Customizing the Start Screen on Windows 8

One of the more controversial and debated updates in Windows 8 is the overhauled Start screen – and the absence of the old Start Menu button. The Start screen is among the most ambitious changes that have been made with the new version of Windows. While many users and reviewers have found themselves missing the old Start Menu, the fact is that there are several ways to customize the Windows 8 Start screen to match your preferences.

The new Start screen certainly has plenty of proponents, but some users will prefer the simplicity and familiarity of the old Start menu button in the lower left corner. For those who want to get the Window Start Menu back, there are a number of options out there.


(image courtesy of


Developed by SweetLabs, Pokki for Windows 8 allows access to all folders, programs, and files from a cleanly designed start menu. Users can download Pokki for free, and the development team is continuing to release new updates to the software.

Start 8

With Stardock’s Start 8 software, you are able to bypass the Windows 8 Start Screen and skip right to the desktop. Start8 has received strong reviews from place such as Forbes , and with a free trial for new users, there’s no risk in testing it out.


Power8 is another option that lets you replace the Start menu on Windows 8. With Power8, you have the old start menu at the lower left, which allows you to access all folders, applications and programs. You can also choose among several options that allow you to customize the software by right-clicking on the menu button.

Classic Shell

Classic Shell brings the return of numerous features from older versions of Windows. Included in these features is the classic start menu. Available as a free download, Classic Shell gives users the shortcuts from previous version, familiar search fields, hibernate and shut down icons, and Run command. Users can choose between basic and advanced versions. The right choice for you will depend on how much customization you are looking to do.

The downloads listed above represent just a few of the options available. Some of the other downloads that allow users to replace the Start screen on Windows 8 include software like StartW8, StartMenu7, Win8 StartButton, ViStart, among others. With increased usage of Windows 8, the options for customizing the user experience will certainly continue to grow.

Charlie Nadler is the marketing strategist for Switchfast Technologies, a Chicago IT Support company.