Minty-fresh menus and more

Say goodbye to Windows' bland Start Menu and Taskbar and say hello to a new, eye-catching replacement.

This eye-catching replacement for the Windows Start Menu, Taskbar, and side panel makes for a fresh breath of air from the standard Microsoft fare. You'll be able to quickly see your top 10 programs, desktop search bar, and folders list within a colorful, logical design. A handful of attractive skins (with more online) gives you artistic control; some also throw in local weather and a calendar widget.

While reskinning Windows is the real draw, being able to launch submenus almost instantaneously as you scroll over them is the app's most substantial side perk. The setup shaves seconds off your workflow and saves you from needless clicking.

Not all skins are held up to the same standard of quality, a noteworthy drawback, and the theme for the side panel and Taskbar must be changed separately from the Start Menu theme, a discordant bug in our book. Also, managing "panels" (including the Taskbar) requires a slight learning curve--it's all too easy to accidentally delete the Taskbar instead of the side panel. However, changes aren't permanent, and the lay of the land is easily acquired with patience. A generous trial period will let you decide if you can live with Aston2's foibles.

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