Free Start Menus for Windows

Start Menu Software/Replacements for Windows

Free Start Menu Replacements/Software for Windows

The freeware and/or open source software listed below will add a Start button and its associated menu to your Windows system. You can then invoke the menu to see a list of programs installed on your system, run them, customise (or "customize" in US English) the list, pin programs to the menu, or even search for a program by using the built-in search field. Depending on the program you download, the start menu may take on the appearance of the built-in ones that come with previous Windows version or have its own unique design. There is even one that looks very Windows-8-ish (in terms of visual appearance).

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Free Start Menus for Windows


Power8 creates a sort of start window when you press the Alt+Z key, displaying it in the desktop corner nearest your mouse cursor. From this start window, you can access the start menu, the control panel, the network neighbourhood, jump lists, list of recently launched applications, search, shut down the system, etc. The site boasts that the software does not modify your system by patching system files, hook system objects, add rubbish to your registry, add services or drivers, etc. This software requires .NET Framework 4, and while it is meant for Windows 8, will apparently also work on Windows 7 SP 1 and Windows 10. There also appears to be localisations for a number of languages, for those of you who don't use an English version of Windows. This program is released under the GNU General Public License, and is open source.

Windows 8 Start Menu Application

This software provides a resizable start menu for Windows 8. At the time this is written, it displays the usual list of programs without any search field, although it has a button which you can click to get the run prompt. It is resizable in that you can switch it to one of 2 sizes. This software requires .NET Framework 4.5.

Spesoft Windows 8 Start Menu

This start menu appears to add a Windows 7-style menu to Windows 8, including a search field, the ability to pin items to the menu, a recently launched program list and a shut down button.


[Update: as of December 2017, this software will no longer be updated. The link above has been updated to point to the source code repository, from where you can also download the executable for the final version.] ClassicShell is a veteran among all the start menus listed here. It was born even before Windows 8, and can be used to replace the start menu on Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and 10. The menu is customisable ("customizable" in certain variants of English), has the search box of Windows 7 in addition to the usual menu items, is able to skip the Metro (tablet interface) screen, can be used to disable the Metro hot corners, supports jump lists, shut down the computer, etc. It has been translated into some 35 languages (at the time this review was written). ClassicShell has other optional features for Windows 7 (which you can elect not to install when setting up the software).


The start menu produced by StartW8 is activated with the Windows key and has a style reminiscent of Windows 8 (sharp corners for buttons and menus). The menu itself has the usual functionality of the start menus of Windows 7. That is, it has a search field; "All programs" menu; "Control panel"; "Documents"; a "Shut down" button that expands to a submenu that lets you shut down, restart, lock the computer, sign out (ie, log off), switch user and sleep, and so on. It lets you configure which menus you want on the Start menu (for example, you can allow or disallow the Music folder, Video folder, Devices and printer, etc). It apparently also has an option where you can disable the hot corner. The program is available in 25 languages.


[Update: as far as I can tell, this program does not seem to be available any more.] (Note the site is in German, but according to the description, the button can be used on English and German systems.) This start button puts a button on the task bar that activates a start menu that has the Windows 8 aesthetic style. You can then search from the menu, launch applications or control panel applets, shut down the computer, etc.

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