Windows 8: How to re-enable the classic start menu

The Windows 8 developer preview is now out in the wild. Many have you, including almost all the Neowin staff, have downloaded the new preview and are getting used to the many new features in the OS.

One common request that has hit our forum (and inboxes) is how to bring back the classic start button in the developers preview. If you find that you want to experience Windows 8 DP without the new start button interface, follow the steps below to regain the classic start button functionality.

To get back the old start menu, open regedit, goto

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer

change value of RPEnabled from "1" to "0"

close regedit, you get your old start menu......the catch is, no more metro UI because you just disabled it. To get back the Metro UI, change the value back to "1"

We should note that the DP is not intended to be an everyday OS, it is far from complete and there are many bugs and other logistical issues to be resolved.

Making changes to the registry is always a risky adventure and you should not do so unless you are confident in your ability to make the correct adjustments.

While the classic start menu is not present in the DP, it is speculated that Microsoft intentionally did not make the option available to force developers to adopt the new UI. The classic start menu could return in native fashion at a later date.

Thanks for the tip FaiKee

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This is not intended to be a full-featured operable OS! Two key words that everybody needs to keep in mind, "DEVELOPER PREVIEW". Microsoft is drastically behind on the Mobile OS market, and forcing the Metro UI for a "DEVELOPER PREVIEW" will help move that along (hopefully, I'm sick of the iPad hype). I have Windows 8 DP running on a VM and a HP Slate (took a little finagling, but I got the UI to work properly), and it is outstanding on the slate! I do hope that they add some innovations to the desktop side, but seeing as this is just a "DEVELOPER PREVIEW", I am happy to wait for the RC or Full Release.

In the metro start bar, i could not find a way to look for or launch an installed program like windows media player. ANybody knows how to do that??

I truly think Microsoft need to rethink the "unavailable" Start menu for the sake of Hybrid Tablet/Laptop users. The classic Start menu is actually much easier to access vs. the new tiles. I think they should make it a choice to allow both. Perhaps makes the "start" button aware if it's being "touched" or "mouse clicked" to open the appropriate menu.

I really think that Microsoft should have made this into a completely separate tablet OS. It just seems like its useless to have the new UI on a desktop, and its useless to have the old UI on a tablet.

BigCheese said,
I really think that Microsoft should have made this into a completely separate tablet OS. It just seems like its useless to have the new UI on a desktop, and its useless to have the old UI on a tablet.

I agree. I see no benefits of having this on desktop. Someone mentioned TV in living room etc and i say use VLC. Windows Media Center is joke along with Windows Media Player.
I am not sure where MS did research on Ribbon and Metro but i can tell them it is completely wrong. Most people absolutely hates it, especially Ribbon interface. Infact 260 out of 300 employees at work place run classic Windows 7 Theme (no thumbnail previews), reason is they freaking hate it and find it useless just as Ribbon interface.

It is probably 5 top dogs in MS are liking and pushing everyone else in organization to go that route and probably most of their developers hate it. Corporate World is funny.

You would think Microsoft would do the following:

Windows 8 Home - Metro UI (default)
Windows 8 Business - Classic UI (default)
Windows 8 Ultimate - Metro UI (default)

hey i got this and its pretty good so far but i just wanna know on the metro ui is it possible to access my video files and play them directly? same with pictures etc. there is no option so far, ive seen it done at an earlier press conference but atm i have to go through explorer. was it removed for the preview or am i being dumb and missing something obvious?

Also, the screenshot at the top of the article appears to be prior to a reboot... As my start menu button has returned to the Win7/Vista Orb, not a flat grey Win8 button. I hope there is some advanced install options like:

1. I'm installing on a Tablet, or Notebook with touch capability.
2. I'm installing on a Desktop PC but want a useless UI for noobs.
3. I'm installing on a Desktop PC, and I'm an Advanced User who know how to use a computer.

