Classic Shell is open source again, but dead

Classic Shell

A sad announcement came from the developer of the popular Classic Shell app today which restores the Windows 7 or XP style Start menu along with some classic XP-era Windows Explorer features. Ivo Beltchev, who is the person behind the project, today announced that he has discontinued the development of the app but anyone else is free to continue working on it because it is now open source.

The author cites several reasons for ending development, including change of interests, lack of time, and continual changes in Windows 10 which cause testing and stability issues. According to him, every other update to the OS was breaking things in Classic Shell and the APIs and hooks it relies on to integrate with Explorer. Windows 10 has also moved away from classic Win32 app development and all the focus now is on Universal Windows Platform/Store apps. It is hard to maintain the app and keep it bug-free and working on recent builds of Windows 10. There have been constant crashing or freezing issues with Explorer.

The official announcement of termination of Classic Shell development states the following:

Sad news, everyone.
After months of deliberation, I have decided to stop the development of Classic Shell.
It was a great adventure for me that lasted 8 fun and exciting years. It started back in 2009 as a simple weekend project and over time grew to be a hugely popular software brand with many millions of downloads. It was in large part due to all of you, the active Classic Shell community, that reported issues, suggested features, provided translations, developed new skins and participated in forum discussions. My thanks go to you for your continued support and encouragement.
And of course, special thanks to Gaurav Kale, who stuck with me from the early days to the end. His passion for all things Windows was instrumental to the Classic Shell success.
There were few factors that led to my decision:
1) Lack of free time. I have other hobbies that demand my time, some related to software and some not. It requires a lot of effort to add new major features to Classic Shell and keep it relevant. Even keeping it running on newer version of Windows is a lot of work. That leads me to point #2
2) Windows 10 is being updated way too frequently (twice a year) and each new version changes something that breaks Classic Shell. And
3) Each new version of Windows moves further away from the classic Win32 programming model, which allowed room for a lot of tinkering. The new ways things are done make it very difficult to achieve the same customizations
So, moving forward, I am making the latest version of Classic Shell open-source and adding it back to SourceForge (, where it all began. I encourage other people to fork it and go with it.
I will keep the MediaFire download mirror for another 6 months. The forum on will stay open until the end of 2018, however I will not frequently participate in the discussions.
Thanks again, everyone
All the best
Ivo Beltchev

The source code of the app is published on the SourceForge web site, so anyone interested can fork it and continue the app's development.

This is an enormously sad outcome. For me, Classic Shell was the ultimate Start menu solution - customizable and feature rich! It was the best way to get rid of the Start screen of Windows 8/8.1 and also a faster and more feature-rich alternative to the Start menu in Windows 10. The Windows 10 menu with its tiles, promoted/advertised apps and touch-focused experience did not suit my requirements. In comparison, Classic Shell's menu was endlessly customizable, offered all the features of the Windows XP and 7 Start menus, and had a powerful classic search, similar to the one in the Windows 7 Start menu. There was no Cortana or web search integration which was a blessing for me. Classic Shell made me feel at home, regardless of which Windows version I was using.

Classic Shell has run successfully for 8 long years and has a huge fan following and passionate community.

What about you? Will you miss the app? Tell us in the comments how you feel about the end of Classic Shell.

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Author: Sergey Tkachenko

Sergey Tkachenko is a software developer who started Winaero back in 2011. On this blog, Sergey is writing about everything connected to Microsoft, Windows and popular software. Follow him on Telegram, Twitter, and YouTube.

29 thoughts on “Classic Shell is open source again, but dead”

  1. Indeed sad news, Sergey! Nothing can match its speed and lightness. Hope someone will pick it up and get it going again. Least would be to keep it compatible with upcoming windows versions.

    1. Still working on Windows 10.
      I’ve tested it on Windows 11, doesn’t work with mouse click. Only via keyboard’s windows key/shortcuts.

      1. Well, there’s a workaround that I never tested: Using Start button replacement, the replacement will not replace, in fact, but overlay original button. So, works.

  2. Good riddance. I really do not understand the appeal of a Windows 7 start menu. It was cumbersome at best.

    1. That’s because you are an idiot. It offered better ways to navigation All Programs, its search was better and it allowed cascading flyout menus for tons of useful folders on your system and their direct contents via submenus without even opening Explorer.

    2. Say what you will about the usefulness of a windows 7-like start menu, the searching in classic shell is far superior than the current windows searching.

