|Developer(s)||Ivo Beltchev |
|Initial release||November 2009|
4.3.1 / 12 August 2017
|Written in||C++ |
|Operating system||Windows 7 and later, Windows Server 2008 and later|
|Available in||English and other|
(MIT License before v3.9.0, except for skins, logo and artwork )
Classic Shell is a computer software for Microsoft Windows that provides user interface elements intended to restore familiar features from past versions of Windows. It focuses on the Start menu, File Explorer and Internet Explorer — three major components of the Windows shell. In particular, it can serve as a Start menu replacement for Windows 8 and Windows 10 systems.
Developed by Ivo Beltchev, it was first released in 2009, and has been downloaded hundreds of million times since.  It is currently proprietary freeware, although some past versions are open source.
Features and architecture
Classic Shell is packaged as a suite of three components, all optional and independent of each other:
- Classic Start Menu — A re-implementation of the Start Menu, replicating features from several different generations of Windows
- Classic Explorer — An add-on to File/Windows Explorer, restoring and extending features present in various Windows releases
- Classic IE — An add-on for Internet Explorer 9 and later, it restores the web page title to the window title bar, and various details to the status bar
Classic Shell is programmed in C++. Although it modifies Windows behaviors, it does not do so by modifying or tweaking Windows registry settings or replacing or patching system files — all modifications are done using Windows APIs. It is localized into more than 30 languages, including right-to-left support for Arabic and Hebrew.
Classic Start Menu
Classic Start Menu is a replacement for the Windows Start Menu. Features include:
- Customize appearance of the Start button and Start Menu, and menu and submenu items
- Show recently, or most frequently used, apps
- Show recently opened documents, with sorting, jumplists, and pinning
- Highlight newly installed programs
- Separate traditional desktop apps from Universal Windows Platform apps
- Sort menus alphabetically, by date, or custom order with drag-and-drop
- Windows Search integration
- Customize settings such as menu opening delay, tooltip timing, sub-menu column style, menu width, icon size, animation, scroll speed, font smoothing, etc.
- Skinning to more completely customize the appearance
- Scales icons and menu background to higher resolutions and/or pixel density (PPI)
Besides restoring past behavior, there are several new features. These include showing the menu next to the taskbar when it is vertical, multi-monitor support, launching multiple programs at once, custom shutdown-related actions, Universal app launching, expanding any file folder as cascading menus, and additional keyboard shortcuts. The search box can search the system path, can show partial matches, and can show all results inside the menu.
Classic Start Menu can also modify Windows 8's new UI features, such as hot corners only on the desktop without disabling them inside Universal apps.
Classic Explorer is an add-on to Windows File Explorer, implemented as various shell extensions. It does not replace
EXPLORER.EXE. Features include:
- A toolbar that can include built-in commands, custom commands, or dropdown menus for arbitrary folders.
- Customize the behavior and appearance of the left folder navigation pane, including whether folders expand with a single click or double click, connecting lines, subfolder indicators, horizontal scrollbar, tree item spacing, and keyboard shortcuts
- The breadcrumb bar can be replaced with a traditional address bar, and the associated dropdown modified to show the hierarchical path instead of recent folder history
- Sort headers in all views
- Overlay icon for network shares
- Status bar can show disk free space, total size of current folder
- Tooltip of selected item
- "Up" folder navigation button
- Show the current folder in the title bar caption
- Copy progress dialog can be automatically expanded to show more details
- Replace the copy conflict dialog with one like Windows XP
Classic Shell began as a tool for personal use, and saw its first public release in 2009. Over time, the Start Menu component evolved to be a customizable launcher that also integrated a search box and other features of the Windows 7 Start Menu. The Explorer and IE components appeared later.
Classic Shell was originally released as Free and Open Source Software under the MIT license. The developer wanted the source code of Classic Shell to be freely available, hoping that it would be of educational value. However, beginning with version 3.9.0, Classic Shell became a closed-source program. The author cites two reasons for the change: First, as the code grew and developed, its became more complex and specialized, and less suitable as an educational resource. Second, some people were selling Classic Shell with few or no changes or improvements.
On 2 August 2016, the official download service for Classic Shell was hacked and served an infected version of the download file. For a few hours, users could inadvertently download an infected version which would rewrite their Master Boot Record and would cause Windows to not start up correctly. This was only effective during a few hours and only if manually downloaded. The automatic updater used different servers (MediaFire), and thus were unaffected by the infection.
On 4th of December 2017, the founder, Ivo Beltchev announced that he will no longer continue with the development of Classic Shell.
- "Classic Shell". Retrieved 19 January 2014.
- Ivo Beltchev (29 November 2009). "Classic Shell". Code Project. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
- "Full Source Code of the last open source release of Classic Shell". SourceForge. 2015. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
- "Classic Shell: FAQ". classicshell.net. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
- Ivo Beltchev. "Classic Shell". SourceForge. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
- Tyler Holman (11 April 2012). "Classic Shell brings Classic Start Menu to Windows 8". Neowin. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
- Ivo Beltchev. "Download Statistics: All Files". SourceForge. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
- Classic Shell page at FossHub showing downloads
- Simon Sharwood (23 August 2012). "Want a Windows 8 Start Button? Open source to the rescue!". The Register. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
- "Classic Shell: Translations". classicshell.net. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
- "Start Menu Skinning". classicshell.net. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
- Kevin Purdy (1 July 2010). "Restore Windows' One-Folder-Up Arrow with Classic Shell". Lifehacker. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
- John Callaham (20 May 2013). "Interview: We chat with the creator of Classic Shell". Neowin. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
- "Classic Shell: FAQ". classicshell.net. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
- "Classic Shell: History". classicshell.net. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
- John Callaham (11 May 2013). "Classic Shell sees 4.3 million downloads since Windows 8 launch". Neowin. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
- Jason Evangelho (16 April 2013). "Don't Wait For Windows 8.1 -- Get Its Two Best 'Features' Right Now". Forbes. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
- Whitson Gordon (26 October 2012). "How to Bring the Start Menu Back in Windows 8". Lifehacker. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
- Martin Brinkmann (2 April 2012). "Classic Shell Adds A Start Menu Back To Windows 8". gHacks Technology News. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
- Adrian Kingsley-Hughes (13 December 2012). "Two must-have downloads that make Windows 8 more bearable". ZDNet. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
- Erez Zukerman (31 January 2013). "Review: Classic Shell brings the Start menu to Windows 8 for free". PCWorld. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
- Greg Shultz (2 February 2010). "Put the Classic Start menu in Windows 7 with Classic Shell". TechRepublic. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
- Justin Pot (7 February 2013). "Make Windows 8 Suck Less With Classic Shell". MakeUseOf. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
- Mike Williams (9 January 2012). "Give Windows 7 the XP makeover with Classic Shell 3.3". BetaNews. Retrieved 20 September 2015.