Start Menu Reviver: a superior start menu for both Windows 8 and Windows 7

What if Microsoft had kept the start menu in Windows 8; what would it have looked like? In some ways ‘Start menu Reviver’, a Start Menu replacement for Windows 8 and Windows 7, seems like it was designed to answer that question.

It provides the option for mouse or touchscreen use, and combines the Windows 8 Metro style tiled esthetic with what is instantly recognizable as a Windows Start Menu. Best of all, it is 100% free.

While a slew of freeware has rushed to ‘bring back’ the Start Menu to Windows 8, Start Menu Reviver brings Windows 8 to the start menu. It scores high points mainly on the form factor, but has some interesting functional virtues as well.

To begin with, it looks great, whether on Windows 8 or Windows 7, with a ‘tile’ view for favorite apps as well as a more familiar ‘start menu’ view. It opens in two stages, first the tiles then the list of programs, which really does add a pleasant feel.

Start Menu Reviver Screenshot

It can access and search various locations on your machine (including ‘the start menu folder’, ‘desktop’, and any custom folder of your choosing, such as your portable apps folder for example). It is also extremely customizable in terms of the way it looks. (Those big tiles can each be converted into a grid of 4 shortcuts, for those who want as many icons in there as possible).

Check out a promotional video of Start Menu Reviver in action:

Currently, you can browse to the folder that you want on the right panel then drag and drop shortcuts from there to the tiles, which is easy enough. But one thing that can be improved is to add the option to ‘pin’ the start menu to the desktop so it remains open, and then to allow shortcuts to be moved onto it from the desktop.

The verdict:

A wonderful little Windows enhancement that combines form and function. I would recommend it even if you don’t have Windows 8 installed for Windows 7 users as well. The fact that you can add your portable programs folders as a custom location means that it serves as a launcher for portable apps as well.

Download it here (Windows 7, 8).


 
 
 
Samer Kurdi

Samer Kurdi

Has been reviewing software since 2006 when he started Freewaregenius.com
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  • Kurt

    This application is exactly what I’ve been looking for; the old Start Menu was too rigid in showing only a list view of folders that have to be careful maintenanced to provide any order I liked, and the ‘modern UI’ screen has the right appearance but the integration is a bit extreme (and I’m still on 7).

    Having a ‘modern UI’-style start menu with resizable tiles seems like an excellent solution! As long as the app is relatively stable, I’m very excited to integrate this. Thanks for finding this one!

    BTW, congrats on your ‘elite’ 1337th post!

    • Kurt

      I just want to note for all Windows 7 users who are thinking of using this program– go ahead and give it a shot, but be aware that it will not display any shortcuts stored in the “C:\Users\\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu” path.

      Aside from this fairly large limitation, the program is streamlined and well-designed. While running in Windows 7, it makes the original Start Menu inaccessible and intercepts Win-key presses in the manner you’d expect, with no obvious hiccups. Right clicking the start button will bring up a context menu where you can configure settings like color scheme, and close the program (instantly bringing back your default Start Menu).

      I’ve notified the developers of that issue above and will include any updates I receive from them here.

  • http://www.businessbrains.ie Francois A

    This looks really good, I have to install it straightaway. I have been reluctant to add a Start menu back to my Windows 8 laptop but for the first time I see a launcher that is enticing enough!

    Long-time freewaregenius follower, I also want to thank you for all the work you do!

  • 3546219

    One more good thing about this software is that in idling mode it releases the memory and comes down to less than 2 MB for both its processes!!

    • Kurt

      Interesting, can you elaborate a little? I only see one process while the program is running (StartMenuReviver.exe), and it stays pretty consistently at ~33MB memory usage. Mind you this is on Windows 7 Build 7601.

      • 3546219

        You will need to check mark or click the small button in taskbar to show processes from all users. It is a helper service by description (StartMenuReviverService.exe). The service takes around ~400k of memory (148k as of writing this). While the StartMenuReviver.exe memory usage fluctuates depending upon how extensive is its usage and in my case it went up to 23 megs. But quite strangely, I waited for like 5 mins now and in idling, it is consistent at 23 megs. I’ve the same version of Windows as yours and is up-to-date as of now.

        The only change before and now is that after installation, I did not restart computer earlier (when I noticed it releasing memory). After restart and observing the behaviour, it is consistent @ 23MB.

      • 3546219

        It went down from 23megs to 6 megs again!! :-P

        • 3546219

          Here is the screenshot!

          • 3546219
            • Kurt

              Hmm… that’s funky. Are you actively using this as your start menu replacement now? I want to, but the fact that it doesn’t display everything in the actual start menu really makes that difficult to work around.

            • 3546219

              Yes for now I am using it as start menu replacement. I am not sure what you mean by not displaying everything in the actual start menu. Anyway, as work around you could add the shortcuts to the absent items in this location “%programdata%\microsoft\windows\Start Menu\Programs” and it should display your needed links. Here’s a screenshot of what mine looks like: http://s16.postimg.org/phzwzf6fp/Untitled.png

            • Kurt

              To me, it seems clear that the developers’ main intent was to provide this for Windows 8 users, and Win8 has a different path structure for the Start Menu?

