Windows 8 Desktop

Windows 8 Desktop

How to Switch to The Windows 8 Desktop

Once you sign-in to Windows 8 you are greeted by the new ‘Metro’ Start screen with its tiles.  While this radically new display is designed for tablets, it’s easy to switch to the familiar Windows desktop layout.  Either simply press the Windows key, or else seek out the ‘Desktop’ tile.

How to Boot into the Windows 8 Desktop

Update: Windows 8.1 has the built-in ability to Boot to Desktop.

In the Consumer Preview edition the registry hack RPEnabled, which booted Windows 8 into the legacy desktop, no longer works.  The work-around is to create a shortcut to the desktop in your startup folder.

  1. C: \Users\YourName\AppData\Roaming\ Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup Note 1:In Explorer’s View menu, click Hidden items, otherwise you won’t see AppData.
  2. Create a new shortcut to Explorer.
  3. Sign Out –> Sign In.
  4. Count to 15!  The Metro UI changes to the Windows 8 Desktop. Note 2:Boot to the desktop works better if you combine with AutoAdminLogon.

Plan B – Modify the Shell Using Regedit

It is possible to modify the Shell setting in the registry.

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon Shell: explorer.exe Explorer /e, /root, Libraries

While this does side-step the Metro UI, the resulting explorer was not ideal.  I am yet to get it to display the desktop and Taskbar.

Windows 8 – The Lost Start Orb

The hot debate in Windows 8 is the disappearance of the Start Orb.  People’s reactions are polarised, those with a tablet form-factor accept the whole Metro UI as one big start menu.  While many of those with a mouse prefer to work from the desktop as they did in Windows 7 and XP.

Do remember that the Metro UI is new technology, and knowing Microsoft, it will evolve rapidly.  The battlefield is how to reconcile touch screens functionality with those wanting a desktop workhorse.

Windows 8 Desktop ‘Start’ Menu

If you navigate to the desktop – pressing WinKey is a good way – then it’s possible to access a special ‘Start’ button.

Amazingly, if you carefully right-click this icon then you get a whole menu of Windows 8 settings, which is reminiscent of the Windows 7 Start menu.  See screenshot lower left.

There is a knack to accessing this menu.  You have to hover the mouse over the lower left corner, it’s on the very lower edge of the screen.

One more surprise, it’s possible to customise the list.  Navigate to: C:\ Users Select: YourAccount\AppData\ Local\Microsoft\Windows\WinX

You should now see three sub-folders called Group 1, 2 and 3.  This is where you can inspect the listed items, and with care, customize the menu by pruning the shortcuts.  I am still trying to figure out a way of creating new shortcuts for other executables.  When you have finished tweaking the items remember to Sign out – Sign in before your changes take effect.