There have been many articles written on how to get back your Windows 8 Start menu but they are riddled with ads and make things so confusing for you, so cutting through the BS here is what I think is the simplest way to get a start menu back on Windows 8. Beginners scroll to the bottom of the page to the beginner directions for an alternate method of installation.
An open source project on Sourceforge project called Classic Shell is the solution I suggest. Classic Shell was originally written to get the old familiar Classic Start menu back onto Windows 7. It has been adapted to work on Windows 8 now. What is really cool is the fact that if you do not like the Windows Live tiles the program can be set up to make it so you only see your old familiar Windows 7 desktop in Windows 8.
To download Classic Shell Start Menu for Windows 8 go to the desktop by pressing the Flying Windows Key on your keyboard (if you are on the tile screen)and then open Windows Internet Explorer. Then click below link to browse to the following page
Click on the download now button at the top of the page. When you get the yellow alert at the bottom of the screen from Internet Explorer choose the run button.
You will see the Classic Shell Welcome Screen, click on Next button. On the next screen click to check the box to accept the license agreement and then click on the next button. The next screen will give you options of what components of the program to install. Anyone who has installed an Office product should be familiar with this screen. You only need the Classic Start Menu feature to be available and you can choose the drop downs to make the other items unavailable on each item. Click on next and then click on the Install button. Say yes to the yellow windows security alert. Then click on Finish and you are done!
Claassic Shell should come up running so you can configure how you want your start menu to work. The main tab in the Classic Shell Start Menu setup you are concerned with in Windows 8 is the one that says Windows 8 Settings.
If you NEVER want to see the Windows Live tiles all you need to do is click the check box on this screen that reads Skip Metro Screen. Uncheck that box if you want both. I highly suggest you try at least playing with the Live Tiles in Windows 8 first before entirely getting rid of them. Under disable active content I suggest that you set that setting to Start Screen. Click OK and you will be done and a start menu will be installed!
For the novice user there is even an easier way to do this through a really neat PC setup page called Ninite.com. This site will make a package file of all the plugins you need like Flash, Java, and more. All you need to do is point Internet Explorer to http://ninite.com/ and once there check off the programs you would like to install on your computer. Classic Start is available under the Utilities section. Once you have checked all the programs you want, click on the big Green Get Installer button at the bottom of the page. You can either save the file or run it when prompted with the yellow security bar at the bottom of your Internet Explorer window. If you save the Ninite Installer file you can click on it at a later time after you have already installed the programs and Ninite will perform and install any needed updates for you. One other benefit of Ninite is that it removes all of the extra toolbars and nagware that a lot of the programs try to add when you install them.
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