Technology and Gadgets
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Return the Start Menu and Customise the Modern UI in Windows 8in Windows
Whilst it’s undeniable that Windows 8 is supremely fast, it really lends itself to the tablet arena. But many of us, myself included, have switched to Windows 8 because of its super-fast start-up times, and it’s slickness in handling programs for use on the home PC desktop.
But what myself, and I suspect many others, who use this latest operating system from Microsoft are finding is that on a desktop which is not touch screen capable, Windows 8 can be a little tedious. Add into the mix that there is no Start Menu button in desktop mode, and that there are limited customisation options in the Modern User Interface (formally Metro Interface), and you soon start missing the old layout of Windows 7.
However, there is a way to bring all the functionality of the old Windows 7 desktop back, as well as a way to customise your Modern UI.
The products I am talking about are from Stardock (www.stardock.com) and are called “Start8” and “Decor8”.
Using Start8 you can now place a Windows 7 style start menu on the desktop interface. This perfectly replicates the previous Windows interface, with everything you’ve come to know and love. This means a list of programs, quick jump menus, recently used items, the lot. And yes, it even includes the Shutdown/Restart options we’ve all come familiar with in previous versions of Windows. Another nifty feature which can be configured is the ability to jump straight into desktop mode as soon as Windows 8 boots rather than the default Modern UI. This is great if, like me, most of you applications run in desktop mode, and you like the old fashioned way of having icons on the desktop. Of course, if you like the layout of the Windows 8 Modern UI, but would still like to jump to the desktop, they provide an option for this. You can have the Modern UI as you Windows start menu.
Moving on to the customisation of the Modern UI, Decor8 provides a fantastic way to do this. The program allows you to customise the backdrops, the colours, the way it looks. Cycle through different backgrounds at pre-defined intervals, even changing the colours used in areas like the Charm Bar to match the currently loaded backdrop. If you’re looking for individuality to your Modern UI under Windows 8, this surely is a must. What’s more, Decor8 can spruce up your Windows 8 tablet’s appearance.
Having loaded both onto my home computer, I haven’t noticed any degradation in performance or start-up times. It’s just as quick, but just gives my desktop that little something extra I’ve been missing from the Windows 8 OS.
You can purchase both Start8 and Decor8 for $4.99usd each (about £3.20 at current currency rates on 17th Feb 2013). So for under £7 you can completely change the appearance and functionality of Windows 8 to your liking. This is amazing value in my opinion.
Start8 and Decor8 can also be purchased as part of their ObjectDesktop subscription which offers more features. However I suspect for most users of Windows 8 on the desktop, the above two products will more than suffice and give them back the elements of Windows 7 they most miss in Windows 8.
Personally, I can’t applaude Stardock enough for releasing two fantastic pieces of software. Well done guys.