Microsoft to block Classic Shell in Windows 10: here is why

Classic Shell

If you read Winaero regularly, you might be familiar with the awesome Classic Shell application. It became famous thanks to an excellent Start menu implementation with several styles from classic Windows 95-like to modern Windows 7-like. Classic Shell also provides a number of very useful fixes to significantly improve Explorer's behavior and revive its must have features like customizable toolbars or status bar size. Users who have already installed Windows 10 Technical Preview 3 Build 9879 are facing a strange issue that Classic Shell cannot be installed. The operating system simply does not allow the installer to do its work!

Winaero Skin for Classic Shell
The reason why it happens is very simple: Microsoft needs your feedback on the Start menu they implemented from scratch in Windows 10. Also, they want you to test the Continuum feature which will be enabled out-of-the-box in upcoming builds. The Windows team wants to learn your use cases for the Start menu and what they did wrong in the current implementation of the menu.

But since the Classic shell app replaces the Start menu, they will not be able to collect the required data to change bits. So that's our guess why Microsoft is preventing you from installing third party menu apps.

If you cannot imagine your life without the Classic Shell menu or other features it offers, here is a workaround to install Classic Shell. Just rename its installer and use some random name for the installer file, i.e. name it abcdef.exe. Then launch the renamed installer and Classic Shell will be installed. That's it, you are done.

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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.

39 thoughts on “Microsoft to block Classic Shell in Windows 10: here is why”

  1. This is a ‘Technical Preview’ of a new OS.
    So simply. “If you cannot imagine your life without the Classic Shell menu or other features it offers,”… You should not install a ‘technical preview’ in your daily use pc. :-)

      1. after struggling to repair start menu 3 times I installed classic shell in desperation. glad I did. Win10 is buggy as hell still.

  2. Interesting! The Start8 menu installer (and menu) still works, even in build 9879. I don’t like it as much as the default menus, though, so after installing it on Win10TP, I played with it for a while, then promptly uninstalled it. Thanks for the heads-up on my other favorite menuing utility, though. Good work!

  3. I don’t understand why would you install Classic Shell on Windows 10 “Technical Preview”. The purpose of preview is to test the newest features.

  4. Thanks for that workaround. I’m getting heartily sick of Microsoft’s Big Brother tactics. I’m as old as the hills, and if I’ve paid what, to me, is a small blooming fortune for a machine, I do not expect the manufacturers to tell me what I can and can’t do on it, in it or with it. Thanks to people like you I can still outwit the buggers :)

  5. The Windows 10 Start Menu and jumplists crashed two days after installing 9926. There is no way for me to give them feedback. I used Iobit’s Free Start Menu 8 which is not blocked.

  6. I really liked the Build 9879 menu. It was pretty much perfect. Then they ruined it with the atrocity in 9926 and removed the workaround to go back to the 9879 menu in 10041. I have commented numerous times on my preference, and now I think the best way to express my dislike of the newest start menu iteration is to use Classic Shell. So that’s what I’ll be doing, thanks to this post.

  7. Well, it is a technical preview. Its purpose is to allow people to evaluate the new OS’s features. What I don’t understand, though, is why they didn’t also block Start8. You can install Start8 in the tech preview without renaming anything.

  8. Using Classic Shell 4.2 Beta works well with Windows 10 9926 and the new version as well. Would be nice to see the Classic shell with an option to bring back the “System Restore” icon to the Start Menu. It can be created on the desktop and then “pinned” to the Classic Start menu, if you know how to do it.
    I’ve done it and works well. The Beta Classic Shell works like a beautiful well designed tool and is a necessary part for anyone that is coming from XP.

  9. Version 4.2.0 of Classic Shell is now able to install again on the Enterprise edtion build 10074. I am unsure if they ever blocked Classic Shell on the enterprise edition.

  10. Surely the fact that people want to install Classic Shell should also give them feedback on how people want their start menus and things to work? If I’m installing something that makes the menu work in a vastly different way to how you’ve set it up (IE the way it worked previously with no issues, rather than this fugly new app-look thing), then shouldn’t that clue you in that I, and other people, would like that as an option?

  11. I don’t like tiles at all. I am using Windows 10 on a non touchscreen desktop computer.

    To me tiles are hokey and take up a lot of space.

    I will be installing classic shell and using a Win 7 start.

    1. So, you went from a company that actually worked to increase support for taskbar programs (i.e. classic shell) to a company that believes everything you buy should come through them and your system should be impossible to customize, and that you shouldn’t be allowed hardware upgrades (which invalidates your license to use OS X [not joking, you won’t be stopped, but Apple is an extreme control freak in their terms of use]).

