How Would You Like to Disable Metro on Windows 8?

It must have dawned on Microsoft at some point in the past couple of years that the mouse-based computing experience looked a bit dated in today’s touchscreen filled world. While Microsoft’s intentions in catching Windows up to a touch-based 21st century may have been good, they certainly seem to have got people’s goats with the way they’ve gone about it. If you aren’t among the vanishing minority that owns a touchscreen-based laptop or desktop, you’ll find that the shiny Metro interface that comes up the first thing you turn on your computer is a hindrance as you head for the desktop to get some real work done. Try as you might to stay in the familiar desktop environment, Windows 8 has a way of shanghaiing you into the Metro Live Tile interface every now and then, too. If this is an experience you don’t care for, there are ways and means by which to disable Metro. Once you get Metro out of the way, you’ll come to appreciate Windows 8 as a far more effective way to compute than you have ever known.

Preparing the ground

Metro was the original name that Microsoft had for the new interface; they’ve changed the name now and instead call it the Modern interface. It isn’t easy to disable Metro/Modern, given how deeply integrated it is into Windows 8. Every program that you install shows up as an app tile on the Modern interface. If you need to search for a program, there is no All Programs list to consult. The default method is to go to the Modern interface and to search for it among all the app tiles arrayed. If you get rid of the Modern interface, you have nowhere else to go to look for you programs. The first thing to do before getting rid of Modern, then, is to come up with an alternative.

One way to make your programs accessible would be to place shortcuts on your desktop or have them pinned to your taskbar. This method does result in a cluttered desktop and taskbar, though, since you have to keep programs there that you don’t use often. It does work, though.

Windows 8 has two different ways by which you may open different files. One is the regular Windows program that you are familiar with; the other is an app version of the same thing that lets you open your file in the smartphone-like Modern environment. When you try to play an mp3 song, for instance, Windows 8 tries to open it in the Music app by default – rather than on Windows Media Player. To make Windows only use desktop programs for any file you may open, you need to head over to the Set Default Programs window to change things around.

To set the defaults the way you want them, take your mouse to the bottom left corner of the screen where the Start button used to be and right-click there. The menu that pops up has a link to the Control Panel. Once on the Control Panel, you can find your way to the Set Default Programs window and set things the way you want them.

Searching for stuff

If you can’t stand the Modern interface at all, the simplest way to search for programs and files would be to put a traditional Start button where you’ve always seen it. All you need to do is to install a program like Classic Shell or Start8. These place an artificial Start button where you would like it. What is more, once you install one of these, you don’t even need to disable Metro – you go directly to the desktop. It’s as if Metro/Modern doesn’t exist.

You don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, though. Windows 8 does have extremely powerful search abilities. Unfortunately, those search abilities are firmly placed in the Modern interface – on the All Apps screen. If you install the programs above, you lose access to it. What you need, then, is a way to get to that interface just to use the search function. It’s simple enough – you just need to create a shortcut to the All Apps screen and have it placed on your desktop. Just right-click on an empty place on your desktop and go to New > Shortcut. In the location box that shows up, paste the following piece of code: %windir%\explorer.exe shell:::{2559a1f8-21d7-11d4-bdaf-00c04f60b9f0}. Right away, you get a shortcut to your All Apps screen – to use to search as much as you want.

Shutting down your computer without going into Settings on the Charm Bar is possible in the same way, too. You just need to create a new shortcut. Proceed to create a new shortcut. This time, though, in the Location field, enter the code shutdown /s /t 0. That’s all there is to it.

Even if you don’t want to install a Start button

If you don’t wish to monkey around with new programs that give you a Start button, you can trick Windows 8 into giving you the desktop when you boot up instead of showing you that screen full of tiles. All you need to do is to set up Windows 8 to open a folder first thing each time you start your computer. Since Windows 8 can only open a folder on the regular desktop, you’ll find yourself in that environment when you start up.

It’s simple to do this. Go to Control Panel and look for Schedule Tasks under Administrative Tools. In the window that opens up, look for the Actions pane; click on Create Task and then the Triggers tab. Select New for a new task and then the Begin the Task drop-down at the top; select At log on. In the Actions tab, select New one more time and type in Explore in the field called Program. Once you save the changes you’ve made, you’ll find that you automatically enter the Desktop environment each time you start up.

The main changes to Windows 8 are all under the hood – changes that make this a far more powerful operating system than its predecessor. You shouldn’t let the cosmetic frustrations keep you away from all the great improvements there are to be enjoyed. If that was ever a risk, these little tips that help you disable Metro should let you have the best of the new world in a slightly more palatable interface.

Windows 8 is a powerful operating system. It is more efficient than Windows 7, too. Unfortunately, the design of the new Metro interface gets people so frustrated, they hardly notice any of it. There are ways to disable Metro, though.

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