I agree. But Microsoft have still to initialise a statement of their own, regarding the next OS.(The name is still a "maybe", not a fact)
The missing start menu gave me no problems. I never did use Aero, so, essentially, Windows 8.1 was no big deal for me.
The appearance of any OS, up to a certain point, of course, has never, for me, been a principal consideration. Navigation (remember the huge change from XP to Vista?) was important. But providing functions were not any more difficulty to get to, it was merely a new learning experience.
But, on the rumours so far, I am not about to jump to the conclusion that it is a Microsoft face saver, or a massive update doing, roughly, the same thing.
Last thing I ever heard, many months ago, was that Miicrosoft were rather looking towards having cloud operation, with a web based facilities, rather than a computer based OS - BUT, I am not starting a rumour - I know nothing!
"I have heard from an outsider" Hmm. Not too far away from Paul Thurrot and Mary Foley's "Sources"