Change the New Start Button in Windows 8.1

A number of Windows 8 customers were quite loud in their complaints about the rather abrupt disappearance of the Start button and menu. Version 8.1 of the operating system brings back the “feature” – in a way. There is no old-fashioned menu, but a helpful context menu is included. There is also no way to customize the button, so it was only a matter of time before developers began righting that missing option.

One of the first to appear is “Windows 8.1 Start Button Changer” – the name implies pretty much what you get here. The new button included in version 8.1 of the operating system.

The program has a tiny footprint – a mere 500 KB download, though it is a bit compressed, which you will first need to take care of by clicking the “extract” button contained in Windows 8.1 Explorer.

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The app does not install to your desktop or system tray (though this is something you can change if you wish), so you will be running it direct from the extracted folder. You may (almost certainly will) get a Windows message warning you of the “unknown” program. Simply click “more info” and then “run anyway” – I promise it’s safe.

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The app opens looking exactly like a second Start button on your task bar, though it won’t appear in the same spot, and hovering over it will display the difference.

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Click the icon and a small box pops up that shows off the options now available to you. By default the app displays the Windows 8.1 button as it comes with the operating system – meaning a white Windows logo that turns green upon mouse pointer hovering and goes grey around the edge when pressed.

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In addition, you will find a “change” button and a “restore button”. If you would like to alter the look of the Windows 8.1 Start button – and I assume you do since you are reading this – then click the “change” button. Don’t worry, the context menu will still work despite the change to button appearance.

Now comes the part where you have a bit of work to do. The app does not supply you with a menu of options, but instead relies on you to handle this part of the process. When the “change” button is clicked it will open up an Explorer window and allow you to browse for the image you wish to use.

Once you have chosen one, click on it then tap “open”. There is no “apply” or “ok” — once you have chosen your image, it becomes your new Start button and the “hover” and “pressed” options fill themselves in using the same process as is used by default. If you do not care for the results then simply click the “restore” button to return to default and perhaps try again.

The return of the Start button in Windows 8.1 is a rather half-baked attempt by Microsoft to alleviate some of the complaints that have been floating around online. If you are satisfied with the version the company has implemented, then you can use this app to customize it to your own tastes. Otherwise, third-party developers have also released methods for bringing back the menu, which also alter the look of the button, though do not allow the user to choose the image. For a free app, Windows 8.1 Start Button Changer is more than adequate for most customers.