              Windows has always pulled from different directories to populate the start menu. As I understand it, in Windows 7, there’s two: “C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu” (global, “All Users” entries) and “C:\Users\\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu” (individual user’s start menu entries). Those shortcuts that exist in the second path will not be displayed using this program. On my other computer, I’m the only user, so I could move everything into the “All Users” path, but I can’t do that when on my domain with this machine. Either way, I do believe it is a glitch, though if it is I would imagine you would see it too… unless you always install programs for all users? What’s in your user start menu path?

            • 3546219

              You are right as far as your observation goes for both locations, it is not picking up items from the second location.

              You could use symbolic links in a new directory and then use custom location from program’s setting. However, there would be duplicates, for instance program residing in both locations will have dual entries. Also there will be two parent folders appearing in the start menu, beneath which your links will lay.

              Another way is to create a new folder, open both start menu folders, select all and move all items to the new folder while holding the ALT key from both directories. This will create shortcuts of all items in your new folder. The duplicates appearing with numerical 2 in the filename can manually be deleted. The downside is that programs and folders are now not consolidated (no more in groups of “folders on top” and “shortcuts on bottom”) as they’re treated as shortcuts and listed alphabetically.

            • Kurt

              Thanks for the tips, those seem like valid suggests. However, I’d really like to see where the developers go with this. The fact that they overlooked that path completely is surprising considering the rest of the software design, which seems well thought-out. Looking at their website it seems like they employ a shareware-style business model, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they made a lot of good changes and then started charging (not that I’m necessarily opposed).

              In any event, there are a few other things about the program as it stands that make me uncomfortable making a full switch from the default start menu. The big one is the broken search. It probably wouldn’t appear to me as broken if all my start menu links were intact, however. But the overall look needs some tweaking in my opinion. I know I’m being picky, but the menu feels a little too large and the tiles aren’t as customizable as I’d like.

              I think I’ll keep it installed and watch for any updates from the developer, but as of this release I’ll stick to the default start menu for now. If this evolves as I hope (as per my admittedly lofty expectations), I’d expect it to fully replace the default menu though. I’ve been dreaming of some kind of program that achieves this effect, and this one does it in style… for the most part!

            • 3546219

              Your thoughts are exactly my thoughts. Additionally, once you click on start and click anywhere on the screen other than the start screen, the menu does not close; you have to click start again to close the menu, just another thing which the software developer might be interested to look into.

  • DComedian

    Web Of Trust reviews for ReviverSoft seem to suggest that this product should be treated with great caution?

    http://www.mywot.com/en/scorecard/reviversoft.com

    • 3546219

      I wouldn’t worry about WOT. I have Panda Cloud installed and program seems to be working fine without any hiccups.

    • Kurt

      Ugh. I used to love using WOT, but I ended up uninstalling it after hearing about all the controversies that have been going on in their forums and accusations of corruption from within the company. Also, don’t forget that Web of Trust has ratings based on privacy etc. so a tracking cookie placed by an advertisement could affect the rating… or a disgruntled user O.o

      • tonicer

        yeah at first facebook was rated dangerous and after some time all the negative comments about the plague of the modern world just vanished into thin air.

  • Reddy79

    Unfortunately this launcher is HUGE. is there a way to scale it down? It takes 1/5 of my screen and the icons are all blown up and staring back at me. Also at this size not only the icons are blurry but the text ist also a little bit fuzzy.

    The launcher looks great otherwise and is a good alternative to coolbarz but I really prefer some simplicity and a launcher that doesn’t take up much of my screen.

    Maybe I missed an option?

    • Kurt

      I feel you Reddy. I suggested that the developers consider some kind of option to make the menu smaller. It’s a little maddening having such a large portion of the screen blocked.

      • francoisdublin

        It’s still a lot smaller and more practical than the Windows 8 Start page in my opinion. Also, while I am using the Start menu I don’t really care what else is happening on my desktop.

        Just my two-cent.

    • 3546219

      This is how it looks on a 1280*1024 screen resolution. http://s24.postimg.org/sqrba18lx/Untitled.png

  • AJ North

    For those who may be put off by the Web Of Trust rating, Start Menu Reviver is also available at various safe-rated sites (such as http://www.snapfiles.com/get/smreviver.html).

    There is also this comparison between Start Menu Reviver and two other similar apps: http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/3-windows-8-start-menu-apps-compared/ .

  • http://www.reviversoft.com/ ReviverSoft

    @Kurt
    The expanded start menu does display items from the All Users category by default. Furthermore, you can also use the “Custom” option (See drop down) in the expanded menu to point to the folder/user that you’re looking to display. Adding to that, you can create your very own folder, add all your files and shortcuts there and have the expanded start menu point only to this folder.

