Best Alternative to Windows XP Start Menu

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Windows XP has got a really slow responding and cluttered Start Menu. It slows you down and quite often when you,re scrolling up and down and exhausted, looking for some shortcut desperately, you can,t seem to find it. One can,t put all the frequently used shortcuts on the desktop, as it gets cluttered up too. I held up with this for a while then I started checking out some replacements for the start menu.

I came across the Vista start menu which is an alternative for windows XP start menu. I tried some other desktop tools and launchers too, installing them one by one. But none seemed to fit my requirements. I needed something which was light weight, as I am extremely performance savvy. The alternatives were slow to start, used a lot of memory, they didn't give me quick access to the shortcuts: had to find programs scrolling and looking through menus endlessly and the main problem: none of them solved the problem of cluttering.

This was until I came across this tiny little freeware app called "Fast Launcher". Fast Launcher is quite an old release, and no updated versions were ever released. But it solved all the above problems!!

Here's a quick review.
The appearance is not very good, in fact it looks like one of those shitty Windows 95 program, but believe you me, it is one gem of an app when it comes to functionality and I am so happy with myself for finding it. Your shortcuts are kept in groups or folders, according to functionality e.g. my groups are system, tools and entertainment. The interface is based on a toolbar like window which displays the shortcut icons from one group at a time. Hovering over an icon shows the shortcuts title, but you won't need it since it no time getting used to the icons.

You can scroll from one group to another using your mouse wheel, elegantly displaying each groups shortcuts.



The toolbar stays out of sight all the time and is triggered using the middle mouse button. It can also be configured to activate from a keyboard shortcut.

Now comes the bad part. Adding shortcuts to Fast Launcher is a royal pain, as it does not support drag'n'drop (yeah it is actually that shitty Win 95 app). You have to manually select "Add Item" every time from the menu to add a shortcut. But you have to do this only once since Fast Launcher allows you to backup your complete profile to a file, and it can be restored in a single click.

Lets list some pros and cons of this great app.

Pros
  • Up to 60 shortcuts(assuming you have 3 groups), each one accessible in about 1.5 seconds (yeah super fast!!!)
  • Starts up without any lag, or slowing down other programs.
  • Extremely lightweight, peak memory consumption of 6-7MB.
  • Put in as many shortcuts as you want, access time will only slightly increase.
Cons
  • No updated versions.
  • non-intuitive interface, no drag'n'drop functionality for adding shortcuts.
Now let me give you an honest word guys. This piece of software really solved my biggest productivity problem. Now my desktop is totally neat and tidy and all my shortcuts are on my finger tips. I can now focus on some real work instead of wasting my nerves on finding my programs. Best of all, its all for free! Do check it out and drop a comment.

Download it here.

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