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In April, Microsoft demonstrated a Start Menu mock-up, which fueled speculations that this much-demanded feature would make a return with Windows 8.1 Update 2. Recently, however, Microsoft clarified that the Start Menu won’t be rolled into a new version of Windows until 2015. Well, you certainly don’t have to wait that long.

Whether you’re on Windows 8 or have upgraded to Windows 8.1 How To Safely Upgrade To Windows 8.1 How To Safely Upgrade To Windows 8.1 Are horror stories of how Windows 8.1 upgrades went horribly wrong keeping you from upgrading yourself? If you are longing to try Windows 8.1, you can now learn from other people's lessons and upgrade safely! Read More , you can get your Start Menu back right now.

Third Party Start Menus

As soon as it became clear that the Start Menu was missing from Windows 8, developers got busy and released third party software that emulates the classic Start Menu. We have previously covered alternatives and here’s a summary of what’s out there.

Classic Shell

If all you want is the old school Windows Start Menu, possibly with a retro skin, Classic Shell is the way to go Make Windows 8 Suck Less With Classic Shell Make Windows 8 Suck Less With Classic Shell Make Windows 8 usable for people who think it's not. Add a start menu to the desktop and tweak the way Explorer and Internet Explorer behave, all thanks to a piece of software called Classic... Read More . With Classic Shell installed, Windows 8 will automatically boot to the desktop and display a functional Start button. Right-click the Start Menu to get into the app’s Settings, where you can change the skin, among other things.

Classic Shell Settings

Classic Shell can also fix odd new behaviours in Windows Explorer; just find the new menu button and right-click it for Settings.

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Start Menu 8

What IObit has done really well here is the onboarding process. Right after installing Sart Menu 8 IObit Serves Up A Windows 8 Start Menu – For Free! [Updates] IObit Serves Up A Windows 8 Start Menu – For Free! [Updates] There is a new option for Windows 8 users who want a start menu replacement – StartMenu8. Newly released from IObit, the software gives users an easy way to abandon the new start screen and... Read More (be sure to opt out of the Advanced System Care install), it launches the Settings screen where you can choose a style for the Start Menu and button, define the app’s behavior, and populate its content.

Start Menu 8

Start Menu 8 allows you to disable hot corners and set hotkeys under General Settings.

Pokki

Try this Start Menu, if you’d like to see something fresh.

If you are trying to install Pokki on Windows 8.1, note that you have to apply a little trick to make it work. When hovering over the Windows 8.1 Start button, notice the tiny black bar. Right-click it and uncheck Show Windows logo button to reveal Pokki’s Home button.

Pokki Start Menu

Pokki sports three tabs Pokki Brings The Start Menu Back To Windows 8 (And Apps To The Desktop Mode) Pokki Brings The Start Menu Back To Windows 8 (And Apps To The Desktop Mode) Bring back the start menu in Windows 8 – and then some. Pokki is a simple app for re-adding the start menu to Windows 8, but that's not all it does: it also gives you... Read More : My Favorites, All Apps, and Control Panel. By clicking and activating the star next to items listed in the latter two, you populate your favorites grid. You can then drag and drop them into your preferred order.

Pokki Start Menu View

To change what else you see in the menu sidebar, the theme, and advanced settings, right-click the Pokki Home button and choose Settings. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a way to get rid of the ads displayed below your favorites (hidden in screenshot above).

Start Menu X

This utility has been around for a long time. It’s available for Windows XP through 8.1 and we have reviewed it in a previous incarnation, when it was called Start Menu 7 Upgrade to a Smarter Windows Start Menu With Start Menu 7 [Windows] Upgrade to a Smarter Windows Start Menu With Start Menu 7 [Windows] Read More . In Windows 8, it adds a Start button and a customizable Start Menu.

The free version adds a Start button and Menu, it supports shut-down timers, internal document search, and up to five virtual groups. On top of that, the Pro version ($9.99) offers unlimited virtual groups, one-click launch, and tabs.

