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In Pictures: 5 tricks to restore the Windows 8 Start menu

As everybody knows, the Start button is not included in Windows 8, and Microsoft has vowed not to put it back. If you’d rather not be forced to use the full-screen, tile-based UI, called Modern, here are five alternative programs that install on Windows 8.

  • As everybody knows, the Start button is not included in Windows 8, and Microsoft has vowed not to put it back. If you’d rather not be forced to use the full-screen, tile-based UI, called Modern, here are five alternative programs that install on Windows 8.

  • Classic Shell Developer: Ivo Beltchev Price: Free Classic Shell was originally designed to restore certain features and functionalities of the Start menu UI found in Windows XP, but which were removed from Windows Vista and Windows 7. It also happened to work with early release versions of Windows 8, letting you use a facsimile of the old-school Start menu. So there’s been renewed interest by the public for Classic Shell, and its developer has maintained compatibility with the current Windows 8 releases.

  • Pokki Developer: SweetLabs Price: Free Pokki is a so-called app store -- upon installation, it places its branded icon to the left of the taskbar in Windows 8’s Desktop Mode environment. Click the icon and a panel pops open in which you can browse through, search for, and install a variety of apps. But there’s an option within the Pokki program which will switch on a Start menu-style UI that will let you launch traditional Windows apps. When you click the Pokki icon with this option on, it then works like a Start button for Windows 8.

  • RetroUI Developer: Thinix Price: $4.95 RetroUI is a user-interface melding of Modern with the old Windows Start menu. This program places its Start button and the Windows 8 Desktop Mode’s taskbar along the bottom of the Modern app-launcher menu. Clicking RetroUI’s Start button opens a panel for launching your applications, but the overall design is based on large rectangle and square panels, so it doesn’t look as familiar. RetroUI appears to have been devised to play nice still with a touchscreen for mobile device users.

  • Start8 Developer: Stardock Price: $4.99 Stardock has made a cottage industry over the years developing software that allows users to customize the Windows interface. So it was expected that among their new products for Windows 8 would be one that plugs in a Start menu. The program is very polished -- it truly looks and works as if it could have been designed by Microsoft itself. Start8’s appearance meshes in with that of Windows 8’s Desktop Mode, right down to Start button logos that could be official Windows brand ones.

  • StartMenu8 Developer: IOBit Price: Free StartMenu8 mimics what a Start menu UI might plausibly look like in Windows 8. Unlike Start8, StartMenu8 doesn’t directly merge aspects of the Modern menu into the old Start menu. But it lets you set your Windows 8 computer to boot into Desktop Mode, skipping over the Modern menu, and, even better, the program is free.

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