Windows 8 Start Menu Replacement Start8 Gets Design Overhaul

The best Windows 8 Start Menu replacement program I have used over the past year is Start8 from Stardock. Now It’s been redesigned and brings back the functionality you’re used to.

I have seen several third party Windows 8 Start Menu replacement programs during the preview stage of Windows 8 over the past year. The one I have always liked the most is Start 8 from Stardock. Now, the company has a new beta version that’s been redesigned, and it’s the best Start Menu replacement for the Windows 8 desktop I have used yet.

When Stardock last updated Start8, it included the ability to bypass the Windows 8 Start screen and bring you directly into the desktop. It still has that feature, and has been redesigned to really look and feel like the traditional Start menu in Windows 7.

Here’s an example of it running on the Windows 8 Pro RTM.

Full Start8 Menu

Select All Programs and you’ll have access to traditional desktop and Modern Style Windows 8 apps.
Start8 Traditional Menu Options

Start8 brings back the familiarity you’re accustomed to with the Windows 7 Start Menu, including the search box – much easier than going to the Start Screen to do a search.

Metro and Desktop iTems

Of course clicking on a Modern Style (formerly called Metro Style) app will open it in that interface. For example here I’m opening the Windows 8 App Store.

Windows 8 Store

Windows Store

Then just hit the Windows Key to get back to the desktop.

Windows 8 Desktop

It still gives you the option to customize the look of the Start Button as well.

customized versions of Start Button

The new Start8 version is currently in Beta stage and it’s free. It’s not clear yet if it will still be free when the final version is ready. If you’re annoyed about there not being a Start Menu in Windows 8, and want a solid and familiar replacement, I highly recommend Start8 over any of the other options out there.

Download the New Start8 Beta



  1. Charles

    September 29, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    The new, redesigned Start8 is great … a must have for almost everyone who uses Desktop applications in Windows 8. Just purchased it yesterday for $4.99. Permanent Licensing requires a “phone home” to the StarDock server, so each install (after 30 day demo) requires the purchase of a separate license. Wonder how I will transfer license to machine after Window 8 Official release in October? Perhaps I should have waited to purchase and just used 30 day trial.

    Thanks for your great posts. Charles.

  2. mmoaddict

    October 8, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    Start8 has a big problem: it’s a commercial program. Io hope that other software hoses (IObit, for example) can do a good W8 start menu replacement for free (btw i’ve tryed IObit start menu and it’s… really crap!)

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