Start8 ($4.99)

Start8 is Stardock’s answer to the Start Menu challenge. It’s the only app in this list that doesn’t offer a free version, but you can try it for 30 days before having to make a purchase. In his article on alternative Start Menus Start Menu, How I Miss Thee: 4 Ways To Make A Start Menu On Windows 8 Start Menu, How I Miss Thee: 4 Ways To Make A Start Menu On Windows 8 Windows 8 brought down the axe on the Start Menu. This is a feature that no one paid special attention to for years but its untimely demise has caused all sorts of despair. Not only... Read More , Matt found that Start8’s main benefit was it’s ease of use. In terms of features it doesn’t compete with the other options in this list, although it offers some nice styling options.

Stardock Start Menu

If you’re a fan of Stardock and care much about first impressions and sleek interfaces, try Start8.

What Else Is There to Say About Third Party Tools

Note that the native Start button might still pop up when you trigger the bottom left hot corner. You can use it to switch to the Start screen. If you find it’s nothing but an eyesore, however, you can hide the Start button Have It Your Way: Hide The Windows 8.1 Start Button Have It Your Way: Hide The Windows 8.1 Start Button After killing the Start button in Windows 8, Microsoft restored a mutilated version with the Windows 8.1 update. It's now a shortcut button for the Start screen or desktop and some don't like that. Read More .

By the way, one tool I wouldn’t recommend is ViStart because it doesn’t offer anything special and the Start Search doesn’t include results from the Control Panel.

Do It Yourself Workarounds & Native Options

Would you prefer to avoid additional software that consumes precious resources? We have come up with three simple workarounds that will get you what you want without sacrificing performance.

Use A Custom Windows Toolbar Build A Custom Windows 8 Start Menu Using Toolbars Build A Custom Windows 8 Start Menu Using Toolbars You’re using Windows 8. You want the Start Menu back – but do you really need it? Instead of relying on a third party substitute, build a custom Windows 8 Start Menu with a few... Read More

Windows Toolbars can contain any shortcuts you want. Why not make them link to the items you used to keep in your Start Menu? It might not be as pretty, but it’s practical.

Toolbar Start Menu

In his article (see header link above), Christian takes you through the process of booting to the desktop, setting up a custom toolbar, and adding shortcuts. This method is suitable for Windows 8 and 8.1 alike.

In case this made you wonder what else Windows Toolbars are good for 7 Useful Toolbars You Can Add To Your Windows Taskbar 7 Useful Toolbars You Can Add To Your Windows Taskbar The Windows desktop can be a super productive work space. Native toolbars can help you make it even more efficient by placing shortcuts and information at your fingertips. Let's have a closer look. Read More , we have some suggestions.

Customize The Win+X Menu 8 Ways To Improve Windows 8 With Win+X Menu Editor 8 Ways To Improve Windows 8 With Win+X Menu Editor Windows 8 contains an almost hidden feature you need to know about! Press Windows Key + X or right-click at the bottom-left corner of your screen to open a menu you can now customize. Read More

Unless you were a frequent user of the Windows Mobility Center in earlier versions of Windows, you probably didn’t know this menu existed. The keyboard shortcut Win+X now opens a power user menu, also known as quick access menu. Alternatively, you can right-click the bottom left corner of your screen. This menu is pretty useful the way it is, but you can get a lot more out of it by adding the shortcuts you really need.

Win+X Menu Editor

Chris demonstrates what you can do with Win+X Menu Editor, including adding shortcuts to shut down or restart, system tools, programs, and more. Click the header link above for the full article.

Connect The Start Button To A Customized Apps Screen How To Build A Desktop Start Menu Replacement In Windows 8.1 How To Build A Desktop Start Menu Replacement In Windows 8.1 Are you tired of the Modern interface? Windows 8.1 allows you to boot to the desktop. If only the restored Start Button would launch a proper Start Menu! Well, it sort of can. Read More

In Windows 8.1, the Start button made its return and users were quite disappointed when they found out it only re-directed them to the Start screen. Microsoft really knows how to tease, don’t they?

If you’re trying to avoid the Modern interface, the Start screen is not what you want to see. The Apps view on the other hand can be quite useful, particularly after you customized it to show the shortcuts you frequently use.

Start Menu Apps View

In my article (see link in header above), I’ve outlined how you can boot to the desktop, make the Start button open the Apps screen, edit what’s already there, and add additional shortcuts.

Happy Now?

