After using Windows 8 for the last few weeks, I have realized that even though I have gotten used to the whole Metro interface and the lack of a Start button, it’s not going to be so easy for a lot of people out there. It’s simply too ingrained in the Windows UI. Anyone who has used a PC in the last 20 years clicks on that Start button to pretty much do anything with their computer. To go from that to a bunch of tiles is kind of a big change.
Luckily, there are thousands of hackers out there who know how to alter Windows and make it the way we want. One of those guys has released a program called Classic Shell, which basically brings back some of the features in older version of Windows to Windows 7 and Windows 8. You can download it from here:
Download the install file and run it. You should see the Classic Shell setup screen as shown below:
Once you have finished the install, you will see a new Start button-like button at the bottom left. The classic Start Menu is back! Yay!
Note that this is just one of several modules that bring back various features to different parts of Windows. In addition to the Classic Start Menu, the program also has options for Classic Explorer and Internet Explorer 9 and 10. First, click on your new Start button and go to Programs, Classic Shell and then Start Menu Settings.
Here you can configure how the Start Menu in Windows 8 will work. For example, you can configure how you want the Classic Start Menu to appear vs the normal Windows Start Menu (Metro UI). And like in previous versions of Windows, you can configure the Start Menu to show the Control Panel, Recent Documents, show the Log Off button, etc. Clicking on the Skin tab will let you choose from several nice looking themes for your new start menu.
As you can see above, I have configured my start menu so that it has two columns like you used to be able to do in older versions of Windows. But don’t think that is all Classic Shell can do. Make sure you click All Settings and you can really get crazy about configuring Windows 8 the way you want it to be. Start Menu settings go from two tabs to over 10! For example, you can click All Settings and then click on Start Button and add your own custom Start Button image if you like.
Classic Shell adds a couple of things to Explorer also:
As you can see it adds a few buttons like cut, copy, paste, delete, etc. You can also navigate up the folder hierarchy by pressing the up arrow button instead of having to use the breadcrumbs feature. It also replaces the confusing file/folder conflict dialog that pops up in Windows Vista and 7 with the simple Windows XP one:
Lastly, it has a few IE 9 and 10 options like showing the caption and icon in the title bar.
Here’s an example with the caption in the title, the progress bar at the bottom and the zone in the status bar. Of course, if all you care about is the Start Button, you can turn off all the other stuff in the settings.
Overall, it’s a very well-written program that has a ton of settings to adjust. It’s great for anyone who isn’t very happy about the Metro UI in Windows 8 and wants something a little more familiar. You can do this or you can just stick with Windows 7 too!