Classic Shell is not just a program designed to add Start menu to Windows 8/8.1, rather it’s a program developed to restore many of the classic features that have been missing in the newest version of Windows. The good news is that Classic Shell has been updated with new features and improvements, just in time for Windows 8.1 RTM release.
The developer behind Classic Shell program has just updated the program to version 4.0, and the latest version is fully compatible with the soon to be released Windows 8.1 update.
While the initial version of Classic Shell was released soon after the release of Windows 7, this free program got more prominence only after the release of Windows 8, as back then Classic Shell was one of the very few programs available to enable Start menu in Windows 8.
The newest version (v4.0) of Classic Shell comes with Windows 7-style Start menu that includes all the features of the Start menu in Windows 7.
That is, search results and jump lists now appear inside the main menu, Start menu now comes with dedicated Shutdown button, you can now search for files, programs, and Windows settings all from the Start menu search box, programs can now be pinned to the Start from Windows Explorer (File Explorer), Start menu now highlights newly installed programs, and it now shows recently opened programs.
Apart from new features for Start menu, this update also includes new status bar for Explorer that now shows the total size of the selected file(s) and available free disk space as well.
As with the case of its previous versions, the latest version also lets you either use the original Start button that ships with Windows 8.1 or use a custom Start button. The best thing about Classic Shell’s Start menu is that it’s fully customizable. You can customize from icon size to sub-menu width to animation to menu glass color.
Once Classic Shell is installed, you can either click on the Start button on the taskbar or press the Windows logo key on the keyboard to reveal the Start menu. In order to switch the Start screen (see how to disable the Start screen), you need to open up the Start menu and then click on the Start screen entry.
And if you want to launch admin tools such as Command Prompt and Disk Management using the power user menu, you have to use Windows logo and X hotkey, as right-clicking on the Start button reveals Classic Shell options instead of the native power user menu.
Note that with default settings, Classic Shell automatically enables Class Explorer Bar in the Windows Explorer. If you are happy with the default Ribbon look of Windows Explorer, you can disable the Classic Toolbar by right-clicking on it and then clicking Classic Explorer Bar option.
Please note that Classic Shell 4.0 doesn’t support Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 operating systems. If you’re on Vista or Server 2008, please use an older version of this program.