Rumor and speculation is rife about the future of Windows at the moment. There is a great deal of debate about just what form Windows 9 will take, but before that there is Update 1 to look forward to. Even though this release is much closer than Windows 9, it is still far from clear just what it is going to include -- and this in spite of the fact that the update is supposedly only a couple of months away!
The latest leaked screenshots seem to imply that booting to the desktop will be enabled by default once Update 1 is installed, but according to Mary Jo Foley, this may not be the case. Foley does not cite any specific sources, merely saying that she is "hearing this may not end up being the case by the time Windows 8.1 Update 1 begins to be made available".
Microsoft does have a difficult line to walk here. It makes sense to listen to what customers are demanding -- this is why the boot to desktop option was added in Windows 8.1, after all -- but pandering to too many suggestions runs the risk of looking weak and directionless. With the tiles interfaces of Windows Phone and Xbox, Microsoft is understandably keen to push the modern interface (or Metro, if you will).
This means that modern apps cannot be ignored. It is one thing to give users the option of skipping the Start screen at boot, but it would be completely understandable to keep it in place. The App Store needs modern apps, and the Start screen serves as an advertisement for the type of app that can be found there.
It seems that no matter what Microsoft does, it will be criticized. Make the Start screen the default and the company will be accused of not listening to what people have been asking for. Make the desktop the default setting and there will be accusation of backtracking thrown about. You can't be right for being wrong!
It's difficult to say whether the desktop or Start screen will be the default boot setting. It may be that nothing changes from Windows 8.1 -- so you'll have the choice of using either, but the Start screen will be the default.
Do you have a preference? Do you think it matters what the default boot setting is as long as there is a choice?