First commercial version of Start8 for Windows 8 released

Editors note: Please read our disclaimer on Neowin's relationship to Stardock in our forums.

For the past several months, Stardock has been working on Start8 for Windows 8, which was designed to bring the familiar Start menu UI to the Windows 8 desktop interface. The company has released a number of free beta versions in the past several months but today, the company announced the final non-beta commercial version is now available to download and/or purchase.

Start8 will boot up a Windows 8 PC directly to the desktop UI, rather than the Modern interface. It also adds a version of the Start menu that has been available for previous versions of Windows to the Windows 8 desktop. In addition, it adds the ability to search for "Modern" Windows 8 apps, along with allowing users to pin and launch regular and Modern UI Windows 8 applications from the start menu.

The Windows 8 Start screen is also available for access from within the new Start8 menu, along with skinning options and a way to disable the desktop Windows 8 "hot spots". Users can go ahead and download a free 30 day trial version or get the full version now for $4.99.

Source: Start8 website | Image via Stardock

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The whole idea turned me off until I saw the screenshot- while it obviously doesn't change any of the points regarding whether or not this software is "good" or "wanted" or "right to create", you gotta admit that they designed it to look very, very good.

I really liked Stardock up until a few months ago when I got kind of burnt.

I purchased Fences Pro back in the day when Stardock said it was in active development and anyone who purchased it had some good stuff to look forward to.

There was no updates and now there is Fences 2 which I am asked to pay for again?

My advice to anyone looking to purchase a Stardock product is make sure you don't believe anything they tell you, test the software and if it has everything you need then purchase it.

Stardock will not keep to their promises, they Will use your feedback for something that they ask you to then purchase again. The software is stable and reccomended but the company is dodgy.

I might actually go pick that up after all. I was trashing it down at first for trying to alter to Windows 8 UI but this might be the first time when I honestly rather have a tool like this since MS decided to kill this after the Dev preview.

I like the Start Screen, its great for the Metro/tablet/consumer part of the OS, however I personally spend a lot of time on the desktop while working (99.999% of my time) and I'm really starting to miss the start menu. The start screen doesn't replicate the usability of the start menu (having my apps visible while pulling up a small menu to launch a commonly used tool or app that I don't want in my taskbar.

I think they knew this was going to **** off some power users, developers, etc but still went with it. If I have one major gripe with Windows 8 other than (in)consistency is the lack of the start menu on the desktop.

I am really liking what Stardock has done here. I will definitely try it out hoping it works well. $4.99 is less than the beer I'm having with lunch now....

Wow... did everyone wake up on the wrong side of the article this morning? Neowin is turning into a hate group lately.

THANK YOU Stardock! You make it possible for Windows 8 to be something other than a grade-school alternative to a real OS. Some of us have real work to do, not spend time re-learning an operating system and coming up with a new workflow, when the current methods works better and faster. It is well worth the $5 to get back to normal.

I've been using Win8 since it became available. It's wonderful ;3 Organization is very easy. Loving the start screen at launch. Just click what I want and bam, off I go. Sleep mode is no longer flawed. It actually wakes up now xD So once I wake up, hit the space key and it's on in 1 second. Plus my OC is now at 4.2GHz instead of 4.0 (I guess Win8 tolerates it better).

I think the new Start Screen is pretty slick, but its certainly not conducive to productive work with the keyboard and mouse. I left Windows on my primary desktop about 5 years back but still have to support it for work and use it as my HTPC platform. After installing Win8 over my existing Win7 install, I too was aghast to find a lack of start button as I had a couple apps auto starting that dropped the system down to the (bare) desktop right after boot. It was somewhat disconcerting, but it only took about 20 minutes of playing with the new screen to realize for an HTPC, the move towards a tablet style interface is perfect.

OS's are moving towards lowest-common-denominator. Apple's been doing it slowly with OSX, Microsoft is bumbling towards it with Metro, and we all know how Unity on Ubuntu has been a shocker for some. Bottom line, if you want it to be the "old" way, use a customizer or install Debian and build it the way YOU like it. For me, the move towards touch interfaces and tiled menus of buttons is logical as we move towards the post-PC era (yea, its coming whether you like it or embrace it or not).

