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How to get the new Windows 10 Start menu right now

how to get the new Windows 10 start menu
(Image credit: Henry T. Casey/Tom's Guide)

The new Windows 10 Start menu is redesigned and full of Microsoft's slick Fluent design language, but it takes a bit of work to actually get its new tiles and all the other tricks.

Released in Windows 10 build 20161, the refined Start menu is apparently a part of some A/B testing, so not all Windows Insiders will even get it. But there's a workaround that should allow you to get it on your PC right now.

Microsoft describes the refreshed Start menu as offering "a more streamlined design" by applying "a uniform, partially transparent background to the tiles" in lieu of solid color backgrounds. Of course, third party Windows applications still have heavily contrasting tiles, as I saw with Netflix.

Getting Windows 10 20161 today requires living life with a little risk, as you'll have to put your PC on the Windows Insider Dev cycle. This is the cycle for testing features as early as possible, so you're opening yourself up to more bugs than anyone else. And this is Windows 10 we're talking about, which doesn't need any help with exposing users to more bugs.

How to get the new Windows 10 Start menu

1. Click the Start menu button

Windows 10 new start menu how to - click Start menu

(Image credit: Microsoft)

2. Click Settings

Windows 10 new start menu how to - select settings

(Image credit: Microsoft)

3. Click Update & Security

Windows 10 new start menu how to - Click Update & Security

(Image credit: Microsoft)

4. Click Windows Insider Program on the left

Windows 10 new start menu how to - Click Windows Insider Program on the left

(Image credit: Microsoft)

5. Click "Get started"

Windows 10 new start menu how to - Click "Get started"

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Windows 10 new start menu how to - Click "Link an account"

(Image credit: Microsoft)

7. Select your type of account and click Continue

Windows 10 new start menu how to - Select your type of account and click Continue

(Image credit: Microsoft)

8. Click Dev Channel and Confirm

Windows 10 new start menu how to - Click Dev Channel and Confirm

(Image credit: Microsoft)

9. Click Confirm

Windows 10 new start menu how to - Click Confirm

(Image credit: Microsoft)

10. Click Restart Now

Windows 10 new start menu how to - Click Restart Now

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Your system will now restart.

11. Back in Settings, click Windows Update

Windows 10 new start menu how to - Back in Settings, click Windows Update

(Image credit: Microsoft)

12. Click Resume updates (or Check for updates)

Windows 10 new start menu how to - Click Resume updates (or Check for updates)

(Image credit: Microsoft)

13. Click Restart now

windows 10 new start menu how to - Click Restart now

(Image credit: Microsoft)

You should now have the new Start menu. To confirm, open the Start menu and look for tiles for Windows programs like Office. If those programs have solid color backgrounds that strongly contrast against the Start menu, you've got the new Start menu.

windows 10 new start menu how to - the new start menu

(Image credit: Microsoft)

How to force-load the new Start menu

If you don't see the new Start menu here, there's an explanation for that. Windows United says Microsoft is A/B testing the new Start menu, and offered the below workaround.

The only issue with this advice is that it's a bit of an expert level project, as it involves the command line and using a third party utility, which is always a little risky. We didn't need to use this trick, as we got the correct Start menu without it — so we couldn't test it.

  1. Download the ViveTool utility.
  2. Extract it into a folder of your choice.
  3. Open the Start menu, type "command prompt" and right click on that search result.
  4. Select "Run as administrator."
  5. Click Yes.
  6. Enter the directory where the extracted ViveTool utility is -- such as:
    C:\Users\Mark\Desktop\ViveTool
  7. Type in the following text:
    ViVeTool.exe addconfig 23615618 2
  8. Hit Enter.
  9. Restart your PC.
  10. You should now have the new Start menu.