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As Adrian over at ZDNet has stated,
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been asked the question over the past few days. ~Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, referring to the question about getting the Start menu back.
1) Thanks to Lee Soft, a good alternative is available; it’s called ViStart. Basically, it brings back the traditional Windows 7-style Start menu.
As you can see in the screenshot below, I’ve successfully re-enabled the Start menu. I’ve provided the download link as well.
Download link for ViStart: Download
2) For those who like the new Windows 8 Metro UI, though also liked the ability to have a Start menu on the Desktop, there’s Start8 by Stardock. This provides a Start menu button/orb on your Taskbar, though it presents the new Windows 8 Apps menu instead.
Download link for Start8: Download
You can also get the scoop in our Windows 8 article, Windows 8 Consumer Preview Review
Based on the comments received, it’s no coincidence that one of the top tech-related retweets is ‘Windows 8 registry tweak gives you Windows 7 Start Menu’.
In previous articles we have discussed what’s new with Windows 8, specifically the use of the Start menu button. The button is now used as a toggle between the new Windows 8 Home screen and the traditional Desktop view.
Though there is much to be excited about in the new version of Windows, there are some aspects many are puzzled about. One of the head scratchers seems to be the Start menu replacement, or lack of; the Start menu button now toggles between the new Windows 8 ‘Home screen’ and the familiar Desktop.
For those who do not like the new GUI, or for who like to hack around, there is a solution. You can switch the Windows 8 Start menu with the familiar Windows 7-style menu.
This ‘hack’ comes in two flavors, for of a permanent switch by manually editing the registry, or you can toggle the effect by using a small utility; below, I will cover both.
Note that at the time of this writing, and the video tutorial above, this hack was done on a Developers Preview version of Windows 8, though you would simply need to check the registry location to see if it is still the same.
For those who would rather make the switch more permanent, or manually, follow these steps:
The effect is instantaneous; try it by clicking on the Start menu button to test
Using a free utility, you can easily switch between the new ‘Metro UI’ and the more traditional Start menu we are more familiar with. It is an executable, no installation process, so place it where you would like and possibly add a shortcut to the Taskbar.
When you first run the utility, you most likely will be prompted to install Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5.1. You will need your original installation disk, mounted image, or access to Windows Update via the Internet. Of interest, this shows Microsoft has elected to only install needed frameworks, so they are not running concurrently without the needlessly; though this may only be for the Preview, and may change upon final release.
The utility, uniquely named Windows 8 Start Menu Toggle, is free, and it is the only aspect of Windows 8 it changes. Basically, it automatically does what we discovered how to do above: Windows 8 Start Menu Toggle ~Solo-Dev. The developer stated,
My first Windows 8 app! It allows you to toggle between the Metro Start screen and the Classic start menu in Windows 8 Developer Preview. WINDOWS 8 ONLY. RUN AS ADMIN. (Win 8 may require you to download and install the .Net 3.5.1 runtimes). ~Solo-Dev
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