There is NO indication that Apple will get rid of the Dock. App Launcher is 100% optional, you are not forced into it. Will Apple remove it in a later release? Perhaps. But there is NO indication that they are. App Launcher is a pain to use with keyboard and mouse, I do not think they will get rid of the dock.

Time to go to a Mac. At least it's new UI (Mission Control & App Launcher) is not forced upon you. And have 1 billion "start menu" alternatives popping out like it is New Years...

NeoPogo said,
Time to go to a Mac. At least it's new UI (Mission Control & App Launcher) is not forced upon you. And have 1 billion "start menu" alternatives popping out like it is New Years...

I agree. This is what Windows 8 should have been, exactly like Mission Control and App Launcher. I do like OS X, but it is weird to see that they did something right that Microsoft did not. Yeah yeah we are going to get comments like "it is time to move on". Um no it isnt. OS X is desktop/laptop. iOS is phone/tablet. OS X has SOME iOS elements added to it, but most of the UI ones are not forced down your throat.

Windows 8 is nice for other things, but the start screen on a desktop is not a good move.

NeoPogo said,
Time to go to a Mac. At least it's new UI (Mission Control & App Launcher) is not forced upon you. And have 1 billion "start menu" alternatives popping out like it is New Years...

It would appear that you have never been on a Mac. . .Lanuchpad

What is it with some people not be able to accept change. I have been using the rtm of Win8 since it was released a couple months ago and tried these 3rd party apps and have found zero need for them. I have a dual boot with Win7 and occasionally boot back to Win7 for something and when using it I realize how out of date the old start menu is. It will take time but in the end most people will eventually adapt to the new start screen. I think when these same people buy tablets and touchscreen Win8 products is when the learning process will begin for them. There is no way anyone will be able to use the old start menu with a touch screen. Think of it this way. People that have a desktop pc and use the 3rd party start screen app, they then purchase a tablet or touchscreen laptop. They are now using 2 different UIs instead of one. It just makes sense to use the new UI for everything.

I have classicshell on my systems just because I'm often working on them remotely through LMI or even Teamviewer.
And windows 8 in a windowed environment is a load of horrible crap! The hotcorners are a b*tch to use considering they're what, 5x5 pixels? Try aiming for that on a 2560x1600 resolution with a smaller window which holds the same resolution on the remote machine... thats less then half a square milimeter to move your mouse over.

How much I like the start screen and 3 hotcorners instead of 1 lil button with normal desktop work. Its completely undoable remotely or in a VM.

Dot Matrix said,

I remote into WIndows 8 pretty regularly. Keyboard shortcuts, dude.

I am sorry. I am not a fan of using keyboard shortcuts. You can yell and scream that I am "stuck in the past" all you want, but I work very fast with mice. I am really tired of you guys saying that just because we prefer the start menu, we are stuck in the past. What? Holy cow what is it with you pro Windows 8 folks? We want the OPTION to have what we PREFER. Not what you prefer, but what we prefer. MS should have just given us an option and all of this would be fixed. Yeah yeah "we are stuck in the past", "keep using Windows 7 and you will die out like the dinosaurs". Give me a break. It is just a start menu, so if we prefer that how exactly is that sticking to the past? We already decided to go into Desktop mode, we should be able to stay there without being thrown back into the Start Screen.

paesan said,
They are now using 2 different UIs instead of one.

That's because one is a desktop / laptop and the other is a fracking tablet.

It used to be Free, Stardock said it would always be Free and now, they want $5 for it.

The problem here is not the $5, it's the fact that Stardock made false advertising for this software.

TruckWEB said,
It used to be Free, Stardock said it would always be Free and now, they want $5 for it.

The problem here is not the $5, it's the fact that Stardock made false advertising for this software.

You want it free? Get Classic Shell! By now, they also have a Windows 7-like look-alike (selectable after install).
http://classicshell.sourceforge.net/

(Double-post - sorry!)

wow.
I remember the days when full shell replacements were all the rage.
Now, we're quibbling over which company can offer an affordable replacement to the optimized launcher experience of the OS in favor of an antiquated linking system to other shell functions.

How far we've come.

$5 is okay, they have created a fairly close faithful reproduction of the Windows 7 Start Menu but buying a copy for each PC or Virtual Machine means $5 x those many licenses.

That's true. They should have a multi-user pack or something.

