Although it is always nice to see something get a fresh new look, not everyone is happy with the changes Microsoft has brought to the Start menu and taskbar within Windows 11. For years, the Start menu has always been located at the bottom-left of the screen (assuming you keep your taskbar in the default position). all of your loaded tabs in the taskbar have been left-aligned and the system tray to the right.
Then one day, Microsoft decided that everything (but the system tray) should now be centered on the taskbar and only available at the bottom of the screen. No more left or right side of your screen. No top either–just bottom. When you click the start menu, it also opens into an all-new look. But, what if you are one of those who lean more toward the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mindset? What if you prefer the older Start menu designs?
Stardock, a company that has been around for years specializing in software that allows users to tap into deep customizations of the Windows UI, has a tool to make it all possible. It’s called “Start11” and it fixes nearly everything you can imagine. It’s a small application with big options. In fact, you’ll be surprised with how many options you have available to you.
One of the first things you are presented with when installing the software is where you’d like the Start menu (left, or keep it centered). Stardock doesn’t waste any time in this as it is one of the most requested features out there when it comes to “fixing” the Windows 11 Start menu.
From there, you are dropped right into the main tab of the software’s interface.
Here, you choose which design you want. You can choose to keep the new Windows 11 design style and change things up within it or opt for one that matches a previous version of Windows (Windows 7 or 10). There is also a Modern style, which is what we eventually chose to go with (which can be seen in the main image of this story, at the top of the page).
Each style has various things you can adjust and manage and some feature access depends on if the start menu is left-aligned or kept centered.
From here on out, you can stop there and enjoy your new menu or dive deep into the additional settings, which seem to go on forever.
When I say forever, I kid you not. There are so many options to customize using Start11. You can move things around, switch between various sub-versions of each menu style, as well as effects, background graphics, and more. You can even change the Start menu icon (if it is left-aligned).
You can also edit the taskbar in many ways, including effects, texture, taskbar size, right-click menu, and more. Then there are options in regards to search capabilities, and so on, and so on, and so on.
Therefore, you can keep it simple or choose to dive deep into making Windows 11’s taskbar and Start menu your own. It might take others a few minutes to realize that you have Windows 11 installed (the rounded corners of all the windows are kind of a dead giveaway).
Then there is the price. We think that the price is more than reasonable. Quite fitting for what it is since it is only going to run you $4.99 (unless you buy into a bundle that includes other Stardock software, which leads to a variable cost). You can even find their version for Windows 10 still (Start10 – if you choose not to go with Windows 11 yet), which can be found here. The company’s “Fences” software is also a great option to have, allowing you to deeply organize your desktop and even double-click to make all of your icons vanish and re-appear, leading to a clean look. However, that’s a whole other story right there.
So far, we’ve quite enjoyed using the Start11 software. It is something that will ride alongside your use of Windows 11 until the next generation of Windows comes into existence (and then you still might find yourself prefering to use it over whatever Microsoft has to offer next).
The only thing
s anyone here has ever complained about or pointed out is the fact that you can’t access the right-click menu for the icons which normally pull up recent documents with a given app (ie, Excel, Word, etc) along with pinned ones. So if you rely heavily on that feature within Windows for any given reason, you may want to avoid this method for now (Update, this seems to have been resolved). That and there is no Quick Launch section for the taskbar that cold be found with earlier versions of Windows.
If anything else pops into mind, we’ll make sure to come back and add it.