Add A Start Menu To Your Windows 8 Consumer Preview Installation With ViStart

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We’ve previously discussed how to disable the Metro user interface on the Windows 8 Developer Preview, but with the more polished presentation offered by the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, it seems that there is a bit of a problem. You can’t disable Metro.

Now, there are various things to consider here, from the fact that this isn’t the final release of Windows 8 to being aware that corporate users will simply have no time for messing about with the Windows 8 Metro user interface. One way or another there will be a way around Metro. But how can you circumvent the touch-focused Metro UI in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview?

The truth is that you can’t, not completely. However, you can avoid using it once you’ve switched to desktop mode, using a free Windows enhancement called ViStart.

What Is ViStart?

A free download intended for Windows Vista and Windows 7, ViStart is a useful tool for anyone interested in building and adapting themes and skins. Obviously Windows 7 already has a Start menu, so ViStart acts as a replacement that can be edited and configured with visual enhancements and designs of your choice.

It is useful to anyone wanting to avoid using Metro in Windows 8 Consumer Preview as it allows for the restoration of the Windows Start menu “pearl” button as seen in Windows 7.

By following these steps you can expect to have a new Start button on the Windows 8 desktop view in a matter of minutes.

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Adding A Windows 7 Start Menu To Windows 8

Get started by booting Windows 8 and clicking the Desktop tile, found by default in the lower-left position of the Metro Start screen.

Here you will see that, where the Start button would normally be, you have an Internet Explorer button in the shape of a blue “e”. By dropping your mouse pointer into the lower-left corner of the screen you will see the new Start button appear; left-clicking will return you to the Metro Start screen.

But of course, you don’t want to do this. Instead, launch Internet Explorer and head to this page. Once the page loads, look for the Download button and save windows-start-menu-vistart.exe to your computer.

Proceed by running the application, but take care not to download any of the additional enhancements it suggests – we only want the basic ViStart tool. You can do this on the third screen of the installer by selecting Custom Installation (Advanced) and clearing the checkboxes.

In subsequent screens you will need to Decline the option to install further enhancements. Don’t worry if the installer appears to close without completing – the software will have been installed.

Overlapping Buttons?

There is a chance that after installing ViStart onto the Windows 8 desktop that the Internet Explorer button will be squashed up, thereby overlapping the new Start menu button.

Fortunately this can be resolved by creating a new taskbar menu. Right-click the desktop and select New > Folder, the result of which should appear, waiting for you to label it; you don’t need to do this, however. Next, right-click the taskbar and clear the check on the Lock the Taskbar option.

Return to the folder and open it, then select Desktop in the left pane, where you will see the folder listed. From here, left-click and drag the folder from the right-pane to the taskbar, dropping it between the Start button and the Internet Explorer icon.

You will find that the text “New Folder” now appears. This looks untidy, but can be fixed by right-clicking the text and clearing the checks on Show Text and Show Title. The folder will now be hidden, the space it occupies pushing the Internet Explorer button away from the Start menu button!

Conclusion

It is a little strange that Microsoft should have blocked the ability to disable Metro in Windows 8 Consumer Preview, given that the user interface isn’t all-pervading in the new OS. Various advanced screens rely on the old-style Windows Explorer-based interface, for instance, and the WINKEY+R combination still works – it can even be run from the Metro Start screen!

Ultimately, when Windows 8 is released Microsoft will have to take steps to allow the huge corporate market to disable Metro on desktops and laptop computers. However, until the final version is made available this solution works pretty well on the Consumer Preview, enabling users to virtually ignore the Metro Start screen.

Let us know in the comments below if Vistart worked for you and if you like the new start menu.

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