9 Windows Start menus for Windows 8
These free and low-cost utilities bring a classic Windows Start menu -- and respite from Metro annoyances -- to Windows 8
RetroUI is another app that doesn't merely resurrect the classic Start menu, but tries to one-up it, with mixed results. Clicking the RetroUI Taskbar icon brings up a tile grid that's reminiscent of the Windows 8 Start screen (above), but occupies much less screen space and comes outfitted with fly-outs that borrow from the original Start menu (Libraries, Computer, Control Panel). Also included are handy shortcuts to the Modern UI Task Switcher and Charms bar. Another Taskbar icon opens an icon-grid view that displays only Modern UI apps and major system locations.
The behavior of the RetroUI menu takes a little sorting out. Legacy desktop apps at first appear only in the Programs fly-out, but they can be pinned to the tile grid. There's no "pin to" option added to right-click in Explorer, though, and Search is still only done through the Modern UI interface. But there is a nice feature that forces the Taskbar to show up on the Start screen and when Modern UI apps are running, which no other program shown here could do.
Cost: Free 7-day trial; pricing starts at $4.95 per seat
ViStart offers little beyond the re-creation of the vintage Start menu's look and behavior. It works well, but doesn't provide much more than the most basic behavior. For instance, there's no right-click Explorer integration to allow apps to be pinned to the menu.
The options within the program itself are also minimal. You can change the orb image and override the Windows key behavior, but that's about it. If you want to make any other major changes to the program's behavior, you have to edit the program's XML configuration file. The Start button and menu are skinnable, however, and a number of skins have already been developed for the app.
StartW8 is a good classic Start menu re-creation, albeit with the "flat" Windows 8 visual style, no orb graphic, and few customization options. It lets you skip directly to the desktop after logging in, but it doesn't disable charms or hot corners (not even the Start screen hot corner). StartW8 also lacks Explorer right-click integration. Pinning programs to the Start menu is difficult to figure out as well. On the plus side, StartW8 does a decent job of restoring the classic Search functionality.
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