Soon after the Windows 8 was officially released, a lot of complaints were received from all over the web regarding the missing Start button and booting directly to the new START menu and not to the Desktop mode. People simply have not been able to get accustomed to the new Metro interface, introduced for the first time in this version of the Windows.
In the first part of this article you will read what are the expected features in the next major update to Windows 8 and in the second part you will get a list of most popular applications for getting back and customizing start button (menu) in Windows 8.

Part I: What are the expected features in the next major upgrade to Windows 8?

Apparently, based on customers’ feedback, Microsoft is building a major upgrade for Windows 8 with a codename “Windows Blue” (will be Windows 8.1 upon official release). A public preview is expected to debut at the Build 2013 conference this June in San Francisco.
According to IT PRO magazine, here are key features expected to appear in the upcoming upgrade of Windows 8:

Straight to desktop: it seems that an option to boot directly to Desktop will be given to the users;
Live Tiles: resizing live tiles as well as options for increased level of customization;

Windows Blue live tiles
Photo credits: itpro.co.uk

Improved Charms Settings: access and configure advanced settings without having to switch to Desktop mode;

Windows Blue improved Charms settings
Photo credits: itpro.co.uk

Enhanced App Control: adjust the percentage of the screen that apps can share between them when running concurrently, notifications control within individual apps etc.

Windows Blue enhanced App control
Photo credits: itpro.co.uk

Internet Explorer 11: syncing tabs across multiple devices is expected to be core benefit.

Windows Blue Internet Explorer 11
Photo credits: itpro.co.uk

Part II: List of most popular tools for customizing Windows 8 start menu

Before anything becomes official regarding the “Windows Blue” features, here is the list of most popular FREE applications to get back and customize Windows 8 Start button:

1. Classic Shell: highly customizable start menu, start button for both Windows 7 and Windows 8, toolbar and status bar for Windows Explorer, caption and status bar for Internet Explorer. Very popular application with more than 4 million downloads so far.

Classic Shell Start menu for Windows 8
Photo credits: www.ClassicShell.net

2. Pokki:

Pokki Start menu for Windows 8
Photo credits: CNET

3. IObit Start Menu 8:

IObit Start Menu for Windows 8
Photo credits: www.win8forums.com

4. Start Button 8:

Start Button 8 for Windows 8
Photo credits: www.startbutton8.com

5. ViStart Start Menu:

ViStart Windows 8 start button
Photo credits: http://lee-soft.com

6. Power 8:

Power8 Start Button Options for Windows 8
Photo credits: https://code.google.com/p/power8/

7. StartW8:

StartW8 button for Windows 8

8. Start Menu 7:

Start Menu 7
Photo credits: www.startmenu7.com

9. Start Menu X:

Start menu X for Windows 8
Photo credits: www.startmenux.com

10. Win8 Start Button  – is visually almost identical as Classic Shell and it is recompiled version with several customizable features.

11. StartMenuPlus 8:

Start Menu Plus8
Photo credits: CNET