Start8 vs StartIsBack
So you’ve updated to Windows 8, but aren’t satisfied with the new start screen. You want the start menu back. Fortunately, there’s a number of options available.
Where they’re similar:
- Both of these do a good job of bringing back the start menu from Windows 7. Other options either try to implement a different type of menu or don’t do as good of a job approximating the Windows 7 start menu.
- Both come with 30 day trials, and a price point of $5 or less.
- Both of these are stable, have good performance, and continue to be actively developed.
- Both of these can bypass the Windows 8 start screen, and take you directly to the desktop after you log in. Others I tried that had this feature seemed to momentarily show the start screen first.
- Both can enable/disable charms on the desktop.
- The list of recent programs is populated regardless of where the program was launched from. Other start menu replacements only seemed to populate the list if I launched the program from the custom start menu.
Where they’re different:
- StartIsBack uses all the bits of the Windows 7 start menu that are still present in Windows 8. It is the Windows 7 start menu.
- Start8 can optionally be configured to show a start menu inspired by the Windows 8 start screen.
- Start8 seems to have a few more configuration options available. For example, two separate options for what to do in response to the Windows key being pressed in either the desktop or in a modern/metro app. (Show the start menu, start screen, etc.)
- Start8 integrates your modern/metro apps into the start menu. It lists them in your start menu programs, and allows you to search for them via the start menu.
- StartIsBack has an option to make the start screen solely a launcher for modern/metro apps. It hides desktop apps completely (even from the start screen search).
This seems to be the big difference between the two: StartIsBack can maintain a separation between the start screen (modern apps) and the start menu (desktop apps) while Start8 tries to integrate both types of apps in the start menu.
As I mentioned, both of these continue to be developed, so I’m sure things may change going forward. I’ve probably also missed a few things, but these are the items that stood out to me.