Out of all the things Microsoft has done recently, the removal of the start button and the introduction of the Start Screen seems to be the most controversial. I have seen people get really angry over it. Personally I haven’t been to concerned by it, maybe because I am fairly easy going, although I do think it was an odd move by Microsoft for their Desktop operating system.

Microsoft has said they will put the start button back when the release Update 2 of Windows 8.1. If you can’t wait that long, then there is a really cheap way of getting a start button back that is more like the Windows 7 Version, yet you can style it to be more consistent with Windows 8. I want to mention a couple of products that will help. One is a commercial paid for application, and the other is free.

Start8 from StarDock

Start8 from StarDock Brings Back the Start Button
Start8 from StarDock Brings Back the Start Button

First up is Start8 from Stardock software. I am currently trying out the 30 day demo, and it works really well. If you do decide to purchase it, then it only costs $4.99. Here is the official blurb from their site.

Microsoft Windows® 8 is shipped without the “Start” menu.

Stardock heard the cries from Windows 8 users

We put the “Start” menu back in Windows 8. We accurately recreated the most used desktop feature billions of users depend on every day and packed it with additional functionality.

Start8 installs with no issues at all and is very easy to configure giving you lots of choice over the look and feel of the start button.

Classic Shell

Classic Shell
Classic Shell

The next version, Classic Shell, is completely free of charge and offers pretty much the same functionality as Start8, so the choice really comes down to whether you prefer paid applications or free software. I have installed Classic Shell on my laptop and so far it is running really well. Here is the blurb from their site:

Classic Shell™ is free software that improves your productivity, enhances the usability of Windows and empowers you to use the computer the way you like it. The main features are:

  • Highly customizable start menu with multiple styles and skins
  • Quick access to recent, frequently-used, or pinned programs
  • Find programs, settings, files and documents
  • Start button for Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1
  • Toolbar and status bar for Windows Explorer
  • Caption and status bar for Internet Explorer

Classic Shell has been in active development for 4 years and has over 15 million downloads. 

Summary

If you can’t live without the Start button, then you should check these tools out. They both seem to work really well, so you get all of the Windows 7 feel, but with the nice performance gains of Windows 8. As long as you set Windows 8 to boot straight to the desktop you should never see the start screen again unless you deliberately choose to go to it from the Start Menu. This should tide you over until Microsoft makes their reversal official.  I am rather keen to see what they do with Windows 9 though. From looking at the windows history of alternative good vs bad releases, Windows 9 should be a very good effort.

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