The picture above appears to show a normal Windows 7 Start menu. If your computer is running Windows 8 and your Start menu looks like the picture, then you’re probably running Start8, the wonderful utility from Stardock Software that replaces the Windows 8 Start screen with a familiar looking Windows 7-style menu. (Tip: If you see “Windows 8 Menu” in the upper left of your Start menu, then you’re running Start8.)
Uninstall Start8 before upgrading a Windows 8 computer to Windows 10.
I bought and installed Start8 for many of my clients to spare them from the Windows 8 Start screen. In the first 18 months that Windows 8 was available, I heard lots of complaints about the tiles on the full-screen Start screen, and I seldom heard anyone say anything good about them. When I put on Start8, it restored the computer to something that looked normal and the complaints stopped. The Start screen was almost the only thing that people disliked about Windows 8, but trust me, people really hated it. I got in the habit of installing Start8 routinely on new computers. Some of my clients don’t know it’s there.
Start8 is generally compatible with Windows 10. Nothing bad will happen if you forget to uninstall it.
There is, however, a bug that has turned up for me several times: on some computers, the taskbar icons disappear after the Windows 10 upgrade if Start8 was running during the upgrade. The programs are still there, no harm has been done, but the convenient icons to launch a web browser or start Outlook are missing and the taskbar appears to be empty. As soon as Start8 is uninstalled, everything immediately returns to normal.
If you uninstall Start8 ahead of time, you’ll be spared a few moments of being disoriented after the upgrade.
The Windows 10 Start menu does not bother people as much as the Windows 8 Start screen. The above picture shows the Windows 10 Start menu on a computer that I set up today. Personally, my opinion hasn’t changed: I think it’s a cluttered mess, but everyone is different and you might find it’s good enough for your needs. If you want to go back to something more familiar, don’t hesitate to install Start10, the updated version of Stardock’s utility to restore a Windows 7-style menu. I’m using it myself and installing it routinely for clients. It’s one of four ways to customize the Windows 10 Start menu so it suits your style.
Update on Windows 10 upgrades: There are reports that the major Windows 10 service pack known internally as “Threshold 2” has been pushed back to November. I’m still urging most people to wait for the update before upgrading. The only exception is a brand new computer: if you buy a new computer that ships with Windows 7 or Windows 8 (like the Dell Optiplex I’m setting up tonight), upgrade to Windows 10 immediately, before you install programs or waste time on updates to the old OS.
I’ll keep you posted when it’s time to upgrade, and I’ll be posting tips on how to get ready for the upgrade. I know Microsoft is bombarding you with demands that you upgrade NOW NOW NOW. Continue to ignore the notices and be patient for a little while longer!