Get Back Old Start Menu in Windows 8, with Metro UI Intact

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If you have installed the Windows 8 Developer Preview build, you surely would have noticed the new Metro start screen, instead of the regular Start menu that you are so used to. While there are ways to get back the old start menu using any of the available tools or by manually editing the registry (shown below), those methods also disable the Ribbon UI in Explorer and several other new features. But if you just want the disable the new Metro menu with other Metro features intact, here are some ways to do so.

Method 1: Rename a system file

Rename a file called “shsxs.dll” to get the old Start menu back without disabling the Ribbon interface in Windows Explorer.

Steps:

  • Launch the Run dialog box by pressing “Win + R” key combination.
  • Type in %windir%/system32 and press Enter. This should open your system’s System32 folder.
  • In that folder, find a file named “shsxs.dll“. Once you find it, rename the file to anything you want, for example “shsxs.dll.bak“.

To rename the file, you need to take ownership of it first.
If you don’t know how to do it manually, just download this file and run “InstallOwnershipOption.reg” to add a “Take Ownership” right-click context menu option. Now just right-click on “shsxs.dll” and select the new “Take Ownership” option. You should now be able to rename it.
You will find another file in the ZIP file to remove the context menu option, if you want to.

  • That’s all. Restart your computer to see the changes.

Method 2: Using an Explorer extension

Install a software called Classic Shell.

Classic Shell is a plug-in for Windows Explorer that adds several features that existed in Windows XP but were removed in newer versions of Windows. Classic Shell was originally built for Windows Vista and 7, but it also works with Windows 8.

Install it and you should see the old Start menu (as above image), and you can additionally enable some other features as well.

Classic Shell lets you access both old Start menu and the new Metro start screen using the same Start button. If you click on the Windows logo, you will see the classic menu and if you click below it, you will see the new Metro menu.

Method 3: Registry hack

The final, and the most common, method will give you the class Start menu back but will also disable the Ribbon in Windows Explorer, new file copy dialog, and many other new features.

To do so, launch Registry Editor by typing in regedit in the Run dialog (Win +R).
In the Registry Editor, navigate to the following key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer


In the right-side pane, change value of “RPEnabled” key to 0. (Change value back to 1 to re-enable Metro features.)
That’s it. Log off and log in to see the changes.

These methods are not perfect, but does the job. Hopefully Microsoft will add a better option when they release the beta or stable version of Windows 8.

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