8bitvoxel said,
Also, the screenshot at the top of the article appears to be prior to a reboot... As my start menu button has returned to the Win7/Vista Orb, not a flat grey Win8 button. I hope there is some advanced install options like:

1. I'm installing on a Tablet, or Notebook with touch capability.
2. I'm installing on a Desktop PC but want a useless UI for noobs.
3. I'm installing on a Desktop PC, and I'm an Advanced User who know how to use a computer.

Yes, you are right, a MS friend told me the trick, I tried it, took the screen-shot and then re-enabled Metro right away. I used win7 as daily OS, there is no point to try this new toy without its essence.
ATM I installed .Net3.5,EasyBCD,Avira10,LibreOffice, there maybe bugs and crashes, but I've used Vista since RTM, there is simply nothing I couldn't with-stand(LOL).

What's funny is, when you apply the reg hack and do a reboot the metro UI and even keyboard shortcuts are gone. There's hardly a trace of anything new, even the task manager returns to win7 style and no ribbon interfaces on the windows. That one change for a 1 to a 0 makes this "windows 8" completely stock Windows 7... Hope this works in the RTM, for me a standard win7 interface with all the performance enhancements in the kernel from win8 will suit me fine. Probably even run faster without the Metro "skin" loaded.

Dont get why you'd download Windows 8 just to change things back to Windows 7, I like this new start menu, only beef is to make it more mouse friendly (or so i dont need to use the scrollbar), apart from that its fast, works fine, no problems and is stable as anything, theres things that need to change but the future is bright!

badsey said,
only beef is to make it more mouse friendly (or so i dont need to use the scrollbar)
You can scroll anywhere with a scroll bar using the mouse wheel or touchpad scroll gesture.

look at all the adorable little ones that are afraid of change.

/me pinhces your cheek

cute as a button. afraid of the big scary metroui.

This is the first Windows I'm not too excited about. If MS continues on with this Metro stuff and brings it to the desktop as it is, it's going to be a huge flop. The new start screen makes absolutely no sense on a desktop. Heck, using it with a mouse and keyboard is horrible! That said, I know it's a DP, and will hold final judgement till a beta is released.

xiphi said,
This is the first Windows I'm not too excited about. If MS continues on with this Metro stuff and brings it to the desktop as it is, it's going to be a huge flop. The new start screen makes absolutely no sense on a desktop. Heck, using it with a mouse and keyboard is horrible! That said, I know it's a DP, and will hold final judgement till a beta is released.

Key word, although misspelled 'judgment'...

You think this UI doesn't belong on a desktop, but what about a touch screen desktop? What about a your living room TV, and navigating it using Kinect or a remote or a keyboard?

There are a lot of good examples of where it DOES fit a desktop, and even on a regular 'super user' desktop, they will want to flip over to Metro and use the keyboard and mouse to flip through tiles for access to very specific and basic applications that Metro access to rather well.

If you believe that arrow keys on the keyboard are too hard to flip through tiles, let alone a mouse using gestures to flip through the Metro portion of the UI, your imagination is hampered in some way.

There are already tons of Media Center users that already do this, and yes Media Center is just an older variation of the same Metro UI constructs. And it is popular with 'geeks' and home users that use it for their living room TVs and kids that use it on their laptops to watch recorded shows and Netflix. (Which is an 'App' that runs in the Metro UI of Media Center, and has been around for several years now.)

All these people say if you don't want a dinky start menu with 4 little links then you obviously don't want the entire Metro UI. That is just ridiculous! What is wrong with wanting the Start Screen and all the great things about Metro and also have the convenience of the Win7 Start Menu?

I am waiting for SP2 for Windows 7 and USB 3.0 support and things like that. As far as Windows 8 goes it is useless on every level. It seems that MS is obsessed with Metro and Ribbon -> two worst things i saw in my life, it would be nice for them to give option to completely remove Metro from Windows 8 during install process.

Windows 8 should aim only mobile devices. Desktop and Server do not need it.

