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Author Topic: Classic Shell (shell alternative for Windows 10, 8, 7) - Mini-Review  (Read 5631 times)

IainB

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Originally posted:2014-08-04
Last updated2017-05-25

Basic Info
App/Service NameClassic Shell 01 - logo.png Classic Shell
Thumbs-Up Rating :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup:
App URLhttp://www.classicshell.net/
App Version Reviewedv4.1.0 and above
The latest stable version of Classic Shell is 4.3.0
Classic Shell has been in active development for 6+ years and has tens of millions of downloads.
Test System SpecsWin8.1-64 PRO, Win10-64 PRO
Supported OSesWindows 7 and above
Support MethodsRead the F.A.Q.
Ask a question in the forum
Report a bug or submit a feature request
Learn how to make your own skin
Learn how to make your own start button
Upgrade PolicyFree upgrades.
Trial Version Available?N/A (free to trial or use)
Pricing Scheme$FREE - $Donations Accepted

1.0 Introduction:
1.1 Shell includes the options to install three components:
  • An older/more useful Start Menu GUI.
  • An older/more useful Windows Explorer GUI.
  • An older/more useful IE GUI.
- or some combination of these.

1.2 Historical note: There are several references in DCF discussions to "Classic Shell". One of the earliest is this one in 2011, which seems to be referring to an early form of CS, in the thread: Re: Start Menu X now in beta
I was looking around for a better start menu for Windows 7 a while ago and landed on the FREE and open source Classic Shell. For those interested you can also read the Author's explanation of code.

1.3 This Mini-Review follows on from discussion thread: What the Heck is Happening to Windows? Article on Windows 8 Disaster
- where I posted:
Many thanks to the people in this discussion thread who referred to Classic Shell. As a result of their comments, a couple of days ago I went ahead and installed it for a trial.
Most of the things that I dislike (and that's putting it mildly) about Win8 are related to poor ergonomics and the superfluous Metro eye-candy and and its kludgy functionality in the UI. Those aspects of the OS are backward steps - but the OS otherwise seems very good.
However, pretty much all that I disliked is swept away by Classic Shell. It seems to be very stable too - which is a mandatory requirement for an OS interface (in my book, at any rate).
Perhaps the biggest bonus of Classic Shell for me is in the restoration of the very good Win7-type Start Menu and the instant search of my indexed documents and OneNote files when anything is typed into the Search box. This had completely disappeared in Win8 and was driving me batty - and lots of other OneNote users as well, judging from the comments in many of the OneNote discussion forums.
Classic Shell - definitely a keeper.

Currently I have installed all three components (Start Menu GUI, Windows Explorer GUI, IE GUI), though I am usually mostly concerned with and use the Start Menu GUI.
I now have Classic Shell installed on my or any laptop I support with Win10 installed. I originally had one Vista and a couple of Win7 laptops that I supported, but I left them AS-IS and then later installed Classsic Shell on them and subsequently migrated them to Win10.

2.0 Overview:
From: http://www.classicshell.net/  <== Do have a read of this and follow its links for more info.
As at 2016-03-28:
Classic Shell™ is free software that improves your productivity, enhances the usability of Windows and empowers you to use the computer the way you like it. The main features are:

  • Highly customizable start menu with multiple styles and skins
  • Quick access to recent, frequently-used, or pinned programs
  • Find programs, settings, files and documents
  • Start button for Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1
  • Toolbar and status bar for Windows Explorer
  • Caption and status bar for Internet Explorer

2.1 Start Menu: From: http://www.classicsh...features/#start_menu  <== Do have a read of this and follow its links for more info.