    About the search feature: while it is currently limited to the default files and apps, we are planning to extend support to help you search through all your Windows Search indexed drives. You can expect this and more with the next couple of program updates.

    Start Menu Reviver is always going to remain free. In fact, most of our resources are offered free of cost.

    @3546219
    Unfortunately, we weren’t able to replicate the issue of not being able to close the menu by clicking anywhere on the desktop. It seems to work well like the default start menu. If you are using 1.0.0.1460 and still having trouble with this, please let us know.

    @Reddy79
    It can’t be re-sized just yet but we are looking to offer some options. One of the reasons why it is scaled up is because of the Tiles and Touch optimization.

    @ALL
    Please feel free to share your feedback and suggestions with us at [email protected]

    Happy Computing,
    ReviverSoft

    • Kurt

      Thanks for the response.

      The thing that confuses me still is that in Windows 7, the default Start Menu has two paths that populate it. Are you saying you don’t consider Start Menu Reviver not displaying the second path a bug? I would consider it one, as if you’re trying to recreate the original Start Menu in the expanded section, you should try and recreate it faithfully so people aren’t wondering why they don’t have some of their programs anymore. Once a user downloads and runs your software, they will have to then close SMR and move all of their icons into a different path or navigate to their user start menu folder in “custom”, workarounds that make the software feel and run clunky. This would make the transition less than seamless, and probably confuse users.

      • francoisdublin

        I was not under the impression that this application was trying to recreate the Windows 7 Start menu (there are plenty of other apps that do that) but that it was reinventing the Start menu with bits of Win8 design and bits of Win7 Start. It may not be everything you want it to be but then again neither was the Windows 7 Start menu.

        I deliberately did not want a W7 Start menu clone but if there are alternatives I am more than interested to find out about them.

        • barely_normal

          Try StartMenuX, and see my comment above…I think you will be suitably impressed, and happy you took the time.

  • Mountainking

    I saw the screenshots and read the review briefly and some comments. It appeared to be a great nifty alternative to the start menu.
    Installed it and a major shortcoming in my opinion.
    If someone has many programs, the menu provides for a “clickable” scrolling which is tedious, slow and counterproductive. It should have showed all the apps installed the way the original menu works.

    I had to uninstall it. Until this gets enhanced/fixed, classic shell (http://www.classicshell.net/) will do.
    Cheers.

  • Richard

    Start is back is a much better implementation. I actually restores the original start menu and adds a key combination for the new one.

    http://www.startisback.com/

  • bruno pagis

    I’ve installed Windows 8 on my PC about 8 months ago. Ever since, I’ve switched between the Modern UI and the old Desktop without much problem, except that I never figured out what would be a clear split between the two.

    Yesterday, browsing the startisback webpage (thanks Richard for the link), I came to realize what should have been obvious from day 1: Modern UI is for Windows 8 apps, the old Desktop is for the rest.

    I know, it is obvious, but I was too dumb to realize it. All of a sudden, it came to my mind that I could unclutter my Modern UI from all these old Windows apps, and get a clean clutter free tiles page, and switch to the old Desktop with the Start Menu Reviver, to get my old apps, in a familiar environment.

    Hopefully, overtime, more and more apps will disappear from old Desktop, and move to Modern UI, but until then, I’ll live in peace with both of the two worlds.

    Additional note: I love the Modern UI tile interface, to a point that I installed the Android ‘Launcher 8′ app on my Wiko Cink Peak Android phone, as suggested by Samer.

    Thanks to you all for the wonderful advices I’m sure to find when I visit FreewareGenius.

  • barely_normal

    I have not used this, nor anything else which is part of a cottage business, since the advent of Windows 8, which is to ameliorate the stupidity of Microsoft.

    However, though the functionality of this may be fine, the look is ugly and hardly removes the stupidity of a menu system that takes most, if not all, of the working area on a single monitor computer…

    What I have used, since the advent of Windows 7, is a program that has had many names, as it adapts to the times [Vista Start Menu, Start Menu 7, Start Menu 8, and now Start Menu X] – it works great with any version of Windows used by people currently, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and even, ahem, Windows 8.

    As I sit here now, on a machine that has the evaluation version of Windows 8.1 on it, I must say that without it, I might be hairless [after pulling it all out from the frustration of Windows 8 default behavior] and instead, I can say that enough is available to mitigate the stupidity that is Windows 8 [and 8.1 – the stupidity is lessened, but not measurably].

    By the way, Microsoft did not acknowledge the wishes of the users, and put the start menu back in Windows 8.1, they merely put up a start button, that, when one wishes to go to a start menu, pops back to the utter stupidity that is the “start screen”…StartMenuX removes this, and makes things more sane in the midst of the Microsoft induced insanity.

    The author updates this offering frequently, and I have never had a misstep with any revision, though certain things, such as getting the menu exactly as one wants, with the exact drill down preferred, can take some time – though that perhaps half hour can be maddening, the rewards for giving up that short time are myriad thereafter.