People keep asking me about this and I thought it would make sense to share my answer on the internet and I can point people here to save my breath. 🙂
So you bought or were bought a new, shiny Windows 8 laptop but you can’t find the start menu or how to turn off your laptop. While these are simple tasks that can be completed by dragging your mouse pointer to the corners of the screen, you want your good, old, faithful interface back. In my opinion, you have 3 options:
1) Download StartMenu8 from IObit, install and change the options to load at startup and boot straight to the desktop. Get your Windows 7 experience back.
2) Download and Buy Start8 from Stardock for £4.99, install and change the options to load at startup and boot straight to the desktop. Get your Windows 7 interface back and a Windows 8 twist!
3) Find a Windows 7 disc of the same version, e.g. Windows 8 Pro -> Windows 7 Pro and a product key (this can be from anywhere other computer, you only use it to get through the install). Save all your files and documents, format your computer and install Windows 7. Ensure you backup your Windows 8 discs so you can go back to Windows 8 when the time is right. When trying to activate Windows 7 you will be prompted to call Microsoft because it isn’t a legitimate product key, at this point inform them that you have Windows 8 and provide them with your Windows 8 Product Key (usually on the bottom of the laptop or computer) and they will provide you with an activation code because you legally have downgrade rights with Windows 8.
I must state that my preferred method would be to get used to Windows 8 and learn how to use it as this interface is moving to all Microsoft devices and will not disappear any time soon. If you really, really need the start button, I would go for option 2 and pay £4.99 as this provides a lot of good features. It does have a free trial to try it out before you buy.
If you have any questions or other alternatives, let me know if the comments.