Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Get the Start Menu back in Windows 8 with a free app

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One change in Windows 8 that has geeky types upset is the removal of the Start Orb and Start Menu. Tap the Windows key in Windows 8 and the Metro Start Screen leaps to the foreground. If that’s something you hate, you’ll be glad to know the folks at Stardock have come up with a solution: Start8.

Start8 does exactly what you think it would do. First, it modifies the taskbar, re-inserting the familiar Windows 7 Orb in the far-left corner. Next, it adds in an updated version of the Start Menu. It looks a bit like the Metro Search screens on Windows 8 and offers Windows 7 and Vista-style find-as-you-type. Two handy additional options will be added to the Windows 8 context menu that appears when you right-click the bottom left corner: run and shut down.

Stardock, of course, is one of the most recognizable names in Windows shell modifications. Few interface apps are more well-known that WindowBlinds, and titles like ObjectDock, BootSkin, and Fences offer users an almost infinite number of ways to personalize their Windows desktop experience. With so much debate going on about the removal of the Start Orb and Start Menu in Windows 8, it’s not a surprise to see that they’ve jumped in so early to give users yet another customization option.

It’s just too bad this is even necessary. In the Windows 8 developer preview, all that was required to bring back the Start Menu was a simple registry hack. Trying that on the Windows 8 Consumer Preview was my first order of business, and I was disheartened to learn that Microsoft appears to have plugged that hole.

For now, it looks like you’ll need an app like Start8 if you want an old-fashioned Start Menu in Windows 8. But hey, at least Stardock is offering it for free.

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