How to Enable Good Old Start Button (ORB) and Start Menu in Windows 8?

We all know that Windows 8 RTM has been released which comes with many improvements and UI changes compared to previously released testing builds. It supports Start Screen customization and there are many improvements in Windows Explorer ribbon UI, etc.

Among these improvements, there is a big change which was not expected by anyone. That is the removal of good old start button (start ORB) from Taskbar. We mentioned this earlier that Microsoft has removed the start button from Taskbar in Windows 8. You can check following link for more information:

Will Windows 8 be a Good OS for Desktop PCs?

Microsoft already removed start menu from Windows 8 in previously released Developer Preview build and now the start button has also gone.

Without start button the Taskbar looks weird and new users can't decide where to go and open their favorite programs? Today in this tutorial, we are going to tell you how to bring the good old start button and start menu back in Windows 8?

Yes. You heard it right. although start button and start menu have been permanently removed from Windows 8 but there are ways to get them back.

In this tutorial, we'll share 2 easy to use methods which can help you in enabling start button and start menu in Windows 8:

  • METHOD 1: Using New Taskbar Toolbar
  • METHOD 2: Using 3rd Party Software

So without wasting time, lets start the tutorial:

METHOD 1: Using New Taskbar Toolbar

Long time back we shared a small tutorial to get classic start menu back in Windows 7 in which we took help of built-in Taskbar toolbar feature of Windows.

[Manual Method] Get "Classic Start Menu" Back in Windows 7 Without Using 3rd Party Software

The same method also works in Windows 8 and you can get an alternative start menu as shown in following screenshot:


As you can see you can access all programs list using this new menu similar to start menu.

If you are not satisfied with this method and want to get original Windows 7 style start ORB and start menu in Windows 8, then following method will definitely help you.

METHOD 2: Using 3rd Party Software

In this method, we'll use a freeware "ViStart" which was actually created for Windows XP to get Windows Vista or 7 style start menu but this excellent tool works in Windows 8 as well.

1. So first download ViStart using following topic:

ViStart: Free Windows Vista and Windows 7 Start Menu Clone for Windows XP

NOTE: When you run ViStart setup, it tries to install two 3rd party programs bundled with it. You can skip the installation of these extra programs by unchecking "Install Babylon toolbar" option and clicking on "Decline" button when the setup asks to install "Registry Cleaner Pro" software.

2. Once you install ViStart, it'll bring back the start ORB and start menu in Windows 8. But the start ORB will overlap Taskbar button as shown in following screenshot:


3. You can fix this problem by adding a new blank toolbar in Taskbar. Simply follow these steps:

UPDATE: The latest version of ViStart doesn't create this icon overlapping problem. If you are using an older version of ViStart, then you'll need to apply following steps, otherwise not.

3.a. First create a new folder anywhere. It might be on Desktop, in C: drive or in any other drive. We have created a folder "test" in C: drive in our example.


3.b. Now right-click on Taskbar and select "Toolbars -> New toolbar..." option.

3.c. It'll open browse dialog box where you'll need to select a folder. Select the new folder which you created in 3.a. step and click on "Select Folder" button.


3.d. It'll immediately add the new folder toolbar in Taskbar. It'll be added near system tray (notification area) as shown in following screenshot:


3.e. Right-click on Taskbar and uncheck "Lock the Taskbar" option. It'll show a placeholder to drag the folder toolbar.


3.f. Now you need to drag-n-drop the new folder toolbar to the start of Taskbar. Simply click and hold on the folder toolbar handler, drag the handler to the start of Taskbar. It'll put the new folder toolbar to the start of Taskbar and you'll see a huge gap between folder toolbar and program buttons.

3.g. Now right-click on the empty area between folder toolbar and program buttons and uncheck both "Show Text" and "Show title" options.


3.h. Now you can drag-n-drop the program buttons handler near start ORB to remove the gap.


3.i. Lock the Taskbar again and now start ORB will no longer overlap program buttons and you'll get a working start ORB and start menu in Windows 8.

ViStart works perfectly without any problem in Windows 8 so you'll never miss the good old Start button and Start Menu in Windows 8.

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Posted in: Troubleshooting, Windows 8 / 8.1

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  • amazing. thank u so much VG. I wanted this. :D

  • METHOD 2 is very good . Thanks alot for this ...

  • Thanks alot, you are amazing in customizing windows.

  • nice!!!
    I just don't understand why Microsoft deletes the start button, when you log in on windows xp for the first time it says "click the start orb" if people really want an OS like this they should better use
    MS-DOS &windows 3.11 for workgroups &calmira longhorn &newer version of VC++ &kernelex &new .NET framework.
    this scrappy OS will be faster.

