One of the biggest complaints so far about Windows 8 is the removal of the start button. This is the little Windows button on the bottom left of your Windows screen which launchs a menu listing the programs available on your computer. While I can understand Microsoft’s desire to lure you into their new Metro interface the removal of the classic start button is a mystery to me. Microsoft had to know that several free add-ons making a start button available would be quickly released. After only a couple of weeks post Windows 8 launch several start button applications have indeed been made available (for free).
My favorite is, “Start Menu 8”. The software is designed to be as flexible as you need when setting up your own personalized start menu. You could almost use Start Menu 8 as a complete fullscreen replacement for the desktop, though that is certainly not the intended purpose. Start Menu 8 includes a somewhat unique feature, in that it allows the computer to boot straight to the desktop to give the whole experience a feel that is much more like “traditional” Windows experiences. Microsoft probably really hates this as it allow you to avoid the Metro interface altogether on boot.
The design is such that you should never feel the need to use the Windows 8 Start screen at all. Your programs, settings, and folder system are all accessible here, as well as all the Control Panel features and screen controls. Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from using the Windows 8 Start screen and switching between the two experiences is pretty simple, which is what I reccomend. Pressing the Windows key on the keyboard will still return you to the new Windows 8 Start, which neatly allows you to emplore both experiences.
Start Menu 8 is available for free, but there are no shortage of hooks in the program to try and get you to upgrade to the pro version.