If you're looking for a smarter Start menu for Windows Vista, check out the subtly named Vista Start Menu. The program does away with Vista's translucent aero theme, making it opaque, and builds it out with several levels of features and customization. It prevents programs from jumping around, as is their wont sometimes in the standard menu, and it throws in a basic zoom feature accessible. It creates hot-key support for every item on the menu, clearly labeling folders and programs with numbers and letters.
Making cosmetic changes and surfacing directories is much easier with this app, too, since right-clicking anywhere on it will reveal a list of choices. Even though the program can be set to run as Vista starts, its uninstallation is boilerplate and easy.
However, there are a few snags. There's a Pro upgrade available, but it's unclear whether some features--such as search tabs and power up and down options--weren't accessible because they're restricted to the paid version or because of a software bug. Despite the problems, if you're a die-hard keyboard user or just looking to make Vista's Start Menu a bit more customizable, Vista Start Menu isn't a bad place to, y'know, start.