How to Get Start Button and Start Menu in Windows 2012, 2012 R2 Server

Here is the way to get back the traditional start menu and start button in Windows 2012 or 2012 R2 server operating system. Previously Sysprobs published an article about how to show my computer icon on same saver 2012. Like Windows 8, Windows 2012 and R2 server also come without start button/ menu. Therefore you may feel uneasy while using this OS initially. If you like to get the start button/menu back, you can follow these steps. It works well on Windows 2012 standard and data center versions.

Okay here is an important point, getting back the start button and menu in Windows 2012/2012R2  is not like showing My computer icon or installing desktop experience, which means it is not a hidden Windows feature that can be installed or enabled in OS level. It can be done by a third party software only. Therefore, before try this method on your production Windows 2012 server, double check whether really you want this feature by installing a third party software. Somehow I do not recommend this in the production environment as these types of applications might open security holes on the server OS. Anyhow, if you are running Windows 2012 in virtualized environment for testing or learning purpose, then you can try this method.

This small start button application built for Windows 8 desktop version, but the same works for 2012 too.

You can download Win8 StartButton from official site here. Your windows 2012 has to have internet connection to continue the installation. I recommend to select ‘Custom installation’ as shown below.

installation of Windows 2012 R2 start button

By this custom installation method we can avoid unwanted extra programs during the installation as below.

more options 2012 start menu

Once installation is completed, you can see the familiar start button and start menu in Windows 2012 or 2012 R2 server. To customize this start button and menu, you have to use the particular application settings only. Do not look for the normal Windows settings for it.

installed start button in windows 2012

If you are looking for similar windows 8 start button applications, you can find theme here at, but I’m not sure how they will be working on Windows 2012 server.

I have found an interesting article on getting back some of your favorite server GUI features on Windows 2012, you can go through this guide. It explains each steps nicely to work with Windows 2012 server GUI including Background Info (BGI).


  1. Wyatt Wong says

    The description of the last URL should be “Windows 2012, you can go through this guide.” instead of “Windows 2102, you can go through this guide.”

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  3. Charles says

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Don’t understand why Microsoft makes it so difficult with each new OS!