Grocking the Windows 8 Start Menu

I've noticed a lot of consternation from friends about the new full screen start menu in the Windows 8 preview. In reality it's a bit like the Office Ribbon. First reactions are generally negative and then a while later you wonder how you lived without it.

I think the thing that turns a lot of people off is the amount of rubbish that Microsoft has pinned there. To get the new Start screen to work for you, you need to populate it with stuff that you actually use rather than the "metro craplets" pinned by default.

The first thing to do is right click to select everything on the Start menu that you don't give a rats about and then choose unpin. That will lead to a substantial decluttering. The next thing to do is to use the Search "charm" to find all those apps that you do execute, to right click on them, and to pin them to the start menu and/or the Desktop taskbar.

A big drawback of the Windows 7 interface is that (depending on your monitor size) you might only be able to pin about 14 items to your taskbar. Anything else had to sit in the start menu. You could pin items to the Win 7 start menu, but you were again limited depending on screen real estate to a couple of items before you needed to dig around in the All Programs folder.

So the key to grocking the Windows 8 start menu is to first go through and unpin all the crap that you aren't going to use, and then to go through and pin the stuff that you actually do use. Another myth that is out there is that you can only pin Metro apps to the Win 8 start menu. This isn't the case. You can pin anything there - it's just that the Metro apps use live tiles.

Anyway here is the start menu on my smaller laptop. Once I got it set up the way that I felt comfortable with, I was able to launch my programs more quickly than I could using the older Windows 95 through Windows 7 Start Menu paradigm.

Figure 1: win8start

Follow me or shout at me on twitter: @orinthomas

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