If you’re like the many others out there, you finally broke down and bought a new computer. After hearing all of the hype, you’re excited to have a PC that has Windows 8 on it. You probably upgraded from Windows XP or Windows Vista, maybe even Windows 7, so you’re thinking everything will be new and improved.
For the most part, you are right. Except for one little problem.
Where is the Start Button??
In an attempt to make things easier for their customers, Microsoft decided to replace the Start Button and Start Menu with a Start Screen. They claimed there were fewer people using the Start Menu, so they got rid of it. The Start Menu is the menu that pops up when you click your Start Button (the small button to the bottom left of the image below). You know, the menu that includes those “minor” things like shortcuts to the Control Panel, Documents, Devices and Printers, and every software program on the computer.
The response to this gripe, of course, is that you can still find these things. For example, if you’re looking for the Control Panel in Windows 8, the Microsoft website gives these instructions:
“Open Control Panel by swiping in from the right edge of the screen, tapping Search (or if you’re using a mouse, pointing to the upper-right corner of the screen, moving the mouse pointer down, and then clicking Search), entering Control Panel in the search box, tapping or clicking Apps, and then tapping or clicking Control Panel.”
Now compare those instructions with previous Windows versions:
“Click the Start Button, then click Control Panel.”
Notice a difference?
How do I get my Start Button back?
Thanks to third-party developers who know how to do things we don’t, there are options to bring the Start Button and Start Menu back. Basically, you can do an Internet search for “download start button for windows 8,” and there will be different ones you can choose from. Many are free, too.
One, in particuar, is called Windows 8 Start Menu by Pokki, which has its own new design. It serves the purpose and looks cool while doing it.
Another free option is Start Menu 8 by IObit. It will look more familiar to you, as it resembles the old look of Windows a little more closely.
My personal choice, however, is StartIsBack, which re-creates the look of the Windows 7 Start Button and Menu. This one isn’t free, but the clean look and smooth performance is worth it for only $3 for 2 PC licenses or $5 for 5 PC licenses. It also gives the option to open straight to the Desktop Screen (rather than the Start Screen with the tiles) every time you turn on your computer.
One more that looks good for a price is Start8. It does much the same as the others, albeit smoother than the free ones, with the added option to click an icon to view the new Windows 8 Start Screen as a pop-out menu instead. Price is $5 for 1 PC license.
Will the Start Button ever come back officially?
With the release of Windows 8.1, Microsoft has brought back a Start Button, but it doesn’t have the same function as the earlier buttons. This one is only a shortcut to the new tiled Start Screen.
So, to answer the question, yes, the Start Button is technically back on the newer versions of Windows, but the old Start Menu hasn’t returned with it.
With all of this said, Windows 8 really isn’t that bad. The big fault is removing the button and menu we had come to rely on for so long, but you shouldn’t let this scare you away from Windows 8 altogether. Having the option of two separate working spaces is a nice change. It’s like having two computers in one. One is the Desktop version we all know and appreciate, and the other is a tiled screen of icons for a whole slew of new Apps to enjoy.
It isn’t a knock against Microsoft to hope for the real return of the Start Button / Start Menu. The majority of us won’t be trading in our PCs for Macs anytime soon. We simply want the best of both worlds, the old and the new.