Are you satisfied with your new Windows 8 Start Menu? What else do you think is missing from Windows 8.1 Update Windows 8.1 Update Is Here! What It Is & How To Get It Now Windows 8.1 Update Is Here! What It Is & How To Get It Now Curious about the latest Windows 8.1 Update or not sure what this is about? KB2919355 is a cumulative update that comes with useful features. It can also be removed in case it causes issues. Read More that should be delivered with Update 2?

Share your thoughts in the comments and maybe we can recommend more workarounds and ways you can customize Windows to your needs 8 Geeky Ways To Customize Windows To Your Needs 8 Geeky Ways To Customize Windows To Your Needs Customizing Windows might help you navigate your computer and anyone can do it. That's right – even if you feel slightly tech illiterate, you should optimize your setup. We've covered your options right here. Read More .

  1. Erin Ford
    June 10, 2015 at 12:00 am

    I have 2 windows 8.1 and I am only updating one of my computers to windows 10, because I want to make sure it is going to be a good and not messed up. I do know Windows 8.1 is slower then windows 8 was, I hope windows 10 will fix a lot of the lag... and I know my processor can get really good speeds.....the computer and laptop both are gaming systems with tons of memory for ram and hard drive so We will see what windows 10 brings! I do need to keep windows 8.1 on one of the computers because of college. I need to be able to learn and work with both. I already know 95-98,windows me,windows xp, windows vista and windows 7 by heart but windows 8 has just come out so I am still learning 8. I just hope this is for the better. :D

    • Erin Ford
      June 10, 2015 at 12:18 am

      continued......One thing is for sure, if I have the bull crap issues with windows 10 too, I'm just going to downgrade to windows 7. I am not dealing with crap anymore. windows 8 was always buggy, yes for me it seemed to be a bit faster then windows 8.1 but it was full of bugs. not to mention my drivers for my Dolby that was pre-installed as my audio driver on my desktop don't work with windows 8.1. The second I upgraded to windows 8.1 from windows 8, everything that was installed on my computer, which is drivers had stopped working! I really hope windows 10 will fix my driver compatibility issues! Let me not forget, the store is crap on windows 8.1 and was worse on windows 8. nothing in the store is really worth getting, but you go to the windows phone store it is like looking at a android store with all the games that are in google play. I hope they fix the store and give us the same store as the windows phone. really, the stores should not be any different. Then there is the windows media center which has been gone every since windows 8 came along, I really hope windows 10 will bring back the windows media center, I like using it with my xbox 360 especially for live tv streaming because I do not have cable because my provider for cable tv SUCKS. they got rid off all the good channels so I would like to see the media center back to stream it to my xbox 360.

  2. Dave Turchynsky
    May 22, 2015 at 3:44 am

    I used XP from the day it was launched until just last October, completely avoiding Vista, Win 7 and Win 8. I now have two Win 8.1 machines - both 64 bit and I love 'em! Getting used to the new navigation methods was easy and I don't miss the old Start menu at all. I guess I'm living proof that old dogs can be taught new tricks. I'm looking forward to Windows 10 this fall just to see if Microsoft messes up a good thing. ;)

  3. Pacific
    March 15, 2015 at 5:20 am

    I just want to have a newer computer that is just like the old XP, just an upgrade in security, that's all.
    I almost returned my new Win 8.1 laptop with the frustration of learning a new system, until I installed START SHELL CLASSIC,

    It is perfect for my needs, thank you.

  4. freakyfreakfreak
    February 16, 2015 at 4:26 pm

    win 8 is shit and unpractical and win 10 is little less shit and little less unpractical, win7 is best os ms has made and they think by changing everything that is practical and liked will bring joy for people. In win 10 you can get multiple routes for same features, omg what an "invention", you can also customize your own start menu omg its like quick launch toolbar but one click futher......

  5. Tom
    January 31, 2015 at 8:24 am

    Windows 8 has one major flaw irrispective of the Start Menu or anything else, it is made by Microsoft.

    Use a computer you love and one that simply works by buying a Mac.

    • Anonymous
      February 19, 2015 at 7:42 pm

      Ahhahahahah good one

  6. Chris
    August 22, 2014 at 11:10 pm

    Running Windows 8.1 on a non-touchscreen and still love it. I know from experience that most people whining about the new Start menu have never even used it and many more have only used it for five minutes.

