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Win8 StartButton gets your Start menu back in Windows 8

Like several other apps, Win8 StartButton restores the traditional Start menu in Windows 8, which Microsoft eliminated in the latest version of its operating system.

Win8 StartButton offers Windows 8 users a full Start menu for the desktop.
Win8 StartButton offers Windows 8 users a full Start menu for the desktop.
screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Windows 8 users who miss the old, reliable Start menu now have another application that can fill the gap quite nicely.

Available for free, Win8 StartButton recreates the look, feel, and functionality of the traditional Windows Start menu. But it then ups the action through a host of customizable features.

After you install the program, the familiar Windows Start orb appears in the lower left corner of the desktop. Clicking on the orb displays the typical two-pane Start menu with easy access to all your programs and favorite Windows locations, such as your documents and music. The menu sports commands for search, run, and Help. And a Shut Down option lets you shut down, restart, switch users, lock Windows, or hibernate the PC.

Right-clicking on the orb and choosing Settings brings up a host of options. You can choose a specific Start menu style, such as classic Windows, Windows XP, or Windows 7. You can decide whether clicking the mouse and pressing the Windows key opens the Start menu or the Windows 8 Start screen. And you can opt to boot directly to the desktop and bypass the Start screen entirely.

Through more advanced options, you can choose to enable or disable Windows 8's hot corners, modify the menu's commands, and change its skin.

The program also offers a Web browser called Torch and a media player dubbed Media Player Classic, both of which are optional.

Overall, Win8 StartButton is an effective and flexible Start menu replacement. Windows 8 users can also check out other Start menu apps, including Pokki for Windows 8, StartMenu7, ViStart, and ClassicShell.