Staff Picks Windows 8 – Get your start menu back

Even if Windows 7 continues to have the lion's share of the market with nearly 50% of users, Windows 8 (combined with Windows 8.1) has just passed the 10% mark in January 2014. So as more and more users adopt the new Microsoft OS, they must deal with the absence of the Start button (Windows 8) or an austere Start button that basically allows "switching" between the Modern UI menu (with the famous tiles) and the traditional Desktop interface (Windows 8.1).
Thankfully many publishers have taken advantage of this loophole to offer their own Start menu. It is impossible to present them all here. So we have selected four apps, all very different from each other, as they seem able to meet all the needs that a Windows user can have when searching for a program or document.

Revive your Start Menu

Start Menu Reviver is probably the most unique of all the Start menus that we tested. As its name implies, Start Menu Reviver does not just add a Start menu, it "revives" it. This software has indeed taken full advantage of the "look & feel" Modern UI to integrate it in a fabulous interface that is nevertheless extremely convenient. It is possible to include in this Start menu up to 32 tiles, each containing a shortcut to your programs, documents and favorite folders. To this is added a few icons that allow direct access to some Windows features : Windows Settings, Network, Search, Run, and finally Apps which will bring up a new menu showing all the programs installed on your PC according to different criteria (shows all apps, new apps, desktop app, Start Menu folder, custom ... ). The elegance of the interface due to the tiling scheme also makes Start Menu Reviver the only Start menu really suited to a touchscreen device.
Start Menu Reviver also offers other functions with, among others, the ability to stop, pause or restart your system, a powerful search function, the ability when starting your PC to go to the standard screen of Windows 8 to directly access the traditional desktop while leaving you the possibility to return to it later if necessary, the choice of the design of the Start button, the ability to create tiles for quick and easy access to your programs or favorite websites etc..
So in brief, Start Menu Reviver offers a full Start menu, is entirely free and works even for Windows 7 users.

Get your Start menu back and more.

Pokki knew very well how to exploit the need created by the disappearance of the Start button on Windows 8 by providing an app able to present all the shortcuts available in the classic Start menu, while also providing access to almost all the features of your system via the shortcut Control Panel (do not forget to check that the option "Use Pokki as my Start Menu" is selected during installation). The buttons to turn off, restart or pause your system are naturally present, with an additional option to switch to the Modern UI interface. The configuration options allow you to customize your Start menu by changing the theme, the Start menu icon or by turning off the "hot corners" option of Windows 8.
Another interesting feature of Pokki is the ability to designate apps as favorites. In all the menus, a star is located next to the program name. Just click on the star (it turns yellow) for the program to be immediately listed in the Favorites menu. It couldn't be more easy. So Pokki is much more complete and elegant than the traditional Start menu of Windows 7 and its predecessors.
Finally, one of the things that make Pokki unique is its ability to provide an App Store, from which you can easily install many apps. In most cases, they are web apps such as Twitter or Facebook which can run directly in a "Pokki" window straight on your desktop, but recently the desktop apps such as Firefox or 7-zip also made their appearance as options.
If you are looking for more than just a Start menu, there is no doubt that Pokki for Windows has all the arguments to seduce you. Moreover, the PC manufacturer Lenovo was the first on the starting blocks when signing a partnership with Pokki to deliver its new Windows machines with Pokki 8.1 pre-installed. So follow their example, you know you want to!

Simple Start Menu for Windows 8

StartW8 is a free and small program that focuses on the basics, allowing you to add a Windows 8 Start menu. StartW8 is an intuitive app that you can quickly and easily configure and it enables you to find your traditional Start menu in a few clicks.
There is no issue here of having to choose among dozens of configuration options that might alienate some new users. At the end of the installation, a configuration window allows you to choose your language and decide if you want to go directly to the desktop interface or the new Windows 8 home screen. You can disable certain functions that are Windows 8 features such as "Charm Bar" or change the default behavior of the "StartW8" power button. Also, the "Menu items" section allows the selection of elements (personal Files, Documents, Videos, Music, Pictures, etc.) that will appear on the right column of the Start menu. The interface of StartW8 is simple and effective, quite similar to the Windows 7 Start menu with the search function, shortcuts to the last programs used, the Stop, pause or restart the system buttons and the list of all installed apps. In brief, StartW8 is ideal to get back to your old habits without complicating your life.

Powerful Start Menu for Windows

If you want to have a Start menu strictly identical to those found on previous versions of Windows, Classic Shell is definitely the program for you. At the end of the installation, the Start menu appears and gives you the choice between three types of interface: classic, classic with 2 columns and "Windows 7 style".
After this, you will get back on familiar grounds with all the usual features of the "standard" Start menu of Windows: search, shortcuts to frequently used programs, Windows menus, logout, sleep, restart, shutdown and naturally the link "All Programs" with all the software installed on your PC (traditional and Modern UI apps). Attention! The "Windows" key now displays the traditional desktop. Access to the home screen of the Modern UI will be done via the "Charm Bar" in Windows 8.
Classic Shell has a very powerful setup menu where you can configure almost any item on the Start menu according to your needs (languages, skins, general behavior, icon of the Start button, animation and configuration of the menus, disabling the "Charm Bar" etc.). Classic Shell also offers additional features with the option to add toolbars in Windows Explorer and Internet Explorer.
Classic Shell offers a very detailed online help (but only in English), uses very few resources and even gives you commands that enable you to program "hotkeys" (for example to switch to Windows 8 home screen without using the "Charm Bar"). So it would seem silly not to take advantage of all the perks that Classic Shell gives you.