Metro is meant for touch screen. Would you touch your 27" LCD you do gaming or other things on it? I don't think so cause it is going to look damn dirty.

This Metro is nothing new. It is Windows 7 Phone Interface on Steroids and that interface is complete failure. I bought that phone and returned it after a month. Worst thing in my life.

techguy77 said,
I am waiting for SP2 for Windows 7 and USB 3.0 support and things like that. As far as Windows 8 goes it is useless on every level. It seems that MS is obsessed with Metro and Ribbon -> two worst things i saw in my life, it would be nice for them to give option to completely remove Metro from Windows 8 during install process.

Windows 8 should aim only mobile devices. Desktop and Server do not need it.

Metro is meant for touch screen. Would you touch your 27" LCD you do gaming or other things on it? I don't think so cause it is going to look damn dirty.

This Metro is nothing new. It is Windows 7 Phone Interface on Steroids and that interface is complete failure. I bought that phone and returned it after a month. Worst thing in my life.

Um.. Ok, so you have an opinion, and it is valid; however, should it preclude all other viewpoints and Microsoft should just make Windows 8 only work like you want, or give people the options of doing 'both'?

They are giving everyone 'both', including the way are asking to use your desktop. (In fact in mixed Win7/Win8 corporate environments, it defaults to look like Win7 so it is seamless until all the users want to turn on Win8 Metro features.

I can understand people not wanting to adopt to new 'ways' of working, but to insist they have the final answers is a bit strange.

It is also strange to see so much disdain for something that can be turned completely OFF.

(In the developer 'build' version, Microsoft has on purpose made the Metro UI 'foisted' on the developers, so they learn it and develop for it as well as traditional applications models.)

Why not have 'both' available to everyone? What does it cost you, other than turning it off?

As for the debate about the viability of Metro and UI and Ribbons. Well, Microsoft spend millions testing UI constructs that started in the 90s, and the data and work that came out of it, shows that Metro is easier, and Ribbons are easier. (Ribbons do away with hundreds of menu options and dialog boxes, in a few ribbon strips, that also allow live interaction with content. This is rather brilliant, as it is the first UI construct to successfuly remove the need for Menus in GUI, that were a 'duct tape' solution for GUIs to get all the commands and functionality into an application.)

Oh, as as for people touching their screens, especially gamers? Yes they will be, and already are.

Do a search for All-In-One or Touch Desktop PCs. There are 100s of different models that are popular in stores like Best Buy and even Walmart. As the cost to implement touch screens has come down, the more available and popular they have become. (There are lot of Windows 7 touch screen users already, more than you would ever guess.)

Asus, HP, Acer, MSI, etc etc all Make 20-30" Touch Screen Desktop PCs.


Also you have heard of Microsoft Surface, right?

I have UNINSTALLED the News APP from the Metro UI Start Screen.

Now I cant find it anywhere ! But the APP is still present in my girlfriend account.
So its still somewhere in there.

How can I reinstall the News App in my account ?

Thanks for the help !

errrrrik54 said,
I have UNINSTALLED the News APP from the Metro UI Start Screen.

Now I cant find it anywhere ! But the APP is still present in my girlfriend account.
So its still somewhere in there.

How can I reinstall the News App in my account ?

Thanks for the help !

If you've uninstalled it instead of just unpinning it, you can't. It's gone.

O...M....G why would anyone install this PREVIEW release if they are going to use the start menu?? i mean... no, seriously, if you don't like how metro start menu which is what this OS is about, about a new interface that isn't finished since its not even on beta... why do you install it then?? keep using windows 7 if you want the old start menu.

i like windows 8 so far, ive been using it for 3 hours and i like it, of course i have to get used to some stuff. BUT its not like i will die from a chronic diarrhea... if it isn't working as i expect in some stuff, yeah, its not perfect but i like it so far.

even my dad said "wow how pretty this new UI" and i told him it was the new start menu, and he liked it. of course it has to get better and easier to pin apps and search files without using explorer. but... really, why would you want a classic start menu if you install this windows? only to say "oh im using windows 8!"?

and i will install 3dsmax and all my design tools and if i need windows 7 for something i will use it, but since it is working pretty nice. then i wont bother changing my HD priority because if i wanted a classic start menu i wouldn't have installed this!

