The Start button (which later became an orb) has been an icon for Windows since its early days. It has always been present on the Taskbar ever since Windows 95. But in the latest build of the Windows 8 Developer Preview, Microsoft has removed the button altogether.
Windows 8 is the very first edition of Windows that is (sort of) moving away from the traditional Taskbar interface. It features the "Start Screen" (which looks like Windows Phone's Metro UI) that is supposed to take center stage, while the Taskbar (also called Superbar since Windows 7) remains available when you are using the traditional Desktop mode. It has the same thumbnail-based functionality like in Windows 7.
Clicking the Start button normally used to bring up a small menu in Windows 8, with the options, Start, Share, Search, Devices and Settings. Clicking "Start" took you to the Start Screen. But in build 8220, which was apparently leaked recently, the Start button has been eliminated and the Start screen can be accessed by bringing the mouse pointer to the lower left corner of the screen and clicking the thumbnail that shows up.
This removal of the Start button may not be permanent. It is possible that Microsoft may bring it back after getting feedback from developers and later from other users who will give the upcoming beta builds a try in the future.
[via PC Mag]