Classic Shell 02 - 3 x Start Menus.png

The start menu has a variety of advanced features:
  • Drag and drop to let you organize your applications
  • Options to show Favorites, expand Control Panel, etc
  • Shows recently used documents. The number of documents to display is customizable
  • Translated in 35 languages, including Right-to-left support for Arabic and Hebrew
  • Does not disable the original start menu in Windows. You can access it by Shift+Click on the start button
  • Right-click on an item in the menu to delete, rename, sort, or perform other tasks
  • The search box helps you find your programs without getting in the way of your keyboard shortcuts
  • Supports jumplists for easy access to recent documents and common tasks
  • Available for 32 and 64-bit operating systems
  • Has support for skins, including additional 3rd party skins
  • Fully customizable in both looks and functionality
  • Support for Microsoft’s Active Accessibility
  • Converts the “All Programs” button in the Windows menu into a cascading menu (Windows 7)
  • Implements a customizable Start button
  • Can show, search and launch Windows Store apps (Windows 8 and up)
  • And last but not least – it's FREE!

Pick from multiple built-in skins, download more from the Internet, or make your own! Check out the  Skinning Tutorial.


2.2 Windows Explorer: From: http://www.classicshell.net/  <== Do have a read of this and follow its links for more info.

Classic Shell 03 - Explorer+notes.png


3.0 Who this software is designed for:
Any PC user of Windows 7 or above who wants to restore the arguably better ergonomics and intuitive perceptual GUI of the more classic shell. This includes the options to restore:
  • An older/more useful Start Menu GUI.
  • An older/more useful Windows Explorer GUI.
  • An older/more useful IE GUI.
- or some combination of these.

4.0 The Good:
An excellent and stable alternative GUI, with very good ergonomics.
Does what it says it does.

5.0 Needs Improvement:
Have found nothing so far.

6.0 Why I think you should use this product/service:
You could be surprised. The proverbial answer to a maiden's prayer.
You, like me, might think to yourself "Why the heck didn't I find this sooner? It's just what I always needed!"

7.0 How it compares to similar products:
Whilst there are apparently some similar/alternative tools - e.g., see http://alternativeto...ftware/classicshell/
- I have not tried them out not made any special notes about them. Judging from the specs that I have read, they seem to be either not as comprehensive, or not $FREE - e.g., I thought StartIsBack looked worth investigating, but it is not $FREE.
If anyone could comment on any alternatives in this discussion thread, that could be useful.
Here's an objective comparison of the Start Menus: http://www.classicsh...viewtopic.php?t=2399

8.0 Conclusions:
  • Very useful: An impressively solid and useful set of GUI Shell tools which seem to be undergoing continuous improvement, with an open and very active user forum.
  • Reliable. Never seems to give any trouble.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2017, 08:38:28 PM by IainB »

consumer4beta

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Re: Classic Shell (shell alternative for Windows 7/8) - Mini-Review
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2014, 09:23:12 PM »
Here's an objective comparison of the Start Menus: http://www.classicsh...viewtopic.php?t=2399

superboyac

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Re: Classic Shell (shell alternative for Windows 7/8) - Mini-Review
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2014, 09:59:39 PM »
I've been using this for about a year now, i love it.
I just installed it on my new surface pro.  So this will be my first test with it on a truly touch oriented device.  So far I'm loving that the traditional start menu is back.

IainB

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Re: Classic Shell (shell alternative for Windows 7/8) - Mini-Review
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2014, 10:18:32 PM »
@consumer4beta:
Here's an objective comparison of the Start Menus: http://www.classicsh...viewtopic.php?t=2399
Thanks for that! Just what was needed - compares it to the standard system also. I have added the link to the comparison review to s7.0 of the opening post.

IainB

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Re: Classic Shell (shell alternative for Windows 10, 8, 7) - Mini-Review
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2016, 06:33:51 PM »
2016-03-28: Update to the opening post, and 5 x  :Thmbsup: - as the latest stable version of Classic Shell is now 4.2.5, and almost 2 years have passed since my last update   :-[   - during which time Classic Shell has gone from strength to strength, having by now been in active development for 6 years and has tens of millions of downloads.

If DCF users aren't already using Classic Shell on their Windows 8 and upwards PCs, then they could do a lot worse that give it a try.

