Does anybody know how to hide this "Start" button in Windows 8.1 so that the task bar looks like it did in "old" Windows 8?
You can't as of current versions, maybe in later version but not currently.
Microsoft has indeed brought back the Start button, but contrary to what people expected, an option to disable it and stick to the standard Windows 8 desktop UI is missing from the operating system.
There are at least 2 options out there which will help you hide "Start".
One is StartIsGone, which allows you to remove the Start Button in Windows 8.1 and get the extra space on the taskbar.
It is a freeware, portable application which does not require .NET Framework or installation.
It is just icon in your tray with few options in the context menu. Tick "Run at startup" and your start button will be removed every time your Desktop shows.
It is available as a separate application for Windows 8.1 x86 and Windows 8.1 x64.
It works on Windows Server 2012R2 (DataCenter for ex.).
It works with the new 2014 April / Spring update too.
WARNING: It removes the Start menu. There is quite a difference between hiding and removing it. Windows 8 had a hidden Start. If you use this application, you won't have Start at all. At least, not a clickable one. Hotkeys like WIN+Q, WIN works of course, but you won't be able to open it with your mouse only.
Pre-Spring update alternative, but an alpha release now available too...
- The stable version works no more with a fresh Win8.1 or Server2012, but the developer is trying to release a new version with a fix. See here. You can also grab the alpha version from the url.
Alternatively you can install the free App 7+ Taskbar Tweaker which will allow you to hide the Start button. Once you have installed the app, you can easily hide the start button from the “Other taskbar option” group in the App (shown below).
You do not have to restart or log off the PC to hide the Start button and the process is instant allowing you to unhide it as well.
See also this video: "How to Hide or Disable the Start Button in Windows 8.1".
Not only does it bring back most of what I missed from the Windows 7 Start Menu, the latest version is built for Windows 8.1 and actually has a "Settings" option which lets you uncheck the box "Show Windows Logo Button".
After that, the Windows 8.1 Start button simply disappears and the Pokki 'Start Button' sits in its place. Pokki also has other features I like. Gmail and Facebook Lite sit in the taskbar and notify you when you get Gmail or updates.
Start Killer is another freeware that can handle this.
Just run the Start Killer and the Start Button will be killed. Exit the Start Killer to return the Start Button back and go back to the dark side.
- Removes the Start Button and gives you more space on the taskbar
- The Start Menu can be opened by WIN or CTRL+ESC keyboard keys
- The Start Menu can be blocked
- Hiding the Start Killer tray icon
- Manage via command line
Using from command line:
Run Start Killer and remove the Start Button
Note: if you try to run the second copy of the Start Killer without parameters, you'll see the error message.
Close Start Killer and restore the Start Button
Open Start Killer Properties