Although in the end, I just went ahead and bought 4 licenses for my machines. $20 is no big deal for me, and it is an extremely useful app.

PoKKI is best Start menu i had ever seen.

just take a look at http://www.pokki.com/

It didn't min start8 is bad, but remember it isn't free while PoKKI is

Don't judge it by screen shot, just download it & see it by yr self.
very light & speedy

I just tried it, nice concept but fails - few bugs and even the search doesn't work well for me, uninstalled. Shame as it looks promising.

It may be nice features wise, but I like to keep things stock. Start8 manages to look and feel like it is a part of Windows, and not some 3rd party tool.

Radhey said,
PoKKI is best Start menu i had ever seen.

Wait, do we really need yet another app store, for the start menu no less? While the concept is nice, there simply isn't need to tie it into yet another 3rd party ecosystem. I just can't see what benefits this offers over the Start screen and live tiles.

Sranshaft said,

Wait, do we really need yet another app store, for the start menu no less? While the concept is nice, there simply isn't need to tie it into yet another 3rd party ecosystem. I just can't see what benefits this offers over the Start screen and live tiles.

i m not using their appstore. just using it as start menu.

i had made some feature request to them, if they consider it then i will use PoKKI as permanent start menu

Exosphere said,
I just tried it, nice concept but fails - few bugs and even the search doesn't work well for me, uninstalled. Shame as it looks promising.

this is just first beta version of it.

& for faster search, turnoff web results in PoKKI setting page

There is zero change of MSFT bringing back the start button. For those stuck in the past or for whatever reason and IMO having the urge to stick to the usually cluttered and messy pile of junk that is the start menu compared to a slick, clean and way, no WAY more flexible start screen go ahead and get this app or any other.

Personally I like my start screen just fine. Everything I need on a daily basis a key tap and mouse click away.

paulheu said,
There is zero change of MSFT bringing back the start button. For those stuck in the past or for whatever reason and IMO having the urge to stick to the usually cluttered and messy pile of junk that is the start menu compared to a slick, clean and way, no WAY more flexible start screen go ahead and get this app or any other.

Personally I like my start screen just fine. Everything I need on a daily basis a key tap and mouse click away.

yea, because every time in windows 8 you install an app none of those random extra uninstall/info/settings/tools programs that come along with them never end up on the start screen

/s

I am Reid said,

yea, because every time in windows 8 you install an app none of those random extra uninstall/info/settings/tools programs that come along with them never end up on the start screen

/s

This will decrease and go away as time passes. Already most of the software doesn't add a bunch of junk to the start screen. How often do you install programs, anyways? Whenver you install one, just check the end of the start screen and remove any junk that was placed there if any was.

You mean like most apps create an entry in the start menu as well? Takes me about 5 seconds to get rid of these tiles (while it's way more clumsy and cumbersome to do the same from the start menu) and as mentioned installers and developers will be more aware of this real quick come November 2012

I guess the term is grasping at straws..

I am Reid said,

yea, because every time in windows 8 you install an app none of those random extra uninstall/info/settings/tools programs that come along with them never end up on the start screen

/s


I never got uninstall icons show up for "old" applications on the start screen, only the launcher icon. And If i right click on the application launcher icon, I get an option in the bottom menubar to uninstall the application.

paulheu said,
There is zero change of MSFT bringing back the start button. For those stuck in the past or for whatever reason and IMO having the urge to stick to the usually cluttered and messy pile of junk that is the start menu compared to a slick, clean and way, no WAY more flexible start screen go ahead and get this app or any other.

Personally I like my start screen just fine. Everything I need on a daily basis a key tap and mouse click away.

I guess design is a subjective thing.. I don't find the Windows 8 start screen especially slick or clean. It throws up a full screen of tiles and depending on how many apps you have installed and how you've grouped them, it's no more intuitive to search up and down them trying to find the one you're looking for.

To each his own. At this point in time I hate to say but I do prefer the Start Menu. It's served them well all this time and I do find it funny how quickly the Windows 8 enthusiasts are willing to trash it as "yesterdays news" and old fashioned.

I am Reid said,

yea, because every time in windows 8 you install an app none of those random extra uninstall/info/settings/tools programs that come along with them never end up on the start screen

/s


You do realize that happens on the start menu too right? (try installing ANY development tool/SDK)

georgevella said,

You do realize that happens on the start menu too right? (try installing ANY development tool/SDK)

Yes, but it gets grouped into a FOLDER. On Windows 8 if you install an app that contains 50 shortcuts, ALL 50 of those will show up on the Start Screen. In Windows 7, they get auto grouped in to a folder.

