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We’ve previously discussed how to disable the Metro user interface on the Windows 8 Developer Preview How To Quickly & Easily Disable The Metro User Interface In Windows 8 How To Quickly & Easily Disable The Metro User Interface In Windows 8 One of the most striking things about Windows 8 – beyond the Metro user interface – is the lack of a traditional Start menu in favour of tiles. However with a desktop view available for... Read More , 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.


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!


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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  1. umberto giacobbi
    September 16, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    I happily use BringBack from Revel Software... with Windows 8 preview and now RTM it's a "standard" start menu but with a refreshed UI and some nice features...

  2. biazen
    August 6, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    vistart is very good solution for windows 8 to use start menu. but there is a problem when i turn off my computer. what is the solution for this

    • Christian Cawley
      August 6, 2012 at 12:33 pm

      It depends what the problem is!

      What actually happens when you shut down?

  3. Ziz
    July 26, 2012 at 4:13 am

    As many are cursing MS, I'm sure they are not making this silly mistake of forcing something down our throat. This is just a preview and MS wants us to use Metro as much as possible and get the feedback. Actual release will definitely provide Start menu option. Else they are doomed.

  4. GodSponge
    June 25, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    Haven't tried ViStart yet. I've been Using a beta of Start8 which looks promising. Lots of missing functionality so far though.

  5. Reg_Z
    May 26, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    Difficult to please everyone nowadays but here's what I think is the right thing to do... Microsoft doesn't force anyone to use Windows 8. It's wrong to say that they are forcing you to upgrade to Windows 8 because they have dropped support for older versions. In fact no... You'll still get to download newer updates from windows except for XP-downwards. What you wont get is... NEW FEATURES which makes you curious to know what and how to use them and then... Once you tried it.... You want to make it work with the old system that you have.... Now this is pathetic guys... If you want to try something new... take it and take all of it... These new features are actually something that gives you direction to move on and not stand still on where you are. It's too stupid to ask for something that was already given up because it's too old and boring... I'd say if you can't live with a world going forward... Then stay where you are and don't complain and don't even try something new if you can't handle it. People worked hard to develop this new system doesn't need your comments if you will only ask them to put it back like it was before. Open your minds and try to learn something new... If you can't do that, then stay behind, admit who you are and don't complain!!!

  6. Brian S
    May 11, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    I used StarDock's option at first but having been using ViStart for a while. I'm about to uninstall ViStart though -- it crashes too often; especially when shutting down Win8.

  7. xpclient
    May 4, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Here's a Classic Shell skin: to make it look like the Windows 7 Start Menu.

  8. Miss.Andrea Borman.
    April 29, 2012 at 12:31 am

    You can now disable the Ribbon Completely in Windows 8 Consumer Preview and get the Windows 7 Windows Explorer back again. Win Aero have now released a new version of Ribbon Disabler for 32 bit Windows 8 CP on 27th April. ( the old version only supported 64 bit.)

    I have tried it and it works. And it does bring back the Windows 7, Windows Explorer. And if you want the ribbon back again.You just run the tool again. Ribbon Disabler can be downloaded from Win Aero website here-

    Now we are just waiting for a software that can disable the Metro theme like you could on Windows 8 Developers Preview. Andrea Borman.

  9. Asok Asus
    April 1, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    Just wanted to note that Classic Shell 3.5.0 has just been released, and it now works beautifully on Windows 8 Consumer Preview, providing a highly functional and highly customizable Start Menu, as well as allowing one to substantially augment the Explorer ribbon, providing the ability to add a whole row of traditional Explorer function icons.. I think Classic Shell is a much better alternative than ViStart. In fact, I like Classic Shell better than than the Vista and Windows 7 Start Menus anyway. Classic Shell can be downloaded at:

    • Miss. Andrea Borman.
      April 2, 2012 at 3:12 pm

      Yes,I too have installed classic Shell on my Windows 8 Consumer Preview. It was only updated two days ago on 31st March. But yes,the updated version now puts the start orb and the Classic and Windows XP start menu on Windows 8 CP.

      Before that I was using Start Menu 7 which also gives you the start orb and start menu in Windows 8. But I like Classic Shell better because the start menus are almost identical to the real Classic and Windows XP start menu.And also Classic Shell has more customisation options. On classic Shell you can also change the start orb and you also have a choice of the Windows Vista start menu, as well as the classic and Windows XP start menu.

      And not only that, but Classic Shell also works with your Windows key. So you do not get taken back to the Metro start screen when you press the Windows key. But instead this brings up the Windows XP start menu just like it does on Windows 7 and Windows XP.

      So now that I have installed Classic Shell on Windows 8 CP,this means that I don't have to deal with the Metro theme so much as before. And I only see the Metro start screen on start up. But then I go straight to my desktop.

