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I've been using Windows 8 across a number of different workstations and VMs, and noticed a strange behaviour with the start menu that I'm starting to think is a bug.

In Windows 7, the quickest way to launch an application was to hit the start menu and just start typing. With enough characters input, the program you wanted was selected as the first item found and you could hit Enter to run it. The point being that when you hit the 'Start' key, the search box was always blank.

In Windows 8, I have the same experience, most of the time. However, there are occasions where I'll hit the Start key and my old search is still populated in the search box. For example, if I've previously run Skype by hitting start, typing 'skype' and hitting Enter, a few minutes later I'll press 'Start', start typing (lets say, 'word' to run MS Word) and find that my new search is being appended to the word 'skype'. This will obviously result in no hits, as I have no applications installed called 'skypeword'. I then have to clear the search box manually, and then I can type to search.

Is this a bug, or as designed? Pretty much everyone else I've spoken to who runs Win 8 as a power user hasn't encountered this, so I wonder if it's some behavious I'm using which is causing this. From what I can see, it's a fairly annoying regression.

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I have also encountered it and have not found a way to fix it natively in Windows. I had already decided to use a Start Menu replacement app and that fixed the behavior for me by recreated how it behaved in Windows 7 (I went with Start8 which is paid, but there are also freeware programs like Classic Shell that will do the same thing). The reason I went this route was because it gave me the best of both worlds, it didn't totally disable the new features if I wanted to get to them.

This may not be the solution you're looking for if you want to keep the Windows 8 shell as Microsoft intended it.

Side note, my post is in no way meant to start a flame war. It may not be the ideal solution but it will work.

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I originally was looking to keep the native experience the same, but given how heavily I use the start menu, this issue means that a shell replacement might be a sensible way forward. –  growse Jan 15 '13 at 10:20
    
The good news for you is, you can get the best of both worlds at this point. I would try a couple of the replacement apps and see what works best for you. I tried Pokki, Classic Shell and Start8 myself and ended up choosing Start8 mainly because I was able to get it to behave exactly like I wanted it in terms of using it's features but not totally gutting the new features Windows 8 brings. For me, it made a big difference between enjoyment and frustration (and to each their own). Best of luck. ;) –  b.pell Jan 15 '13 at 19:16
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