On the surface it doesn't seem like such a big deal, as the game has several unique starting locales including Neriak, Timorous Deep, Kelethin, and the newly minted frozen north of New Halas. That said, nostalgia can be a powerful thing, and a titanic thread lamenting the changes has erupted on the game's official forums. The epic post (clocking in at 68 pages as of press time) is overwhelmingly against the change, with a few dissenters piping up to say good riddance to the venerable newbie islands.
Despite the player outrage, it seems as if the decision will stand and is in fact part of a larger revamp in progress. "Primarily, the starting islands and following content, simply put, are not up to the standards of the newer starting cities. Players who start in these zones are at a disadvantage when compared to players who start in the newer zones. In the more recent starting zones, the play experience is laid out better, with improved loot and quests. From an art and design standpoint, the islands were great five years ago when the game launched, but the game has changed and improved in many ways and we don't feel the newbie islands are as good as they should be today," said SOE's Cronyn.
It's also worth noting that the island content has not been removed from the game entirely as some have speculated. Characters created (and not advanced) prior to the Halas Reborn patch are still on the two starting isles, and will still feed into Qeynos and Freeport upon completion of the quest line.
[Thanks to Khrong for the heads up.]