RetroUI for Windows 8 gets updated; new menu and 'SuperSize' Start screen

Software developer Thinix has released a number of versions of its Windows 8 Start menu program RetroUI over the past several months. Now the company has launched a major new update for RetroUI, which brings its version number up to 3.0.

This new version includes something that a number of people might like; a true 'retro" Windows 7 style Start menu for the Windows 8 desktop, with features like integrated search, right click context menus and a way to drag and drop items in the menu.

If you like the Start screen and the 'Metro' UI, the new RetroUI 3.0 has you covered as well. It includes a new 'SuperSize' feature that lets Windows 8 apps and the Start screen span across multiple PC monitors. The new version of the program's Metro App launcher now allows all Metro apps to be launched from the Start Menu and the program's TabletView.

Other new features in RetroUI 3.0 include the ability for the Start Menu to adjust its color to a user's Windows 8 color choice. Metro apps can now have their starting size set as a percentage of the desktop and Metro apps can now "snap" to fill half the screen for those users with large monitors.

The program is available for download now for $4.95 for use on one PC or a version for $9.95 that can be used by up to three PCs. You can also get a seven day free trial version and there are other versions made for business and educational use.

Source: Thinix | Image via Thinix

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People complain about the $5, but really, it costs more for a Venti-sized drink at Starbucks. At least this will give you ongoing productivity instead of a boost for one morning.

Another Windows 8 Start Menu replacement but this one isn't just a start menu, which is good. It seems that some people realize there is more missing from Windows 8 than just a start menu. I bought Start8 for my mom when she got a new computer for Christmas, but I will probably put this on ours when we get new ones with our income tax refund. I wish someone would do a start menu for Server 2012 too - we are starting to deploy Server 2012 at work, and I'm not looking forward to having to maintain that with a similar Windows 8 experience.

RetroUI Pro v3 for Server 2012 is now released and is posted on RetroUI.com It brings similar Start Menu functionality to Windows Server. It is multi-user, multi-monitor, multi-language. It also supports running Metro Apps within Windows Server if you have installed the 'Desktop Experience'.

Running Metro apps in a window is worth the price of admission by itself! There is no reason to run Metro apps with tons of wasted space fullscreen on a 24" monitor. True support for multiple monitors, super size mode all look nice too.

Microsoft wants you to think every pc is in fact a tablet with one screen.

Thank god we have solutions. I applaud these guys for RetroUI. There are many start menu replacements, but none that enable these things.

It's only $4.95 and I like it! It has worked for me for the first two days, hopefully no hidden bug mines, very content considering my critical nature. Good, try it.

Sadly, seems to be missing the one thing I want from the w7 start menu, the list of recently opened files for each application.

I normally open things with search, so the metro screen is fine as it's barely there a moment anyway, it's just when I want to say, open notepad on a note I wrote a couple of days ago...I miss that at home (Still on 7 at work).

Supersize/half-size metro apps sounds good though! Still not quite ideal as I guess it's still only 1 or 2 at a time! I'd quite like to be able to fill a monitor with "docked" metro apps, messenger, weather, skype, etc.

Of course I can just use the desktop apps to achieve the same...but still.

ChristopherSmith said,
Sadly, seems to be missing the one thing I want from the w7 start menu, the list of recently opened files for each application.

I normally open things with search, so the metro screen is fine as it's barely there a moment anyway, it's just when I want to say, open notepad on a note I wrote a couple of days ago...I miss that at home (Still on 7 at work).

Supersize/half-size metro apps sounds good though! Still not quite ideal as I guess it's still only 1 or 2 at a time! I'd quite like to be able to fill a monitor with "docked" metro apps, messenger, weather, skype, etc.

Of course I can just use the desktop apps to achieve the same...but still.

Open RetroUI Pro Start Menu, type: recent hit enter, select Recent, you will see Recent items, right click it and select Pin to Start Menu.

You now have a button to open recent documents in RetroUI Pro.

Screenshot: http://bit.ly/Wr7z0e

-don

Edited by donv, Feb 5 2013, 11:59am : Added link to screenshot

All Microsoft needs to do is keep the task bar on top of the Metro UI. The tile screen makes the start button obsolete. Make the task bar transparent so it gels with the current open metro app. All you see are the current open apps, and let the metro apps show on the task bar. We need to be able to run more than one metro app at a time. I can deal with the apps running in full screen, but if they can allow us to run them windowed that'd be an added bonus.

Its kinda neat to stretch Metro apps, but otherwise not important for single screen users. No thanks. Though nice a program like this is out there if people want this ability.

Can we start laughing when it becomes 'full screen' size, because it is getting close, and is mimicking functionality that is already in Windows 8, even if users don't attempt to find or use it.

