A Comparison of Alternative Start Menu's for Windows 8
Ars Technica have done a great comparison of the most popular Start Menu replacements for Windows 8. I agree with the author of the article 100% - either get used to the Start Screen (it didn't take me long) or buy StartIsBack (£1.87 or £3.11). Having used the latter myself, it is definitely the one to go for if you want to make Windows 8 look like 7.
Source: Ars Technica
Help! I've got Windows 8 and I miss my Start menu!
With Christmas now long behind us, one or two of you may well have been lucky enough to find a shiny new Windows 8 PC under the tree. After cleaning off the crapware, it's time to use the thing, and that means digging into the new user interface.
The Windows 8 user interface has many Windows users divided. The chief complaints are that Windows 8 has no Start button and that it has no Start menu, only the (full-screen, Metro-styled) Start screen. Secondary to these is the complaint that Windows 8 shows the Start screen immediately after logging in, rather than showing the desktop as prior versions of Windows have done. Getting to the desktop takes an extra click.
To address the unfamiliarity and (perceived) problems with the Windows 8 UI, a number of third-party applications have popped up to provide a Start menu, or some approximation thereof, and a Start button for Windows 8 users. They also pull some kind of trickery to switch directly to the desktop upon logging in.
Some of these applications are new, motivated entirely by Windows 8's supposed "shortcomings"—Stardock's Start8, StartIsBack, and RetroUI all share this characteristic. Others are new versions of old apps. Classic Shell was originally a project to reinstate the Windows XP Start menu on Windows Vista and Windows 7 (among other things); it now has some Windows 8-specific functionality. Pokki is an application runtime, launcher, and marketplace; in its latest iteration it too jumps on the Start screen replacement bandwagon.
If you can't stomach the lack of menu and button in Windows 8 or just don't fancy the support and training overheads that come from rolling out a new user interface to users familiar with Windows 7 or older, one of these apps might be the ideal solution.
After trying out all these programs over the course of a few weeks, I'm personally not going to use any of them. I was an eager adopter of Windows Vista's searchable Start menu. Probably 90 percent of the time I used the Start menu in Windows Vista and Windows 7, it was to search. The Start screen doesn't substantially change that. Microsoft has changed the presentation, with some good aspects (more results displayed simultaneously) and some bad aspects (no unified view of all results; instead they're segregated between Apps, Settings, and Files), but functionally the differences are pretty negligible. Once you get on the searchable Start bandwagon, it's really hard to go back to anything else.
The remaining 10 percent of the time, I clicked an app that I had pinned to the menu. For this, the Start screen is actually better; I can pin more apps more easily. Look beyond the Start screen's appearance and it's just not as different as it superficially seems.
I appreciate that not everyone uses the Start menu the same way. If you're used to browsing the menu itself, the Windows 8 experience is very different indeed. While its "All Programs" view does respect the folders and naming that the Start menu uses, it presents them as essentially a flat list.
For such users, StartIsBack is the standout winner. Start8 works the same but costs more; Classic Shell is inauthentic and baroque, and unless you simply must have something that's more or less the same as the Windows 2000 Start menu, I would avoid it. Pokki and RetroUI both have interesting features, but if you're going to learn a new user interface, you might as well learn the Windows 8 user interface itself—not that of a third-party product.
Start Is Back
^ RetroUI looks absolutely ghastly! :sick: :sick: