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A List Of Start Menu Replacements for Windows 8

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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):

  1. 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.
  2. The procedure or application must be legal.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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)

BringBack (the Windows Start Menu) by Revel (but see the advisory here in item 6)

Bypass Modern UI boots natively to the Desktop without pausing on the Start Screen

Classic Shell

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

IObit StartMenu8

Lenovo QuickLaunch (another PC manufacturer gets in the Start Menu replacement business)

Pokki Menu (boot straight to the Desktop and disable the hot corners)

Power8

RetroUI provides a Metrofied Start Menu and can bypass the Metro Start Screen, but also provides a Start Button and a taskbar for the Metro screen and allows for running Windows Store apps in a Desktop window

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

Start8 (now providing a Windows 7-style Start Menu)

Start Button 8 (designed to work with Start Menu X)

Start 4 Seven (XP-style flyout Start Menu)

StartFinity comes in both a free "starter" version and a paid version with more customization options

Tihiy's StartIsBack (implements the original Windows 7 Start Menu on Win8)

StartMenuPlus8 features extensive customization choices, including a "Recent Items" button

Start Menu X related to Start Menu 7 (page providing additional information)

StartOnDesktop bypasses the Windows 8 Start Screen

StartW8 (supports booting to Desktop)

Toshiba Desktop Assist (seems to work on non-Toshiba PCs too; see this post for a description)

ViStart and ViStart 8

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) -- but see bug report in this thread

Win8 Charms Gesture + Start to Desktop (bypasses Metro Start Screen, adjusts mouse action for Charms)

Win8StartButton (new link; available in English and German)

Win8Starter (comes in free and much more customizable paid versions)

Tihiy's Windows 7 Explorer for Windows 8

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 Kelsenellenelvian

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Hi

 

Thanks for the info. I'm quite new to Windows 8, I'm just making my first steps (I just installed it into VirtualBox). Can someone pleae tell me which start menu solution is recomanded and can be integrated into Windows 8 before installation (as an add on for wintool kit)? I've checked the addon section of wintoolkit and didn't see any start menu solution..

 

Thanks

Edited by EB1000

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Hi

 

Thanks for the info. I'm quite new to Windows 8, I'm just making my first steps (I just installed it into VirtualBox). Can someone pleae tell me which start menu solution is recomanded and can be integrated into Windows 8 before installation (as an add on for wintool kit)? I've checked the addon section of wintoolkit and didn't see any start menu solution..

 

Thanks

I saw Classic Shell talked about on reddit, so that's the one I got. It's everything I wanted (win7 style with decent customization). I don't feel like it's necessary to integrate it into the win8 installation, but if you really wanted to I think you could do it with any of them via "silent install".

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