    If you don't like certain Windows 8 features, then turn them off. For those of you in the camp that says "Why not just stay with 7 if I will turn off the Windows 8 features?" The answer is that Windows 8 is faster. The flatter graphics render more quickly and other under the hood adjustments yield increased speed. Simply put, if it runs 7, it runs 8 faster.

  7. Decone
    July 5, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    I think its cool if Windows will return the old start menu., but i like it with a little twist perhaps.

    • prz42
      February 1, 2015 at 8:45 am

      It is to bad that Microsoft didn't include a program to import your custom settings. They have tried but failed. One thing Google does in Chrome is import settings. Auto-cad also has this type of feature. It would make to much sense. You can have your IT guy do it but it takes hours. Must users still like the old feature of quick links in the task bar and not the pin to task bar. I don't really care about the start button, but my wife hates not having it on the computer. It is even hard for her to shut the computer down. Right click should not have to be down on the start button of 8.1 to shut down, it is also in the Preview version of 10. No shut down button.

  8. ultimate_desktop
    July 4, 2014 at 1:06 am

    ******************************************************************
    THE ULTIMATE "DO-IT-YOURSELF WORKAROUND"
    ******************************************************************

    http://www.ubuntu.com/desktop

    • Tina S
      July 4, 2014 at 7:31 pm

      That's not a workaround, that's a cut and run. Comes with a host of other challenges. Although it's probably a good choice for some people.

    • Howard B
      July 7, 2014 at 9:32 pm

      ...Until you have to install a proprietary driver, your WiFi cuts out, you have to drop down to a terminal to edit xorg.conf because your window manager died...
      I've used a couple versions of Ubuntu (admittedly before they brought in that Unity travesty of a shell), and I found it to be not as hard as expected, yet not as easy as setting up a Windows PC (it's been years since I had to play with a SATA driver floppy...)

      Linux is not a replacement for Windows until you can say that absolutely *everything* you want to run works in WINE with zero config. *Then* you can say "Install Mint and be done with it."

  9. John S
    June 23, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    I've never understood all the fuss about the Start menu going, or coming back again. I never used or use it. Not in XP, Vista or 7 did I bother with the thing. Always had a top screen drop down iconised menu like Object Dock. So I don't care if it comes back in windows 9.

  10. ken zi
    June 23, 2014 at 3:10 am

    I still have to upgrade from Windows 7 but from the few times I've used Windows 8's menu form other computers, it's still very similar to what I do with Windows 7's start menu which is, press the start button on your keyboard, then type on the search bar for example "word" or "calc" or "excel", then press enter, so I don't really see any big changes. Does one ever really click on all programs, scroll through all the installed programs, browse to the subfolder then click on the program shortcut? I guess what I would miss from the Windows 7 start menu would be the one keypress-one-click combos Start-Computer, Start-Documents, Start-Control Panel or Start-Shutdown or even the recent items lists.

  11. zebedee.boss
    June 21, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    @Arin - The problem is I am not a 6 year old.....

  12. Miro
    June 20, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    It's fascinating that windows 8 was released almost 2 years ago and there are still articles about missing start menu. Microsoft surely has it's plan/vision of how its new products should look like in terms of user interface design and ways of user interaction with computer. Right now there is probably no start menu in that vision... that's why we probably won't see it soon. (If it's a right choice to ignore voices of customers demanding features... that's another story)

    • Tina S
      June 21, 2014 at 2:23 pm

      Miro, Microsoft already demoed a new Windows interface with a mock-up Start Menu. It was supposed to be released with Update 2 (for Windows 8.1), but they recently announced that it will be delayed until next year. That probably means the Start Menu won’t return until the first release of Windows 9. It’s that announcement which triggered this article.

  13. bob
    June 20, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    I like windows 8 just the way it is. Please don't bring that tired old start menu back. Thank you, thank you very much! !

    • John
      January 22, 2015 at 7:03 am

      Well, the best thing about all of the third-party addons that bring back that "tired old start menu" is that you don't have to use them if you don't want to. None of those apps would exist if there weren't a lot of people who want the old start menu back. All they're really doing is giving users a choice that Microsoft should have offered in the first place.

