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 Post subject: Start Menu Options For NT 6.2
PostPosted: Saturday 29 Sep 2012 05:44 (UTC +1) 
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Win2008Workstation Super Member
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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 (Freeware)
· Spesoft Free Windows 8 Start Menu (Freeware)
· Start Button 8 (Freeware)
· Power8 (Freeware)
· Start Menu 7 (Feature Limited Free Edition)
· Vistart 8 (Freeware)
· Start8 (Timebomb Beta Trialware)
· Classic Shell (Freeware, Donation Supported FOSS)
· Win8StartButton (Freeware)
· Tihiy's Windows 7 explorer.exe for Windows 8 (Ex7forW8) (Freeware, Donation Supported)
· Win8开始菜单 (Win8Master) (Freeware)
· StartMenu8 (Beta*)
· 8StartButton (Trialware, Timebomb)
· 7stacks (Freeware)
· Revel Bring Back (Preview, Shareware)
· Handy Start Menu (Freeware)
· Start Is Back (Trialware)
· Windows 7 Classic Start Menu (Trialware)
· Wentutu Start Menu (Freeware?)
· Pokki Menu (Unknown)
· Win8StartButton (Freeware, Deutsch Only, Forum Link)
· StartW8
· RetruUI (Trialware)
· Start Charming! (Freeware)
· Classic Start 8 (Freeware)
· Start For Desktop (Beta, Freeware?)
· RetroUI (Trialware)
· StartW8 (Freeware)
· Viva Start (Freeware, tested by maclancer and found incompatible with Server 2012)
· Start Menu Reviver (Freeware)

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...

:geek:


Last edited by hoak on Monday 31 Mar 2014 04:00 (UTC +1), edited 42 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Start Menu Options For NT 6.2
PostPosted: Saturday 29 Sep 2012 10:01 (UTC +1) 
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hoak wrote:
Start Menu X (Freeware)
· Spesoft Free Windows 8 Start Menu (Freeware)
· Start Button 8 (Freeware)
· Power8 (Freeware Article)
· Start Menu 7 (Feature Limited Free Edition)
· Vistart 8 (Freeware)
· Start8 (Timebomb Beta Trialware)
· Classic Shell (FOSS, Donation Supported)
· Win8StartButton (Freeware)
· Tihiy's Windows 7 explorer.exe for Windows 8 (Ex7forW8) (Freeware, Donation Supported)
· Win8开始菜单 (Win8Master) (Freeware)


Good post, I didn't even suspect there are so many.
Start8 looks best to me. 0.9 is the last freeware version.


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 Post subject: Re: Start Menu Options For NT 6.2
PostPosted: Saturday 29 Sep 2012 11:15 (UTC +1) 
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Win2008Workstation Expert
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Joined: Thursday 05 Feb 2009 10:27 (UTC +1)
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TY Hoak,

Nice post indeed.

I will get the other alternatives Start Buttons to test them out and will get back for a little report.

N :)


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 Post subject: Re: Start Menu Options For NT 6.2
PostPosted: Saturday 29 Sep 2012 12:22 (UTC +1) 
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Win2008Workstation Super Member
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I should probably have indicated that Win8开始菜单 (Win8Master) is actually a little suite of tools similar to Classic Shell. You can download a zip version of Win8开始菜单 here (called the 'Green Edition'), that lets you install the little feature applets separately.

I tested a much earlier version of Win8开始菜单 where the Start Menu installer component was called ''StartMenuSwitcher.exe", and I belive (though I do not know) that "winstart.exe" is the same component in the latest 1.02 build... Also, the zip files use non-standard Zip compression so you'll have to open them with something like WinRAR -- as the integrated Windows shell Zip tool won't work.

:geek:


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 Post subject: Re: Start Menu Options For NT 6.2
PostPosted: Monday 01 Oct 2012 07:27 (UTC +1) 
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Update: Just added StartMenu8 to the list, this is another 'Beta' that will like Stardock's product probably go trialware at some point as this this is a small retail software company that doesn't really offer freeware... StartMenu8 doesn't really bring anything new to the mix beyond a nice hybrid aesthetic, but it is very small and works quite nicely.

In related news Niege's post and the fact you can do a Google search for 'Stardock Coupon Code' and get a nice discount actually inspired me to buy Stardock's Start8 -- the latest build introduces a lot of new features (some quite buggy), and it's absolutely not definitively better then Classic Shell's 'Classic Start' -- which makes me feel bad I didn't donate there first, but it does lead for features.

And lastly, if you want to go directly to the Server 2012 Desktop, the fastest way is to use the method documented here by Arris as it uses Sever 2012's native boot to desktop feature (not available in Windows8) which is faster than the service method employed by Start Menu alternatives. So disable any and all 'boot to desktop' options in any Start Menu applications configuration options and use this tool, or follow the instructions here to do it manually.

:geek:


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 Post subject: Re: Start Menu Options For NT 6.2
PostPosted: Monday 01 Oct 2012 18:36 (UTC +1) 
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These four are deffinitely worth a try:

Classic Shell (freeware)
Power8 (freeware)
Start8 (commercial)
Vistart (freeware)

I'm using Classic Shell now and it's cool, but I wish they added a skin exactly as 7 with Search and All Programs not cascading. I also wish Power8 would have more 7-like skin, which is another nifty app.

I wish Lee would finally remove the annoying pop-up from Vistart, which would make it one of the best start menu emulators.

I prefer Classic Shell's ability to auto switch to desktop after boot, because the registry method has one noticeable drawback as posted here.


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 Post subject: Re: Start Menu Options For NT 6.2
PostPosted: Thursday 04 Oct 2012 13:03 (UTC +1) 
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And another new one 8StartButton (added to bottom of the list), this one is made by Totalidea Software from Germany that while they've been around a long time and made some really nice utilities for Windows 95, 98 and Me -- I think the 10€ price price point for 8StartButton is pretty much going to shit can this one as being a competitive alternative with Start8 costing less then 1/3 that with coupon codes, not to mention the perspicacity of the talent behind projects like Classic Shell...

:geek:


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 Post subject: Re: Start Menu Options For NT 6.2
PostPosted: Saturday 06 Oct 2012 03:01 (UTC +1) 
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7stacks is another freeware adition to substitute the missing start menu.


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 Post subject: Re: Start Menu Options For NT 6.2
PostPosted: Sunday 07 Oct 2012 16:53 (UTC +1) 
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Impressive list! :geek: Made it a Sticky and added a link to this post from the manual.

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 Post subject: Re: Start Menu Options For NT 6.2
PostPosted: Sunday 07 Oct 2012 18:59 (UTC +1) 
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Thanks for update Portal2Two, added to list! And Arris since you're the one that finally ran it down would you have any idea what's going on with this in NT 6.2? Also if the manual links to the thread it probably doesn't need to be sticky, though the Start Menu does seem to be the first thing people go looking for so is prolly a good thing either way.

:)

As a side note I've discovered both Classic Shell, and Start8 will run as portable apps -- so if you need a really conservative environment where you don't want a 3rd party service running, both will run their flavor's of a Start Menu without the service that so many of these applications use to switch Windows 8 to the Desktop that isn't needed as Server 2012 can do this natively), as well as a faster means to auto-load their application you may not want or need.

Sans the service in both cases you'll need to start the application (both are 64-bit) manually with a shortcut, using the 'Start' folder, or with a registry 'Run' key. Classic Start can be easily stopped with it's built in close menu option, but to close Start 8 you need create a shortcut or use a command line that points to your Start8 directory and use the switch: Start8_64.exe UNLOAD (no slash or hyphen precedes the switch)...

:geek:


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