Windows 8

Slideshow: A Taskbar trick to revive the Classic Start Menu in Windows 8

Access the Toolbars submenu and select the New Toolbar command

Lots of people have asked me whether I think Microsoft will put the Start Menu back in Windows 8 before the final release. Of course, I'd like to believe that Microsoft would come to their senses and say that it was all a mistake to remove the Start Menu, but I don't think that's very likely. In fact, not only is the Start Button gone from the Desktop, but when you click in the place where it used to exist, you get the Metro Start screen. Windows 8 is designed with Metro as the starting point and we'll just have to get used to it - or will we?

Fortunately, I have discovered an Achilles' heel in Microsoft's evil plan to do away with the Start Menu. They may have been able to remove the GUI part of the Start Button/Menu, but they can't remove the underlying structure of it without crippling the operating system's backward compatibility support for pre-Windows 8 applications.

In this edition of the Windows Desktop Report, I'll show you how to take advantage of this chink in the armor and revive a classic version of the Start Menu.

Note: Keep in mind that this technique is being written for the Windows 8 Consumer Preview and the features I will discuss here may very well change between now and the time the operating system is actually released.

The underlying structure

When you install any standard Windows application in Windows 8, the operating system redirects the installation procedure to create a tile in Metro. Even so, the installation procedure is designed to create folders and shortcuts to the application in the directory where the Start menu lives. In the case of Windows 7 and Windows 8, that directory is C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu. Since that directory still exists in Windows 8 for the sake of backwards compatibility, you can take advantage of that fact along with the Taskbar's Toolbar feature to revive a classic version of the Start Menu. Let's take a closer look.

The Toolbar

In order to create your own Classic Start Menu in Windows 8, you'll use the Toolbar feature. This feature has been a part of the Windows operating system for a long time and it allows you to create Toolbars right on the Taskbar.

To begin, right click an empty spot on the Taskbar, hover over Toolbars, and select the New Toolbar command, as shown. (Take note of the Lock the taskbar command, you'll need to use it in an upcoming step.)


This gallery is also available as TechRepublic Microsoft Windows Blog post.

Images created by Greg Shultz for TechRepublic.

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

9 comments
nathancha
nathancha

This makes me SO happy! Thank you for your simple, easy to understand instructions! I am so relieved to have my Start Menu back!!!

ITOdeed
ITOdeed

Step 1: Do not upgrade to Windows 8. Finished.

garret.hoffman
garret.hoffman

My start menu was found in C:\Users\*my user folder*\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs This might have to do with it being set up as a windows live profile instead of a regular windows profile -- this allows me to sync all my settings and files to the windows cloud aka Skydrive...

amj2010
amj2010

you can have it all and eat it too?

eye4bear
eye4bear

Besides at least one glaring gramatical error, the whole first graphic link DOES NOT WORK!

pgit
pgit

This is in the form of a photo gallery. The forward button is the chevron in the upper right corner of the pictures.

heavener
heavener

The link to the rest of the article is missing.

ITOdeed
ITOdeed

Did you leave out some steps to create a start button on the taskbar in Win8?

pgit
pgit

What a chore. Way to go, Microsoft. You now behave just like Linux! (the wupdate folder apparition is VERY Linux-like) I didn't quite understand the last step at first, btw. You should say "just do it, you'll see what I mean" or maybe provide a close up of the "before" mess. Otherwise, thanks for the ideas. I'm sure I'll be doing this a lot in the future, until someone comes up with an 'app' that restores a more aesthetically pleasing (and easier) solution.