Seven Alternatives To Restore The Start Menu In Windows 8

When the beta and preview versions of Windows 8 was circulating around out there in the wild, I deliberately avoided downloading and testing it.  WHY? I knew Windows 8 was going to be something completely and visually different than what I have been experiencing (since 1995) and I wanted to experience Windows 8 (upon final release) in a similar manner as others at home would be for the first time.

Please factor in that I have extensive knowledge of the Windows OS in general; and, that I have been reading about and following along with the development of Windows 8. So in a sense, I sort of had an idea of what to expect; whereas, the everyday computer user really has no idea of what to expect when change like this occurs. I strongly encourage anyone making the leap from any of the older versions of Windows to Windows 8, to take in all the information that you can to learn more about this new operating system or visit your local tech store to give Windows 8 a try.

On the release date of October 26th, I downloaded and installed Windows 8 on my PC. Upon completion of the install, I have to admit I sat there looking at the screen, in real-time for the very first time, scratching my head and mumbling; Where’s my desktop?; What are these menus flying from the side of the screen for? This looks like a giant smartphone screen, etc…  I actually started to think, I just made a huge mistake.

Long story short…  After a few days of learning how to navigate around, I am starting to enjoy Windows 8 and the new challenges (and features) it is giving me. I soon learned that I could get to my desktop by clicking on the desktop tile on the start screen. What immediately caught my attention and will definitely be a challenge for the home-based computer user is that there is no start button when you get to the desktop. Personally, I never used it much anyway, but this is really going to throw the majority of people off.


To overcome this problem, I went on the hunt for a start menu.  What I found was seven start menu alternatives that you may want to explore to help get you back on track in Windows 8. With one of these alternatives you can feel like you are still in Windows 7, but still have all the luxuries of Windows 8.

Start8 ($4.99) – Return the Start Button to Windows 8. A Windows 7-style Start menu with Windows 8 enhancements.

Pokki (FREE) – Brings back the Start Menu to Windows 8. The Pokki Menu makes accessing and organizing your favorite apps, websites, files and folders more simple and convenient. Search your PC and the web to add your favorite apps and sites, then organize them like you would on a smart phone.

ViStart (FREE) – Functions in Windows 8 just like the original start menu in windows 7 and has some extra features on top of that especially for windows 8. For EXTRA features. Simply right click the windows start button and you will be presented with an “EXTRAS” menu. Here you access to frequently used windows features as well as a few extra ViStart features.

StartMenu8 (BETA FREE) – Offers a perfect solution for users who work with Windows Start Menu all the time and are not accustomed to the new Metro start screen in Windows 8. This smart tool brings back both the start button and Windows Start Menu, and offers the option to skip Metro start page, allowing users who only work on desktop to boot to Windows 8 desktop directly.

Classic Shell (FREE) – A collection of features that were available in older versions of Windows but were later removed. It has a customizable Start menu and Start button for Windows 7 and Windows 8, it adds a toolbar for Windows Explorer and supports a variety of smaller features. Look here for the full list.

Start Menu Х (FREE) – A replacement of the system menu for professionals.

Power8 (BETA FREE) – The start menu replacer for Win8, styled and integrated inside taskbar.



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10 thoughts on “Seven Alternatives To Restore The Start Menu In Windows 8

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  1. Hi Rick,

    Tried them all (over the last year and a bit), and Classic Shell stands out. Still, I rarely use it since Win 8’s quirks soon became second nature.

    Win 8 is here to stay, and those bloggers/tech writers who continually downgrade this OS without putting in the effort to run with it for any length of time (we used to call that experience), are doing their readers a disservice.



    1. Bill,

      What a great surprise to hear from you. I hope all is well…

      My (very short term) experience with Windows 8 thus far is that I am really liking it. I am looking forward toward more Windows Apps being developed and as this occurs I can see us moving more and more from the desktop interface, as we know it. My favorite, so far, in regards to the third party start menus is Start8 by Stardock. It blends in very nicely with the metro look, is configurable and most importantly keeps my wife happy.

      Again, it is good to hear from you…



  2. The problem I seem to have is that I get so attached to my current OS that it seems like too much of a hassle to upgrade to a new one after I’m so used to tweaking and customising it exactly the way I want it. It’s almost like a labour of love. The £25 special offer is temping me somewhat though.


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