  14. Ken H
    June 20, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    I bought a new computer the first of April with 8.1 and got the update 1. I had XP forever and while it took a day or so to get into it, I find it as easy to use as the old start menu with just a log in, it gets me to the desktop. My computer can be touch screen, but I use a mouse so don't use touch screen and am very happy with it.

  15. Thomas Joseph
    June 20, 2014 at 9:19 am

    It's not simply a case of not having a willingness to learn that puts most people off Windows 8 Start Menu. If a customer doesn't like the look or the feel of a new product, you won't sell it to them by saying they are just too lazy to take the time to learn how to use it. That is just patronizing in the extreme. I am always happy to learn new software and systems, but find the Windows 8 Start Menu to be cumbersome, clunky and entirely unattractive, so I do not use it, and that is even AFTER having taken the time to learn how to use it. So please don't just accuse me of being too lazy to learn something new.

  16. Tom
    June 19, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    I remember windows 95 being a huge success. In fact. People were buying it to get the fancy new start menu...lol

    • walkergw
      June 20, 2014 at 2:32 am

      Yes, those people existed. But there was also a good number of people who didnt. You must forgot the lols for "<- Start Here" Those who didnt like change wanted the program manager back. And I can tell you, there were a lot of them.

  17. Steve
    June 19, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    It's not that the OS is bad, or that "Metro" is so bad with a mouse (actually good with a track ball), the problem is with the impact on productivity of existing BUSINESS users. Companies have to re-write their computer FAQ's and training "screen shots" to roll out the "screen full of buttons". Many users "wall paper" their desktop with shortcuts to the stuff they use in their business, so they want the tech support people to give them their shortcuts back, and as the users change the look of the "Metro", the techs have difficulty talking a user through how to find their "stuff". Remember having to train users where their Office Suite menu items are with the change to the RIBBON menu interface.

    • J.J.
      June 20, 2014 at 4:10 pm

      Excellent point - and noticeably absent from most of the discussion. Change comes with a cost. Though this reality may not impact a home or casual user, it is a major consideration in the workplace. As with all such considerations, the value of the change needs to be calibrated against the time and effort involved. With MS' upgrades it is often the case that a business IT dept. does not see sufficient gain to warrant the effort. That's why there's always an upgrade lag. Many business were slow to go from XP to W7 (many still run XP!) and from W7 to W8. MS wants to sell corporate licenses. Change to them is like fashion - make changes to sell new stuff and make more money so they can meet Wall St. expectations!

  18. Leah
    June 19, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    I got Windows 8 in the last month or so (old laptop died so I was forced to upgrade). I thought not having a start menu would be a problem, but it's not. Windows 8 isn't bad. It's not designed the same way as previous Windows but the same stuff can be done.

  19. Avijit
    June 19, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    @Arin Agreed. We must learn the new technology and and design aspects. Start menu is over! and the "Metro" or what or "star menu less" is the future of Windows and learning the new things is beautiful!

  20. Alan W
    June 19, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    Went from 7 to 8 then back again because of the missing Start button. Back to 8 again and installed Start8, stuck with Win 8 since. What I like about Start8 is there are thousnads of different start buttons for it if you look in the right places.

  21. Francois
    June 19, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    Start Menu Reviver is also my favourite - it looks like it uses Modern UI but it has enough cool features to make it super easy to use without feeling like it's a throwback to XP start menu. http://www.reviversoft.com/start-menu-reviver/

    I'd be the first one to tell people to move with the times - but I still can't find anything good about the Windows 8 Start screen and I can't be bothered trying to find the corners of my screen with my trackpad to use poxy gestures... Without touch, it's all quite tedious...

  22. Mark Beare
    June 19, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    How about Start Menu Reviver? It has most of the new features of the upcoming Start Menu and is completely free.

  23. Jimmy
    June 19, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    Went from XP to W8.1 a couple of weeks ago and found it pretty easy to get around - just try it.

    • Tina S
      June 19, 2014 at 3:41 pm

      Wow, that is one major transition! Must have been interesting.

  24. Petey P
    June 19, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    What I think is funny about all this is that; There is all this fuss over this button and it's features however, Microsoft is losing Millions of $ to the little third party guys! At some point, Microsoft should have thought "Hey, maybe we should listen to our customers?", but no......they didn't.

