One of the most annoying things for new Windows 8 users to contend with is the lack of the traditional start button, seen on retail Windows computers since Windows 95 in 1995.
While I’ll happily acknowledge that removing the Windows 8 start button was a Microsoftian mistake, one that Microsoft really should rectify in any future Windows 8 SP1, Windows 8.1 or even Windows 9 OS, it’s good to see developers have come to the rescue with a range of free and paid options.
Windows 8 also has four corners which activate the new Metro Start button, multitasking and the charms bar, corners which can “get in the way” of those trying to use Windows 8 as if it were Windows 7.
Now, it has to be said that the annoyances are only annoying for a while, you do soon get used to the new Start screen, the corners and why the corners work the way they do, but even so, some people just want things the way they were, or as close to the way they were as possible, and it’s thankfully very easy to make that happen.
Naturally, this kind of article creates all kinds of comments, from people who are smart all the way to the opposite end of that spectrum, but it did help quite a few people transition to Windows 8 with ease.
One thing that caught my eye which I didn’t know at the time of writing that previous article is a slightly different Windows 8 start menu replacement called RetroUI, with this link taking you direct to the “features” part of the RetroUI page.
It does something no other Start Menu replacement does – it allows you to run Metro “full screen” apps in a window, just like any other regular Windows desktop program.
For some, this is important, for others, full-screen apps will only ever be used in full screen mode.
The cost is US $4.95 for a single-user license of RetroUI, $9.95 for a 3-user license, and the price goes up for installation on more computers, such as in companies etc.
The other most well-known Start Menu replacement is called Classic Shell, which is free to download and use permanently, giving you a fabulous range of options (should you wish to dig that deeply).
Naturally, the developer hopes you might make a donation via paypal if you wish to reward him for his work, but it’s up to you.
You’ll find a range of other free and paid Start Menu replacements at this “how to geek” article.
However, the thing that prompted this article today was a special deal from the Stardock people, which lets you buy the $4.99 Start8 app and the similarly priced Decor8 app for a total of US $7.99.
Start8 is Stardock’s start menu replacement, while Decor8 is an app that lets you change the background images and colour schemes of the Win 8 “metro” interface to whatever you want.
A link I posted here only appears to work when clicked from the email that Stardock sent me, so the only way to get this deal is likely to sign up for Stardock's email newsletter, as I've looked and there seems to be no other way to activate this deal.
However, Stardock seems to send out a note to trial users that their 7-day Start8 trial is about to expire, with a 20% discount offered, as seen here. Stardock might offer something similar for Decor8, but you'd have to download the free trial versions to find out.
Best of luck to you whichever Windows 8 start menu replacement you choose!