In many ways, each new version of Windows is a great leap forwards in terms of innovation, but at the same time there is always concern about how much change is a good thing. This has been the case with the release of every version of Windows, but never more so than with Windows 8.
One of the bones of contention for many users is that there have been such as change in appearance in some areas of the operating system while other areas remain virtually identical and this disparity can be confusing. Perhaps the greatest cause for concern for most people is the Start menu, or lack thereof, and this is something that can be addressed through the use of Classic Shell.
Pick A Menu
This is a free tool that has been designed to let you take Windows 8 – or Windows 7, for that matter – back in time. There’s a more familiar Start menu for you to work with as well a more traditional look and feel for Windows Explorer and Internet Explorer. After installation, the first time you click the new Start button you’ll be asked to choose between one of three different styles.
You may well want to experimenting using all three, and it’s easy to switch between them. If you are using Windows 8 you can click the new Start button to access the Start menu, or click with the Shift key held down to access the Start screen. You can also configure what happens when you press the Windows key.
Of course, you would not expect to be stuck with a standard look when you’re using a custom Start menu, and Classic Shell does not disappoint here. There are a number of different skins to choose from and a range of settings that can be used to completely change the appearance of the Start menu.
Classic Shell is about more than just the Start menu, however; there are also changes made to Explorer. Microsoft has become keen on stripping back the Windows interface and this means that many buttons that are frequently used have been replaced with context menu items, or other some other similarly hidden location. Classic Shell adds a toolbar to Explorer which, while not packed with options, does provide access to a number of key tools.
By default, you are provided with nothing more than cut, copy and paste buttons, along with button to delete files, view properties, and send via email. However, there are a raft of other buttons that can be added, including the ever-useful ‘invert selection’ and you can also change the way in which the default features of Explorer appear. If the search bar irks you, you can remove it and you can also opt to hide shortcut overlays.
Classic Shell Settings
If you’re willing to put in the time, Classic Shell has a whole range of settings just waiting for you to customize. It’s difficult to criticize the program too much, but if there are any complaints that could be levelled at the software it is that the arrangement of and access to setting can be a little confusing. Depending on whether your access the Setting screen through the Start menu or Explorer you – perhaps understandably – see different settings, but program-wide settings can only be accessed through the Start menu by selecting the All Settings option.
Reveal all of the available settings and you’ll find there are virtually unlimited ways to customize the appearance of your Start menu. You can choose exactly which links you would like to have visible and where they should be displayed, and a simple drag and drop design means that creating your perfect menu could hardly be easier.
Windows 8 users can rejoice at the fact that the program makes it possible not only to bypass the Start screen entirely so you boot straight to the desktop, but also that active corners – which are ordinarily used to access running programs, the Start screen and the charms bar – can also be switched off so you do not accidentally activate them.
With Windows 8 there is a lot to love – but if you’re a seasoned Windows user there are a lot of things to unlearn, and new-comers are going to find that things can be very unintuitive at times. Whichever camps you fall into, Classic Shell enables you to get the best of both worlds. The new power and features that are to be found in the latest version of Windows, but also an old fashioned Start menu that makes for easier navigation of your programs. It’s completely free of charge, so there’s nothing to lose by taking it for a spin.