I was reminded to do this long-overdue update after reading this very interesting post: Sorry Microsoft, I have no use for Live Tiles - gHacks Tech News
From my perspective I entirely agree with that post, and not only do I have no use for Live Tiles, but also I don't have any use for any Tiles.
I never have had any use for Windows tiles. I thought that they were part of the failed Windows 8 experiment, and I don't understand why MS seems to continue to want to ram tiles onto our desktop and into our eyeballs.
I started using the Classic Start Menu shell in Win8 and I continue using it now that I have upgraded to Win10-64 Pro - on all the PCs that I support for my users.
Classic Shell is an ergonomic godsend for any Windows PC user.
With Classic Shell, the user rarely sees or has to remove tiles from their view. The user simply forgets the tiles even exist.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2016, 06:43:38 PM by IainB »

x16wda

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Re: Classic Shell (shell alternative for Windows 10, 8, 7) - Mini-Review
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2016, 07:52:23 PM »
At home I have been using Win 10 (except for its file explorer), after using Start 8 on Win 8. But at work we have been putting Classic Shell on 2012 and 2012r2 boxes for our largest customer. It's not that you can't get stuff done without it, it's just a lot more efficient with it in place.

IainB

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Cross-posted from: Re: T-Clock 2.4.3 build 471 Display Properties throws error
@anandcoral:
Thanks for the response. Very interesting (to me).
If, as you write,
Quote
...It is the interface which has some learning curve. You may have to give your user some time to guide them "how to find in Win10 which was in WinXp/7" This is the biggest problem/change of this upgrade. And more is coming ... as we finding after each OS update.
________________________
- then I would strongly suggest consideration be given to installing Classic Start Menu - refer Classic Shell (shell alternative for Windows 10, 8, 7) - Mini-Review
Classic Start Menu also provides an alternative XP, or Vista, or Win7 interface (take your pick). This could be useful for you with your users' needs (as you have described them).

In any event, this worked very well for me and my 2 favourite guinea-pigs (my now 15½ y/o daughter and 6 y/o son). They never noticed the migration from Vista-->Win7-->Win8/8.1-->Win10.

Ergonomically, Classic Start Menu seems to provide a far better GUI anyway (compared to the arguably ergonomically atrocious Metro GUI) and performance/stability seem to be unimpaired and the overhead seems to be minimal.

By providing a consistent and ergonomically sound interface as one migrates across OS upgrades, the process will be relatively transparent - i.e., hardly noticeable by users - and thus they will have little difficulty (minimal learning curve) after the upgrade. It's quite impressive to see this happening with users of the Classic Start Menu.

A lot of my perspective on GUIs comes from experience including, for example, managing the implementation of corporate-wide systems upgrades, where the greatest challenge was often trying to get a large population of users (e.g., knowledge workers in offices, or bank tellers in bank branches) up and running productively as quickly as possible - i.e., with minimum downtime/re-learning. Consistency with the old GUI and ergonomic efficiency were always a priority at the outset, during the system requirements analysis stage.
Good ergonomics may be a very real requirement, especially in military and office-based systems and where the ergonomics have already been been finely crafted to meet fairly stringent requirements in the first place.

My experience is that consistency and good ergonomics in the GUI generally tends to be universally beneficial and improves user-acceptance and take-up of the new system, whether it be in cases as above (the military, or banks) or (say) the family unit, or educational programmed-learning environments.

IainB

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UPDATE 2017-05-25 1341hrs: Minor updates to the OP, including the latest version currently being v4.3.0.

dr_andus

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Yup, loving the "Classic with two columns" start menu replacement for Win7.  :Thmbsup:

IainB

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Yup, loving the "Classic with two columns" start menu replacement for Win7.  :Thmbsup:
__________________________
Yes. Once trialled, rarely uninstalled, I suspect. Of the three components of Classic Shell, the older-styles of Classic Start Menu are arguably the most impressive and useful, but the other two components - the older-style Windows Explorer GUI and IE GUI - will probably have their adherents too.