    • walkergw
      June 20, 2014 at 2:26 am

      Loosing millions? So what are the alternatives that they are loosing money too? Linux? I dont think so? Apple, yes maybe a bit, it has seen increases, but not nearly as much as you would like us to believe. Tablets and Phones? People switching to these are doing it for other reasons. Tablets and Phones ae not replacements for PCs, they are different use case. The point is that before them, there wasnt the option. So again it isnt loosing out. So what is left? Windows 7? You see, Windows 8 has not lost MS anything.

    • Tina S
      June 20, 2014 at 4:50 pm

      Have to agree with Walker here. They are not losing money for not keeping or re-introducing the Start button and menu. They did definitely irritate users. And they have already decided to bring the Start Menu back, although that probably won't happen until Windows 9.

    • Howard B
      July 7, 2014 at 9:24 pm

      @walkergw: Not "loosing millions," the millions were never tight. No, they're losing dollars to the aftermarket "apps" that put the Start Menu back, and losing dollars not selling Windows 8 Upgrades to the people that don't want them.

    • Doug
      January 26, 2015 at 12:06 am

      Hard to lose money if you are making money on the windows 8 in the first place. Including a start button wouldn't increase revenue, unless they charged more in the first place, however, they will make more money selling windows 10 to people that don't want win8/8.1. Other than that, in life, CHANGE is inevitable. You could still be writing on paper with pencils, sending letters by post...

  25. Davey126
    June 19, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    StartIsBack is excellent and less expensive than Start8 if you are not satisfied with one of the free offerings.

    @Gordonbp - that is the type of monolithic thinking that got Microsoft in trouble with Windows 8.

    • Gordonbp
      June 19, 2014 at 3:02 pm

      Nothing to do with monolithic thinking and all to do with people who either are completely unable or unwilling to change, (mainly the latter from what I've seen), and can't be bothered.
      Remember we had all this nonsense before, when Windows 95 replaced Windows 3.11.

    • Davey126
      June 19, 2014 at 6:37 pm

      Glad you are enjoying the modern interface in Windows 8.1. That's what choice is about.

    • Howard B
      July 7, 2014 at 9:22 pm

      @GordonBP: "Nothing to do with monolithic thinking and all to do with people who either are completely unable or unwilling to change, (mainly the latter from what I’ve seen), and can’t be bothered."
      Sounds like a very inflexible attitude. I DO NOT want to change, and I will do what I can to make my voice heard and bend the &*(@%^ Windows 8 to MY will, not the other way around.
      Some of the first things I do when I set up a new PC (or reload Windows): Turn back on File Extensions. Disable Show Drives in Groups. Adjust the column widths in Windows Explorer and display ALL folders in Details View. Install something to replace that horrible disgusting Windows Media Player.
      And getting rid of the Start Screen is just one more thing to customize the computer to work THE WAY I WANT IT TO, not the way some UI geek read a "market study" and decided I HAVE TO.

  26. Gordonbp
    June 19, 2014 at 7:01 am

    If you need a "start menu" then you haven't learned anything about Windows 8.

    • Mic Hall
      June 19, 2014 at 2:50 pm

      Windows 8 is a disaster for most users with Non-Touch screens.

      The only people I have found that like 8 have touch screens and I have contact with more than a hundred different computer owners each month.

      Just a warning to everyone Microsoft plans to start a heavy push to move people off 7 before ending mainstream support January 13, 2015.

    • Gordonbp
      June 19, 2014 at 2:56 pm

      Sorry Mic - that is so not true.
      I use Windows 8.1 on a non-touch screen machine perfectly well as ever I did on Windows 7 without any third party menu utility

    • Mic Hall
      June 19, 2014 at 3:41 pm

      But you are not MOST users. I think you will find that only a very small percentage agree with you.

    • Arin
      June 19, 2014 at 3:58 pm

      I agree with Gordon. I'm a programmer who runs Windows 8.1 (and some Server 2012 boxes) full-time with a keyboard and mouse, and I wouldn't go back.

