Home Icon
win-7-on-win-8-help-01

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.

Latest reviews

  • Review: Asus ZenBook UX305

    Ever since Apple rolled out the MacBook Air, companies have been trying to do their best at making something close, and in the UX305, Asus might finally have nailed…
  • Samsung’s best phone yet: the Galaxy Note 5 reviewed

    Samsung announced two big phones in August, with a phablet for every purpose: style and substance. We’ve done style, so let’s find out what Samsung’s answer to substance is…
  • Review: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2015)

    Don’t need the crème de la crème when it comes to your eReading experience? Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite does it with all the clarity of its Voyage sibling, but is…
  • AppMonday: Macronos

    Sonos owners are used to the constant evolution that is the Sonos app, but an app made exclusively for Android makes Sonos a little more playful with a one-touch…
  • Bigger, again: Samsung’s Galaxy S6 Edge+ reviewed

    Samsung’s next big thing is bigger, as the S6 Edge arrives with a plus-sized sibling, but is it more than just a big brother?
  • Review: Astell & Kern AK Jr

    You might think that media players are dead now that the smartphone has taken over, but if you like your audio high quality with support for 24-bit, there’s still…
  • AppMonday: Pixl

    Tired of the same old same old selfies and snapshots? Pixl changes the formula slightly by pixelating your images and bringing squares, triangles, half circles, and more.
  • Review: Sony Xperia M4 Aqua

    Sony’s phones frequently dabble in water proofing, but it’s usually only in the high-end. What happens when Sony brings water resistance to the mid-range?
  • Game changer: Panasonic’s 4K-friendly G7 reviewed

    Panasonic’s latest take on the mirrorless camera not only show it has the guts to be a great camera, but a very creative and forward-thinking one, too.
  • Review: HTC One M8s (2015)

    When is a flagship not a flagship? When it’s apparently being slotted in just under the proper flagship. It’s time to see what HTC can do with the an…

“How do you stop yourself from being caught out by these scam artists?”

Read More

Tell us…

Which smartwatch are you interested in buying?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

“There’s certainly no doubt that you can find a bargain, but like always, you get what you pay for.”

Read More