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Classic Shell (shell alternative for Windows 10, 8, 7) - Mini-Review

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Originally posted:2014-08-04Last updated2017-12-05 - developer of Classic Shell announces he is quitting, and releases the last version of the program.
Basic Info
App/Service Name Classic ShellThumbs-Up Rating :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup:App URL 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 PROSupported OSesWindows 7 and aboveSupport 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.
-LiquidGravity (September 26, 2011, 05:49 PM)
--- End quote ---

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.
-IainB (July 24, 2014, 11:09 PM)
--- End quote ---

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:  <== 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:  <== Do have a read of this and follow its links for more info.

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:  <== Do have a read of this and follow its links for more info.

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
- 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:
-consumer4beta (August 03, 2014, 09:23 PM)
--- End quote ---

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.

Here's an objective comparison of the Start Menus:

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.

@consumer4beta: Here's an objective comparison of the Start Menus:
-consumer4beta (August 03, 2014, 09:23 PM)
--- End quote ---
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.

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.


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