      The Start Screen is actually easier to use than the Start Menu! Don't believe me? Ask a 6-year-old to try both and see which she prefers. The old Start Menu is NOT intuitive; it's merely familiar, because at some point in your life you invested time in learning it. Do the same for Windows 8.1's Start Screen and you may find you prefer it, even with a keyboard & mouse. Here's one site I found that'll help with that: http://www.alanpeto.com/tech/windows-8-mouse-keyboard/

      BTW, I'm old enough to remember people grousing about the Start Menu back when it came out in 95 -- instead of having categories all laid out in 3.1's Program Manager, MS crammed everything into one little button with text-heavy nested popup menus that demand you move the mouse perfectly horizontally to drill into submenus. Did you click wrong? You have to start over! Ugh.

    • Gordonbp
      June 19, 2014 at 3:59 pm

      Most people don't bother to try - ooh, it's nothing like 7 so I instantly hate it without doing any sort of learning about actually how easy it is to use.

    • H
      June 19, 2014 at 4:17 pm

      Classic Shell gets my vote, when I have to use Windows.
      Gordon. You may be one of the few who like it, but as Metro does not have much of a fan base, there's really no need to patronise the many others who don't.

      Why do you think it still has only half of XP's market share?

      Windows 8 was universally slated with the obstructive Metro interface, but is mostly pretty good, once you find a way to avoid that abomination and the other silly "improvements" they introduced with W8.

    • Bobby
      June 19, 2014 at 5:04 pm

      Exactly, the start screen is far faster and easier, heck even my parents who are in their mid 80's just moved to Windows 8 and learned how to use it with no help from me.

      As for made for touch screens as Mic says, well sorry but he is wrong. How can you ask for a Start button, and then claim it is for touch screens, working a menu like that with touch would be a waste of time, it was hard with a mouse.
      I have a number of touch screens tablets and laptops, yet I spend my full work day using my old 24" non-touch with a mouse and keyboard. I even purchased a small mouse to go with my touch screen laptop.

    • Thomas Kainz
      June 19, 2014 at 8:23 pm

      Absolutely. I was one of "those" whom originally bitched and moaned about Windows 8 when it first came out but then I told myself.... self... your friends, family and everyone else will be coming to you for support so...bite the bullet and get with the plan. I installed Win 8 as a dual boot so I could go back to Win 7 when I had to get "serious" work done. After using Windows 8 for a weekend... I never looked back to Windows 7. Windows 8.1 is even better. As far as the "requirement" of having a touch screen...it just aint so. I have Windows 8 on my desktop without a touch screen and on my laptop with a touch screen and while the touch screen can be "fun" it can also be a PITA. I have no problems using my mouse to do everything I need to do in Windows 8... and with a lot less hassle than when I have to work on some ones PC with Windows 7 or.. worse yet... Windows XP or Vista. All you have to do is to quit "convincing" yourself that Windows 8 is evil incarnate... take a little time to learn it (with an open mind) and you may just be pleasantly surprised.

    • Thomas Kainz
      June 19, 2014 at 8:34 pm

      One of the "problems" with all of these third party apps that change the underlying functionality of the overall operating system are the horrendous support issues which come up when a person calls for support and you try to convey to them what they have to do (given the standard operating system) which they cannot do because of all the third party app tweaking. It can really make offering over the phone support a nightmare since what the user has going on - due to the third part apps - is nothing like what the OS should be doing. There have been times when I've had to take twice as long to figure out a person's PC issues and what was really going wrong due to all of their third party OS overlays they had in place.

    • Paul
      June 20, 2014 at 12:13 am

      No, Gordon,
      It's Windows 8 (i.e. Microsoft) that hasn't learned anything about USERS!
      This is what WE decide, and what YOU are going to use... so there!

    • Techisher
      June 20, 2014 at 5:58 am

      I agree with gordon.
      Most of the people don't want to try new things. They simply hate it at the first moment if they don't understand it.
      when it comes to comparison. Windows 8.1 is faster, stable and optimized. It's better than any other operating system in the windows lineup.
      It's the modren world guys. we have to change according to the world. Don't ask for the world to stay the same and follow old ways. If U people think microsoft don't know what the users want. Then what do u say about Apple. Apple officials says, Users don't know what they want. We just have to make them love our products.
      Personally i feel some people just don't know how to learn and love things.

