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Defy MS' Wacky Omission by Adding a Start Button to Win 8

Defy MS' Wacky Omission by Adding a Start Button to Win 8

What were Microsoft's software designers thinking when they decided Windows 8 shouldn't have a Start button? Surely they didn't expect the widespread gnashing of teeth that resulted. If you're among the bewildered users who would like to reverse that decision, you can. Just add a Start button yourself through a third-party utility like Chromium-based Torch.

So you just got Windows 8 and you're missing the Start button? No problem, just add one -- for free.

If there's one user interface design choice that has caused the most hands-in-the- air bewilderment in the tech industry during 2012, it's got to be the omission of the Start button and Menu in Microsoft's Windows 8 computer operating system.

Microsoft's bizarre play to get millions of people to change they way they operate ubiquitous machinery has got to be up there along with changing road sides for traffic, as happens occasionally.

Notable occasions of that switch include left to right in Italy after fascist autocrat Mussolini assumed power, and in Burma more recently when superstitious president General Ne Win ordered the population to change road sides after discussions with a local wizard.

Well, if you've got past the crying, laughing and "What were they thinking?" stages of Microsoft's change, and are ready to take this strange matter into your own hands, there is a way out. Just add a Start button yourself through a third-party utility like Chromium- based Torch. Here's how.

Step 1

Click on the Internet Explorer tile on the Windows 8 Start page. Then browse to the Win8 StartButton Web page with Internet Explorer, and click on the green button labeled "Download Now Win8 StartButton." Choose "Run" when the dialog box opens.

Allow the download to take place and then choose "Yes" when the User Account dialog box opens and asks you if you want to let Win8 StartButton make changes to the PC.

Step 2

Select the Custom Installation radio button and choose the first option, which will be the Windows Start Button and Start menu in a Windows 7 theme.

Tip: Ignore the remaining options like Touch browser and Media Player for now. Those options will install add-ons. Come back to them later if you'd like to reward Torch for its fine work.

Step 3

Select Finish after the install process completes, and your new Start button will pop into its familiar bottom-left corner on the Desktop.

Tip: The new Win8 StartButton doesn't appear on the Windows 8's Start page -- that's the page with all the tiles. The button lives on the Desktop page. Reach the Desktop page after a reboot by clicking on the Desktop tile on the initial Windows 8 Start page.

Step 4

Customize the button and menu settings by clicking on the new Start button and choosing Settings and then Classic Start Menu.

Select the All Settings radio button rather than the Basic Settings button. Then choose the Context Menu tab to change between Windows Classic, Windows XP and Windows 7 styles.

Choose Customize Start Menu and drag the items you'd like to see immediately when you press the Start button. Drag from Available Commands to Current Menu Items. Available Commands can include items like Programs & Features, or Printers.

Other settings include options for language, search box, menu look, sounds and general behavior.

Tip: Win8 StartButton also creates its own tile on the Windows 8 Start page that you can click on to launch the settings for the Classic Start Menu on the Desktop.

Step 5

Uninstall Win8 StartButton if it's not for you, and you've decided to embrace the Windows 8 user interface and its lack of Start button, after all.

Browse to the Windows Control Panel from the Start button and choose Program & Features. Double-click Classic Shell and choose the Uninstall option. Confirm that you require the program to be removed and allow the removal to complete.

Want to Ask a Tech Question?

Is there a piece of tech you'd like to know how to operate properly? Is there a gadget that's got you confounded? Please send your tech questions to me, and I'll try to answer as many as possible in this column.

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Patrick Nelson has been a professional writer since 1992. He was editor and publisher of the music industry trade publication Producer Report and has written for a number of technology blogs. Nelson studied design at Hornsey Art School and wrote the cult-classic novel Sprawlism. His introduction to technology was as a nomadic talent scout in the eighties, where regular scrabbling around under hotel room beds was necessary to connect modems with alligator clips to hotel telephone wiring to get a fax out. He tasted down and dirty technology, and never looked back.


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