Windows 8 will soon be for real, meaning it will be available, in it’s official release, in October (the 26th.) If you are worried about missing some of your favorite features-and many are-fear not, they can still be had.
Since Microsoft announced the expulsion of the START ORB and MENU, many have lamented its passing. Some even going so far as saying it will kill the operating systems acceptance. That’s just wrong, but, for those who do want the little beast, Stardock has your answer. Called Start 8, it is a start menu worthy of something from Microsoft.
Once downloaded and installed, the familiar Start Orb displays in the lower left corner of your task bar, just as it did in previous versions of the operating system. Click it and up pops the familiar menu, with a slight Windows 8 flair. It will take a few moments for the menu to populate, but, once it does, your apps and familiar options will be there. The applet also lets you customize the Orb itself. Included are images for variations on the Windows 7/Vista style button, XP’s START button (ugh, why?) or even the Windows 8 logo (which looks nice.)
There many options for Start8, like allowing you to go straight to the desktop upon logging in and using the Windows 8 style menu page for the start menu. I like this option a lot, it gives you the best of both worlds: a quick way to start applications while staying in the desktop yet taking advantage of what makes Windows 8 so nice. Once you select the Windows 8 style, you have more options. You can select the size of the Windows 8 menu, search and set Windows settings.
For now, the application is still in beta, and it is not perfect. After a few uses, the Windows 8 style menu, for example, ceased to display once I started a Windows 8 style app (the News app.) I know Stardock will fix that, likely in the next release. Stardock releases quality apps and this looks like one. It is currently free.
Aero8Tuner brings back the Aero effects that made Windows Vista and 7 so beautiful. While the flat look of 8 is nice, I like the transparency of the last two versions of Windows and it will be nice to have it if I want it-which Microsoft should have allowed anyway. Aero8Tuner gives you other options like coloring the window borders.
As I am still running the Release Preview, which still has Aero, I have not yet tried Aero8Tuner, but it looks promising and I will definitely follow up on this once I get the final release of Windows 8. Redmond Pie has an article here.