Pros: Clean and crisp Windows 7-like Start menu; Helpful customization and power options buttons; Drag-and-drop support
Cons: Launching app is unintuitive; Some menu items lead to nowhere; Search errors
Verdict: Inconsistent functionality mars what could otherwise be an attractive Start button enhancement to Windows 8.
Italian programmer Umberto Giacobbi just wants to make Windows 8 easier to use. He created Revel BringBack to bring back the Start button, just like we used to have it in Windows 7, and then add some useful enhancements. But based on the 18MB version we tested, which works only with Windows 8 64-bit systems, he has a lot more work to do. And if you install this utility, you will too.
BringBack installed in less than five seconds but remains hidden from view until you launch it via an unintuitive process: Right-click the Taskbar, select Toolbars, then Start button. Aimed at the international market, BringBack intelligently translates to your set Windows language automatically. The free version is available through June 2013 and a $3 paid final version should be available by the end of January 2013.
BringBack's menu looks like a handsome, clean version of Windows 7's Start menu. But upon closer inspection you'll notice there's an odd mixture of Windows 8 apps and other programs listed on the menu.
Some of the listed options on BringBack's menu are ghosts, such as a listing for "App" or "Microsoft.WindowsLive.People." and others are for programs buried in submenus that would be rarely used. Touch or click them and you will get an error message. The scrollbar to view the entire list is hidden from view until you hover your finger or cursor over the general vicinity of where it should be.
Otherwise, BringBack's UI maintains a particularly clean and crisp look, with a universal power options button next to a customization options button at the bottom right. Simple. Easy to find and use.
Queries made in the search bar brought inconsistent results, sometimes well targeted, other times with an error message. Yes, we were working with a preview version, but the glitches were seemingly random, appearing for the same search correctly here and in error there.
We're glad that BringBack supports full drag and drop to reorder items or delete them from the Start menu. However, right-clicking on an icon to Pin to Start sends the shortcut to the Windows 8 Start screen, not Bringback.
Working in the background, BringBack checks for newly installed programs every 10 minutes, but this is user adjustable. You can also set limits on the number of menu items, initially defaulted to 20.
We hope BringBack's developer can work out the kinks by the time the full version comes to market. We like the minimalist design and drag-and-drop functionality, as well as the customization options, but this app's maddeningly inconsistent search performance and overall bugginess give us pause.