Get The Start Menu Back In Windows 8

Get The Start Menu Back In Windows 8

Previous builds of Windows 8 featured a registry setting that made switching back to a Windows 7-style interface, complete with Start Menu, a simple task. Sadly, this tweak doesn’t work in the recently released Consumer Preview. However, there is a way of getting it back, if you don’t mind using a third-party tool.

Image: LeeSoft.

ViStart began life as a app for Windows XP that provided a Vista-style Start Menu for the older operating system. It’s since grown to include a bevy of customisation features and enhancements, and it can now be used to replace Microsoft’s own implementation in Windows Vista and 7. The program is compatible with Windows 8, but you’ll need to make a small adjustment once it’s installed to fix a visual anomaly related to overlapping taskbar icons.

According to, these are the steps you should follow after installing ViStart:

  • Create a new folder on the desktop or another location.
  • Right-click the Windows Taskbar and select Toolbars > New Toolbar from the context menu. Select the newly created folder. You will notice that the new toolbar is placed on the right end of the taskbar.
  • Right-click the taskbar again and select Lock The Taskbar. This unlocks the Windows Taskbar so that you can move the taskbar elements around.
  • Now drag the new toolbar to the very left of the screen so that starts before the original toolbar with the pinned taskbar items.
  • Right-click the taskbar again and uncheck Show Text and Show title in the context menu.
  • Now move the original toolbar with a double-click on the separator near the start menu orb.

The Windows key will also be remapped from the Metro interface to the Start Menu.

Note that the bundled app that attempts to install itself with ViStart can be safely skipped. ViStart itself can be downloaded here.

If you give the app a try, let us know how it goes in the comments.

Start Menu, Windows 7 Start Menu [LeeSoft, via AddictiveTips and]


  • Even if you deselect the optional extras, search etc. it installs it anyway. Not a very useful tool, it works but too much messing around to get it right. Think I’ll try and track down the reg edit fix instead.

  • With a bit of luck and some cajoling by users, hopefully Microsoft will relent and replace the start menu for PC users. As it is, I find the new Metro is perfect for touch screens, but a bit tedious for regular PC’s.

    • If you place the mouse pointer in the lower left corner of the screen, when the “Start Screen” image appears, right click and you will find many options e.g. Control Panel, Run, Windows Explorer etc.. Select “Search” and you will be taken to a huge “Start Menu” where you’ll find your programs. It was frustrating at first, but I’m beginning to lke this better.

      • Why be an ass about it PHu55y? Many people do not like the way Win 7 or 8 feels, so why not have the ability to make it look and behave exactly like XP, but with the benefits (?) of Win 7 or 8?

  • Well, I know it’s only been a couple of days but not having the start menu is a big mistake for Microsoft. Hopefully they will wake up and return it, but ’till then I’m going back to 7. You could switch it in the Dev, I just don’t understand why they stopped it?

    • .. windows xp wont run on a 386 friend. And I still have a xp machine. grant it, i used it strictly as a media center pc OS, and usually never leave XBMC, but xp has its uses.

  • I am giving Metro a go, and will see how it goes, it is OK with a multi-touch touch pad, so you can use 2 finger swipe to scroll Metro, which is better than using that stupid scroll bar thing, without multi-touch, it is a horrible interface.

    If you do not like metro and want an option for the old start menu, you must complain to MS, no complaints to MS, then they can rightly think there is no problem.

  • I should also add, that a lot of companies will not like metro, in my experiences as a systems integrator, a lot of companies refused to update to the XP style start menu, and forced the old NT style start menu for many years.

    So I cannot see these same customers, which make up a very large portion of MS install base for Windows, moving to Windows 8 and forcing their users to use the Metro interface, they will want an option to decide if they use Metro or Start Menu.

    While I like some of the features of Windows 8, especially having Hyper-V built in (no more third party hypervisors), this is a very bad move by MS to force this interface on users, and Windows 8 could end up being a flop on the scale of Vista, because the reluctance of corporate customers taking up Vista is one of the major reasons it was a very big flop (as well as being a dog of a product).

