Not everyone likes the new Windows 10 Start menu. The good news is you can replace it with something more traditional.
No one would be happy if next year’s cars all came with the gas pedal on the left and the brake on the right. Yet Microsoft clearly has no compunction about regularly changing its user interface. (To be fair, a new Windows Start menu isn’t likely to result in highway collisions.)
I personally like the Windows 10 Start menu (although I’d like it even more if it had collapsible groups and jump lists on the tiles). But if you pine for an earlier menu design, read on.
[Have a tech question? Ask PCWorld Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector. Send your query to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
You can get a very close facsimile of earlier Windows Start menus with Classic Shell. The program is free, but the website encourages donations—a nice gesture if you appreciate the product.
The first time you click the Start button after installing Classic Shell, you don’t get any menu. Instead, you’ll get the program’s Settings dialog box.If you close that dialog box and click Start again, you’ll get Classic Shell’s Windows 7-like default Start menu.
If you want to get back to that dialog box, right-click the Start button and select Settings.
Here you’ll be able to select your choice of three menu designs: “Classic style” looks pre-XP, except with a search field (not really needed since Windows 10 has one in the taskbar). “Classic with two columns” looks sort of like XP, but even more like Vista. “Windows 7 style,” the default, looks almost exactly like Windows 7.
Below the styles, you’ll find options for changing how the Start button looks. The program offers only two options, but you can create and add your own.
It’s worth checking out the other three tabs on the Settings dialog box. For instance, you can have the menu automatically revert to the Windows 10 interface when you switch to tablet mode (called Metro here—they need to update their terminology).