I actually like the new Start Menu. I also set up a "quick launch" toolbar on the taskbar for useful shortcuts like Windows Explorer, IE, Chrome, Computer, Control Panel and Command Prompt.

"Many have you, including almost all the Neowin staff, have downloaded the new preview and are getting used to the many new features in the OS."

It should be "Many of you..."

There might be a way in the final release to enable the Start menu but what would really be awesome is if both could be enabled without disabling the other. Like pressing the Win key would bring up the Start menu, clicking could bring up Start screen or Start menu and touching/tapping the Start button would bring up the Start screen. Everyone tell Microsoft to make it configurable, who knows they may listen.

If you set it 2 it will let you still use the old start menu when you click on it but if you click the windows button on your keyboard it will got to the new star menu.

I don't understand why people can't handle change. I bet most people who'll use this will never give the new UI a good honest chance.

Panda X said,
I don't understand why people can't handle change. I bet most people who'll use this will never give the new UI a good honest chance.

Because the "new start menu" isn't a proper start menu, is only a collection of useless programs

tuto said,

Because the "new start menu" isn't a proper start menu, is only a collection of useless programs

Start Menu has programs that you installed which works the same way. The only major difference is that it's fullscreen and in a different layout. I can launch all programs fine and with ease on the start screen just like I could with the start menu.

Panda X said,
I don't understand why people can't handle change. I bet most people who'll use this will never give the new UI a good honest chance.

If only the change is good.

Panda X said,
I don't understand why people can't handle change. I bet most people who'll use this will never give the new UI a good honest chance.

what i don't understand is why people install a Preview release, if they know what it is about... and then they want to enable old classical start menu. if they don't want this change why they install it? =_=

and im not saying its perfect but its not even beta, obviously it will get better. but i like it so far and i think its stupid to install windows 8 and then enable classical start menu

sopharine said,

If only the change is good.

There are many people who will never think a change is good unless they're forced to deal with the change.

EmilyTheStrange said,

what i don't understand is why people install a Preview release, if they know what it is about... and then they want to enable old classical start menu.

I want Metro I just want the Win7 startmenu too.. Its not like I want the XP menu.

Kirkburn said,
I recall seeing a comment yesterday that it needs 1366px or wider resolution (currently).

Yeah...I think they need to bring that limit down to 1280. My HP tm2 wants to use side-by-side apps!

Kinda defeats the purpose but how could you Shutdown / Reboot in Metro otherwise? I have been using Ctrl+Alt+Del to do every single thing because I couldn't even find a way to close the applications!?

McoreD said,
Kinda defeats the purpose but how could you Shutdown / Reboot in Metro otherwise? I have been using Ctrl+Alt+Del to do every single thing because I couldn't even find a way to close the applications!?

Win+C or Put mouse @ bottom left corner of screen to open the Menu.
Click Settings
Click Power -> Shutdown, Sleep, etc.

McoreD said,
Kinda defeats the purpose but how could you Shutdown / Reboot in Metro otherwise? I have been using Ctrl+Alt+Del to do every single thing because I couldn't even find a way to close the applications!?

I was trying to figure out how to close applications myself. I've been doing it through task manager...but I noticed that everything I wanted to close was in "suspended" state and not using any CPU time (there were instances where some where not in suspended state). Leaving me to believe that most applications won't have to be closes but instead suspended if they are in the backstack.

Zedox said,

I was trying to figure out how to close applications myself. I've been doing it through task manager...but I noticed that everything I wanted to close was in "suspended" state and not using any CPU time (there were instances where some where not in suspended state). Leaving me to believe that most applications won't have to be closes but instead suspended if they are in the backstack.


