Review: Start Menu 8 is a free Windows 8 Start Menu par excellence

At a Glance
  • IObit Start Menu 8

    PCWorld Rating

    If you're a Windows 8 user missing your Start menu, download this free replacement.

Third-party replacement of the missing Windows 8 Start menu (I'm sorry, the Modern/Metro UI is not a start menu) has become quite the booming cottage industry. Stardock's Start8, a $5 alternative, has been the most seamless replacement for several months, but it's now going to have to share the larger part of that honor with Iobit's Start Menu 8, which is free.

Start Menu 8 looks and works just like a native app.

Start Menu 8 installs easily, mimics the Windows 7 Start menu to a tee—including the search field—and is just as configurable as that which it seeks to duplicate. You can show or hide the items such as administrative tools, control panel, documents, network, photos, etc., as well as disable the hot corners and the Windows 8 sidebar. You can also change the appearance of the start button to match Windows 8, XP, Windows 7, etc., though the menu itself retains the look of Windows 8. Here it loses out to Start8 which can morph its entire appearance and even simulate the Modern UI (formerly known as Metro) interface.

The Start Menu 8 installation routine will ask you if you want to install Iobit's Advanced SystemCare 6 software (the default is yes), but there's no advertising aside from that.

I found one minor bug. Start Menu 8 didn't interact with the taskbar properly when the latter was set to Auto-hide. Unlike Start8 and the normal Windows Start menu, which keep the taskbar displayed when it's open, Start Menu 8 would let it disappear, leaving itself hanging in mid-air, so to speak. This is a mere cosmetic issue which should be fixed soon.

To make a long review short: Small bug aside, Start Menu 8 works just like the Start Menu you wanted to see when you first got your Windows 8 PC. Do yourself and anyone else you know who's been saddled with a new interface they didn't really want a favor and install it or the slighty more capable Stardock app.

Note: The Download button on the Product Information page will download the software to your system.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    If you're a Windows 8 user missing your Start menu, download this free replacement.

    Pros

    • Convincingly replaces the missing Windows 8 Start menu
    • Free

    Cons

    • Asks you to install paid software
    • Doesn't keep taskbar from auto-hiding
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