The Windows Start menu will return - but it won't be the same, and it won't happen any time soon.

When the Start menu does appear again in Windows it will have a unique new interface that combines the familiar Windows 8 live tiles with the familiar Start menu experience that Windows users have gotten used to over the years.

Microsoft Executive Vice President of Operating Systems Group Terry Myerson introduced the new Start menu and showed it off during the Build 2014 keynote, and it does indeed look slick.

The new Start menu will be available in a future update to Windows 8.1, though not in "the" update that's launching April 8.

One step back, two steps forward

"We are going all in with this desktop experience to make sure your applications can be accessed and loved by people that love the Windows desktop," Myerson said during the Build keynote, addressing the Windows developers in the room.

He revealed that universal Windows applications can now run in windowed mode, and thanks to the new Start menu's live tile-friendly interface they'll appear there too once it launches.

Windows 8 users have been incensed about the lack of the traditional Start menu since the OS launched, but at least Microsoft is not too proud to take a step back and listen to its supporters.

"I think there's going to be a lot of happy people out there," Myerson said.

Free Windows, get your free Windows

Myerson also shared that Windows will be free to hardware makers to help facilitate the creation of a Windows-centric "internet of things."

"We really want to get this platform out there," Myerson said. "We want to remove all the friction between you and creating these devices - remove any hesitation you have to apply that creativity to creating new 'internet of things' devices."

In addition he said Windows is now free on phones and tablets under 9 inches in size.

Finally, just to make the live stream watchers jealous, Microsoft gave everyone in attendance during the opening keynote a free Xbox One and a $500 gift card to the Microsoft Store.