• Editor Rating
  • Rated 4.5 stars
  • 90%

  • Stardock Start8
  • Reviewed by:
  • Published on:
  • Last modified: June 24, 2016
  • Installation & Setup
    Editor: 80%
  • Design & Interface
    Editor: 90%
  • Features
    Editor: 100%
  • Function
    Editor: 100%
  • Value For The Price
    Editor: 100%

Start8 from Stardock provides Windows 8 the traditional start menu we have all been missing.

Introduction

Windows 8 was a major design change from the Microsoft camp and in return it caused millions of people to have to learn how to use the new operating system properly. What was the drastic change that led to such mass confusion and disappointment? Microsoft removed the beloved start menu, an aspect loyal Windows users have been utilizing for over a decade.

This decision caused a massive uproar in the Windows community and a large disappointment in Windows 8 sales predictions. Microsoft has recently made the decision to re-include the start menu in the Windows 8.1 release that will launch later this year. If you don't want to wait for Windows 8.1 or you want to harness full customization of this start menu, there is an affordable solution right now. A software called Start8 created by Stardock, brings the traditional start menu back to Windows 8 along with some other useful features.

Setup & Pricing

You can download Start8 from the Stardock website and activate their free 30-day trial without the need to give any credit card information. The required files are rather small in size and painless to download. Upon extraction, you must complete a straight-forward installation just like you would with any other piece of Windows software.

As for the pricing, they offer a free 30-day trial like I mentioned earlier, but once this trial is over you'll be required to buy a license to continue using Start8's features. How much is a license you may be wondering? Only a mere $5 per computer, which in my eyes is an absolute bargain. For the amount of features Start8 packs within it, I had initially expected it to be priced around the $20 mark at the very least. Rest assured, I was impressed at the price tag and have no issue spending an extra $5 to get the Windows 7 functionality that I long for on my Windows 8 machine.

Features

Screen Shot 2013-06-12 at 1.09.39 PM

Of course, the largest feature that Start8 provides is the return of the start menu. What I love most about their approach to achieving this is their focus on customization and giving the user the ability to tweak the start menu to their own liking. For example, you are given the choice to use a ‘Windows 7 Style' menu or a Windows 8 ‘Style'. The Windows 7 style looks like it did in Windows 7 and the Windows 8 style utilizes the live tiles that were introduced in Windows 8. As for appearance, you can choose what you want the start button to look like: the ‘Windows flag' logo, the Start8 logo, or a custom image of your choice. You also can enable/disable translucency, change the theme, size, and color.

Screen Shot 2013-06-12 at 1.19.01 PM

Under the ‘Configure' tab (only available when Windows 7 style is chosen), you have access to settings involving what is actually shown on the start menu and how it reacts to your actions such as pressing the power button.

Screen Shot 2013-06-12 at 1.25.30 PM

The ‘Control' tab gives you access to options on how to initiate the Start8 menu and you can configure your Windows key to bring up the Start8 menu, Windows 8 menu, or show the last Modern UI app.

Screen Shot 2013-06-12 at 1.24.18 PM

Lastly, the ‘Desktop' tab gives you access to customization of which taskbar the start button should appear, how it should appear, where the search function should look for files, and how the new Windows 8 features should work. Personally, I find the ability to disable the Windows 8 hot corners and the automatic go to Desktop upon sign-in features to be very useful and makes it feel even more like Windows 7.

Function

Since installing the Start8 menu, my hatred for Windows 8 has depreciated greatly and I am as happy as I have ever been using the operating system. Since Windows 7 debuted, I had been a huge fan so I longed for the same feel and performance that Windows 8 lacked in comparison. By implementing the Start8 menu, Windows 8 is no longer lacking and I am able to use the OS with the same ease of use and convenience that I was used to with Windows 7. The customizability allows me to give my start menu the appearance I want and the performance is top-notch with smooth transitions and functionality.

Check out a brief video I took of myself running the Start8 software on Windows 8:

Conclusion

Overall, I found Stardock's Start8 product to be an exceptional piece of software and a practical way of tackling Windows 8's missing start menu problem. It provides an extensive amount of customization and an easy to understand interface that almost anyone can handle tweaking to their needs. When implemented Start8 functions smooth and efficiently, giving your Windows 8 computer the Windows 7 feel that we have all been missing.

I highly suggest initiating the free 30-day trial and giving yourself a chance to demo the Start8 software on your own PC. The $5 license fee is affordable and well worth it so I would definitely recommend the Start8 software to any prospective buyers. There are no other competitors that offer the same customization and advanced features that Start8 has especially at such a low price point.