To usher in the new decade, I’ve decided it’s time to bite the bullet and move on from the now-nearly-ten-years-old Windows XP.  So far, Windows 7 is treating me okay.  I’ve had a few hiccups with drivers, but that’s not entirely unexpected. One thing, though…

Microsoft has removed the ‘classic’ start menu, leaving us no choice but to use the Vista-style flat menu.  I cannot begin to describe how much of a step backwards in user interface design the new menu is. Luckily, I’m not the only one with that opinion, so I found a groovy 3rd-party app that gives you the old WinXP-style menu. It has the incredibly clever name Classic Windows Start Menu.  Bonus: it even uses Aero if you have it enabled, so you get sexy transparency happening.

Classic Windows Start Menu, with sexy Aero transparency

Download it from the app’s website at There’s no installer to run – you just unzip the app into a folder and then add a shortcut to it to the startup folder if you want it to load every time Windows 7 starts.

The default configuration didn’t quite look right, so I had to tweak things to get the menu looking like the screenshot above. In the same folder where you’ve unzipped the application to will be a file called strings.xml.  Right-click that file and choose edit from the menu what pops up.

A text file will open up with lots of setting strings.  You can ignore the lot of them and scroll to near the bottom; you’re looking for a section called Menu Font.  In there, you need to change the Menu Font Color and Menu Font Glow Size as seen in the screenshot below.

Fix That Shizzle!

Hit save and close the document.  Restart the application or log out and back in and your start menu should be nice and user-friendly.

Finally, I can also recommend not highly enough that you install vendor drivers for all your hardware and steer well clear of the default Microsoft drivers, but that article is much longer than I care to write at 8:45 in the morning before going to work. Er, I mean, before launching my super-awesome experimental ramjet into an interception course with an invasion fleet of suborbital dropships escorted by Hauer-class attack boats and Mariah Carey CDs.