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5 Windows 8 Apps to Bring Back the Start Menu

You don’t have to live with Microsoft’s flawed decision to kill the Start menu in Windows 8. Some 15 – and counting – software companies have brought the Start button back from the digital grave with add-ons that in many cases have more versatility than the versions found in Windows XP and Windows 7.

We tested five Start apps on a Windows 8 notebook, measuring the quality of each based on how well they meet certain criteria. How much does each add-on look and feel like the Windows 7 Start menu? Can you drag and drop shortcuts? Does the search box work as well as Windows 7's? And do they have features that improve on the old Start? All the apps we reviewed are free with one exception. Read on to find out which Start solution is right for you.

Stardock Start8

Stardock Start8

Stardock's aptly named Start8 not only replicates Windows 7-style functionality, but offers a lot more customization to boot. Based on the simplicity of its design and its robust feature set, Stardock's Start8 is well worth the $5 investment that comes at the end of its 30-day free trial. Find out why this download is hands down the best Start menu-replacement app for Windows 8.

Read Stardock Start8 Review

Classic Shell

Classic Shell

While Windows 8's lack of a Start menu raised the demand for some sort of add-on replacement, apparently a contingent of Vista users were already grumbling about the one in that troubled OS. Classic Shell was developed originally as a Vista enhancement and comes to its full and feature-rich fruition as a Windows 8 Start menu app.

Read Classic Shell Review

Pokki

Pokki

Pokki's approach to a Start menu is a little bit of country and a little bit of rock 'n' roll. It bows to the legion of existing Windows XP to 7 desktop users while offering live notifications for email, Tweets and apps, mirroring the mobile and tablet experience for which Windows 8 was designed.

Read Pokki Review

Power8

Power8

One of the most startling changes in Windows 8 is the lack of a Start menu. Fortunately, a number of companies have developed replacements. Power8's version offers a wide variety of customization options, but is it the best?

Read Power8 Review

Revel BringBack (beta) Review

Revel BringBack (beta) Review

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.

Read Revel BringBack (beta) Review