      So people like me who are used to Windows XP and Windows 7 will find it easier to use Windows 8. And adapt to the Metro theme when Windows 8 does go out on sale.As long as they can install other software that will bring back both the start orb and the Windows 7 or Windows XP start menu. Andrea Borman.

      • Asok Asus
        April 2, 2012 at 4:47 pm

        Hey, didn't know about the Windows Key! I also just noticed that moving the cursor to the lower left corner no longer brings up the Metro UI icon either.

        I've also been playing around with trying to bypass Metro UI altogether.

        Here's what I've come up with so far:

        Disable the new Classic Shell start service and then replace:

        [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon] "Shell"="explorer.exe"


        [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon] "Shell"="explorer.exe /select,explorer.exe,\"%ProgramFiles%\\Classic Shell\\ClassicStartMenu.exe\""

        (paste this line into a .reg file with "Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00" as the header line plus a blank line) and then Metro UI would be bypassed AND Classic Shell autostarted, thus achieving my own personal Holy Grail for W8 CP usability!

        Classic Shell will start slower than with the start service and a vestigial explorer.exe will hang around, but this does work for me. You could also first experiment by making another login id and adding:

        [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon] "Shell"="explorer.exe /select,explorer.exe,\"%ProgramFiles%\\Classic Shell\\ClassicStartMenu.exe\""

        to just that user.

        BTW, I also highly recommend disabling the hateful lock screen via gpedit.msc by going to:

        Local Computer Policy -> Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Control Panel -> Personalization -> "Do not display the lock screen" and setting that to "Enabled".

        • Miss. Andrea Borman.
          April 2, 2012 at 7:40 pm

          Well the registry edit that you could use to disable the Metro theme in Windows 8 Developers Preview no longer works in Consumer Preview.And as far as I know and based on what I have read you cannot disable the Metro the in CP like you could in DP.

          But you CAN install third party software that will give you both the start orb and Windows XP and 7 start menu. Which is the next best thing.

          But since I have installed Classic Shell I find that the only time I see the Metro theme is on start up.Which is the start screen. But I just press the Windows key or click the desktop tile and I am on my desktop. With the Windows XP start menu. So I hardly deal with the Metro theme now.

          Classic Shell also comes with Classic Explorer which puts the Windows 98 toolbar in Windows Explorer. Which also works on Windows 8 CP. And you can customise the Classic Explorer toolbar by adding your own custom toolbar buttons. Unlike the default ribbon toolbar where you can't.

          So you can even add a toolbar button to view your webcam or Windows Calendar in Windows Explorer. Just like you can on Windows XP. Andrea Borman.

        • Asok Asus
          April 2, 2012 at 7:55 pm

          You're correct about the reg hack in DP not working in CP. Mine is different. And it doesn't actually disable Metro, but it does automatically skip by it at logon time, taking one directly to the conventional desktop AND starting Classic Shell. And given that Classic Shell disables the appearance of the icon that would return you to Metro, for all practical purposes, Metro is totally out of the picture at that point. Just the way I like it! :)

      • Asok Asus
        April 2, 2012 at 5:48 pm

        Shoot. Those reg lines came out wrong. Supposed to be TWO lines each:

        [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon]

        [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon]
        "Shell"="explorer.exe /select,explorer.exe,\"%ProgramFiles%\\Classic Shell\\ClassicStartMenu.exe\""

        [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon]
        "Shell"="explorer.exe /select,explorer.exe,\"%ProgramFiles%\\Classic Shell\\ClassicStartMenu.exe\""

        • Miss. Andrea Borman.
          April 2, 2012 at 8:27 pm

          Yes,I read that you could get Windows to boot straight into the desktop and by pass the start screen,on the Windows forums. But this did not involve a registry hack. It said something about creating a file in Notepad and adding it to Task Manager at start up. This seems safer than a registry edit as if you make a mistake while editing the registry it could break Windows.

          I thought about getting Windows to boot to the desktop. But as the start screen only appears for about a minute before I go to my desktop it does not seem worth it. But it is still another option for those who don't want to see the start screen at all.

          But do you think they will bring back the start orb and Windows 7 start menu in the final release of Windows 8? Andrea Borman.

        • Asok Asus
          April 2, 2012 at 8:49 pm

          "But do you think they will bring back the start orb and Windows 7 start menu in the final release of Windows 8? Andrea Borman."

          Don't know. But if they don't, I'll be looking at buying some LEAP PUTS on a tech index and/or some individual PC-related companies like Dell, BestBuy, etc. as well as MS themselves of course, because Metro UI is a tinker-toy interface suitable at best for credit-card-sized touch-screen personal communications devices, and trying to foist it onto desktops and laptops is going to make the Edsel, New Coke, and Vista look like strokes of genius. (Even funnier, how many Android-type devices have 4 gig of RAM and 30 Gig of HD to run Windows 8 on, anyway?)

