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JorgeA

Ways to get back the Start Menu/Button in Win8

221 posts in this topic

With the coming general release of Windows 8, there will be a flood of new Win8 users asking, "What happened to the Start Button? How do I get to the Start Menu? What is this ugly screen full of gaudy squares?"

Early Windows 8 adopters and experimenters have already created a variety of ways to resurrect the Start Button and Menu and to minimize contact with the Metro/Modern/??? interface so that users can work with the latest Microsoft operating system -- yet in an environment that they find more congenial, logical, and/or esthetically pleasing. We can expect these kinds of alternatives to grow as the number of Windows 8 users inevitably increases with the replacement of old PCs with new store-bought systems. This thread is intended to serve as a "one-stop shopping" location for such choices so that you can try them out and see what works best for you.

I have prepared an initial list based on my research so far. Please post new ones that you're aware of or happen to run into in your Web travels, and I'll add them to the "master" list as we go along, so that people looking for alternatives don't have to wade through multiple pages of postings.

I propose five rules to guide this thread, which I ask the moderators to assist me in applying (especially #3):
 

  • The listing must be a method (script, Registry tweak, etc.) or application that serves to recreate the Start Menu and/or the Start Button, and/or which enables the user to disable, bypass, or minimize exposure to the Metro Start Screen at bootup or thereafter.
  • The procedure or application must be legal.
  • Discussion of the relative merits of the Start Screen vs. the Start Menu is out of place here. There are other threads in this forum for that purpose.
  • The procedure or application should be reported to work in the Windows 8 Release Preview at a minimum, and preferably in the RTM and retail versions of Windows 8.
  • Proposed new listings should be accompanied by 1) a link to a Web page where readers can get the information necessary to make it work, or 2) a description of the method, complete enough to enable readers to put it into practice.

Please report dead links on this list so that we can clean it up. If you find methods or applications that simply copy or duplicate the way another listed method/application works, let us know. And let us know if you discover that a given method/application doesn't work, contains (or is) malware, or breaks something on your system. I have not personally tested all of these alternatives. Before using any of them, check to see if it's designed to work on your system's "bitness" (32- or 64-bit). USE THESE METHODS AND APPLICATIONS AT YOUR OWN RISK.
 

One more note: with the release of Windows 8.1, some users will switch to that newest OS, and some of these Start Menu replacements may not work. Items on this list that have been reported or verified to work in 8.1 (or to have versions that work in 8.1) will have "8.1" added at the end for quick identification.

 

With all that in mind, here's the list.

8StartButton (in free and paid versions)

Anvi OneStart gives the user the choice of a Wndows 7-style or Metro-style Start Menu.
Aston Menu (widget support; reported to work in Win8; trialware)
Boot directly to desktop
Boot to Desktop for Windows 8 and Start for Windows 8, both by tech author Steve Sinchak, can work together for a complete button+menu solution (although the menu is Metro-based)
Bypass Modern UI boots natively to the Desktop without pausing on the Start Screen
Classic Shell. Free. 8.1
Classic Shell skin featuring Windows 7-look Start Menu
Classic Start 8. Free.
Classic Start Button (with customizable Menu; paid)
ExtremeTech has published a method using the Task Scheduler to automatically bypass the Metro screen and go to the Desktop upon boot
Hack Windows 8 Metro
Handy Start Menu (customizable; menu + button only)
How to boot to the desktop in Windows 8
HP Quick Start -- a major PC maker gets in the act of reviving the Start Menu
Pokki Menu (boot straight to the Desktop and disable the hot corners; but see this post for important information). Free. 8.1
Power8 with flyout "All Programs" menus. Free. 8.1
RetroUI Pro now with a classic-look Start Menu including rounded corners, bypass the Metro Start Screen, also provides a Start Button and a taskbar for the Metro screen and allows for running Windows Store apps in a Desktop window. $4.95, free to Facebook users. 8.1
Skip Metro Suite
WinAero (publisher of the Skip Metro Suite, above) has published a tweak to bypass the Metro screen without the use of third-party tools
Spesoft Windows 8 Start Menu
Start 4 Seven (XP-style flyout Start Menu)
Start Button 8 (designed to work with Start Menu X)
Start Menu 8 (includes booting straight to Desktop). Free. 8.1

