Q: I recently upgraded my computer to a Windows 8 system, and so far I like the new operating system. As suggested by many articles, I find that I can do most everything on Windows 8 without the old Start button, but I still would like to have the Windows 7-style Start button appear as an option. Can you please tell me if this can be done, and if so, how?
A: Microsoft decided to remove the Start button from Windows 8 after research showed that users seldom used the Start button, except to launch common tools such as Control Panel and Accessories, which can be launched via other common methods. For example, many users prefer to launch their applications via the Windows Quick Launch menu or via icon-based shortcuts set up on the desktop or in various folders. Windows 8 aptly accommodates these alternative launch methods.
However, if you would still like to restore the old Start button on your Windows 8 computer, you can do so by installing the third-party solution Classic Shell 3.6.5 for Windows 8 (classicshell.sourceforge.net). Classic Shell is a free utility that restores your Start button and provides many options for customizing your Windows 8 menus and toolbars. To use this utility, visit the Classic Shell website and click the Download Now! button. When prompted, select Save and Run and then click through the installation dialog boxes to complete the installation.
Once installed, a shell-shaped Start button (pictured above) appears, and it works similar to the Windows 7 Start button. As options, Classic Shell also offers setting adjustments for displaying Windows Vista- or XP-style Start buttons, and for controlling other visual effects and menus related to Windows folders, Explorer windows, and the Internet Explorer browser. I admit that I struggled a bit navigating Windows 8 until I installed Classic Shell; this utility helped me transition to the new operating system with minimal effort. Note: As alternatives, you could also restore the Windows 8 Start button by installing StartButton for Windows 8 (free) (windows8startbutton.com) or Start8 from Stardock ($4.99) (stardock.com/products/start8).