I don’t mind Windows 8 too much after using it for a while, but I really can’t get over the loss of the Start Menu. I know 8.1 puts a button on the lower left of the screen, but I want my menu. How can I fix it?
You raise a huge issue, one that’s the greatest complaint people have about Windows 8 and Win8.1: that the handy start menu has become a start screen and that the very concept of “everything running on the Desktop” has been reinvented to be lots of windows and some apps running within their own worlds while others still run within the Desktop environment. It’s confusing, to say the least. But Microsoft’s pretty insistent that the Start Menu no longer has a place in the world of Windows 8.
My theory, by the way, is that they’ve been too focused on the tablet and touch device experience, where the Start Screen with its different size tiles works really well. That’s good for a Win8 tablet computer, but if you have a desktop or laptop device, it’s a big leap, probably too big a leap.
And then there’s the dopey “Windows button” that showed up when we jumped from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1. All it is, however, is a shortcut to the Start Screen, so it’s rather the worst use of screen real estate ever. Windows 10 brings back the Start Menu, you’ll be glad to know, but it’s weird looking because part of it (in the current pre-release) ends up looking like the different size tiles from the Win8 Start Screen anyway. Bizarre.
Fortunately third parties have you covered, and there’s a very nice Start Menu program you can download and install on your Microsoft Windows 8 computer to restore the beloved menu. Better yet, it’s free!
To start, here’s the sad little Windows icon that Win8.1 adds to your computer:
Pretty much useless, in my opinion.
Instead, go to Classicshell.net and download the Classic Shell program:
If you’re in Chrome, for example, the download shows up on the very bottom of the Web browser window and once it’s fully downloaded, you’ll see something like this:
Click on the rightmost element of this button, where the tiny downward pointing black triangle can be found.
A menu pops up:
If you’re guessing that you should choose “Open”, you’re right. Do so.
Nice of them to be so welcoming!
Click on “Next” and follow the steps to install the Classic Shell on your system. Once fully installed, you can change the start button on the lower left (see the lowest portion of the window, below) but even if you leave the daft white Windows button, it can now launch Classic Start Menu instead.
Better, you can also decide which style of menu you prefer in the Classic Start Menu configuration window:
I decided to switch to the Aero “shell” button and use the Windows 7 style menu. Easily configured!
Notice the other tabs in the configuration window too, there are a lot of ways you can tweak and tune the program to meet your exact needs. For example, “Skin” lets you pick a different color scheme and theme:
Once you tweak things to your liking, click on the icon in the lower left and bask in the glory that is a resurrected Start Menu on your Windows 8 system:
Ahhh…. life is good again!