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Tested: Start11 solves Windows 11’s worst Start menu and taskbar sins

If you want a Windows 10–style Start menu within Windows 11, then Start11 may be for you.

- BY MARK HACHMAN

Stardock Software’s Start11 utility is now shipping as a 1.0 release, and if you hate the reductioni­st new design of the Windows 11 Start menu and taskbar, you’ll want to check it out. Start11, among other handy tricks, lets you move the taskbar around your desktop and configure the Start menu to emulate Windows 10’s look and feel.

Start11, priced at $4.99 ( fave. co/3ht30pu) as a standalone utility, doesn’t offer everything: It can’t create any dynamic Windows 10 Live Tiles, for example, and your ability to move and resize the Windows 11’s taskbar icons is still somewhat limited. But if you’d like a more gentle transition between Windows 10 and Windows 11, Start11 certainly helps.

Start11 is the latest iteration of the Startx utilities from Stardock, which shipped similar Start8 and Start10 utilities as throwback UIS to earlier versions of the Windows operating system after Windows 8 and Windows 10 launched, respective­ly. Start11 simply installs

over the top of Windows 11, presenting a more familiar way to interact with the operating system. The program itself consists of a straightfo­rward settings menu, where you can tweak things as you’d like. After that, Start11 makes Windows 11 look as you please and then simply gets out of the way.

TWEAKING YOUR TASKBAR WITH START11

As our Windows 11 review highlighte­d ( fave.co/3cdetj3), Windows 11 doesn’t let you resize the taskbar or move it around your screen. Start11 does, though not with the full flexibilit­y of Windows 10. Start11 allows you to move the taskbar to the top or bottom of the screen—not the sides—and resize the icons. (Doing so within the Start11 Settings menu requires you to click a button to restart the Windows Explorer process manually.)

You can tweak the location of the taskbar on each individual display, and resizing the icons certainly helps maximize usable screen space on both tablet-size and 4K displays. It’s a big improvemen­t over the default Windows 11 experience. But Stardock has yet to fix a key annoyance of Windows 11—the Windows system clock still only appears on a single display. Start11 also doesn’t yet allow you to resize the taskbar, nor can you drag and drop files on a taskbar icon to launch the applicatio­n, though those limitation­s no doubt come from Microsoft more than they do from Stardock.

Neverthele­ss, it’s a solid start, even if it’s not all that you might have hoped for quite yet. If it was, Stardock might have named it Taskbar11 instead.

SUPERCHARG­ING THE START MENU WITH START11

Windows 11’s Start menu is one of the more controvers­ial aspects of Microsoft’s new operating system, but Start11 allows a number of tweaks to make it more familiar. You can use the Windows 11 Start menu if you’d like—but Start11 allows you to resize it or open it in a full-screen mode, which Windows 11 doesn’t yet do. That a handy option.

However, Start11 also lets you open Start as a Windows 7–like interface, or use the more tiled approach of Windows 10. In the latter environmen­t, you can move and group icons, resize them, and generally make Start look like Windows 10, but without the animated Live Tiles that Windows 10 supported. Stardock also has its own “modern” style, which shrinks down the Start menu into an ultracompa­ct layout, and points to your most recently used files on an app-by-app basis rather than in the OS at large.

Start11 provides some additional options for managing search, as well as some other tweaks to launch Windows 11’s own Start menu versus Start11’s own. Still, if the operating system’s native look and feel caused you to hold off on upgrading to Windows 11 ( fave. CO/3DQEFVJ), Start11 can successful­ly ease the transition.

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 ?? ?? Start11’s menu.
Start11’s menu.
 ?? ?? Start11 allows you to resize your Windows 11 taskbar icons and put them at the top or bottom of the screen.
Start11 allows you to resize your Windows 11 taskbar icons and put them at the top or bottom of the screen.
 ?? ?? Start11’s Windows 10–style Start menu, pushed to the left corner. Note how icons can be grouped and resized.
Start11’s Windows 10–style Start menu, pushed to the left corner. Note how icons can be grouped and resized.
 ?? ?? Start11’s “modern” Start menu. The right-hand caret menu on each app points to the most recent documents.
Start11’s “modern” Start menu. The right-hand caret menu on each app points to the most recent documents.

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