Start Menu and Orb Powered by Rainmeter (standalone Rainmeter skin and application; Metro look)
Start Menu Reviver features a Metro-inspired menu with space for up to 32 app tiles, and is available in 11 different languages. Free. 8.1
Start Menu X related to Start Menu 7 (page providing additional information)
Start8 (boots straight to Desktop; now providing a Windows 7-style Start Menu). $5. 8.1
StartFinity comes in both a free "starter" version and a paid version with more customization options
StartForDesktop offers a feature set including search box, pinned applications, All Programs (including Metro) list, and booting to Desktop
Tihiy's StartIsBack implements the original Windows 7 Start Menu on Win8; see discussion here on MSFN. $3 (for 2 PCs). 8.1
StartMenuPlus8 features extensive customization choices, including a "Recent Items" button
StartOnDesktop bypasses the Windows 8 Start Screen
StartW8 (supports booting to Desktop). Free. 8.1
ViStart and ViStart 8. Free. 8.1
Start Buttons (designed to work with ViStart)
Viva Start Menu (includes a custom Start Button)
W8SM (Windows 8 Start Menu)
Wentutu Start Menu (pin frequently used programs to Start Menu; boot directly to Desktop)
Win8StartButton (new link; available in English and German)
Win8Starter (comes in free and much more customizable paid versions)
Win+X Menu Editor (not exactly a Start Menu, but can be used to easily add functionality to the right-click "Power User" menu)


Do you have a new method, or found another one on the Web? Post it!

Happy computing,

--JorgeA

Edited by JorgeA
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Thanks to the mods for making this a sticky, that way I don't have to "bump" it every so often. :yes:

--JorgeA

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Thanks, Andre! :thumbup

Sorry, my German is limited. We should ignore the .ZIP file in Post #7 of that thread, right?

Danke!

--JorgeA

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ok, take the link from post 1. It is now an installer.

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Added Win8StartButton to the list.

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I would like an objective discussion/fair criticism on quality too besides piling up all the Start menus in the world. That would help me and Ivo to improve Classic Shell. :)

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I would like an objective discussion/fair criticism on quality too besides piling up all the Start menus in the world. That would help me and Ivo to improve Classic Shell. :)

xpclient,

The original idea WAS only to pile up all the Start menus in the world (in passing, helping to show how much interest in the Start Menu there is "out there"). But nobody could object to reviews and discussion of the various alternatives as people try them, so let's go to it.

When time permits, I intend to break out the listing into choices that offer only a Start Button and/or Start Menu, choices that offer only to bypass Metro, and choices that do both of these things.

BTW, I've refrained from including a couple of candidates because they came from sources that looked questionable.

--JorgeA

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I would like an objective discussion/fair criticism on quality too besides piling up all the Start menus in the world. That would help me and Ivo to improve Classic Shell. :)

I've already told you what my issue is:

Converts the “All Programs” button in the Windows menu into a cascading menu (Vista and Windows 7)

I hate this and you don't give us an option to use the original Vista/7 style ;)

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Converts the “All Programs” button in the Windows menu into a cascading menu (Vista and Windows 7)

I hate this and you don't give us an option to use the original Vista/7 style ;)

This is actually a big advantage of Classic Shell over the other alternatives which usually provide only a Vista/7 style Start Menu :w00t:

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for me it is a disadvantage because the cascading menus are more error prone. 1 mouse move too much and the menu is closed. I hate this :realmad:

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You need to be precise, that's true ;) but for me the cascading menus are much faster as you can see everything at once and don't need to scroll anything. You also don't need to click in order to open each of the folders - just move your mouse.

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I've already told you what my issue is:

Converts the "All Programs" button in the Windows menu into a cascading menu (Vista and Windows 7)

I hate this and you don't give us an option to use the original Vista/7 style ;)

for me it is a disadvantage because the cascading menus are more error prone. 1 mouse move too much and the menu is closed. I hate this :realmad:

But you didn't tell if you tried changing one setting. :) In Classic Start Menu settings, adjust the "Menu Delay" value to something like 10000 instead of the default value of 400. The "Menu Delay" setting is located on "Basic settings" tab if you are viewing only Basic settings or on the "General Behavior" tab if you are viewing "All Settings". Voila! Suddenly, the issue is eliminated! Menus won't close and yet the entire full screen will be utilized to show all your programs. :w00t: No more precision required. Even if mouse moves outside of the menus.

Edited by xpclient
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If the full screen is used I can use the new "we call it no longer Metro" Fullscreen thing ;) And don't want me full screen filled. Is this so hard to understand? That's why the Vista/7 startmenu is perfect for me.

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Please, I mean no offense at all Andre, but you're one of the first people I've known who dislike the cascading menu stlye so much, but I'm sure there are others as well. If Classic Shell had an option to use the Vista/7 startmenu style, would there be anything else that could be changed or added to Classic Shell to further improve it and the way you would use it?

Cheers and Regards

Edited by bphlpt
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If the full screen is used I can use the new "we call it no longer Metro" Fullscreen thing ;) And don't want me full screen filled. Is this so hard to understand? That's why the Vista/7 startmenu is perfect for me.

I see and understand what you mean. :) I was just replying to the menu closing complaint. :) Classic Shell's menu can be made to show as a single column. Then it takes less than half of the screen. not the full screen if you don't want.

