Windows 10 & Classic Shell

Updated: March 25, 2015

Note: This does not apply to Classic Shell version 4.2 and above.

If you've followed my Windows 10 Preview articles, including the almost latest Build 9926 edition, then you know there's a bit of a problem. It has to do with the system search functionality. It does not show in the menu anymore. Instead, it's integrated into the taskbar, and you get forced advertising and suggestions there, at least at the moment. This may yet change in the official version.

If you turn Cortana on, you can get away from that, but you need an online account. Then, you can disable the new search, and you will have a popdown search field in the menu, and this is both ugly and inefficient. You want to solve this by using Classic Shell, a super cool menu program for Windows 8 and friends. In fact, it's the program that makes Windows 8 usable. Only in some situations, it may not be installable on Windows 10. If you have been affected, please glimpse here. P.S. Build 10041 review coming soon.

Classic Shell cannot run


At the time this article was written, Microsoft blacklists Classic Shell - affected versions - by its string name, so if you rename the executable to something random, you will be able to install and use it, without any problems whatsoever. That's it.

Rename binary

Classic Shell works

Tweaks & settings

Initially, the menu will not be as pretty as you hope, and you will have to do a bit of tweaking to get everything just right. Luckily, the changes are fairly minor. During the setup, you have the option to replace the Start button. If you mark this checkbox, then the integrated search box will overlap with your pinned icons in the taskbar, and this will look very ugly. If you do not mark it, you will retain sane looks, just like below.


Done, problem solved, we're good now! You can now remove or disable the integrated search, if you feel like it. Or you can keep it, if you want to use the online account. You have all the options available.

Classic Shell running

The road ahead of us

Technically, there is no longer any problem. However, there's nothing preventing Microsoft from blocking the program again, and then, there will be a problem. I think the devs should work closely with Microsoft to sort out any issues, and if a push comes to shove comes to shovel, then dumping random binary data into their software builds ought to solve any blacklisting.


I am not really sure if Microsoft is just playing it silly, or if it's trying to shoot itself in the foot with a 20mm cannon, Classic Shell only mildly notwithstanding. But the thing is, the only really optimal way of using the preview version of Windows 10 Build 9926 is with Classic Shell. And it just might not be installable. Stupid and revolting, and it sure won't please the nerds, who are Microsoft's champions of good will out there.

Remember, this is just beta stuff, so everything will probably change, including your ability to govern the privacy settings in a way that does not impose Bing crap into your search, and then you will be all right. But still. Let's wait and see. Anyhow, Classic Shell, problem solved, and let's see what gives when the official edition gets released. It ought to be interesting, and I'm already priming my anger torpedoes.

Now, this has been fixed in Classic Shell 4.2, so maybe there's no need for fuss and drama. But then, if blocked once, why not sometime again in the future, and that's rather worrying. Moreover, I have two more Windows 10 reviews coming soon, including a test on brand new hardware, as well as a fresh look on what the latest build 10041 can do for us. Stay tuned.


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