One of the most controversial updates in Windows 8, is the dreaded Start Screen, which replaced the beloved Start Menu. Instead of a sleek corner menu to access your most used programs, you are instead presented with a full screen and large icons. This feature was designed with tablets and smartphones in mind obviously, and doesn’t necessarily complement desktop environments. However, there’s a couple different ways you can go about getting your familiar start menu back, without downgrading.
Upgrade to Windows 8.1
Well, Microsoft heard the overwhelming complaints about the lack of a Start Menu in Windows 8, and effectively re-instated the menu in the first major update, Windows 8.1. You can get this update for free from the Store, and it is mostly automated, although it can take a couple of hours depending on your computer’s hardware. Some people have had issues (myself included), after upgrading to Windows 8.1, and have had to revert back to 8.
This is likely due to some sort of in-compatibility between their hardware and the new Windows 8.1 software, but Microsoft has been working to fix these issues. Regardless, if the 8.1 option doesn’t work for you, or you don’t feel like upgrading, you can still get a Start Menu quite easily.
Use Third Party Software
There are tons of programs available that will replace the Start Screen button with a custom branded Start Menu button. Personally, I use a program called Classic Shell, and I’ve had no issues with it – best of all, it looks just like the Start Menu I’m familiar with in previous versions of Windows. You can get this software for free, and it’s very easy to use, just run the installation and it should automatically prompt you to choose a Start Menu.
Users can pick either the Windows XP menu, Windows Vista, or Windows 7, depending on which one they are most comfortable with. The Classic Shell utility can be further customized with community created skins, and other minor adjustable details, and overall it’s even better than the standard Start Menu we’ve seen in Windows XP/Vista/7.
Alternative to Classic Shell
If you didn’t like the look and feel of Classic Shell, or couldn’t get it set-up properly, you could try one of the many other programs that offer a Start Menu for Windows 8. After Classic Shell, I’d say the next best option would be Start Menu 8 by Iobit. You get a slightly different look compared to the menus offered in Classic Shell, and it’s just as easy to set-up.
For those who can avoid using third party software by upgrading to Windows 8.1, I’d recommend just doing that. Eventually, 8.1 will become the standard OS, and you’ll need it in order to get the latest updates from Microsoft for your PC’s performance and security. However it is always nice to have options, so definitely take a look at Classic Shell and Start Menu 8.