        • Windows OS Believer
          May 31, 2012 at 5:36 pm

          I most definitely "believe" that M$ will allow us the option to by-pass the Metro Screen and enable the XP, Vista 7 Start Menu. I cannot even it call it "legacy start menu" because it's not "old UI". It is and always should be an integral part of Windows OS. Everyone who uses tablest and smartphones (in general) are not people like us who either do remote desktop support, play 3D intensive games, design PC software, use CAD etc., etc.. So our place in the world is sitting in front of our monitors using a a keyboard and a mouse. Touch screens? Nope, not for most of us who use a PC for work and major gaming. To reiterate, I truly believe the Windows Desktop and Start Menu will be easy options for "real personal computer users". 8)

        • Miss. Andrea Borman.
          April 2, 2012 at 9:06 pm

          Well if they make the final version of Windows 8 that will go out on sale in the shops like Consumer Preview. That is with the same source code.Then all of the software we are using now to get the start orb and start menu should still work in the final version. So we could just install Classic Shell or Start Menu 7 and use that.Which won't be so bad.

          There is also now a ribbon disabler for which disables the ribbon in Windows Explorer.But at the moment it only comes in 64bit so it won't work on my netbook. But the makers are working on a 32bit version.

          So there are options available that are open to us. So we can make Windows 8 more like Windows 7. Andrea Borman.

        • Asok Asus
          April 2, 2012 at 9:17 pm

          I can make the Explorer ribbon at least disappear by right clicking the top bar and selecting "Minimize Ribbon". Also added a whole row of function buttons on the "Quick Access Toolbar". But even better, I've added a whole row of functions buttons with Classic Explorer, which allows me to label the buttons, unlike the labelless Quick Access buttons.

        • Miss. Andrea Borman.
          April 2, 2012 at 9:29 pm

          Out of curiosity,do you make any software for Windows? That is are you a software developer like the makers of Classic Shell are? Just asking. Andrea Borman.

        • Asok Asus
          April 3, 2012 at 11:11 pm

          I do develop some software. But nothing as sophisticated as Classic Shell. Mostly tools and utilities for optimizing and tweaking Windows operating systems. Some are actually very, very useful. A self-executing extractor that contains all of the tools can be downloaded from here:

          There's a few readme.txt files and the .exe files can be deconstructed with 7zip so you can see the source code. If you want to play with these, it's best to try them out in an OS that's installed in Virtualbox or WIndows Virtual PC.

      • Miss. Andrea Borman
        April 5, 2012 at 5:48 pm

        I have just helped one of my friends install Windows 8 on his Acer laptop yesterday. But when I went onto the website of both Vista Start Menu and Start Menu 7 both download links are not working. And I cannot get onto either website. See here-

        And here-

        I get a message saying the webpage is not available. And when I tried other download sites including Softpedia the download mirrors do not work either.

        But 2 days ago those websites and download links were working but they are not now. It has been like this for over 24 hours now. The people who make Start Menu 7 and Vista Start Menu also make Start Menu XP and Start Menu classic. But those we cannot access those 2 websites either.

        Could it be that the company have now discontinued all of their software? Or that it has now been discontinued,is that why I cannot get onto the sites and download it now? Even though I could 2 days ago. Andrea Borman.

  10. Tony D'Ambra
    March 28, 2012 at 11:36 am

    I found the applet buggy and takes ages to load, so I created a simple no frills applet called Ezy Start Menu. It is fast loading and read-only.

    Ezy Start Menu is added to your StartUp folder, resides in the same corner of the Windows Desktop as the classic Start Menu, and appears as a small blue Windows Metro 8 icon at the extreme end of the Taskbar. Just Click on the Taskbar icon to open Ezy Start Menu.

    Free download from

    • Christian Cawley
      March 28, 2012 at 7:17 pm

      Great work Tony, and thanks for sharing.

      There really are some great alternatives out there. Even if Microsoft doesn't make the traditional desktop *more* traditional (which would surely lose them their business market) I don't think anyone need worry!

  11. Chris Hoffman
    March 25, 2012 at 2:59 am

    Start8 is another option:

    It turns the Metro Start screen into a Start menu. Not as old school as ViStart, but an option.

  12. JoeyDee
    March 23, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    "...but take care not to download any of the additional enhancements it suggests"

    A more accurate descriptive would be "be careful when navigating the cyber-minefield which will inevitably install ALL KINDS of spy/crap/possible mal/ware on the machines of the tecnically challenged/average user/click accept-yes to any & all EULA- happy end-users.

