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Bring the Start menu back to your Windows 8 desktop

by Mike Williams

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Based on 1 ratings
License: Freeware
Operating Systems: Windows 8
Languages: English, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Czech, Dutch, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Russian, Spanish, Slovak
Software Cost: Free
Date Updated: 31 July 2014
Watchlist: Add download to my watchlist
Downloads To Date: 4285
Developer: Areaguard
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Bring the Start menu back to your Windows 8 desktop

StartW8 is a free tool which can help make Windows 8 look and feel a little more like Windows 7: it allows you to boot to the desktop, restores the Start menu, and can effectively turn off the "hot corners".

Installation is easy. The Setup program started by offering a "Typical", "Custom" or "Complete" install, which made us wonder if it was also going to install a lengthy list of toolbars. But we shouldn't have worried, there's nothing here beyond a Paypal "Donate" button, and within a few seconds we were looking at the StartW8 settings screen.

The program is quite configurable. By default it will boot you to the desktop, and allow you to open the Start menu when pressing the Windows key (on the desktop), for instance, but you can change that if you like. There are options to turn off the "hot corners" individually, set the default Power button action or choose exactly which folders should be on the Start menu (Music, Videos, Computer, Control Panel etc) .

Perhaps best of all, StartW8 can be enabled for some users on your system, disabled for others, ensuring everyone gets the interface they prefer. (If Microsoft had thought to do something similar then this class of utility would have been entirely unnecessary, but that's another story.)

With Setup complete, StartW8 adds something like the Windows 8 logo to the left-hand side of the taskbar, and clicking that (or pressing Win) displayed a very good recreation of the Start menu. There are favourite programs on the left, system folders on the right, a "Shut down" menu with all the regular power options. An "All programs" menu expands to help you browse your installed programs, or you can use the Search box to locate them directly. And a "StartW8 Setting" entry recalls the program's Settings dialog for further tweaking, handy if you're not happy with something.

While all this works very well, integration with the rest of Windows 8 is a different story. If you want to switch to the Start screen, for instance, you apparently need to click Start > All Programs, but that only displayed a "Start screen" link on one of our test systems. And even clicking that didn't work (nothing happened at all).

Our test systems also had a link for the Windows 8 store, but instead of launching the Windows 8 app, they simply opened Internet Explorer on the desktop. This then displayed the regular Store app background, but stopped there.

If you never want to see the Start screen again, you may not care about this very much. Or you can always tell the program not to take over the Windows key, in which case tapping it will launch the Start screen, as normal.

For us, though, this all seemed a little unreliable, and we'd probably prefer to get our Start Menu replacement elsewhere.

What's new in

- Add new feature: Automatic refresh "All Programs" menu 
- Fixed bugs.


StartW8 is great at recreating the core Start menu, but we experienced significant problems in switching to the Start screen or regular Windows 8 apps. It's best for users who never want to leave the desktop

Your Comments & Opinion
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Spotlight: Free Full Software

WhatsApp Messenger 2.12.11

Free Full Commercial Software

WhatsApp Messenger is the world's most popular instant messaging app for smartphones.

You can use it to send and receive text and voice messages, photos, videos, even call your friends in other countries, and because it uses your phone's internet connection it might not cost you anything at all (depending on whether you'll pay data charges).

It's easy to set up and use. There's no need to create and remember new account names or pins because it works with your phone number, and uses your regular address book to find and connect you with friends who use WhatsApp already.

You can talk one-to-one or in group chats, and because you're always logged in there's no way to miss messages. Even if your phone is turned off, WhatsApp will save your messages and display them as soon as you're back online.

There's plenty more (location sharing, contact exchange, message broadcasting) and the app is free for a year, currently $0.99/ year afterwards.

Version 2.12.11 brings:

• Links that you share or receive will now include a rich preview. When sending a link, you have the option to not include a rich preview.
• Additional 3D Touch features: You can now quickly Peek and Pop chats.
• Redesigned Settings tab. 
• You can now view all your starred messages across all your chats in Settings — Starred Messages.