Sometimes the old ways are better – My Beloved Windows 8 Start Button

I’ve tweeted and mentioned this to a few people, but it’s hard to explain things in 140 characters, so maybe this is the way to go…


I’m running Windows 8 these days, and as an OS I’m pretty pleased with it. It boots quickly, runs well and can access all the RAM I can throw at it. I’ve got the 64 bit variant, and it swaps between 64 bit and 32 bit apps without a hiccup.

It even runs my beloved pfe.exe (Programmers File Editor) from way back in 1998, which I use for editing text files and various grep type operations. So far, it’s run everything I’ve thrown at it, and run it well.

But… it has this weird interface.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate the interface formerly known as Metro (now known, thanks to David Pogue of the New York Times and NOVA as “Tileworld”). It runs fine on my Surface RT. And with the touchscreen built into the Surface, it actually works really well.

On a full blown laptop, especially one without a touchscreen – not so much. OK, on the laptop I hate it – on the laptop it sucks.

It’s just the wrong interface for a non-touchscreen device. And I really don’t want a touchscreen on my laptop. I don’t want to drag my fingers across the screen. I don’t want anyone to touch my screen, myself included. If I did have atouchscreen I wouldn’t want to have to reach forward to do it. I never use my built-in laptop screen unless I have to anyway. My machine is either on the road with me or lodged into the docking station and thereby connected to a great honkin’ (non-touchscreen) monitor.

I really don’t want a touchscreen on my laptop.

So what do I want?

Actually, the interface from Win7 works for me.

Things are where I need to find them. I can run programs, I can find files*, I can play with the desktop. I can use all the programs in the Program Files directory – and never have to see the Interface Formerly Known as Metro (AKA Tileworld) unless I want to.

But MS removed the Start Button. I know, it’s called the Orb, but try explaining that to a relative over the phone…. Anyway, in Windows 8 it’s gone.

Yes, I know, I can sort of get it back by launching the desktop from Tileword, but I never want to see Tileworld on my laptop.

There are rumours that MS has seen the error of their ways, and will soon be tweaking the interface – maybe even bringing back the start button, but I don’t have time to wait. I’ve got work to do.

And you probably do too.

If you’re like me, and are using Windows 8, but miss the start button there’s an option to get it back.

I found this a few days after installing Windows 8, and haven’t looked back. It’s called startisback and can be obtained at (you guessed it) It works well. The machine now boots into the desktop rather than Tileworld. It’s cheap ($3 for two machines, $5 for five machines) and the licenses are perpetual. Or until MS breaks it, whichever comes first.

And there’s some hope that they won’t. According to the creator they’ve contacted him and asked him to change the default Start button (that orb) to something else – which he says he’s going to do. Other than that, he’s had no issues from them. I hope that’s good news.

Anyway, from my point of view the ability to run a familiar interface while MS sorts out their interface issues is well worth the minor cost – many, many times over.

I suggest that you give it a shot, it has a 30 day trial version, and it’d be cheap at twice the price.

Goodbye Tileworld – Hello

Can you see why a tweet wasn’t enough?

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with the developer, but am just very happy with the product.

* OK, I lied – finding files on Windows7/Vista/8 is horrible, but that’s a totally different rant, and not related to the start button.
And the Windows Start/Orb thingy is copyright/trademarked/whatever by Microsoft. Fair use, and all…

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