    Thanks, but no thanks.

  13. Alan
    March 23, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    I'm not wishing to rain on anybody's parade but as a discussion point why do users insist on making there new version of Windows look like the older version?
    It has been the same throughout all the Windows versions as far as I can remember.
    If users want the Start button and Menu back why the hell dont they stick with what they have?

    • Thomas Kainz
      March 23, 2012 at 1:46 pm

      I wholeheartedly agree Alan, but I think it's more than that (at least in my case it is). While I'm not finding a "friendship" in the Metro interface, along with that interface comes other improvements and additional functionality I do like. What we want...what "I" want is the best of both worlds. It's like buying a new set of hot skis (or insert your favorite sports item here) and then told that the new skis use a proprietary binding that means you have to dump all your old gear and but expensive new stuff. It just doesn't seem to make good marketing sense. If this version of Windows is pretty much finalized.... I will be one of those sticking with "7" as long as it's supported and updated. I will most likely have to keep a version of "8" operating either on a separate machine or in a virtual setting so I can support my customers but using it myself on a day to day basis.... no way - not as it currently is. It's just too much 'fluff' and not enough substance for me. I need to use my programs, in my way and not feel 'pushed' into lemming my way into the tablet/app 'scene' that everyone seems to be getting pushed into'. As I noted, at least this new version will provide an avenue for independent developers to create patch and correct code to "maybe" have those like me consider making the leap to '8' permanently. But the patches / fixes / corrections have to work flawlessly.

      • Alan
        March 23, 2012 at 4:06 pm

        I hear you Thomas, I definately wont be buying it. It just isnt for me, mind you in all honesty I did say that about Vista and Windows 7. I have it dual booting with Win7 but only use it when I am writing tutorials about it.

      • Kent
        May 30, 2012 at 11:07 am

        I agree with Thomas, It's nice to know you still have the option to go back to ones preferred settings and not forced into using the new Metro interface, it makes sense for tablets - to me... not so much for desktop machines. I prefer to ease into a new UI, not be pushed. At the end of the day it comes down to productivity. I don't want to spend half my time looking around for this and that.

    • C Smythe
      April 22, 2012 at 4:10 am

      As a power user, I have developed many useful habits that I do not want to give up. linux and iOs don't do things the way I like either and I have always come back to microsoft. Love em or hate em I just get things done.

  14. Tanmoy Das
    March 23, 2012 at 12:25 pm
  15. Thomas Kainz
    March 23, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Windows 8 preview just comes out and we're already looking at ways to "fix" it. Typical Microsoft...they just don't get it. Well, at least there will be a great cottage industry in writing patches, fixes and work-arounds for what Microsoft is trying to force us all into using. Let's just say that I won't be going out to dump $300 or more on a touch screen for my desktop real soon.

    • Thomas Kainz
      March 23, 2012 at 1:26 pm

      On the task at hand... I did install ViStart and while it did add the desired start 'orb', once advancing to the desktop, I lost the ability to use the WINKEY to return to the Metro interface. I had to shut down ViStart and then regained that capability. Not holding this against ViStart as Windows isn't completed yet plus I was running Win 8 in a VirtualBox setting which may have had something to do with that.

  16. Daleks
    March 23, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Maybe dumb questions: when you launch a Windows 8 built-in application, like Control Panel or wireless settings, how the frakk do you close it? And is there any way of returning to the main Metro screen other than pressing the Windows key on the keyboard? I don't mind that, but users won't like it.

    • cwsnyder
      June 24, 2012 at 9:16 pm

      To close any Win8 built-in app, use the Alt-F4 key combination (at least that still works!)
      If your mouse hovers over the lower left corner of the screen, an animation of the Metro interface comes into view which can be clicked to return.

      • Daleks
        June 24, 2012 at 11:25 pm

        Thanks. I've been using Alt + F4 for years, but the people who take my classes generally don't like that. But I learned something new at a Microsoft store yesterday: to exit an application in Windows 8 on a tablet, slide your finger all the way down from the top of the screen to the bottom.

  17. Tim Brookes
    March 23, 2012 at 1:45 am

    I'm sure this will help a lot of people out, nice article.

    I'm really quite surprised Microsoft have forced Metro on everyone to be honest. Now it's up to third-party tools to restore basic Windows features like a proper Start menu. Crazy!

    • Alan
      March 23, 2012 at 1:28 pm

      Or user's not to upgrade but stick with what they have. Why waste money on an upgrade that you are not happy with?

      • Andy R
        May 17, 2012 at 1:31 pm

        Because Microsoft remove support from the old option you love, forcing you to have a newer GUI that's less versatile and more annoying, but adored by simpletons