Classic Shell Adds A Start Menu Back To Windows 8

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 2, 2012
Updated • Oct 29, 2012
Software, Windows, Windows 8

With Windows 8 shipping without a start menu, third party solutions are starting to be released to fill the gap for users who prefer to use a start menu in Microsoft's upcoming operating system. We already reviewed Start8, a third party app that is bringing a version of the Metro start page to the desktop front of the operating system.

The latest program to add start menu support back to Windows 8 is Classic Shell, a collection of programs that is bringing classic Windows interfaces back to versions of Windows where they have been removed in.

Classic Shell

Classic Shell has been updated recently, and with the release comes the long awaited classic start menu that it adds back to the Windows 8 operating system. The feature is currently supporting the Windows 8 Customer Preview released earlier this year, and it is likely that the program's developers will add support for the final version as well once it is released by Microsoft.

classic start menu windows 8

Make sure you keep the start menu option selected during installation to add the menu to the Windows 8 system. The program adds the start menu orb to the system, which opens the start menu when clicked on (or if you tap on the Windows key). Here you get the search and shutdown options, as well as links to all installed programs, recent documents, settings, the run command and Windows Update. The menu looks like the classic Windows XP start menu, and not like the start menus you see in Vista or Windows 7.

The start menu feels very responsive, even on computer systems that are a bit on the weaker side performance wise.

Classic Shell ships with three additional components that can change some program behavior and looks under Windows 8 (and previous versions of Windows as well). You can install Classic IE9, which modifies Internet Explorer 9 in several way. The plugin adds a title bar to the browser so that you can read the title of the web page all the time. It also displays the security zone and the loading progress in the browser's status bar again.

Classic Copy UI and Classic Explorer change the file handing in Windows in a number of ways.

Classic Shell is a godsend for Windows users who do not want the Metro interface, and prefer Microsoft would ship the OS without it in first place.

Update: The latest Classic Shell update brings support for Windows Store apps to the start menu. The program is listing all installed apps in a folder in the start menu so that they can be launched from there immediately.


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  1. pcunite said on February 10, 2014 at 11:04 pm

    ClassicShell solves a big problem with navigation and initial intro. I’m using FileSearchEX to fix the search. Windows 8 is so fast so all in all a good upgrade for some.

  2. Jonny said on November 6, 2012 at 3:24 am

    Might not work for everyone, but it worked for me. I need that shut down menu without having to hunt for it. I also need a desktop button and now I have it.

    I had thought about just taking my laptop back and getting one that had W7 on it. Thanks to this site, I don’t have to do that. My opinion on what MS has put out is of no relevance to anyone but me, but for 20 years I have become accustomed to a certain platform and while some might think it better, it should include a “revert” button, similar to what XP had so you could use a similar version of the previous one.

    W8 is an app based OS and for desktop users, we need an alternative. This site seems to provide that.

    Thank you for your info and tips.

  3. xpclient said on April 5, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    In case you want to add the original Windows orb back instead of the Classic Shell orb, use this image: in the Start Menu settings -> Start button tab. :)

  4. kevin said on April 4, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    The software is clearly outstanding thanks.

  5. SCBright said on April 3, 2012 at 1:20 am

    A mix of XP and Vista/7? Give me a break, this only a band-aid…

    MS, for God’s sake, bring back the Start Menu! Everybody loves it!

  6. ilev said on April 2, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    And if you want your xp/vista/7 to look like Windows 8, there are new version for
    Windows 8 Transformation/UX Pack 4.0

  7. bazza said on April 2, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    More BS

  8. Jon said on April 2, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    SICK! I knew it was only a matter of time before the Classic Shell author tackled Windows 8. Given how well it’s worked in Windows 7, I’d venture to say one will probably not find a better solution for a Windows 8 Start menu restorer. I can’t wait to try it out.

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