With Windows 10, Microsoft remedied one of the biggest criticisms of Windows 8 by bringing back the Start Menu. By combining the traditional Windows 7 Start Menu with the Start Screen Live Tiles of Windows 8, the company created a hybrid of the two that’s much easier to use on desktop PCs.
In some instances, you may want to use a Windows 8-style Start Screen on a device running Windows 10. You can optionally bring back the full screen Start interface, giving you a similar experience to Windows 8’s implementation.
The Start screen is enabled by default when you’re using Windows 10’s tablet mode. To force it to display on a regular desktop device too, open the Settings app, navigate to the “Personalisation” category and then open the “Start” page. You can turn on the Start screen with the “Use Start full screen” toggle button.
When you click the Start button or press the Windows key, you’ll now see the full screen Start interface open. Like on Windows 8, you can rearrange tiles and create groups by dragging them around on the screen. You can start typing to immediately search your PC and the web, again as with Windows 8. To get back to your desktop, click the Start button or press the Windows key again.
While the basic interface is the same as in Windows 8, there are some significant differences in Windows 10’s implementation. Perhaps most notably, the Start screen now scrolls vertically rather than horizontally, giving you a fixed number of tile columns. You can create tile groups in both dimensions, avoiding the “empty column” issue of Windows 8. Previously, the horizontal layout would create a blank space on the screen if you only had a few tiles in the group.
The folder shortcuts on the left side of the Start screen are new and the “All apps” screen has been moved to a dedicated button at the top of this strip. The tile sizes have also been tweaked so you can fit more on the screen. Generally, the interface makes for a more refined implementation of the concept introduced with Windows 8.
Retaining the option to use Start full screen allows Microsoft to ensure Windows 10 fits every kind of user. Although most will be happy to use the Start menu, the full screen version is useful while on tablets, convertibles and touchscreens. It’s also visually impressive on large screen monitors, giving you an easy way to showcase your setup on a new 4K or ultrawide display.