After my first installation of Windows 8, I was a bit disappointed by its lack of the classic Windows start button and menu. After performing some research, I found a few options that could give that familiar look. Among them, Classic Shell seems to be the best application available to date. Classic Shell offers the same functionality of the classic Windows start menu, but it is 'open source' and completely free. A full list of the Frequently Asked Questions about Classic Shell is available on the application's web site.
In order to install this software, Download Classic Shell to a directory location where you can easily find it later. Then install the program by double clicking on the 'downloaded file' option and follow the instructions on the screen. There is no malware or hidden toolbars in this software, so you can choose the default options without fear of adding any additional nuisance-ware to your computer in the installation process.
Once you have completed the installation, log off of your computer. When you log on next time, you will see the familiar windows desktop instead of Window 8's tile start menu. The classic start menu will appear on your taskbar's left side where the start button traditionally would be, and it offers a variety of options for you to further customize your experience.
I recommend clicking on the bottom option to enable all of Classic Shell's settings. Then navigate to the Windows 8 Settings tab and set the option called "Disable active corners" to 'All'. This will prevent the screen from activating the sidebar menu when you navigate the mouse to a corner. I've found that this makes the desktop less quirky since most of us will unintentionally hit the edges when working with applications.
Under the "Start Menu Style" tab there are several options to change the look of your start menu. I prefer the default, but it's nice to have these options available if you wanted to revert to a Windows 7 or Windows XP style start menu.
There's also an option under the tab called "Skin" where it's possible to change the look of the menu. Smoked glass is my favorite look. If you decide to use it as I have, I recommend unchecking the box called "Reduce Glass Color" as it will enable the menu to better integrate its color-scheme with the Windows theme.
About the author
Alexander G. Chamandy is a seasoned information technology professional with more than two decades of experience in the industry. He is a managing member of Envescent, LLC, a business IT solutions provider serving the Washington, DC area.