  • Metro may be kind of OK for touchscreens, but sucks when using a mouse. I really hate not being able to terminate apps in Metro. They’re going down the iOS route where you can’t manage what apps you have running easily. (You never close an app, just leave it running, and baybe it will or won’t be there when you come back to it.)
    Just remember, every second Windows version is a flop (ME, Vista), so Win8 just preserves the pattern.

  • Download the consumer preview and load into Virtual BOx, then get used to the desktop as an app. I can now do almost everything quicker and rarely need to use a mouse. Win Key alone and in conjunction with other keys is very slick, no need to close apps at shutodwn or as your work. Wiin 8 = Winner (It is not like going from DOS to win 3 you ludites)

  • Without the Start menu, or a Run box, there seems to be no easy way to get to the programs menu… I have never been big on desktop clutter – thus I have few shortcut icons. Unless you know where to browse in order to find the “exe” file – How are we supposed to launch things like Word, Excel, or the command line?

    • It’s pretty simple and is exactly how one would launch programs in Windows 7. Hit the Win key and start typing the name of the app. Hit enter and it’ll run. Most of the time you don’t even need to type the full name of the app. Like in your examples, you’d hit:

      Win key > Word > Enter.
      Win key > Excel > Enter.
      Win key > cmd > Enter.

      Simple. Easy. And you never have to use your mouse to do it.

  • This installs a workable start button, the only problem is it has some bad links and is not programmable (Right Click). It is better than dealing with Metro.

  • Microsoft has completely removed the Start Menu in Windows 8. We started a petition to try and get the start menu back or even just a choice between the Start Menu and Start Screen and we need all the help we can get (signatures) to accomplish this almost impossible task. When we have enough signatures we will let Microsoft know and see if they actually listen to their users.

    Please visit the following link, it is a legitimate petition and we hope it will make a difference. Go here, to sign the petition and help get the Start Menu back. I will only post this once and not spam your blog, because being a blogger myself I do know how irritating spam can be. Even if you do not want to sign it, please share this link to the petition.

  • Initially I wasn’t keen on the Start screen, but after a couple of days it is really starting to grow on me. I have 4 monitors, and have the start screen on the left monitor, and the desktop on the other monitors.

    Make sure you learn the existing and new windows hotkeys.

    eg. WINKEY + R – still shows the Run command
    WINKEY + X – the new popup menu for system commands
    WINKEY + . – move the start screen between monitors

    I now have all my desktop apps installed on Win 8, and don’t have a single icon on my desktop – just pinned all the desktop apps I use to the start screen.

    Also, use your mouse wheel to scroll the start screen.

    Give it a try, learn the shortcuts, it might just grow on you like it has with me.

  • Vin move cursor to lower left corner – settings – Power – shutdown. You can also google “create shutdown tile windows 8” and find the easy way-

  • I find it quite funny that people cant figure out that the metro start screen is the old start menu but a better version.
    Everyone complains about not having the start menu and how hard it is with a keyboard and mouse.
    Hit win key -> start screen, click tile to start app.
    Not much different to before, except now we have bigger hit targets(easier for touch AND mouse) and the tiles update to show additional information.
    I just wish all the drivers I need hurry up and get released for it.

  • I can’t believe how ridiculous the preloaded software (if you can even call it that, should be called the crap we are forcing on our customers) has gone. Just purchased a new win8 machine that claims 500GB HDD but with all the junk programs there is only 310GB remaining. I want my msconfig & complete program list like xp so I can uninstall all the crap. Also you can’t do anything as far as personalizing it until you activate & even then it forces you to use a Microsoft acct to set up email. I can’t even figure out how to set up ie (home page favorites etc…) I get the idea of it where tablets & touch screens are concerned but for a laptop w/o touch it sucks. & for some reason nothing I plug in to USB ports are even being recognized. I don’t know if I turned some feature off inadvertently but my external HDD’s USB mouse memory flash drives etc are not even recognized. Also we have used an air card for years but now we are having to change internet access devices since none available from our provider are compatible w/ Windows 8. I am no expert but I consider myself above average as far as understanding & adapting to new tech but so far I am just very frustrated. Boo Windows 8.

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