Windows 8 – Getting the Start Button Back

One consistent request I heard from a group I was assisting with their transition from Microsoft Office 2003 to Office 2013 involved a certain missing button. This colourful, circular actually had nothing to do with the Office software – but everything to do with their operating system experience.

The Start button has been visible in the bottom left hand corner of the desktop from as far back as Windows XP in various shapes and colours. But it’s always been there – see:

Windows 7:


Windows Vista:


Windows XP:



With Windows 8, the bottom left corner is blank:



At least until you hover your mouse over that corner:


So what’s the big deal?

Well when you click on the Windows 8 start icon, a start menu doesn’t pop up – instead you find yourself on the Start screen – with a slew of colourful tiles to click on.


Personally, I LOVE this new design. Sure, it’s partially because I have a touchscreen device so swiping through the menu is fun, but it’s mainly because I can now type the first letter of the program I want to sort through and narrow down the options. Like with this example, where I started typing “Word” and the program I was looking for popped up.


I get it. Not everyone likes this deviation from the past. And that’s ok. I won’t judge. And I’ll do you one better. Here’s some pointers to help make your experience more comfortable:

Question # 3- How do I get the “start” button back?

You don’t have to uninstall Windows 8 to get the Start menu back. Instead, just upgrade to Windows 8.1 – here’s a link to a previous blog post to get you started: “Time to Upgrade to Windows 8.1

And if you can’t upgrade (for whatever reason) there are third party downloads that give your beloved start button and menus back. Many are free, others cost a few bucks.  Click here for a complete list compiled by Wayne Williams’s beta news article “The Best Start Button and Menu Choices or Windows 8.1” (February 2014).

Let me know what third party add-on you like and why.

2 responses to “Windows 8 – Getting the Start Button Back

  1. I don’t think you do get it Kelly. 🙂 Win 8 and win 8.1 with the pseudo-start button are both crap. Msoft essentially told all of us with keyboards and mice to stuff it, that they were going with touch screen. We reacted by not buying win8. Win XP is apparently still out-selling it.

    I have XP running on an upgraded desktop with a dual core 2.6 gig processor. It just screams along. It used to be quite unstable but I have not had a freeze up or crash for a long time with the new system. There is a problem upgrading to a newer board,you need to use an install disk with SP3 integrated so the system can find new drivers for the newer mobo.

    I just did a repair install using an integrated SP3 disk and it worked fine. The new Intel network driver installer for the Intel mobo set up my network to a laptop running Win 7 seemlessly. I had struggled big time to set up the network initially but the drivers found everything I needed automatically.

    There was a problem with Internet Explorer version 6 at the end of the install. It froze the install. Got around it by upgrading IE6 to IE8.

    It’s not just the Start button it’s what lies behind it. Everything you needed to access the very depth of Windows was there and now you have to dig deep for it.

    The solution is to return win8 to win7 functionality by using one of the pieces of software that return the Start button and its functionality. After you do, win8 runs just like win7 and everyone is happy.

    This best one I have seen is Classic Shell. Google it using classicshell with www and net if you don’t trust the url using those combined. Classic shell gives you 3 options with the start button: XP, Win7, and another.

    As far as typing in a word and having the app appear, you should know better. Anything Msoft automates is bound to screw up in another context. I have long taken to referring to their Wizards as Dummies. That’s what they are, without an inf file they sit there like stupid dummies.

    I can only recall a few instances where Windows help files or the help file engine have been of any use to me. In win7, I often type in a word under Start/Search, however, I have become adept at finding whatever I need and I don’t need Msoft hiding it from me as in win8.

    Their file manager is still a piece of crap and I have been using a substitute manager for more than 10 years. They don’t even offer you a dual pane window to enable dragging files from one directory to another.

    I wont mention Internet Explorer, which is light years behind Firefox and Opera. I wont ever trust Msoft with anything like typing in a word and having them find it for me.

    1. I thank you for sharing your opinions. You provided us with quite a few chuckles around the office.
      All I can say is I do know better than to start an argument with you over how our opinions and preferences differ.
      The world would be a rather boring place if we all agreed about everything.

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