Make Windows 8 look like Windows 7 or XP

by
Play

If you just bought a new computer and it has Windows 8, I’ll bet you miss Windows 7.  Maybe you even miss good ol’ Windows XP.  If so, you’re going to really like this – it’s a way to make your brand new Windows 8 computer look and feel like Windows 7 or XP.

 No Windows 8!

 

If you just started using Windows 8, what’s the one thing that you miss the most?  The Start button, of course.  It’s been a familiar component of Windows ever since Windows 95!  And now with Windows 8, the Start button is gone – along with the Start menu that everyone is used to using.



Time to get the Start Button back!

To make Windows 8 look like Windows 7, we’re going to use a simple, free program called Classic Shell.  You can get it at ClassicShell.net.

What Classic Shell does is simple: it brings back the Windows 7 or Windows XP Start button so that you can use it to access your programs, files and folders like you could before Windows 8 eliminated that feature.

I will go through the installation process below.  Pay close attention during the download process – you may end up with an unintentional download if you get distracted and click on the wrong thing.

How to install Classic Shell:

1. Go to the website www.ClassicShell.net.  If you are on the correct site, you will see this logo:

Classic Shell logo

2. You can read the site and see the various features described.  When you are ready to proceed, look for the “Download Now” button over on the left side.  The software is free, but there is also a “Donate” button if you would like to contribute to the creators of the program:

Classic Shell download

3. When you click the “Download Now” button, you will be taken to a different website to get the actual download.  Here is where you need to be careful and pay attention to what you are downloading.  On this other site, there are ads for other programs, and the ads include a big “Download” button – it’s designed to trick you into clicking it.  Don’t click another download button on this page.  This is what it looks like:

sneaky downloads

I really hate that sites like this, with legitimate software, allow ads that are deliberately deceitful.  But that’s another story.

4. Rather than click a Download button, your download should start up automatically.  In Chrome, you will see it happening in the lower left corner.  In Firefox,you’ll get a window asking if you want to Run or Save the file (click Run).  In Internet Explorer, there will be a dialogue window at the bottom edget of the screen asking to either Run or Save (click Run).

5. Running the program will take you through the installation process, which is pretty basic.  I didn’t see anything tricky or sneaky, which is nice.  Here is what you should see:

Classic Shell installation

Classic Shell license agreement

Classic Shell installation options

Classic Shell installation

Classic Shell installing

Classic Shell installer

 

6. When you click that “Finish” button, you might see the “Readme” file which gives some more information, but it’s not absolutely necessary that you read it (uncheck the “View Readme file” to avoid seeing it).  Otherwise, you’re almost done.

You will see the Start button down there in the lower left corner.  It “sort of” looks like the old Microsoft logo that used to show up there – same colors anyway, and it’s overall circular in shape.

The first time you click on it, the “settings” window come up on the screen.  In that window, you have the choice of Basic Settings or All Settings.  Here are what those two windows look like:

start menu basic settings

start menu all settings

If you are curious about all those other settings, you can go exploring in the “All settings” menu and see what options  you have (there are lots of choices).  However, all you really have to do is choose one of the 3 Start Menu options that are displayed on both of the Settings screens.  Just click on either Windows Classic, Windows XP, or Windows 7, and click OK.

You’ll see this little warning:

start menu change warning

Just click Yes, and you’re done – your computer is ready to be used very similarly to the way your previous version of Windows functioned.

You’ll notice that there are still some differences.  When you click the Start button, it used to give you the option to click on “All Programs” so you could choose one.  That option is still there:

Start menu all programs

But in addition to that is the option to choose from the Apps that are installed:

Start menu all apps

I’m not going to go into Apps here – that’s a topic for another blog post.  Just know that you can now access all of your Apps right from this menu.

Couple other points:

– If you ever do want to actually vew the “Metro” screen that shows icons for all the apps, you can do that by moving your cursor up to the top left corner of the screen so that a little menu appears, then move the cursor down to the lower left corner of the screen where you see the little thumbnail image of the Metro screen.  Click on that image.

– If you decide that you just want to go back to the way Windows 8 was originally, without the Start button and Start menu, you can do that too.  Click Start – Control Panel  – Programs and Features.  Find Classic Shell in the list, and click to Uninstall it.  But why would you want to do that??

If you try Classic Shell, let me know what you think about it in the comments section.  Good, bad or in between, I would like to hear your thoughts on it.

listen to my podcast in iTunes

Share this post

21 comments Add your comment »

Get updates when new comments are added. Subscribe to the comments RSS Feed

Mike Jenkins
February 11th, 2013

In my opinion I don’t mind the Start button being gone. It did take some time but after a month I have become use to it. Most people I work with are only struggling with accessing the control panel. You can make a tile or what ever it’s called today for quick access.

I do think they should have had 2 versions, one for desktops and one for laptops, tablets and phones, for Windows 8 so people can slowly be moved to the new interface.

Then again if Microsoft goes through with their plan for a new operating system every year the start button may come back in Windows 9.

Scott Johnson
February 11th, 2013

Mike, it wouldn’t surprise me either if the Start button made a reappearance in a future version!

Moe Beaudin
February 11th, 2013

I bought a new computer about a month ago and it took awhile but I got used to it and can maneuver around pretty good. But change is not something my wife likes on her computer so when she gets a new computer or laptop she will want to stay with the old way of doing things unless like you said, they keep the Start button in the newer versions. The thing I hated most when I bought my new HP computer is that it didn’t have any instruction booklet and I had to use trial and error on everything or go to ask.com and hope for answers. Had this blog arrived a month ago I’m sure would have downloaded it immediately. But I will still download it and go back and uninstall if I want. Thank for this blog. I recommend to anyone who still has an older computer, that they save this email so they can go to it when they buy a new computer.

