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Haters of the Windows 11 Start menu can get rid of it with StartIsBack

StartIsBack (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • An app called StartIsBack allows you to customize the Start menu on Windows 11.
  • The app includes several personalization options and a Windows 7-style Start menu.
  • You can also use StartIsBack to tweak the look of the File Explorer.

Windows 11 brings a visual refresh and a new Start menu, the latter of which has proven controversial to some. Since Microsoft unveiled the new Start menu, people have expressed frustration with it online. People who dislike the Windows 11 Start menu have another option to get rid of it in the form of StartIsBack (via XDA).

With StartIsBack, people can customize the look of their Start menu on Windows 11. Generally, the resulting Start menu will look more like that of Windows 7 than Windows 11, but there are quite a few personalization options. The app also includes options for tweaking the look of the default File Explorer.

Shortly after Windows 11 was announced, there was a trick that allowed Insider builds to show the Windows 10 Start menu. We ran a poll to gauge people's opinions at the time. Over 50% of polled participants said they'd like an option to use older Start menus.

Microsoft may not provide an option to use older Start menus on Windows 11, but that hasn't stopped third-party developers from creating ways. In addition to StartIsBack, Stardock has an app called Start11 that lets you customize the Start menu.

StartIsBack is in beta testing, so you can expect some bugs and issues at this time. Here's its feature list from its developers:

  • Classic taskbar with all its features, revamped new icons and round corners.
  • Classic context menus with all new look.
  • Classic Win7 start menu with all new look and features.
  • Explorer improved: revamped Ribbon and Command Bar, search box that works.
  • Classic UI improved: rounded tooltips, dark mode improvements.
  • Notfication Area Icons Control Panel applet restored and revamped.
  • Negative resource usage: fewer RAM used, fewer processes started.
  • All-new reachitected and revamped app.

There are also some known issues with the app at the moment:

  • Do not roll back to Windows 10 and do not install StartIsBack++!
  • May not like other tweaks and shell apps. Please remove.
  • May not be activated. Will work until November 2021.
  • Not translated and not translation ready.
  • Not for Dev channel flighting.
  • Not working: app uninstalling, orb management.

According to its download page, StartIsBack is only meant for Windows 11 build 22000 and isn't for Dev channel flighting.

Sean Endicott is the news writer for Windows Central. If it runs Windows, is made by Microsoft, or has anything to do with either, he's on it. Sean's been with Windows Central since 2017 and is also our resident app expert. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at

  • Good news for haters of change and progress.
  • Except there is literally no progress in the default Windows 11 Start menu. Change sure, progress zero.
  • The new Start menu certainly is a change. Progress in the sense of being an improvement is subjective though. People are allowed to have personal preferences, aren't they? 😉
  • Nice bait, but if someone doesn't like the new Start Menu for any reason then hissing at them and calling them a HaTeR oF cHaNgE aNd PrOgReSs will not change anything. Frankly, why the new Start Menu isn't getting much positive attention from a big chunk of people is more of a matter of preference and especially experience. Let's have a look at the initial reactions to Windows 10's Start Menu.
    The ideas it introduced back then were looked at with confusion ("They combined the Start Menu with Windows 8's Startup screen? Weird..."), but people got accustomed to it quickly, because at its core the Windows 10 Start Menu followed a timeless and tested layout that was learned and trusted by millions of Windows users over decades and perfected over time with new Windows releases. One thing that's for sure is that the Windows 10's Start Menu wasn't as much of a radical change from the regular Windows Start Menu paradigm as the Windows 11 Start Menu - The Windows 10 Start Menu took an existing and proven concept that's an important element of the whole ecosystem, then expanded upon it with neat features which only needed some polish over time. Windows 11's Start Menu feels like something new, like the Start Menu wheel just got reinvented overnight and that's the thing - it feels different, especially for those who used Windows for decades. Whether it's different in a positive or negative way is still an ongoing debate and that probably won't change even long after it's scrutinized by the public (i like it doe), but it's still different nonetheless. That difference is what turns many people away from it and thus they look for the ways to go back to how they liked things to work by tweaking the system or installing third-party programs, because for them that's what makes Windows, well, Windows. And that's exactly the group of people all these programs like Classic Shell, Open-Shell and StartIsBack are for.
  • But will it work with Stardock tweaks?
  • I just use Classic Start.