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I'm getting used to the start screen, however it would be nice if I could stop it covering the entire screen and popup a bit like the old start menu.

Is there some configuration option, or program that enables me to do this?

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There isn't a configuration option, but someone has already tried creating one using C#:
How to Open Start Screen Within Desktop

The direct download is here:
http://www.diablocrafts.com/uploads/SMModifier1b.zip

There is a discussion about it here: Windows 8 Start Menu Modifier

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