      I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple had something like “Failure to prominently display the apple logo results in product self-destructing” in their licensing agreements.

      I mean, at least say you’re switching to Linux so I can mock you and point out how all the customization of linux is available with windows because you’re just replacing programs with other programs. (In fact, Windows has some seriously fleshed out customization options that just aren’t in menus, or are for programmers to hook into.)

      But OS X is an extreme. Apple even removed the ability to select your display resolution, HOW is that BETTER?

      1. After many happy years with WinXP (and before), and bare tolerance for Win7, Win10 was what finally made me fling up my hands and go find a linux distro I can live with for everyday. I can’t readily customize it (their idea of “custom colors” is laughable), WinExplorer, where I practically live fulltime, is broken in so many ways, and we won’t discuss what they did to my nice usable Start Menu, cuz then I’d have to kill someone. And this new habit of sneak-installing trial versions of what LOOKS like a preinstalled app… last straw. Win10 is exiled to a removeable drive for Emergency Use Only.

  12. I only have one computer that I use daily. The Win10 build made it unusable. I loaded up Linux Mint on an old hard drive and I’m back at it. Win 10 might be a good thing some day but I need a box NOW!

  13. I hate Windows 10 Start page and for about 12 months had Classic Shell installed but then……………..something happened. Not sure if it was a Windows Update or WHAT!!! Now I’m stuck in purgatory. Classic Shell will not install fully. I can toggle start menu but the desk top I had has disappeared completely. Life is now totally miserable.
    I did try to rename the .exe but that didn’t resolve the issue. I’m using Windows 10 Home Edition, Version 1511 Build 10586.164. Any advice would be very much welcome. Thanks

  14. I have used Shall classic (XP) for years. I had successively Windows Vista, 7 & 8.1 I recently installed Windows 10 free. The installation was incident free and is working smoothly. The tiles on the Windows start screen include 3 for Shell classic. When I switch on my computer the start button in the bottom left corner of the screen is the windows button. When I click on this I get the Shell start button superimposed. When I click on this I get a warning that Shell needs to reconfigure itself. If I ignore and delete (X) this I get back to the shell start button. When I click on this the menu includes the opportunity to open Windows 10, which when clicked opens the tile screen. SO – I appear to have the best of both worlds (Shell Classic [XP menu] and Windows 10 tile screen) without asking or fiddling. I’m not sure what Shell reconfigure means or why it is required; but as far as I am concerned it is a case of “if it ain’t busted don’t fix it” So in my ignorance I will continue with what I’ve got, which provides all that I require.
    I really don’t understand what all the fuss is about. But then I’m just a windows dummy.

    1. I installed the free 22/7/16 and everything went fine…..when win10 opens it says Classic shell need to be configured, so you go okay then Win10 stops this from happening so close the box. I’ve selected configure from the program menu but everything’s okay.
      The photo viewer is weird now. Before I could select jpeg’s and I had a option to go Review, then hit F11 and they would play in a Slideshow, now that doesn’t work.
      Desktop has slightly overscanned.

  15. You would think with all the downloads of ClassicShell, that Microsoft would take the hint that people don’t like the new style start menu. Change is fine for some people, but this drastic change actually makes people less productive in the real world. They need to let the user decide which Start menu they would prefer, and let them gradually migrate to the new one, if they so wish. But judging by Windows 10, Microsoft only cares about what Microsoft wants.. Da Hell with the Users.

  16. I too upgraded windows 10 and found that ClassicShell was blocked, but used the suggestion to rename it. Just replaced ClassicShell with my name and it worked. Why has Microsoft become so dictatorial with Win10? I want my computers( 4 of them) to do my bidding. No matter what they do there are always people more clever than me who can find a way round or through a problem, and I for one am grateful to them.

  17. It’s not that I do not want Microsoft to have it’s data about its own shell. What bothers me is that Microsoft has decided that I cannot have a program that I want.
    ‘This is my computer, not theirs. They do not have a right to simply uninstall programs from my computer.

    1. Everyone using Classic Shell on Windows 10 – by moving to Windows 10 and tolerating this kind of shit like apps automatically uninstalled, you have already surrendered your rights to Microsoft. What incentive is there for them to change anything if you continue to use Windows 10 anyway? Move back to Windows 7 to show them your displeasure with this kind of attitude. Then maybe they will change their ways.

  18. I’m hoping for a great version of Linux (i’m open to other alternatives) by 2023, when my support for Win8 and Win2012 expires. Microsoft has clearly decided to dumb down Windows and break it in ways. I’ve used Windows for over 20 years and i think Microsoft is spoiling now. Windows 8 was a hint that things were pointed in the wrong direction, Windows 10 is a confirmation.

