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How to keep the look of Windows 7 on Windows 8

By Leigh D. Stark | 1:17 pm 11/02/2013

Not everyone is happy that Microsoft has ditched the Start Button, one of the main features of Windows for the past 15 years, but it’s ok, because you can bring it back.

It’s a feature that many wish Microsoft hadn’t removed, or changed considerably so that it was vastly different from what it once was.

With the release of Windows 8, the Start Menu and Start Button have now become something else, with the new grid-based interface – formerly known as “Metro” – taking its place.

This is great with a touchscreen or excellent trackpad... but it's not even close with a regular mouse.

If you have a touchscreen, it makes Windows more useable than ever, with slick gestures across the screen making the Windows experience flow well. If you have a decent trackpad, the experience is almost as good as a touchscreen, with gestures allowing you to scroll through your apps and quickly pull up multiple applications.

But if you have neither, the new Start screen is hard to get your head around, with the whole thing not really designed for anything outside of the new technology Microsoft and other vendors want us to buy.

The more we use Windows 8, the more we like it, but still, we’re often left wondering why Microsoft didn’t just leave the legacy interface in there for people that wanted to upgrade but lacked this new touch-friendly hardware.

The traditional look of Windows. How we've missed you.

Good news, though, because you don’t have to wait for Microsoft to realise that it should have left the functionality there in the first place, and you can make Windows 8 look and feel just like Windows 7, Vista, and yes, even XP.

To do this, you’ll need to grab a program called “Classic Shell,” an application that is essentially free, though the developer does take donations.

The app is pretty simple to install and use, and features numerous options to change the interface of Windows 8 into one that’s a little more accommodating, especially for a user that really wants the touch-friendly stuff in Win 8 to just, well, go away.

One Windows 7 style interface coming up!

Classic Shell goes beyond the Start Button replacement, too, with the options menu including a nifty setting for skipping the Metro screen – what Microsoft’s new touchscreen grid-based Start Bar used to be called – and running the desktop mode from the get go, so that when you switch your Windows 8 machine on, the desktop and the old Start Bar will load.

Sick of the Windows 8 shortcuts appearing whenever you drag your mouse into the right corner? CHARMS BEGONE!

The applications can be seriously customised, too, and while many people will be content with the basic settings, once you switch “All Settings” on, you’ll find a way to remove the Windows 8 shortcut charms from the top right, the task manager from the top left, as well as switch the home button to any image you want, including the new Windows 8 logo or even – if you can find one – a Windows XP “Start Button”.

If you have a Windows 8 machine and aren’t into this new look that Microsoft is essentially forcing on you, we’d check this out, as it essentially gives you the power of the new Windows, but with a more familiar look and feel.

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