Posted by Matt Egan 18 June 2013
Start Menu Reviver review - put Start Menu back in Windows 8 without stepping back in time
I like Windows 8. There, I've said it. I'm not saying it's the greatest OS ever, but as a further iteration of Windows 7 the latest version is fast and stable. It also adds in the Modern UI and apps, with which I could gladly live without on all devices excepting my touchscreen laptop in which that interface is strangely compelling. So what's not to like? For a lot of people it is the lack of the Windows Start Menu.
Personally I wonder if lack of Start Menu is a problem only because it is a change. We PC users don't like change, and for me the Modern UI Start Screen and Charms work perfectly well as bigger, more efficient Start Menus. But enough sensible people tell me I am wrong that I am prepared to accept there is another argument. Fortunately, if you want to put the Start Menu back in there are multiple options.
Stardock Start8, Classic Shell, Pokki and Power8 are all third-party apps that bring back the Start Menu to Windows 8. And to a greater or lesser extent they all work fine. But they do all represent a step back in time: they all do nothing more than add back in something Microsoft took out for a reason. Which is why we like Start Menu Reviver.
Start Menu Reviver's name undersells things somewhat. This free app does more than simply make Windows 8 like Windows 7. For one thing it is designed to look like Windows 8, incorporating the tiled interface of that OS it actually looks good. It's fully customisable and packed with features. It adds to Windows 8, rather than letting the weak-willed among you take a retrograde step (steps back, awaits flame). Indeed, you can add it to Windows 7, should you desire to take a step in the Windows 8 direction.
Using Start Menu Reviver
Open up Start Menu Reviver by hitting the Windows Key or clicking the Windows icon in the bottom lefthand side of the screen. You are greeted by a tiled grid in the Windows 8 style. This contains 32 tiles to which you can pin your most-used applications and shortcusts for easy access. It's like a cut-down version of the Windows 8 Start Screen.
You can resize your tiles and set names and icons for them, although we found both the default tiles and artwork already useful. Along the left of these tiles are the icons you would expect in the Start Menu - Settings, Network, Recent and so on. Like a static Charms bar. There's a search bar at the bottom that works in much the same way as Windows Search. In use it works well - Start Menu Reviver is both intuitive and responsive.
So it's all good, really. And free. And, critically, it is easy to uninstall or switch off - unlike many of the other Start Menu utilities.
Down sides? There's only one and that relates to the weakness of a fixed Start Menu over the Windows 8 Start Screen. The grid is fixed to a maximum of 32 small tiles, and set dimensions. Whereas in Microsoft's brave new world you can append as many apps, web pages and settings as you like to the Home Screen. But, hey, if you want a Start Menu, this is the best we've seen.