    3. Good riddance? If you didn’t use it, what’s it to you how it appeals to others? Good riddance would be no more pathetic comments like yours.

  3. So very sad. This is one app that I have run since day one. I will continue to use it in its present iteration until it won’t run any more.

    Thank you for a great app!

  4. What will happen to Windows if other developers start to say it is too much trouble and it is too costly to maintain their traditional app when the OS is changing twice a year and if none of those developers wants to code the new apps? Microsoft is destroying their solid OS. Who will pick up the ball?

    There is a need that Windows fills right now that no other OS is able to cover well enough right now because of the legacy of software that Windows has. If the legacy disappears, they will loose an important competitive advantage and lots of people might end up leaving the unstable, constantly and annoyingly changing buggy ship for good.

    That is a very sad thing. It is also telling that each new version of Windows breaks Classic Shell. They finally got this developer. Now they might get some users to.

  5. I’ll continue to use Classic Shell till it completely stops working. It is still going well in fall creators update. Maybe I’ll need to downgrade to windows 7. Any other free start menu solutions?

  6. Well I don’t have Windows 10 so it’s not my worry. As I have got Windows 7 and 8 which is Win32 OS Classic Shell works on there.
    The best thing to do is to copy the Classic Shell install file to a CD or USB Thumb drive as a back up. That way if you ever have to reinstall Windows you can reinstall Classic Shell again.
    I have also copied the Windows Live Essentials Installer to my CD Drive so I can install that again if I need to.
    I am not gonna stop using Classic Shell even if they do discontinue it. It’s the best start menu there is.
    As for Windows 10 I am not going to upgrade to that-EVER.

  7. I’ve been using Startisback since Win8. It’s a paid progam, but it’s fairly cheap. I never felt Classic Shell was really well integrated into Windows 8+. Startisback is supposedly using the original Start menu dormant codes to replicate the original Windows 7 start menu. It also restore Windows 7 jump list behavior and works with windows theme.

  8. This is a sad day. Ivo really made Classic Shell into the best start menu available. He was responsive on the forums and I was amazed how much it improved over time.

    The really sad part is hearing how Microsoft is basically destroying the “Win32 Programming Model”. Moving from an open platform to a closed platform will ultimately slow down development of quality Windows applications. I’ve decided to stay with Windows 8.1 for as long as possible because I really don’t like the direction of Windows 10. I don’t know how to move to Linux because most of the software I use is not available on Linux. Maybe one day…

    Hopefully somebody continues the development of Classic Shell.

  9. Shame. Windows needs a Rofi like launcher/windows switcher more than ever now. Something scriptable/extendable so that the user can make it whatever they want. If windows had something on par with Rofi i could see myself using the OS more often. I wish i had the programming skills to do it myself. My Linux workflow is just so much quicker and efficient i feel hindered when using windows now. Could maybe run it with an xserver via WSL, but that seems overkill. Hmmm. Apologies for the rant,

  10. This is the best alternative for Windows 10. Without Classic Shell it is difficult to find anything in windows 10 without having Cortana find it for you. I have been an IT admin since windows NT and windows 10 has one of the worst shells of any windows version. When people say you need to get with the “Modern” way of running stuff, that is a load of manure. I will use Classic shell till it will not work anymore. Thank you Ivo for making the “New” “Modern” versions of windows usable again, classic shell will be missed.

  11. Seems a group picked up the project at
    And they’ve started a new forum too
    Check out this

    1. The source code was dumped on Github by a Classic Shell forum member with Ivo’s permission in the hope that someone would take up the project. But there has been no development activity on the Classic Shell project after it was abandoned by Ivo in December 2017. Ivo had released the source code to Sourceforge but people like Github more these days (just wait till Mickeysoft does something nasty to Github and people start hating it).

  12. New ‘Classic Start’ replacement can be downloaded here…

    Click on ‘ClassicStartSetup_4_4_109.exe’

  13. The developers of Open-Shell have done very good work. The next update will bring a much needed fix that you will soon find out.

    Sergey, do you still do skin showcases? There have been some new ones which are worth checking out.

      1. Well, actually… I didn’t mean to make this self promotional, but I actually have something in the works with Juniper7. It will be posted on his profile on the CS forum when it is released, probably sometime within the next week. If you are interested in checking it out that would be great. I’ll make another comment when it’s finished, if you’re interested of course.

      2. Hey Sergey, the skin I mentioned previously has been released on GitHub. You can check it out here if you are interested:

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