There are some huge bugs though. The included games still play in the background. I could only end it via task manager

xx9e02 said,

Win+C or Put mouse @ bottom left corner of screen to open the Menu.
Click Settings
Click Power -> Shutdown, Sleep, etc.

Thank you! I did not think Shutdown would be under Settings.

If i was using a touch screen, then yes id be over joyed with the metro interface. but because i have the pc hooked upto the tv and sit 3 odd metres back from it with wireless keyboard and mouse, the old fashioned way suits me. Why can't i have an up to date OS with an old look?.
But once they iron out a few more of the annoyances i had with metro (Hopefully), ill give it another go.

Kratzie said,
If i was using a touch screen, then yes id be over joyed with the metro interface. but because i have the pc hooked upto the tv and sit 3 odd metres back from it with wireless keyboard and mouse, the old fashioned way suits me. Why can't i have an up to date OS with an old look?.
But once they iron out a few more of the annoyances i had with metro (Hopefully), ill give it another go.

With that setup, you would benefit from a Kinect interface.

Kratzie said,
If i was using a touch screen, then yes id be over joyed with the metro interface. but because i have the pc hooked upto the tv and sit 3 odd metres back from it with wireless keyboard and mouse, the old fashioned way suits me. Why can't i have an up to date OS with an old look?.
But once they iron out a few more of the annoyances i had with metro (Hopefully), ill give it another go.

Or just a MCE remote..

I love the new UI, but the minimalistic start menu (and having to hit Ctrl+F instead of the WinKey to search) are the only downsides so far.

Edit: I've also noticed that after using the above method, the dark background behind the button disappears...

WizardCM said,
I love the new UI, but the minimalistic start menu (and having to hit Ctrl+F instead of the WinKey to search) are the only downsides so far.

Edit: I've also noticed that after using the above method, the dark background behind the button disappears...

You can search by just typing anywhere on the start screen

WizardCM said,
I love the new UI, but the minimalistic start menu (and having to hit Ctrl+F instead of the WinKey to search) are the only downsides so far.

Edit: I've also noticed that after using the above method, the dark background behind the button disappears...

Yeah, WinKey and type is exactly as fast as it was in Windows 7

b_roca said,

And MANY people still can't get used to the vista/win7 menu layout and switch back to that!!

Yeah, I'm stuck with that at work on XP. The option for the new menu is blocked by group policy. I guess they just don't want to deal with complaints from people who don't know how to use the newer menu

DKAngel said,
because there is people out there that don't like change
Its a desktop OS not a damned phone.

If you want to keep your market share you never do drastic changes like this. Especially for a corporate OS. No company wants to spend the time and money retraining all their employees. Where I work we had a hard enough time going to Office 2003 and Win7 in the last year.

God I hate people who only think of themselves or home use.

necrosis said,
Its a desktop OS not a damned phone.

Except it's not just a desktop OS anymore. And besides, why would you think that the immersive UI couldn't be disabled for just such a reason? Willing to bet real money there'll be a GPO for it in the final release, if not a simple "click here to disable it" option in the control panel.

Max Norris said,

Except it's not just a desktop OS anymore. And besides, why would you think that the immersive UI couldn't be disabled for just such a reason? Willing to bet real money there'll be a GPO for it in the final release, if not a simple "click here to disable it" option in the control panel.

Personally I am sure that in the RTM build there will be an option to toggle between the classic and the new UI.

The lack of such ability would be that I cannot even consider it.

Said that....... time will tell.........

necrosis said,
Its a desktop OS not a damned phone.

If you want to keep your market share you never do drastic changes like this. Especially for a corporate OS. No company wants to spend the time and money retraining all their employees. Where I work we had a hard enough time going to Office 2003 and Win7 in the last year.

God I hate people who only think of themselves or home use.

If your company staff need retraining to use a new menu I think your company needs new employees.