    I think people will start using Linux with compiz, because of the ugly metro GUI.
    a lot of people liked win7 and longhorn because it looks good, they didn't know about bit-locker speech recognition etc. so the GUI does matter.

  • Hi VG

    This is a useful article. I've updated ViStart (3807) so that it's compatible with Windows 8 Consumer Preview edition.


  • vistart works. kinda. sorta. its a pre-win7 incarnation, not exactly what I want, what I weant is metro totally gone. people tell me rename the shell dll it goes away but as thery spell the fookin file name wrong for con prev (using the dev prev name) I don't trust the idea myself.

    Other than that, win8 runs about 10 times fasster boots 100 times faster is 1000 times more stable Chrome loves it although fox 11 goes CRAZY on it had to shift all my browser user scripts to chrome (GRRR) BUT the GREATEST THING is the darn cpu runs 30 degrees centigrade cooler and the video card runs so much cooler I can run all day EVEN THOU THE HEAT SINK FAN ON THE VIDEO DIED ALTOGETHER which is why I run win8 ONLY now!

    SO a accurate file rename or a reg hack, that fit con prev, are GREATLY DESIRED. I hate gestures in real life not just in computers. likewise portable technology if its more than voice and text if I am moving wtf I want to be bothered with graphics. anywhere I go there is a computer for me set up as I want ity set up, or I don't stay longer than it takes to wipe my hind end.

  • Very nice work. Too bad Microsft puts less than 10% of the thought that went into this in their work. Just what were they thinking? Do you see Apple putting iPhone software on their computers? This may be workable if you control the software and hardware and sell an integrated unit consisting of a touch screen monitor and integrated CPU (basically a large iPad on a stand).

    It's a mystery why Microsft is doing the Consumer Preview. How many people have an appropriate mobile device that they want to install beta software on? Microsoft wants to think out of the box, but kicking a ragged hole in the side of the box to get there is not the way to go.

    I probably wouldn't buy Windows 8 until SP2, just to make sure that it's not another Vista, but at this time it looks like Windows 8 will make Vista look like a resounding success! Microsoft has a terrible habit of taking 3 tries to get things right, but even with Windows 7, one of their best efforts, there are still conceptual defects, weird changes that make so sense (a different funny button at the top left menu of every application), AI programming that makes things work worse and adds no value except frustration, etc.

    I don't own an Apple product, but when I read what's in the media and listen to my friends talk about their Apple devices I hear a lot more positive comments and a lot less frustration. Maybe performance and reliability is worth the cost.

  • If I'll have to essentially learn a new OS, why would I not just go to the far less buggy Apple product? It's reputed to be more stable and far less prone to malware infections which is certainly enough to capture my interest.

    I've been a Windows user exclusively since my first computer came with Win 95 but frankly, after my bad, bad, BAD experiences with Vista (see: boat anchor), and having to spend over $100 to straighten out my system after a nasty virus infection snuck past McAfee, I'm ready to give "the other guys" a serious shot. My usage admittedly puts me soundly in the "recreational user" catagory, and having to relearn a new OS every several years is for the birds. Nevertheless, when MS stops "supporting" (cough, cough!!) an OS, there's very little alternative, and even less reason to remain a MS customer. Why not take that as the opportunity to switch?

  • Update: Now ViStart doesn't overlap the program buttons.

  • Amazing job, VG.
    Thanks so much, I loved the results.
    Vistart is a almost perfect Windows Vista/7 Start menu simulation.
    Start Menu is the best menu Microsoft made up to date. Start Screen is good, but Start Menu is irreplaceable.

  • Try using start8 from stardock. It's free!!!

  • I hate this never logging off. No wonder Best Buy had a special they were trying to get rid of these computers. There is always a program running in the background I cant log out. I am digging out my receipt and return the d_____ computer!

  • The problem with method 1 is that there are 2 Start Menu folders on the system: per user and All Users and it cannot combine them. :)

  • Agree with almost all 'critiques of Win8- HATE it, The person(s) who devised it should be shot. But the manager(s) and higher who approved it for production deserves to only be fed to the sharks! I told MS don't ake chan ges for the sake of making a change, Win 8 is not even a better way to accomplish the same thing !! Many years ago,an old car shade tree mechanic gave me this piece of wisdom applicable to almost, no, to ALL manufactured/created products. " If it ain't broke, DON'T FIX IT !" explain to this non-techy, what ORB means?

  • Okay. I got to the library. Made a new Start folder. But every time I try to add the two new folders to it, I keep getting something about there not being a valid pathway or something. Did I miss something or has MS made it to where no one can add a start menu anymore?

  • Is way easier to install than that other suggested program. You almost don't need to tweak/adjust anything. The defaults are great.

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