I've been testing and compiling a list of Start Menu alternatives for NT 6.2 (Server 2012 and Windows 8); to date everyone one of these is still a moving target with new features virtually every week -- so something that looks really sub-par today might be just what you're looking for as most these projects see lot of updates.
Neither can I offer that any of these are definitively 'better
'; every project has unique features, benefits, art assets, and technology that will appeal to some but not to others. Here's my list so far, feel free to add more as you may encounter them and I'll update this OT post...
Note: none of these (to my knowledge) use Server 2012's native boot to Classic Desktop loading option (that boots you directly to the desktop), though Start Is Back might as Tihiy is aware of the differences between Server 2012 and Windows 8. This means you may get faster booting to the Classic Desktop with some of these Start Menu applications by disabling their buit-in 'boot to desktop' option, and using Server 2012's feature to do this -- documented here... Please update the thread if you are aware of any Start Menu applications that detect and use Server 2012's native boot to Classic Desktop loading option.
· Start Menu X
· Spesoft Free Windows 8 Start Menu
· Start Button 8
· Start Menu 7
(Feature Limited Free Edition)
· Vistart 8
(Timebomb Beta Trialware)
· Classic Shell
(Freeware, Donation Supported FOSS)
· Tihiy's Windows 7 explorer.exe for Windows 8 (Ex7forW8)
(Freeware, Donation Supported)
· Win8开始菜单 (Win8Master)
· Revel Bring Back
· Handy Start Menu
· Start Is Back
· Windows 7 Classic Start Menu
· Wentutu Start Menu
· Pokki Menu
(Freeware, Deutsch Only, Forum Link
· Start Charming!
· Classic Start 8
· Start For Desktop
· Viva Start
(Freeware, tested by maclancer and found incompatible with Server 2012
· Start Menu Reviver
While only my opinion I can offer my current favorites are: Classic Shell
as it's the one that's been around the longest, is FOSS, is very well supported, and has done an excellent job of meeting Microsoft's moving NT 6.2 compatibility/feature target. Tied for second place is Tihiy's Start Is Back
and Stardock's Start8
... Neither of the contenders for second place are free, but Tihiy's Start Is Back
beats all for it's resource sparing approach, and Stardock's Start8
definitely delivers the level of polish and feature float you'd expect from large and proven Developer. That said most of the alternatives are quite new, many have unique useful features, and there's bound to be more new features added as well as new Start Menu application arrivals...