One of the biggest gripes that longtime Windows users have with the latest – still in development – operating system release is Microsoft's decision to pull the classic Start menu to make way for a new Metro start screen filled with large tiles, which can be customized to show live information or launch applications. Although it's a fresh and arguably more visually appealing take on the traditional Desktop, it was designed with touch input in mind, and as such it can get on the way of those used to a mouse and keyboard to get things done.

With that in mind Stardock has released a free application called Start8 that will bring the old menu back – sort of. Stardock's solution basically copies the Metro search and application launch interfaces to the desktop and makes it accesible via the classic start menu Orb on the bottom left corner of the screen. This allows users to search for and load applications without switching from the classic desktop to Metro first.

Start8 also adds Run and Shutdown options to the context menu when right-clicking the start menu Orb.

The application was specifically designed for Windows 8 and is compatible with the current "Consumer Preview" release. Stardock says it will update the program to make it compatible with the forthcoming release candidate and final versions of the operating system when Microsoft makes those available.

As mentioned, this is a free download. Stardock is asking users to leave their email addresses on the Start8 product page and they'll promptly send a download link – pressumably also a notification when a new version is available. If you want to skip through that, however, we've added a direct download link here.