Scott Johnson
February 11th, 2013

I agree Moe – this program will be one that people want to keep track of for when they get a new computer with Windows 8. Also, just so you are aware, one thing I do a lot of is new PC setup. A new computer will come with a lot of junk that you don’t need, and a lot of the stuff you do need isn’t there (such as a good antivirus, antispyware, etc). I also make recovery discs (you only get one shot to make those with a new computer), break in the battery (if it’s a laptop) so it lasts as long as possible, etc. So that when I give it back to you it is ready to be used easily and safely.

Moe Beaudin
February 11th, 2013

I downloaded the Classic Shell and just to let you know, I didn’t get the
tricky download adds, they must have removed them, and I automatically
got the Read Me in a pop up WordPad and didn’t have an option to
uncheck it. All went well. Thanks again.

Scott Johnson
February 11th, 2013

Thanks Moe, hope it helps!

Mike Jenkins
February 11th, 2013

You can make a recovery discs at any time during the life of the computer. I make mine after every new program installation. I use an external drive over discs because of the amount of data.

Scott Johnson
February 11th, 2013

Correct. What I meant by “one shot” is that you can only create them once.

Mike Jenkins
February 11th, 2013

You have me confused by “you can only create them once”. You are talking about Windows built in option to make a set of recovery discs right?

Scott Johnson
February 11th, 2013

The recovery disc creation is not really an intrinsic part of Windows itself. It’s an added feature that is from the manufacturer (such as HP or Dell). When you get a new computer, you have the option to create a set of recovery discs. If you use DVDs, it usually takes 3-5 of them. There will be a warning in advance that you can only create them one time. After it’s done, there will be the admonition that you should keep these discs in a safe place because they can only be created one time. In other words, you can’t create a set of recovery discs and then just create a second set as a “spare”.

Mike Jenkins
February 11th, 2013

That is a built in feature within Windows as well. You can make a repair disc which brings up the options such as startup repair as if you was booting from a Windows disc. You can also create a recovery image as well from within Windows. This is a better option because it includes the changes you have made such as removing the junk-ware.

Mike Jenkins
February 11th, 2013

You can also go in and make changes to the system registry which will allow the computer to ask for all the information again as if it was being booted for the first time. We used this when we made and shipped custom computers.

Scott Johnson
February 11th, 2013

Right, I know about the Windows repair disc. And the system image. I’m just talking about a set of discs that will take the computer back to day 1 if needed. If I’m setting up a new PC, the client doesn’t usually purchase an external drive just to have an original system image in case it’s needed. And I don’t think you can put the Windows System Images on DVDs like you can with the manufacturer’s recovery disc creation. For most of my clients, it is a lot easier to just create those discs in the beginning rather than have me go back in later on and edit the registry to have Windows ask for it again (6 months after purchase, if the client needs recovery discs, chances are the computer has a problem that makes the registry not even accessible anyway).

Mike Jenkins
February 11th, 2013

You can choice the option of putting it on DVD if you want. For me I have over 500gb of programs alone installed. That’s a lot of discs. If I use just the option you are referring to I have to re-install all that. Not to mention configuration time.

Also I think that option at first boot is wasting time with all manufacturers using the built-in recovery partition. Not all brands make it as easy as HP/Compaq which just want you to press F10 ( I think ) at start-up but it’s there.

If any of Scotts customers are reading this I am not trying to show him up or make him look bad. I always say computer technicians are like doctors. We all have our own methods and practices to do the job.

Scott Johnson
February 11th, 2013

It’s all good discussion Mike. I do use and promote the System Image creation. Also, the recovery partition doesn’t do any good if the drive physically crashes. Thanks for the feedback, I appreciate it!

Mike Jenkins
February 11th, 2013

At that point they are going to call you to replace the drive. That’s when I use a image file and the C.O.A on the machine if they don’t have their own image. Clean install with no trail, junk, crap and all other types of ware.

Scott Johnson
February 11th, 2013

Yes, and hopefully they have a recent image file to use! I create a new one weekly on my main machine.

Mike Crider
March 2nd, 2013

I downloaded and installed Classic Shell and couldn’t be happier. I’ve been using Windows 8 for about two months now and have been getting more and more frustrated with it. Today I had enough and started my web search for some way of configuring the OS to emulate Windows 7. I stumbled upon your site and this post. I downloaded and installed Classic Shell and couldn’t be happier! I’m really surprised at how customizable this is. Thanks for the post!

As a sidebar, I would like to compliment Scott Johnson and Mike Jenkins on their discussion of “recovery discs”. So many times I see these conversations get nasty, unprofessional, and completely out of hand. These two gentlemen stayed on topic and stayed respectful of each other’s methods. Kudos!

Scott Johnson
March 2nd, 2013

Thanks Mike! I’m glad you are finding Classic Shell useful and I appreciate the kind words!

Ian M
March 10th, 2013

Thank you – Just thank you – I’ve been an XP user since launch (98 and 95 before that, In fact I started with Windows 3.1 for work groups). This weekend my old PC died and it wasn’t viable to upgrade as I had in the past so I bought a new one (only option was a Windows 8 equipped PC)

I was tearing my hair out with the way 8 wanted me to work and organise my files – Classic Shell – just brilliant – makes 8 much more as i want it I can find programmes I want to use in a logical way.

I’m now a lot happier

Scott Johnson
March 10th, 2013

Glad it worked out for you Ian! This is the kind of stuff I do each Monday – be sure to get on the list for my weekly email.