Updated March 20, 2020
Microsoft will soon be releasing a cleaner-look Start Menu for Windows 10. They will finally be getting rid of the square button backgrounds, and instead display new, cleanly-designed app icons. The Windows 10 Start menu was the main visually jarring transition from Windows 7 to Windows 10 for many people. This page introduces the most popular third-party Start menus for Windows.
Panos Panay hints at new Start Menu and treats coming to Windows
We haven’t heard too much official chat about a cleaner Start Menu, but here is the latest video posted by Panos Panay on Instagram:
View this post on Instagram
The team made this video to celebrate making it to 1 billion MAD on Windows 10 and I wanted to share it with all of you. Now at a time when so much of our work and communication is taking place through our devices, it’s especially humbling to know that Windows can help empower a billion people to stay connected to the things and people they care about #Windows
Bring it on!
Great! You can see in the video that the new Start Menu will look cleaner and more stylish. Windows Explorer has improved too. I can’t wait!
Third-party Start menus for Windows
Back on track to the topic of this rather old post now, here are the best and more popular third-party Start menus for Windows. If you miss the Windows 7 style Start Menu in Windows 10, try one of these. You can easily show or switch back to the Windows 10 menu.
For Windows 10. StartIsBack ++ is great for those who miss the Windows 7 Start menu. It comes with 4 visual styles: Windows 10, Windows 7, Plain8 + Windows 10 button, and Plain10 menu + Windows 10 taskbar + Windows 10 button.
StartIsBack ++ plays more nicely with Windows 10 than it did before. It’s good to see that development is continuing, and the StartIsBack ++ website has had a bit of a refresh. This is a decent Start Menu for Windows. You can try it for free for 30 days with no limitations. If you choose to buy it, it will only cost you $2.99.
2. Classic Shell
For Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and 10. One of the original free Start Menu alternatives, Classic Shell does it all. You can choose a menu style, change skins and customize icons and links.
Edit: Official development of Classic Shell has stopped: Classic Shell for Windows 10 goes open source.
3. Start Menu X
For Windows 8, 8.1 and 10, Start Menu X is a customizable start menu which you can drag to resize. This menu makes it easy to find folders, files, and apps.
4. Start Menu 8
For Windows 8 and 10, Start Menu 8 gives you a clean and classic Start menu look. There are 3 main menu style options, plenty of customization options including transparency, and it’s free.
For Windows 8. Pokki is a little bit different in that it offers a modern style menu but has access to hundreds of free apps.
For Windows 10. With fully customizable backgrounds, textures and taskbar, Start10 offers Windows 7, Modern, and Windows 10 style Start menus. There’s a 30-day free trial and it’s only $4.99 for the full version.
The Windows 10 Start menu is mostly fine for me, but if you pine for the past, you can install these Windows Start menus (not Pokki on Windows 10) knowing that if you don’t like them, you can uninstall them, and the Windows 10 Start Menu will appear and work normally.
I can’t wait to see the latest cleaner look and feel Start Menu that Microsoft is soon to release, hopefully by mid 2020!