At the Build 2014 conference held at beginning of April, Microsoft's Terry Myerson, who is the Executive Vice President of the operating system group, talked about an update to Windows 8.1 and then proceeded to show an image of a Windows 8 desktop with a Start Menu. While he implied that we would see this changes in a future update of Windows 8.1, I was really hoping that the Windows 8.1 Update (released on the same day that they officially killed Windows XP) would actually contain the return of the Start Menu. I was hoping that Microsoft was really going to surprise all of us.
How cool would that have been?! If the Start Menu would have made a comeback in Windows 8.1 Update on the day that Windows XP died, just think about how many Windows XP users would have been eager to make the switch to Windows 8.1. It would have been a terrific marketing opportunity — but alas, Microsoft missed that boat.
However, the folks at ReviverSoft are ready to make Windows XP users moving to Windows 8.1 a deal that is too good to pass up: Start Menu Reviver 2. This free add-on to Windows 8.1 provides a fully functional Start Menu, but with a Modern UI look and feel. This product will surely make it easier on folks making the transition from Windows XP to Windows 8.1.
If you've been using Windows 8/Windows 8.1/Windows 8.1 Update without a Start Menu replacement, then Start Menu Reviver 2 is definitely to product that you'll want to try. If you read my June 2013 review and have been using the first iteration of Start Menu Reviver, then you already know what a great product this is, and I can assure you that you're going to love this updated version.
I said it before, and I'll say it again — Start Menu Reviver is such a great melding of the old and new user interfaces, that if Microsoft had put something like this in Windows 8 from the get-go, they sure would have saved themselves a lot of grief.
Let's take a closer look at Start Menu Reviver 2.
You can download and install Start Menu Reviver 2 very quickly, regardless of whether you're a new or existing user. If you're a new user, just point your browser to the ReviverSoft page and click the Download Now button. If you're an existing user, just access the Settings page and click the Update Now button (Figure A).
If you are using Start Menu Reviver, you can upgrade to version 2 from the settings dialog.
Next, follow through with the with Setup wizard (Figure B).
Installing Start Menu Reviver 2 is a painless procedure.
You'll then see a brief tour that highlights some of the new Start Menu Reviver features (Figure C).
Start Menu Reviver 2 combines the traditional functionality of the Start Menu with a Modern UI look and feel.
Just like the original, clicking the Windows flag Start button or pressing the [Windows] key on your keyboard displays the Start Menu. Alternatively, you can configure the program to display the Start Menu when you click the Start button, but display the Start Screen/App Screen when you press the [Windows] key on your keyboard.
You'll notice that Start Menu Reviver's Start button pushes Windows 8.1's Start button off the edge of the screen into its previous hot corner. You'll also notice that the new Start button is positioned a little to the right of the corner. The reason for the amount of space between the Start button and the hot corner is to prevent inadvertent interface collisions — you can easily click the Start button without accidentally activating the hot corner. And, you can easily glide by the Start button, hit the hot corner to display Windows 8.1's Start button, which now behaves as a pop-up button, and access the Start Screen just as Microsoft intended.
On the left side of the Start Menu, you'll find a set of nine buttons that allow you to quickly and easily launch common tools and perform a number of everyday operations (Figure D). If you forget what action the button performs, just hover you mouse pointer over the button, and a pop-up will remind you. There's also a Search panel at the bottom that you can use to effectively search for files and programs. There's also a Power button menu that contains everything that you would expect.
This screenshot from the opening tutorial identifies all the buttons.
In addition to the redesign of the user interface, you'll find that Start Menu Reviver 2 has a very pleasing and fluid-like animation that literally build the Start Menu right before your eyes each time you click the Start button. Oh, and if you happen to be using a touchscreen device, you'll discover that Start Menu Reviver 2 is very touch friendly, especially when you use the large-size menu option.
The bulk of the menu interface is made up of customizable tiles that you can use for your application shortcuts. You'll notice that the center of the menu contains two larger, non-customizable tiles titled Start Screen and All Apps. As you can imagine, clicking the Start Screen tile brings up the Start Screen. However, clicking the All Apps tile accesses the Apps flyout menu that can show Desktop Apps, Modern Apps, or both (Figure E).
From the Apps flyout menu, you can drag shortcuts to the empty tile spaces.
You can then drag items from one of those menus over to the menu and drop it on any empty tile space (indicated by a grey tile with a plus sign). You can also rearrange the tiles with a simple drag and drop operation. In addition to programs, you can also put files, folders, and websites on the Start Menu. Right-click on an empty tile, select Add tile, and you'll see a Tile properties dialog that allows you to manually create your own tiles (Figure F).
From the Tile properties dialog, you can create your own tiles.
Complete your custom tile by selecting from the tile library, which contains more than 200 tile images to choose from (Figure G). You'll also discover that the tile area is scrollable, allowing you enough room to add up to 64 tiles.
Start Menu Reviver 2 comes with more than 200 tile image that you can use when creating your own tiles.
On the top right of the Apps flyout menu, you'll see a cog icon. Click it, and you be able to change the sort order for the items displayed on the menu. Below that, you'll find a folder icon. Click it, and the menu now displays files and folders. A drop-down menu allows you to select the folder containing the files you want to see (Figure H). Click the Search panel, enter a keyword, and viola — you can search for a particular file.
Click the cog icon, and the flyout menu will now show files and folders.
Configuring the Start Menu
Selecting the Settings command from the context menu or the Settings menu will display the Start Menu Settings windows. These contain four tabs full of settings (Figure I) that you can use to configure how Start Manu Reviver looks and works. For example:
- On the General tab, you can reset everything to the default or choose whether Start Menu Reviver loads on startup.
- On the Start Menu tab, you can choose the Start button style or specify the size of the Start Menu (Small, Medium, or Large).
- On the Appearance tab, you can choose the theme style and the colors of various items.
- On the Advanced tab, you can choose what the Apps view shows or change the Windows Key behavior.
There are plenty of configuration options on the four Settings tabs.
Before I leave the Settings menu, I have to tell you that I showed the new Start Menu Reviver to a buddy of mine, who immediately bah humbugged the tiles. I then went to the Start Menu tab, selected the Replaces the Tile menu option in the Expanded menu drop-down, and viola — the tiles were gone (Figure J), and the Start Menu looked more like the Start Menu in Windows XP and Windows 7.
You can remove the tiles from the Start Menu.
What's your take?
Have you used Start Menu Reviver 2? If so, what do you think? Are you a Windows XP user moving to Windows 8? If so, do you think that Start Menu Reviver 2 will help ease the user interface shock? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to join in the discussion thread below.
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.