Microsoft has had a hard job convincing people of the merits of the Windows Modern UI in Windows 8, so any help it can get to make the Start screen in particular more useful has got to be a good thing. With that in mind, it can only applaud Russian software developer Greatis Software.
The folk at Greatis are the brains behind a collection of gadgets and tools for making the Start Screen that bit more useful. Step forward, Start Screen Unlimited Lite 2.0.
Start Screen Unlimited adds a collection of shortcut buttons, drive and system info graphics, a web search box (with choice of engines) and clock to the Start screen, all of which are fully customisable, allowing you to pick and choose exactly what appears on-screen.
Shortcut buttons include power and system, with various useful shortcuts attached to each. In keeping with the program’s flexibility, Start Screen Unlimited Lite allows you to pick and choose exactly what options appear on each menu.
Nine search engines are supported via the search box, including Google, Bing, Ebay, Twitter and Wikipedia. A handy status panel allows you to see free drive space, recycle bin status, plus Wi-Fi and power when used with a laptop or tablet.
Furthermore, you can tweak certain design elements – a choice of two different icon designs for the shortcut buttons, plus seven different analogue and digital clock designs. If the status panel is too large, tick Compact Mode to shrink it down to size.
The Lite version is completely free for personal use, but upgrading to the Deluxe version does more than simply unlock commercial use, it also provides you with some cool 3D effects and the ability to build your own customisable menu with shortcuts to favourite files and apps.
Whichever option you go for – it’s a shame you can’t road-test the deluxe features before purchase – one thing’s for sure, anyone who regularly uses the Windows 8 Start Screen is going to wonder why Microsoft couldn’t have provided these options in the first place.