Microsoft took the bold steps of removing the traditional Windows 8 Start menu and Start button orb from its Windows 8 Consumer Preview last week. Desktop PC users are currently debating the merits of the Windows 8 Start Screen replacement and Microsoft's mouse / keyboard improvements in the latest beta copy, but some want the Start menu and Start button orb back. Microsoft MVP Vishal Gupta has discovered a rather quick and easy way to re-enable both options in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview:

  1. Download ViStart - a third-party freeware app that remakes the Windows 7 start menu
  2. When you run ViStart setup uncheck and decline any options for toolbars that are bundled with the product. These aren't spyware or malware installations but you probably don't want them.
  3. After installation, the Start orb and menu will return instantly and you should be able to use the Windows key to toggle them.

Some users have reported issues with the orb overlapping the Taskbar buttons, Gupta has some more detailed instructions if you experience problems with this, but it worked instantly on our Windows 8 test PCs. Most of the traditional Start menu functionality works, but "Pin to Start" will still attach items to the new Start Screen interface.