Here is the way to get back the traditional start menu and start button in Windows 2012 or 2012 R2 server operating systems. Previously Sysprobs published an article about how to show my computer icon in same server 2012/2012R2. Like Windows 8, Windows 2012 and R2 servers also come without start button and 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 trying 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 in the server OS. Anyhow, if you are running Windows 2012 in a 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 one works for Server 2012 too.
Get Back the Start Button and Start Menu in Windows 2012, 2012 R2 Server
You can download Classic Shell and install on the server. I recommend to select ‘Custom installation’ as shown below.
By this custom installation method we can avoid unwanted extra programs during the installation as below. The above screenshot was taken from a similar tool built on the classic shell, but applicable for the classic shell original version.
A restart may require after the installation. Once rebooted, 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.
If you are looking for a similar Windows 8 start button applications, you can find them here at cnet.com, 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 step nicely to work with Windows 2012 server GUI including Background Info (BGI).
I’m sure it will be big relieved to see the start button and menu on these older Windows server versions with the Classic Shell too.