Hey donv:

Tell me you can square off the corners of the Start Menu (and other UI elements) or even the corners of traditional Windows 7 programs and I will buy this. Guaranteed.

Or enable me to customize title bars and other elements and get back Aero transparency on Windows 8 Apps and I will buy anything Thinix produces. I promise. No joke.

Dead tired of the new Microsoft culture of stupidity, or them thinking its user base is a bunch of morons or infantile etch and sketch kids.

What a lot of people don't realize is that Microsoft is starting over, aiming to do some wild UI treatments in the future. But they are doing so it at the expense of the frustration of a user base that has/had been devoted for years. We see where they're going with this, but this is a a way worse than idiotic start.

Thank you, Thinix, for trying to provide something reasonable.

BeoStyx said,
Hey donv:

Tell me you can square off the corners of the Start Menu (and other UI elements) or even the corners of traditional Windows 7 programs and I will buy this. Guaranteed.

Or enable me to customize title bars and other elements and get back Aero transparency on Windows 8 Apps and I will buy anything Thinix produces. I promise. No joke.

Dead tired of the new Microsoft culture of stupidity, or them thinking its user base is a bunch of morons or infantile etch and sketch kids.

What a lot of people don't realize is that Microsoft is starting over, aiming to do some wild UI treatments in the future. But they are doing so it at the expense of the frustration of a user base that has/had been devoted for years. We see where they're going with this, but this is a a way worse than idiotic start.

Thank you, Thinix, for trying to provide something reasonable.

Those are currently deeply embedded XAML features, but we may pull things out to allow skinning in the future..

From all the start menu addons I prefer "StartIsBack" as well.

You could always ask its developer if he would consider implementing something. In my experience I found the author of the program quite responsive.

mnk2xl said,
From all the start menu addons I prefer "StartIsBack" as well.

You could always ask its developer if he would consider implementing something. In my experience I found the author of the program quite responsive.

Thanks, I will do that.

Looks great, but the video/picture rendering are lagging when open/close and moving windows on the desktop.
Opening the Start Menu is also lagging.
If you/they can fix this, I will buy the program.
This is how win8 should have been on a desktop.
And the default look on a smart phone/tablet.

Luke777 said,
Looks great, but the video/picture rendering are lagging when open/close and moving windows on the desktop.
Opening the Start Menu is also lagging.
If you/they can fix this, I will buy the program.
This is how win8 should have been on a desktop.
And the default look on a smart phone/tablet.

In the triple monitor demo, I was using one real video card and two external USB video adapters, so there is a slight lag on the two outer monitors, that's hardware not software. Part of the beauty of SuperSize is that it can virtualized multiple monitors and video adapters and they don't need to be anything fancy.

donv said,

In the triple monitor demo, I was using one real video card and two external USB video adapters, so there is a slight lag on the two outer monitors, that's hardware not software. Part of the beauty of SuperSize is that it can virtualized multiple monitors and video adapters and they don't need to be anything fancy.

Hi donv
I was talking of my own system.
I only have one screen however, the demo I tried lags a little bit when changing between Metro start screen and Desktop.
Also open up a window or moving it gives some lags. It does not run as smooth as the default win8.
My system:
Intel 3930K OC to 4.60 GHz
AMD Radeon 7970.
8 GB RAM
So perhaps it may be the AMD Driver that causes this lagging?

I think with the proliferation of all the start menu apps for windows 8, it is a testimony to how MS failed to consider that that not all people use touchscreens. touchscreen laptops or the UI.

That's not saying that the modern UI sucks or anything. what is the harm if I want to use a car key to start my car rather then the push button of todays cars? I'm talking about principle here..

All OS's should poke the target install PC/laptop as to whether or not it is a touchscreen model and install the vanilla version with the UI accordingly.

MS botched it up by not getting PC manufacturers on board then trying to blame them for poor windows 8 sales.. that is so typical of so many people today, blame someone else for their woes.

Exactly Chris. I wish Microsoft would look at all numbers from the top 5 apps for the start menu. They would see that people would like a choice in running a hybrid system or full fledge workstation. What's wrong with choice?

RetroUI Pro v3, adds a configurable option that allows you to set the size that Apps use when opened. So you can set it to 70%, 80% or whatever, and this allows your Apps to open at that percentage of the available screen.

We also added Aero-Snap like functionality to RetroUI to allow you to drag Apps and snap them to full-screen, 1/2 screen or 1/4 screen (by dragging into the corners).

Wow, that's pretty cool. I'd never replace the start screen with a start menu, but those customization are awesome. Being able to window a WinRT app or stretch it across his 3 displays? Beautiful. That's how it should have been from the start.

