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Whether you love or hate Windows 8, you have to admit that one of the most jolting changes is the removal of the Start menu and Start button. Although this might seem like a simple change, it has caused many users to freak out and feel lost with Microsoft’s newest operating system.
After all, the Start button had been around for about 20 years, and its placement in the bottom left corner of the desktop just felt…right.
Instead of trying to get used to Windows 8 and accepting these changes, many users have decided to blend the best of Windows 7 and Windows 8 together. Today, we’re going to show you how to do just that by adding the Start Menu and Start button back to Windows 8.
Although Windows 8 was only recently released, there are already dozens (seriously) of replacement options for the Start menu and button. These replacement options are all easy to install and can be downloaded and installed just like normal programs.
Download Classic Shell
Classic Shell brings instant familiarity to Windows 8 users. The menu included with Classic Shell is designed to resemble Windows 7. In fact, the two menus are virtually indistinguishable from one another.
Classic Shell is free and open source, and like many open source programs, you can tweak and customize it in plenty of different ways. In fact, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the number of customization options available, but performance users who like to tweak their system will appreciate this wealth of options.
One little touch that I like about Classic Shell is that it binds the Windows button to the Start menu once more. So if you grew used to pressing the Windows button on your keyboard and seeing the Start menu pop up, this will be a welcome change. This feature even works in Metro.
Classic Shell is more than just a Start menu replacement. The program also comes with Classic Explorer and Classic Internet Explorer. Both options can be chosen when you’re installing Classic Shell.
Instead of copying the old Start menu system directly from Vista and Windows 7, Pokki decides to get a little more creative. It creates a square Start menu interface including a Windows 8-looking Start button. The result is a perfect combination of Windows 8 ‘modernism’ (or whatever you want to call it) and classic Windows usability.
Pokki also has a pinning system that allows users to add programs to the shortcut list of the Start menu. And to make the system even cooler, there’s also a widgets feature that displays email, stocks, news, and whatever other options you want to see – kind of like the widgets on your Android or Windows phone.
Oh, and after installing Pokki, Windows 8 will automatically boot to your desktop instead of the Metro screen, which is certainly a refreshing change. You can also disable the hot corners feature and access the Charms menu by pressing Windows Key + C.
The two options we’ve listed above are completely free. But if you’ve got $5 burning a hole in your pocket, then you don’t want to settle for free. You want the cream of the crop, and that’s what Start8 will provide.
For $5, Start8 offers a similar interface to Classic Shell although it’s a bit smoother and designed to look more like Windows 8. Look at the screenshot above to figure out what I’m talking about. It’s clean, simple, and most importantly, functional.
Start8 also has all the customizable features you would expect from a paid program, including the option to disable hot corners and customize your Windows keys.
You can download your free 30-day trial of Start8 from the Stardock.com website. Once the trial period is over, you’ll have to buy it for $5.