    • Dheck
      June 20, 2014 at 12:53 pm

      I have to agree although I do admit I hated the Windows 8 Start Screen when it first appeared. When Windows 7 came out I didn't like the interface either, so I tried to make it more like XP. After a while I learned some of the features of Windows 7 and realized I had made a mistake . I should have learned how to use it rather than try to mold it into the shape I was familiar with....a shape that actually hindered getting things done.

      When Windows 8 first came out I think the biggest thing they missed was a quick tutorial on how to open, close and switch between apps/screens as well as how to use and customize the Start Screen. There is a tutorial in the Update 1 version now so that's a good start.

      Take a few minutes to customize the Start Screen and use the Windows key and you'll begin to see how much more efficient it is. I use 3 groups on my Start Screen - they're called "Main", "Secondary" and "Things I seldom use, but am too lazy to delete" (yes...that really is the name). By placing icons in these groups I now simply hit the Windows key and click once to launch a program. In the past I would have to click on Start, All Programs, the program folder and then review all of the icons in the folder for the 1 that I was really looking for. That's 4 clicks to get to the program vs. a key press and 1 click. Yes - I can "Pin to Taskbar" and get to a single click, but that real estate is limited and I only use for programs that I use constantly like email and a web browser.

      Performance (boot, shutdown, sleep and running programs/apps) is super fast and it has been incredibly reliable for me on a non-touchscreen notebook since November.

      Bottom line : I will NEVER go back to a Windows 7 system - period.

    • Maca
      June 24, 2014 at 7:59 pm

      Not true at all. I use Windows 8.1 on my desktop and I love it. Many people I showed around Windows 8.1 learned to love it. People calling it a disaster are just lazy or never used it at all.

    • Maca
      June 24, 2014 at 8:14 pm

      People who hate Windows 8 do it blindly. If you hate the start screen, why not use the alternative ways Microsoft gives you? Boot to desktop and turn off swipe corners. Think about it, you have a whole desktop for icons, why use a start menu at all? I pin my most use programs to my taskbar or make a shortcut to my desktop. The only time I used the start menu was for shutdown or control panel. No need for it in Windows 8, because I can right click the start button in Windows 8.1...

    • Howard B
      July 7, 2014 at 9:16 pm

      I don't want a Start Screen or Charms Bars. I don't like Windows Phone 8, and I don't want it on my desktop PC, which doesn't have a touchscreen.
      I like some of the other features of Windows 8(.1), but a Windows Phone clone interface isn't one of them.

    • Craig
      April 17, 2015 at 9:00 pm

      Windows should adapt to ME... NOT the other way around!
      To assume that I should have to adapt to Windows 8 is the height of arrogance!
      If I wasn't gaming right now, I would be using my Linux Mint computer!
      Thanks for reminding me why open-source operating systems are superior.

  27. Robert O
    June 19, 2014 at 6:53 am

    I replaced Start Menu X with StartIsBack and have not looked back.

  28. Paula
    June 19, 2014 at 2:59 am

    Classic Shell is outstanding. The best one out there.

  29. ant
    June 18, 2014 at 9:11 pm

    Hey sweetie,
    StartIsBack and Classic Shell are both worth checking out.

  30. Howard B
    June 18, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    Gee, no mention of StartIsBack, which I find to work very well?

    • Tina S
      June 19, 2014 at 3:39 pm

      Thanks for the input, Howard!

      Here's a link to StartIsBack for anyone spotting this comment. The only catch there is that it's $2.99 per month following a free trial. But apparently it's the best, as several of our readers have confirmed previously.

    • Godel
      June 19, 2014 at 11:38 pm

      Wow, 36 bucks a year, every year, for a small utility. That sounds like a good reason not to include it!

    • Mark B
      July 6, 2014 at 3:26 pm

      It's not $2.99/month, is just $2.99! (And it is the best.)

  31. Aande
    June 18, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    Every time I read about start menu replacements, no one ever mentions Power8. It may not be as beautiful as the others, but it has one outstanding trait: it's open source.

    https://code.google.com/p/power8/ (It requires at least .net 4, but Windows 8 is shipped with 4.5, so no need to install anything at all and power8 just needs to be unzipped and started)

    • Tina S
      June 20, 2014 at 4:43 pm

      Thanks for adding Power8, Aande!

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