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An in-depth look at Start Menu Reviver: Not just your average Windows 8 Start menu app

Removing the traditional Start button and menu from Windows 8 was a bold move for Microsoft. Unfortunately, the tech giant underestimated just how attached users were to this feature. Rather than embracing the (slightly clumsy) full-screen Modern UI, vast numbers of early adopters simply opted to install one of the many Start menus made available by third-party developers.

While most of these programs are straight copies of the Windows 7 Start menu, ReviverSoft has chosen to go down a different route with its product. Start Menu Reviver is a Modern UI styled touchscreen-friendly Start menu that’s been designed to look as if it’s part of Microsoft’s OS. The recently released Start Menu Reviver 2 improves on the first edition by offering a sleeker design, greater customisation, and a Windows 7 mode. I conducted a Q&A session with Davide De Vellis, co-founder of ReviverSoft, on the subject of Start Menu Reviver, and what he thinks about Microsoft’s plans to introduce a Start menu of its own in a future Windows 8.x update.

Q: There are lots of Start menus available for Windows 8.x, what makes your one different?

DDV: Taking just one look at Start Menu Reviver, the difference is obvious. We've taken the best of Windows past and combined the direction of Windows future, and the result is a Start menu that many have said should have been the menu Microsoft included in its first release of Windows 8. Start Menu Reviver has the familiarity of a launch pad that people would expect from a Start menu on the Desktop, and we've used Microsoft's modern design styling by employing tiles that is quintessentially Windows 8. Where others have looked to the past and simply replicated the old Windows Start menu, we have looked to the future and designed a Start menu truly for Windows 8.

Q: What are the benefits of Start Menu Reviver?

DDV: Apart from bringing the Start menu back to the Desktop, we see the key benefits of Start Menu Reviver to be:

  • Tile-based menu structure is unique and truly touch-friendly. Have you tried to use a Windows 7 style Start menu on a touchscreen device? It's almost impossible (unless you have pin fingers).
  • The tiles allow you to not only pin apps (desktop and modern) to your Start menu, but also your favourite files, folders and websites. That's right, you can launch your favourite websites directly from Start Menu Reviver.
  • Start Menu Reviver is fully customisable. From the menu colour scheme, to the tile destinations, to the tiles themselves. We built Start Menu Reviver so you can Start your way!
  • Most other Start menus for Windows 8 restrict access to the Start screen and Modern apps. The Start screen (and Modern apps added as tiles) are directly accessible from Start Menu Reviver.
  • Powerful search functionality accessible directly from Start Menu Reviver lets you access anything on your computer from files, to Windows tasks, to apps.

Q: Why did you decide to create a Start menu that’s so unlike the others out there?

DDV: ReviverSoft is all about helping customers love their computers again. When we saw Windows 8 we knew that people were going to miss the Start menu. That being said, we also understand what Microsoft has set out to achieve with the new Modern design style of Windows 8 and so when thinking about how we would design Start Menu Reviver we knew that we wanted to complement Microsoft's vision, not work against it. Not only was it design though, it was also functionality. When you think about touchscreen devices, we knew that we needed to design a Start menu that was not only navigable by mouse and keyboard, but also by touch. So, for us it was a no-brainer that we needed to employ a tile-based structure, which had the launch pad familiarity of the traditional Start menu. We really do think we've done a great job of combining the best of the old with the direction of the new.

Q: Why do you think so many people prefer a Start menu to the Start screen?

DDV: I think familiarity is definitely key. People are familiar with utilising a Start menu as the launch pad for their activities on the desktop. In the first iteration of Windows 8, when people hit the desktop and then had no familiar button for what they wanted to do next, they were lost. The introduction of the Start button was a move in the right direction, but again Desktop users aren't as familiar with having to navigate the Start screen to perform tasks on the desktop side of Windows 8. And trying to navigate the Start screen with a mouse is a bit of a pain, let alone having to scroll through all of the different apps just to find the one you’re looking for.

Q: Microsoft is set to bring back the Start menu in a future Windows update. Do you think this will impact on the need for your product?

DDV: Given the noise being made by Windows users, we always knew it was inevitable that there would be a re-introduction of a Start menu in some capacity in future versions of Windows 8, we just weren't sure when or how. Basically, we think it makes sense. The good thing for us is that we aren't a Start menu company. We built Start Menu Reviver to deliver on our brand promise - to help customers love their computers again. Start Menu Reviver is free and so it's not going to impact our business when Microsoft releases its Start Menu. We will continue to support Start Menu Reviver and if people choose to use our product over whatever iteration of a Start menu Microsoft decides to bring back, whenever it finally does, then that's awesome.

Q: What plans do you have to make Start Menu Reviver even better?

DDV: A couple of features we were hoping to get into the recent release of Start Menu Reviver 2, but were left out due to time constraints, include the ability to launch Metro apps on the desktop. We are also working on live tiles in Start Menu Reviver and a more extensive tile library that will allow for greater personalisation. What we've loved about launching Start Menu Reviver is the positive reception from users and the awesome feedback we've received. Many of the improvements in Start Menu Reviver 2 have come from user feedback and we expect that what you see in Start Menu Reviver 3 will also be a result of what our users are asking for.