Windows 8 Classic Start Menu Software: Classic Shell versus Start8, Free versus Paid…

Users new to Windows 8 from older Windows platform have quite a learning curve to get through. Once the swipes and tiles have become familiar you may still be left with the feeling that something is missing?

What is missing is the Start Menu button, normally tucked away in the bottom left hand corner of your screen. Sure there is that Windows 8.1 thing but the secret to the classic Start Menu was having all of the stuff you needed in the one spot, one click away.

Presented today for your consideration are the two leading Start Menu customizers, Classic Shell versus Start8. Dispatch that missing feeling once and for all with a little classic Start Menu action.


For past Windows users the classic Start Menu was a simple and highly effective little tool that won a place on every desktop by being so damn handy, it became indispensable for many.

To bring that familiar feeling back to Windows 8.1 everyone should consider installing one of the many Classic Start menu applications available. Two of the best options in the Classic Start world are Classic Shell and Start8, free versus paid.

Classic Shell

highpants-classic-start-ClassicShell003Here at Highpants we use to download and install all of the best free apps, usually the first step of a new PC build. The first program we select for each new install is ClassicStart, a pre-configured version of Classic Shell.

Classic Shell brings an upgraded version of the Windows 7 Start Menu to the latest touch friendly Windows. All of our favourite start menu options are there; switch users, sleep, hibernate and shut down options just one click away. One click to Search, open the control panel or programs and applications lists. Running Metro apps are also listed in this convenient little spot.

The split between old desktop programs and tile applications becomes obvious with two lists separated into Programs and Applications. Programs being defined as tradition Windows desktop programs and Applications are the new generation Tile based apps, also sometimes called Metro apps that can run on any Windows platform.

It’s simple, cheap and performs exactly as advertised without any hidden surprises, highly recommended.

StarDock Start8

highpants-classic-start-start8-001Produced by StarDock software Start8 is far more than a classic start menu app, this is Windows customization at its best. Bringing the classic start menu kicking and screaming into the 21s century Start8

Start8 features unified search of programs, apps and data, pinning desktop and metro apps to the start menu and Interface skinning. As with all good classic start menu programs Start8 brings the standard one click features to shut down, sleep, hibernate, control panel, data and apps.

Start8 is undoubtedly one of the best classic start menu applications available, smooth fast and very slick. Incredibly good value at a mere $4.99 Start8 StarDock also offers a 30 day trail option for those interested.

StarDock also provide other Windows customization software, some of the best available. If customizations are your thing they offer a complete pack that includes all of their Windows 8 customization apps for only $50. Metro apps on the desktop, unlimited skinning; if you’ve thought of a way to improve Windows 8 chances are StarDock have it in their unlimited pack.


StarDock is the most feature rich of the two but you will pay for the benefit. Classic Shell offers almost as many options and it’s free for those unwilling to pay. Here at Highpants we use Classic Shell, we’re still afraid of what we’ll find if we ever open our wallet.

Bringing back our favorite little Windows features one app at a time and showing Microsoft what the people want this is the world of the Windows customizers.

Reference: StarDock
Reference: Classic Shell
Reference: Wikipedia Classic Start Menus