Q. I upgraded my computer to Windows 8 a week ago. I like the new layout and most of the features, but I really miss the Start button and Start menu. It's really slowing me down to not have it there. Is there any way to bring it back without going back to an older version of Windows? Thanks for everything you do!
-Lori, from Fresno, CA, listens to my national radio show on KJZN 105.5 FM.
A. You're not alone, Lori. I've heard dozens of complaints about the lack of a Start button in Windows 8. This mainstay of computing for almost two decades is replaced by an interactive Start screen in Microsoft's newest operating system.
The Start screen uses the Modern interface that Microsoft uses on mobile gadgets. It's more touch-screen friendly and customizable. However, many people who have upgraded are a bit overwhelmed by it.
This is one of many changes that confuses longtime Windows users. That's why I wrote my Essential Windows 8 Quick Start Guide. It's a great roadmap that will help you deal with all of Windows 8's quirks.
This is one of Window 8's changes that you don't have to settle for, though. With the right tools, you can bring back the Start menu in all of its glory. Even if you don't want to upgrade, you can still use these programs to customize your current version of Windows.
One of the easiest ways to bring back the Start menu is with Classic Shell. It adds a Start button and other familiar features to Windows 8's desktop mode. It allows you to set your own image as the icon for the Start button, too.
The program can bring back the look and feel of older versions of Windows. You can even use it to bypass the Start screen and boot right into Desktop mode, like you would in past Windows versions.
If you want more even more customization, try Start8. In addition to the Start button, it adds dozens of new features to the Windows 8 desktop. However, it costs $5 after a free trial period.
These both take a little bit of time to set up, though. One of the main reasons so many people liked the Start menu is because of how simple it was.
If you want the simplicity back, try Pokki. This program does most of the customization for you and gives you a Start button right away.
One thing to keep in mind before you start tinkering with Windows 8: You don't have to upgrade! Windows 7 is still a great operating system, and Microsoft will support it until 2020. You'll be able to use it for years to come.
Windows 8 comes on a few different types of gadgets. If you're thinking of upgrading, here are the options you have.