I think you misunderstand my post, or I misunderstand yours, (or both)... There are many alternative 3rd Party (not made by Microsoft) shells that can run on Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 -- several of these used to work on Windows 8 and and the Windows Server 2012 Beta -- but now according to Paul Thurrott in this blog post
Paul Thurrott wrote:
Related to this second point is information I’ve received that Microsoft has been furiously ripping out legacy code in Windows 8 that would have enabled third parties to bring back the Start button, Start Menu, and other software bits that could have made this new OS look and work like its predecessor. In fact, I’ve seen that several well-known UI hacks that worked fine with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview are no longer functional in the coming Release Preview. And those with hopes that Microsoft would allow businesses, at least, to boot directly to the desktop should prepare for disappointment. That feature not only isn’t happening, it’s being removed from Windows Server 12 (Windows 8’s stable mate) as well.
So it looks like Microsoft is working overtime to circumvent people from restoring the 'Start Menu' though Start8
does appear to still work on the latest RC builds -- if the trend continues Microsoft will even put a stop to that.
In my opinion Microsoft will have to see the light of day and do something to allow some sort of multi-tasking multi-window interface -- as it's just not possible to use workstations and servers in some deployments with access to only one task at a time, or having information you need to monitor obscured when you need to access features of the OS. It seems likely as Metro is Microsoft's new pet project the interface changes will come there...