    I’ve dealt with so many technical glitches based on Windows 10 that we need an alternative. Forcing us to update and forcing us to use their configurations in Windows 10 would be semi-fine had the OS worked well, It doesn’t.

    Mac is clearly not an option for reasons stated in other posts.

    For me and my clients, it’s time to find an alternative.

  19. I just installed Win10 1607. Classic Shell 4.3.0 was NOT removed, but made invisible. The renaming of the last stable version, 4.2.5c, worked very well, but only after de-installing the previous version (that CCleaner showed) . Thanks for the tip!

    1. I tried renaming the exe file to something else and it did not work. your comment is the first to say that the original classic needs to be removed first. can you provided a fuller explanation on how to do that?

  20. Absolutely hate Windows 10 and absolutely hate the fact Microsoft wants to control what I see and how I use my computer! Sorry Microsoft but I hate bing and always have. Microsoft 10 is very unstable and wish I never did the update! I absolutely hate the tile feature. Listen to your customers…part of running a business is giving your customer what they want not what you think they will want. I Love Classic Shell…Period

  21. I’m a fan of Windows 10, including the new Start Menu…but only visually. I’ve seen far worse, in comprarable OSes (I’m looking at you, Ubuntu). I just don’t like Windows 10. Fact, I use Windows 10 on my Ultrabook as I don’t have any other alternative right now, but find that the operating system is in essence another Windows ME as far as how it works. Microsoft spent so much time on how it looks, without doing much to change driver support AGAIN, that most of my drivers tend to crash. I’ve had it where my wi-fi driver drops on me quite a bit; Bluetooth, which I use for an external mouse and the occasional keyboard, tends to cut in and out or lag on me thanks to driver issues; and while they don’t ALWAYS result in a BSOD, I HAVE had them crash so hard on boot that they DO cause a BSOD, and had to replace a Dell laptop that I upgraded to it becuase Windows 10 corrupted its own drivers needed to read my hard drive once it’s loaded in. And that’s just drivers-if I need to use a Microsoft broswer for anything, I just use IE11 yet-Edge is a load of crap. I can see all it is is a reskinned IE11 anyways.

    I don’t really care how many people say otherwise; Microsoft didn’t learn from Windows ME OR Vista. Windows 10 is the WORST of both OSes-it has the driver stability of Windows ME and the application support and overall operating system stability of Windows Vista. Guess Windows 10 was the great experiment as to just how bad Microsoft can do…

  22. Don’t know what to say been using Win10 since last year first thing I installed was classic shell, still working to this day. I do admit I’m using a modified image, so I’m not running the latest anniversary/creators updates.

  23. Here is what MS should learn from this: if their start menu is so undesireable that people are installing a third party app for the menu, then the third party app is better/more desirable than their menu for some. MS should offer more customization of their menu (and other features) so the end user can configure to their liking.

  24. “The Windows team wants to learn your use cases for the Start menu and what they did wrong in the current implementation of the menu.”

    This seems to be a common practice with software manufacturers. Releasing software that forces users – especially captive users who have to use whatever software their company IT Dept/hardware supplier insists on – be the testers creates nothing but bad feelings all round. With most people now doing the jobs of at least three people, thanks to corporate layoffs, no one has time for barely functional software.

    In addition, why should you have to pay so much for something that isn’t ready to go? Would you buy clothes if they arrived as pieces of fabric you had to sew together yourself?

    Corporations make such a big deal about pirated software without giving a thought to how much of YOUR time they steal because their new software doesn’t work properly and/or you have to spend an inordinate amount of time looking for commonly used features that some birdbrain decided incomprehensibly to bury in a new release…only to find that these features now work differently as well. That is, of course, IF they still work. Then you have to spend time developing workarounds. The need for Classic Shell is a perfect example of such a workaround that has turned into a nightmare for some users.

    Microsoft in particular is really grumpy about open source software, but, if you’re asking your users to be your testers, you’re just one step away from it!

  25. Here Microsoft – have my feedback on your new and improved start menu – It’s a bag of s#!te. Now I’ve given you my feedback, please let me carry on using Classic Start which actually lets me easily access the programs I need to do my job. Thank you.

  26. it is now 2022, and the above is news to me. And I’ve been using Classic Shell for years with Win 10.
    It almost always functions as well as it always has.
    Only downside? very rarely, but occasionally, it will keep the start button skin over the top of fullscreen viewing. Like watching iPlayer for instance.
    When a movie or show is fullscreen, and this issue happens, whatever I have ”skinned” my start button with, appears, and is active over where the ‘play’ button should be clicked on iPlayer media player. (up to date firefox)

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