I did like how it appears to be able to run Metro apps in a Window, that is a pretty good feature. I often feel Metro apps just appear too "large" on a 24" screen, i can only imagine how people on larger screens must feel. It doesn't look to be the most polished looking Start Menu replacement however.

Sorry but I think you may have missed the point entirely - we aren't trying to take over your Windows 8 experience or say that Microsoft is terrible. The Windows 8 UI/Ux is appropriate on tablet devices, but on desktops or laptops with high resolution displays not being able to run Apps in resizable windows is frustrating. So, RetroUI Pro enhances the Windows 8 user experience. It allows you to run Apps in resizable windows. RetroUI Pro gives users the ability to control that behavior, and the tools to (optionally) resize Apps if desired.

In v3 we also added powerful new (Metro) App launching technology and built it into the Start menu. This allows you to pin & launch Apps, Websites and anything in the Start menu directly from the classic desktop.

It really boils down to this: When you are on a tablet, you will be predominantly using Apps. In that situation using the Start screen is perfect. But when you are working, using traditional Windows software on a desktop PC, and most of your applications run on the classic desktop, it is far more efficient to use our Start menu to launch your applications.

RetroUI Pro allows users to migrate to Windows 8 and encourages users to switch to Windows 8 who would normally never make the switch because of the (undesirable) Ux on desktop PCs.

SuperSize, is our new technology which allows Windows 8 Apps to span-across multiple monitors. SuperSize is like no other product, the underlying geometry engine that enables SuperSize, is very powerful and can dynamically combine any number of displays, running different resolutions in to a single seamless virtual display which can be used for Apps or regular Windows software.

RetroUI Pro is enterprise class, released in 33-languages, it is multi-user with hierarchical inheritance, as well as multi-monitor and supporting RDP and other remote protocols.

Give it a try.. it's only $4.95

I think well see more of the multimonitor features make their way into default start screen. Specially the ability to span the start screen itself to all of your screens if you want. Also the ability to have metro apps open on any screen you want or on multiple ones. I bet we get to see this in blue.

But can you run more than one Metro-style App at a time w/o being limited to the silly tablet ratio of one of them using 1/3 of the screen? If not, I don't see how this is going to make using Windows 8 on multiple monitors more intuitive. Instead I see a metro app being plastered on all of the monitors. Why is this better? The bezels of the different monitors make it look abysmal.

I'm running the Windows 8 'TuneIn Radio' App in the background while working all day in Win8. Occasionally using other Win8 Apps. So Windows 8 allows you to send active Metro Apps to the background, and they continue to run. You just have to try it.

As for the 'look abysmal' comment. Clearly the monitors used in the demo are not thin-bezel monitors, but the fact is that SuperSize is a feature which we have included 'free' with a software package that we sell for $4.95. We think it is a pretty amazing feat to allow seamless multi-monitor gaming and other Metro Apps without the need for specialized hardware. Supersize can do this across a laptop, attached to a desktop display or a Tablet connected to dual desktop monitors, where the control surface is excluded from the SuperSize group. It's pretty awesome.

I understand that one can run Metro Apps in the background, but only one can be focused while another can be viewed docked to the side. I wish MS would've allowed one to run multiple Metro Apps as one would run any other desktop app - especially for desktop users. If I had that ability, then I can certainly see Windows 8 being a contender in the multitasking space. As of right now, no third-party application makes Windows 8 something anyone needs.

Granted, I am just speaking from what I've seen. I haven't tried the product. I might.

I went to their website, watched the video, and felt really... frustrated. It's like, they're saying that the Modern UI is completely pointless, and should be skipped. They completely ignore certain benefits like live tiles, user customization, and instead make the Start Screen look like a dizzying confusing mess.

In the video, it's pretty funny how they imply that the desktop was taken away and that they added it back. Then they go on to say it's tablet friendly with touch access for files and programs.... pretty much exactly where metro works best.

At any rate, as much as I like the start screen, I applaud programs like this one. The ability to install arbitrary third party applications is what makes Windows an OS and not an application itself. Retro UI is just another application which gives users another choice in how they want their OS to work. Microsoft didn't include a classic Start menu, so now we have dozens to choose from which are taking the original concept, and even improving on it in some ways.

i think it is smart that companies are doing this. MSFT should not try to stop these guys because hey it is saving Windows 8 marketshare. potentially

It's totally out of place with 8's desktop UI. Those corners needs squaring off, so do the buttons, and the Aero effect needs to be removed. Simple obvious stuff. I wouldn't use it anyway though.

Screenshots on our website are edited with gradients making the background dark to illustrate features of the Windows 7 style Start Menu. You need to try it on your own PC. RetroUI Pro v3 features proprietary AdaptiveColor technology that allows the Start menu to match the color pallet of the theme selected by the user.