The Dark Knight said,

Yes, but it gets grouped into a FOLDER. On Windows 8 if you install an app that contains 50 shortcuts, ALL 50 of those will show up on the Start Screen. In Windows 7, they get auto grouped in to a folder.

Yes, because tidying them up or moving them into a group is such a time consuming hassle.... /s

This is inevitable until developers stop dumping crap into your start menu.

The Dark Knight said,

Yes, but it gets grouped into a FOLDER. On Windows 8 if you install an app that contains 50 shortcuts, ALL 50 of those will show up on the Start Screen. In Windows 7, they get auto grouped in to a folder.


Because old software does not know how to handle new techniques, this makes the start screen a bad thing? Jesus dude.
You also blame MS for the Vista debacle right? 3rd parties still using old Win9x/NT methods for drivers and such, instead of using the new API/technique.

You expect MS to offcourse go write exceptions into the start screen for every piece of software known to mankind? Or you rather have to select each thing entering your start screen manually? (which defeats the purpose as that functionality is already there basically) or no start menu icons at all?

Dude seriously man, haters be hating.

The Dark Knight said,

Yes, but it gets grouped into a FOLDER. On Windows 8 if you install an app that contains 50 shortcuts, ALL 50 of those will show up on the Start Screen. In Windows 7, they get auto grouped in to a folder.


There are plenty of Applications that (without even offering the user a way to prevent it) do not use any folders and drop shortcuts right in the first folder of the startmenu. And these aren't dodgy Applications either. One example that springs to mind is Adobe acrobat.

The task of cleaning the start screen is definitely not a new experience and needed to be done on the old one as well

Chicane-UK said,

I do find it funny how quickly the Windows 8 enthusiasts are willing to trash it as "yesterdays news" and old fashioned.

Well, I am a Windows Enthusiat, but guess what, I won't be touching 8 at all. Why are desktop & laptop users being forced to use something that is clearly meant for a tablet/phone. We should've been given a choice to use Metro or the desktop w/ the start menu intact from the get-go!

paulheu said,
There is zero change of MSFT bringing back the start button. For those stuck in the past or for whatever reason and IMO having the urge to stick to the usually cluttered and messy pile of junk that is the start menu compared to a slick, clean and way, no WAY more flexible start screen go ahead and get this app or any other.

Personally I like my start screen just fine. Everything I need on a daily basis a key tap and mouse click away.

your ignorant
your assuming everyone does things the same way.. they don't.
for example i use the start menu on win7 but it plays very small role.
90% of the time i launch apps by my custom quick launch or taskbar shortcuts or folders pinned to the explorer taskbar icon. and desktop icons are forbidden on my machine.
I sure as hell don't need some start screen blocking my custom osd showing my hardware info either..

so ya this program may be useful to *SOME people

jeezuz christ im getting so tired of listening to ignorant little delusional blow hards that live ib their own little bubble.. if i can step out side of my world
and stop ans see how people do things different than myself than others should be able also. In other words i understand how the win8 start screen is liked by *some but it needs to work both ways people..
time to pull your head out of your butts fanboys and see reality

remixedcat said,
They promised it would stay free... as well as with fences...

If you really want this utlity, you would buy. There is no point in being a crybaby. 5$ is nothing in techworld these days....

Mohitster said,

If you really want this utlity, you would buy. There is no point in being a crybaby. 5$ is nothing in techworld these days....

it's not about the 5 dollars it's about being lied to and the fact that fences was free to lure people into the stardock world and now they eliminated it. why would we support a company that pulls that crap?

remixedcat said,

it's not about the 5 dollars it's about being lied to and the fact that fences was free to lure people into the stardock world and now they eliminated it. why would we support a company that pulls that crap?

You can still keep using your free version, if you like it enough to pay for any new features in the future then do so. If not just keep using the version you got for free.

remixedcat said,

it's not about the 5 dollars it's about being lied to and the fact that fences was free to lure people into the stardock world and now they eliminated it. why would we support a company that pulls that crap?