You would be amused to know that the top two reasons why Classic Shell was developed when we already had the Windows 7 menu were:

#1. Being able to use accelerator keys in a menu to navigate using the keyboard. E.g.Win key, then U for Shut Down, Win key, then P for Programs and so on.

#2. Not having a limited area to show all your programs to eliminate scrolling. (Windows 8's approach suffers badly to reduce scrolling despite using full screen because

a. it doesn't show by organized set of folders.

b. everything has to be oversized to support touch

c. covering the taskbar and notification area makes you lose the visual context). But if touch is your primary input method, then Classic Shell's menu icon size can be increased too to any icon size that Windows supports. Windows 7's menu (or its clones) don't scale for large icon sizes comfortable with touch requirements.

It's good that both types of menus are available, so users can use whatever they want.

Edited by xpclient
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In addition to what @xpclient says, the third listing in Post #1 above is for a Vista/7-style start menu skin for Classic Shell.

So as the saying goes, we can have our cake and eat it, too! :yes:

--JorgeA

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In addition to what @xpclient says, the third listing in Post #1 above is for a Vista/7-style start menu skin for Classic Shell.

So as the saying goes, we can have our cake and eat it, too! :yes:

--JorgeA

No JorgeA. In spite of that skin, Classic Shell's All Programs menu does not open in-place/inline like the 7 Start Menu, which is what Andre doesn't like, because it covers more of the screen. But we consider that an advantage, honest :) so it will never change.

Read here: Why Classic Start Menu? on why Classic Shell was developed. One of the main reasons is cascading menu presents a better to browse. It isn't going to change.

Edited by xpclient
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In spite of that skin, Classic Shell's All Programs menu does not open in-place/inline like the 7 Start Menu, which is what Andre doesn't like, because it covers more of the screen. But we consider that an advantage, honest :) so it will never change.

Hmmm. Just playing devil's advocate here, because I personally prefer the cascading style and wouldn't consider using the Vista/Win7 style...

You did ask for input on how Classic Shell could be improved. I wonder how many other folks are like Andre and prefer the Vista/Win7 style? I doubt you really know since using Classic Shell with Win7 those people can always just shift-click the start orb and get the start menu style they want, the Win7 style, while still maintaining the other advantages that Classic Shell provides, right? What happens when you shift-click in Win8? (I have declined the opportunity to try Win8, since I'm happy with Win7, among many other reasons, so I don't know.) Anyway, I assume the people who prefer the Vista/Win7 style will choose Tihiy's solution for Win8 over Classic Shell, as I believe Andre does. I've wondered whether the two solutions can be used together and get the best of both worlds? You might also take a poll to see what kind of response you get to the possibility of choosing the Vista/Win7 style start menu as an option. I stress option since I'm sure there are others like me that would quit using Classic Shell if it did not offer the cascading start menu style.

Just something to think about.

Cheers and Regards

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Ask Ivo in the Classic Shell forums if he wants to make it work with Tihiy's excellent patch.The method of hooking CSM into Explorer is different on Windows 7 and 8, so for Windows 8 with Tihiy's patch, yet another way will have to developed. That may not be worth it, just to be able to use them both simultaneously. I personally think it's not worth it.

Edited by xpclient
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I thought that might be the case. :) And the idea of the poll?

Cheers and Regarads

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In spite of that skin, Classic Shell's All Programs menu does not open in-place/inline like the 7 Start Menu, which is what Andre doesn't like, because it covers more of the screen. But we consider that an advantage, honest :) so it will never change.

Wait a minute -- so that Vista/7-style skin for Classic Shell, simply changes the look and not the functionality?

--JorgeA

Edited by JorgeA
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In spite of that skin, Classic Shell's All Programs menu does not open in-place/inline like the 7 Start Menu, which is what Andre doesn't like, because it covers more of the screen. But we consider that an advantage, honest :) so it will never change.

Wait a minute -- so that Vista/7-style skin for Classic Shell, simply changes the look and not the functionality?

--JorgeA

Nope. After that skin, it will still be a flyout menu. That is its distinguishing factor from other hundred replacements and isn't going to change because Vista/7 style restricts all programs to a too limited area for browsing with mouse. Of course, if you wish you search, then it's similar but again, not the same. If there are MANY search results, Classic Shell can show them in multiple columns, no scrolling required. It's open source, you are free to modify it as you want and fork it. ;)

In fact, one unique feature of Classic Shell on Windows 7 and Vista is that it turns the Vista/7 style menu also into a flyout menu. Go to the "Windows Start Menu" tab and check the "Cascading All Programs menu" option.

Then it looks like this (Note: this is the Windows 7 menu which Classic Shell hooks to show "All Programs" with flyout style): Excuse the ugly grey menus, those you can make white or glass. :)

cascading_menu.png

Edited by xpclient
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