It took me a little while to adapt, but I soon grew to find the Vista start menu far more useful and productive then XP's ever was. Granted I've read the comments of a lot of people who disagree, but I personally think the integrated search has again made the Windows start menu my main point of access to all my programs.
Previously I had used a whole combination of toolbars and application launchers so it was a welcome change to remove some of this clutter.
One of the notable alternatives to pop up was the Vista Start Menu, a replacement for both the XP and Vista menus. Developer Dennis Nazarenko created it because he says:
"I have always found the Start Menu in Windows to be inconvenient to use. In the new Windows Vista it's been made more attractive but more inconvenient than even before!"
His replacement is definitely a more useful option for XP but I would never recommend using it in Vista, it would be somewhat of a step backwards.
In fact you can actually get the Vista Start Menu in XP, thanks to the Vista Start Menu Emulator by Folgelsoft. It is a completely accurate version of the Vista start menu for XP, and I think it's very impressive. In fact I on my XP computer I love using this application as it functions almost identically to the real thing and is a dead ringer looks-wise.
The performance is also impressive, no lag or slow down compared to the default menu and it loads very fast on the initial login. The integrated search is almost instant, and better in some ways then Vista, but that's becuase the VSME only searches the shortcuts within the menu itself. Vista indexes the entire system.
So if you want to give the new start menu a try without upgrading then this is how you can do it. Admittedly it looks a bit funny when used with the Luna theme as it's black and transparent, but you can always skin your desktop to match.
Update: The Vista Start Menu Emulator homepage is no longer available. We have uploaded the last public version of the software program to our servers. You can download it here: [Download not found]
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.