Windows 8 has some pretty cool things going for it, but it’s become incredibly controversial because of one major change: the Start menu is completely gone. Luckily, there are a ton of programs out there that bring it back. Here are three of our favorites.
Start8 Fits In Perfectly with Windows 8
Start8 is our favorite of the bunch. For just $5, you get a full-fledged Start menu replacement that fits in with Windows 8’s more “flat” theme, though you can also choose a theme with more rounded corners like the old Windows 7 start menu. You can also set the Start button to launch a small version of the Start screen, so you can get the benefits of the Start menu with the features of the new Start screen.
Start8 is also pretty configurable, letting you tweak the size of the icons, choose which shortcuts show up in the menu, and more. You can also tweak which shortcuts bring up which version of the Start menu or Start screen, as well as disable things like Windows 8 hot corners, the Charms bar, and even set Windows to go to the desktop when you first sign in. In short: it does everything you could need with the utmost simplicity, and it doesn’t feel out of place. It’s the best $5 you’ll spend on Windows 8.
Classic Shell Is Insanely Customizable
If it’s customizability you want, Classic Shellis the program you want. Classic Shell starts off looking like an old school pre-XP Windows Start menu, but you can switch to a more XP- or 7-style Start menu with the press of a button. Dive into the settings and you can tweak literally every tiny corner of your Start menu, from which shortcuts open the Start menu to which icons show up, what the Start button looks like, what the search box can look for, the fonts, and a ton more. If you’re a hardcore tweaker, this free and open source program is going to make you giggle with glee. Bonus: it’s part of Ninite, so you can install it along with all your other favorite programs at once.
Classic Shell also lets you bypass the Start screen, as well as comes with tweaks for other Windows programs like Windows Explorer, Internet Explorer, and more. It’ll even bring back some features from the old XP days.
StartMenu8 Is as Simple as They Come
If the other two options above look just a little too complicated, StartMenu8 may be more your speed. Install it, and you’ll have your old Start menu back—that’s it. It feels a little different than the others (it’s more of a popup than a menu), and it has a somewhat annoying “Send Feedback” button, but it does the job without any complicated configuration menus. The only options it has—when you right-click on the Start button—are to run it at startup and to skip the tiled Start screen. This is the best option if you just want to install something for free and get on with your day.
Start8 is by far our favorite option, but the others are quite good too. You can find a ton of other Start menu replacements out there, but these three should cover you no matter what your needs. Try them all out for yourself and see what you like best—there’s something here for everyone.
the article is originally posted on http://lifehacker.com