Freeware to add Start Button & Menu to Windows 8

Windows 8 introduces the Start Screen instead of the traditional Start Menu, which most Windows users have been used too, for years and years! While most have liked the Start Screen, there are some who have not. We will discuss today a few free software that will – sort of – add the Start Menu and the Start Button to Windows 8.

While personally, I may not want to use these freeware, I am sure that this post will interest those who are missing the start menu or start button in Windows 8.

Start Button for Windows 8

1. Classic Shell

Classic Shell is a popular software many use on Windows 7 too, to get the classic start menu back or to add Up button, show title bar, get classic feel, etc, in Windows 7 explorer. Classic Shell adds a new customizable start button and a working start menu to Windows 8. Probably your best bet would be to use this program first and see if it suits you, before trying the others.

2. StartMenu8

The Start menu of Iobit StartMenu8 is very identical to the start menu of the Windows 7. One good feature  about the program is it lets users automatically skip the Metro UI screen and immediately gain access to the desktop when Windows 8 loads. Also, it offers an option to directly switch to the Start Screen via its ‘Switch to Metro’ option.

3. StartMenu 7

There are some utilities out there in the market that are capable of delivering both, the feel and look of Windows Start Menu. One such utility is StartMenu 7. The application allows you to right-click on shortcuts but does not support the drag and drop feature.

The basic version of the program can be downloaded free. If you like getting more features, you can buy the Pro version which costs around $20.

4. ViStart

ViStart is a start menu replacement for Windows, and works on Windows 8 too. It provides shortcuts to Computer,  Documents, Pictures, Music, Videos, Control Panel, the Run command and the Network. The left side includes the Internet browser, the email client, the most recent ten programs that you used and the list of all the programs installed on your computer – and more.

While installing ViStart, you may want to decline offers to install RegClean or Babylon toolbar, etc.

5.  MetroStart8

Well MetroStart8 is simply a button which launches the start screen. If you like to have a button on your taskbar to launch the start menu/start screen, then this one is for you. It doesn’t do much else as I said, except launch the start screen in Windows 8. It is a small executable, which you have to pin to your task bar like any other program. It comes in five different flavors, and it’s distributed in both 32 and 64 Bit channels.

6. Start8

Start8 too tries to bring the Start menu back to Windows 8. It adds Start Menu to the Windows 8 taskbar, enables quick access and searching of your installed applications, adds Run option via right-click menu, adds Shutdown… option via right-click menu and lets you choose a custom Start button image.

7. Start Menu X


Start Menu X is an app that gets the Start button and its menu back to Windows 8. The freeware app is a replacement of the system menu for professionals. Start Menu X offers flexible configuration. How? It adds a Start button that can be customized as per one’s can create your own start button and use it in Windows 8 as the application is compatible with Windows 8.

8. StartW8

StartW8 is yet another option that can also make your PC directly login todesktop, rather than the Start Menu. The start menu embeds amazingly into the taskbar as well as in the system. Once you’ve installed this start menu freeware, whenever you press the ‘Win’ key from your keyboard, you would not be taken to the start screen, but StartW8 will pop out.

9. Windows8 Start Button


The Windows 8 StartButton’s menu displays commands for search, run, and Help. Besides, it has a Shut Down option too. Right-clicking on the orb brings up the application settings. You can select a particular Start menu style.

10. Windows8 Start Menu gadget

If you’d like to switch between the Windows 8 style start menu and Windows 7 style classic start menu, you can do so in a click, with the help of this desktop gadget.  Windows8 Start Menu gadget for Windows 8 makes it easy for you to effect the change. In one click you will able to change from the Windows 8 start menu to the Windows 7 start menu and vice versa.

11. Pokki

Pokki lets you add Start Button, Start Menu, Web apps and Gadgets to Windows 8 desktop. You can use Pokki as a social network tool, entertainment tool, business application or a utility. Pokki has a really cool interface, without much GUI components on it. Moreoverthe gadgets that install on Pokki have an awesome interface too.

12. Power8


Power 8 is another start menu replacer for Windows 8, styled and integrated inside taskbar. When you use this tool, you do not need to patch system files or add hooks over system objects. No  app-init DLLs; additional services, drivers,  registry keys, etc are added. It is an open source project.

13. PSMenu or  Portable Start Menu

PSMenu or  Portable Start Menu lets you launch important tools and applications quickly from the System Tray of your Windows PC. While it may not exactly be a Windows 8 start menu offering, this tool can find use on Windows 8 computers too.

14. Start Menu 8

Start Menu 8 is another Start Menu offering for Windows 8, that provides a quick and convenient way for users to bring back both the Windows Start Menu and the Start button, while also disabling things like Windows 8 Hot Corners, the Metro Sidebar and hot keys.

15. Spencer

Spencer brings back the Classic Windows XP Start Menu to Windows 8. It is a free tool which lets you enjoy the Windows XP style classic Start menu in your Windows 8 PC.

Well, these are some freeware which try to – sort of – add the start menu to Windows 8. Take your pick and let us know your favorite!

My advice? Stop fighting the start screen and get used to it. Most of these freeware will not offer the same functionality, that you were used to in Windows 7. It would be nice if Microsoft were to give users options to choose the start screen or the start menu, but as ofdate, it doesn’t look like Microsoft is going to do away with the start screen.

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.