There's no need to bring god and hate into it.

necrosis said,
Its a desktop OS not a damned phone.
God I hate people who only think of themselves or home use.

lol? sounds to me like you're thinking of yourself.

necrosis said,
Its a desktop OS not a damned phone.
God I hate people who only think of themselves or home use.

lol? sounds to me like you're thinking of yourself.

necrosis said,
Its a desktop OS not a damned phone.

God I hate people who only think of themselves or home use.

Drama queen of the day!

necrosis said,
Its a desktop OS not a damned phone.

If you want to keep your market share you never do drastic changes like this. Especially for a corporate OS. No company wants to spend the time and money retraining all their employees. Where I work we had a hard enough time going to Office 2003 and Win7 in the last year.

God I hate people who only think of themselves or home use.

Can't argue with that. Hopefully Microsoft will provide an easy way to change to your preference.

I like the new interface. Problem I am having is none of the tiles in the new start screen are showing up anyone else experiencing this problem?

NeoDecay said,
I like the new interface. Problem I am having is none of the tiles in the new start screen are showing up anyone else experiencing this problem?
What is your resolution? Or are you saying the new screen shows up, but is entirely blank?

cybertimber2008 said,
What is your resolution? Or are you saying the new screen shows up, but is entirely blank?

Ya all blank. Ill fiddle with the resolution to see if that works.

cybertimber2008 said,
What is your resolution? Or are you saying the new screen shows up, but is entirely blank?

tiles show up on res as low as 800x600, so if its that or higher you should be fine

NeoDecay said,
I like the new interface. Problem I am having is none of the tiles in the new start screen are showing up anyone else experiencing this problem?

I had the same problem - I had to update the display driver in Windows Update to a special testing version before the tiles showed up.

NeoDecay said,
I like the new interface. Problem I am having is none of the tiles in the new start screen are showing up anyone else experiencing this problem?

Had the same problem messed around all night and then a simple restart solved it, I felt dumb.

sipher26 said,
oh why oh why i wanna do that anyways i have win7 for that

Thats what I said until I found the one flaw with the metro menu: no shutdown/hibernate/standby/reboot options. Its actually impossible to do unless you ctrl+alt+del to the options menu and use the button in the bottom right corner. You wont have all that on a tablet. Microsoft will need to resolve this before RTM.

Nexus- said,

Thats what I said until I found the one flaw with the metro menu: no shutdown/hibernate/standby/reboot options. Its actually impossible to do unless you ctrl+alt+del to the options menu and use the button in the bottom right corner. You wont have all that on a tablet. Microsoft will need to resolve this before RTM.

I sure they will, but even on today's desktops and laptops, you can do all of these through hardware buttons, except restart... Which should be something that a users shouldn't 'have' to use unless updates demand a restart.

thenetavenger said,

I sure they will, but even on today's desktops and laptops, you can do all of these through hardware buttons, except restart... Which should be something that a users shouldn't 'have' to use unless updates demand a restart.

You are forgetting about remote access to the computer. There must be a button in order to restart windows. Very useful when fixing computers remotely lol

Nexus- said,

Thats what I said until I found the one flaw with the metro menu: no shutdown/hibernate/standby/reboot options. Its actually impossible to do unless you ctrl+alt+del to the options menu and use the button in the bottom right corner. You wont have all that on a tablet. Microsoft will need to resolve this before RTM.

In the metro menu click Start Settings Power then choose between Shutdown or Restart

Nexus- said,

no shutdown/hibernate/standby/reboot options

Not true, just press WIN+I while in Desktop mode or WIN+C (to bring up the charms) then Click Settings

Nexus- said,

Thats what I said until I found the one flaw with the metro menu: no shutdown/hibernate/standby/reboot options. Its actually impossible to do unless you ctrl+alt+del to the options menu and use the button in the bottom right corner. You wont have all that on a tablet. Microsoft will need to resolve this before RTM.

I just put a shutdown/restart gadget on the regular desktop..