One of the easy criticisms of Microsoft’s Windows 8 is the missing Start Menu button. There are a few annoyances associated with the changes made in this version of the operating system but the missing Start button seems like the low-hanging fruit when you realize there are people out there that will see this as a steep learning curve. Microsoft has stood firm on the Start button becoming extinct. Fortunately, for those that like the classic Start Menu, Stardock has a program called Start8 that is in beta/free that restores the Start Menu to Windows 8.
The bottom left corner of your screen in Windows 8 by default just has your pinned programs on the task bar.
To be fair, if you get into the right range of pixels, you’ll activate the hot corner to show a Start button. Clicking that will bring up the full screen formerly-named Metro Start Menu. But you can get there faster by pressing the Windows key on your keyboard. Again, shortcut keys in Windows 8 seem like the means to using your PC efficiently.
Start8 by Stardock is available in their free/beta section. To download the application, you click the download link and give them your e-mail where they will send you a link to download the 2.5MB installer.
Once installed, you’ll see the Windows 7 style orb back in the lower-left corner. When you click on it, the menu will pop up and it behaves much like you would expect in Windows 7.
When you right-click the orb, you’ll see a few options. For example, Start8 can automatically take you to the Desktop instead of the Metro-style Start menu when you login. You can also disable the hot corners or pick a range of different images for the button instead of the Windows orb. It also gives you quick access to the Run and shutdown menus. If you just want the Start Button to trigger the Windows 8 Metro-style Start menu, you can uncheck the “Use the classic style startmenu” option.
I’m torn. I use a variety of computers in my day-to-day IT work, that I don’t want to get used to the Start8 app just to not have it on the majority of PCs I use. However, I can’t help but see the usefulness of it (for one thing I can shutdown/restart the computer in a lot fewer clicks) and the wide variety of ways Microsoft could have implemented the Start Button to keep a lot of their users happy. I think the hot corners feature will have a problem with adoption since the interface is invisible until you put your mouse in the right location.
Will Start8 remain free? How much could Stardock charge for it? That will be interesting to see how much the classic Start Button/Menu is worth to some people.