The new Start Menu in Windows 10 is a major feature for many users who avoided the Windows 8 upgrade, which infamously replaced the Start Menu with a full-screen, touch-optimized Start Screen. But as we’ve mentioned previously, the Windows 10 Start Menu isn’t quite the same as the “traditional” Start Menu found in operating systems like Windows XP and Windows 7.
So that got us thinking about how the Start Menu has changed in the nearly 20 years since it made its consumer debut with Windows 95. Older Windows users like us have experienced each iteration over the years, but things changed so gradually that it’s hard to imagine a direct comparison between the different Windows versions, and those who are younger or new to Windows may have never seen the early Start Menus at all.
To help us keep things in perspective as we adjust to the new Windows 10 Start Menu, we thought that a nice high quality comparison of the history of the Windows Start Menu was in order. We keep at least one VM from every major operating system on hand at all times, so we decided to fire up all consumer versions of Windows dating back to Windows 95 and grab some screenshots illustrating the evolution of the Start Menu. You can find the gallery on the following pages, along with some information about each Windows release. Just use the buttons below to navigate, and click on any image to get a full-sized view.
Are any of the Windows Start Menus, particularly the early ones, new to you? Now that you’ve seen the clear evolution of the Start Menu, what are your thoughts on the direction that Microsoft is taking it in Windows 10? Let us know in the comments!