very useful place to organize shortcuts to your most often used tasks. I use oblytile to generate custom shortcuts and I have (organized by location / purpose) 12 shortcuts to start a ssh/rdp session to a remote server. It also has shortcuts to spotify/outlook/xencenter/vsphere and gmail.

But that is just your Start menu expanded to take the whole screen... Were you removing all the items from Start menu on older versions of Windows as well?

The new one has a setting that boots to desktop, if that helps any.

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