Indeed, the issue here is not the cost, $5 is cheap after all. The issue is the blatant lying. Perhaps Brad Wardell would like a reminder of what he said...

Will anyone still be able to download and/or purchase the final version of Start8 when it is officially launched?

Oh yea. Start8 is going to be freeware still for non-commercial use.

Ridiculous.

remixedcat said,
They promised it would stay free... as well as with fences...

Did you sign agreement with them? Their terms can change at anytime and people shouldn't be entitled to anything! If they see that there is a huge demand for their software, then they can charge for it. The whole mentality of having $0.99 software from app-stores has ruined people's mindsets these days.

remixedcat said,

it's not about the 5 dollars it's about being lied to and the fact that fences was free to lure people into the stardock world and now they eliminated it. why would we support a company that pulls that crap?


because

Wardell endorses digital distribution, despite the potential for piracy.[28] He believes that while copyright infringement is an issue, blaming it for poor sales - and insisting on "stupid"[29] forms of digital rights management - "hides other underlying causes."[30] Indeed, he argues that extreme anti-piracy measures result in poor sales:

Oh Stardock also gave us Sins of Solar Empire.

Things change, you probably use Google products, yet they lie to you and me allot more on a daily basis then Wardell did to us in his whole life.

ingramator said,
Too be fair, it does look pretty good, even if it is crapware...

Nope sorry, it doesn't contain any crap, tracking module, etc. It's light and slick, and it does what it does very well

devHead said,
How come I didn't get some credit for busting out this news about three hours ago?

its just how things go down here these days.

Go make your own website, then someone on the interweb might just care. But you know what'll discredit you? Startdock is neowin's parent company. They can make a post on Neowin's frontpage whenever they want. Lol, you fail!

Edited by LAMj, Oct 19 2012, 6:56am :

JHBrown said,
$5 for a program that Microsoft should add for free?

Look, if the feedback is overwhelming then Microsoft will bring it back. But we will have to wait and see how the general public perceives the missing Start button/menu.

Oh god, a 40x40 meaningless button is missing from my taskbar! Better call the paramedics: using the keyboard button as replacement is going to give me cramps.

JHBrown said,
$5 for a program that Microsoft should add for free?

You know you need a job when you're complaining about five dollars. If anyone you should be mad about, then it's Microsoft. Even then, they're not forcing you to buy Windows 8. You only have yourself to blame.

francescob said,
Oh god, a 40x40 meaningless button is missing from my taskbar! Better call the paramedics: using the keyboard button as replacement is going to give me cramps.

I don't quite understand your comment, unless the preview version has changed, does it not flicker to a full start screen when you press the WinKey then type notepad or whatever? That was my #1 complaint. I don't use the start menu at all in Windows 7 other than to hit WinKey > Type What I need. If Windows 8 keeps me on the desktop when I hit WinKey, all is good. Otherwise, I don't need all the meaningless distracting flickering and bouncing from one screen to another just to open notepad (I hate desktop icons too).

ScottDaMan said,
If Windows 8 keeps me on the desktop when I hit WinKey, all is good. Otherwise, I don't need all the meaningless distracting flickering and bouncing from one screen to another just to open notepad (I hate desktop icons too).

Why do you prefer to search in a tiny box on the desktop? The ancient Start Menu only displays 20 items by default and done scale. The new Win 8 Start screen scales with resolution and displays way more results. On my 2560x1600 monitor it shows me 150 results with large easy to recognise icons. It's vastly better than the old Start Menu for searching. And theres no "flickering" at all. Sounds like you have a graphics driver glitch.

Yeah, but that's $5 I'd be giving to Brad, which I *really* do not want to do.

LAMj said,

You know you need a job when you're complaining about five dollars.

Ilys said,
Yeah, but that's $5 I'd be giving to Brad, which I *really* do not want to do.

If you have some personal thing against me, why are you posting here in the first place?

Frogboy said,

If you have some personal thing against me, why are you posting here in the first place?


Because you didn't make Neowin. Unfortunately, you're providing servers. That's it. Please don't sexually harass me due to my disagreement with you.

SaltySalsa said,

Because you didn't make Neowin. Unfortunately, you're providing servers. That's it. Please don't sexually harass me due to my disagreement with you.

No, I'll just take away your posting privileges for a day for being excessively gullible for what you read online and then using it to insult me.