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)
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!
Edited by JorgeA, 08 November 2013 - 10:53 AM.